When it comes to setting up your content with the right audience, using SEO best practices is like having a good wingman. We’re not saying your content isn’t already a catch — but maybe it needs a little help getting noticed.
At D Custom, our digital media team keeps a close eye on best practices in SEO to ensure that our editors are equipped with the most up-to-date tools to turn every piece of content into SEO gold.
So, we took what we’ve learned to put together this one-stop SEO best practices guide to help you refocus your content creation process, increase your ranking and visibility in search engine results, and ultimately drive more meaningful traffic to your site.
Consider the following your SEO meet-cute, courtesy of your wingpeople at D Custom.
SEO Best Practice No. 1: Identify Your Value
First things first: You need genuine, authentic, and useful content that can be summed up into a focus keyword or phrase that describes the overall concept.
Think about what value you can provide readers. Understanding what your audience is searching for will help you determine how your content can benefit them, which in turn will help it rank higher in search engines. For example, in this blog, we’re catering to someone who searched for — you guessed it! — SEO best practices.
SEO Best Practice No. 2: Improve Readability and Reach
- Keep paragraphs short. Break up text to provide eye relief on the page.
- Use H2 tags. Not only does this subhead formatting benefit the visual aesthetic of the post, but it’s also an influential ranking factor for search engines. We’ll get into SEO best practices for formatting these tags later.
- Embed links. This SEO best practice is a two-way street, as it includes links to both content on your site and other sources. Not only will it help your audience find more information, but it also helps you establish credibility for search engine ranking. On the flip side, be sure to weed out broken backlinks: Like overgrown yards, they scream “abandoned” and hurt your search engine retail space.
- Consider influencers. Influencer marketing can boost SEO by helping position your site as an authority. It’ll also help increase user engagement and traffic. Just make sure their content links back to your site.
- Watch your word count. A general SEO best practice is to make blog posts at least 300 words. Otherwise, it’s about finding that sweet spot that keeps your readers engaged. Keep your content clear and concise, and remember that quality writing and storytelling will guide engagement, ultimately boosting SEO.
SEO Best Practice No. 3: Optimize for Current Algorithms
Search engines have shifted from the desktop-centered norm to mobile-centered indexing — a significant change in ranking algorithms. So, an overarching SEO best practice is to ensure that your site is mobile-friendly, because websites that load and function seamlessly on mobile devices are given priority over laggard desktop-only interfaces.
- Tip: Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot (Google’s web crawler).
As users move toward voice search and search engines utilize machine learning to filter results, optimizing for semantic language and context is becoming a stronger strategy than just optimizing content for keywords themselves.
To keep your content in line with these searches, know what language people are using when they seek content like yours. There are typically three types of search queries people make:
- “Do” or transactional queries: “I want to do something that will end in an exchange of services.” Google knows you’re looking to buy something rather than just browse or find out what it is, so the first thing to show up will be the Google Shopping carousel.
- “Know” or informational queries: “I need information.” Your blog will likely rank for one of these queries.
- “Go” or navigational queries: “I want to go to a particular place on the internet.” Think Facebook or YouTube.
SEO Best Practice No. 4: Choose the Right Focus Keyword
When selecting a focus keyword or phrase, some general SEO best practices to consider are:
- The value you are providing
- The language people use to search for the topic
- The comprehensive list of keywords for which your site is trying to rank on a Google search
- The competition for the keyword you’re considering. There are tools to help gauge your keyword’s popularity, but a quick Google search to see what’s already out there works too.
Keep in mind that while putting your focus keyword throughout the copy of your blog, it should still read clearly and provide real value. Avoid packing sentences so full of keywords and jargon that the text is stripped of relevant context. A good rule of thumb: Shoot for 2 percent keyword density throughout.
Another word of warning against unnatural keyword stuffing: Google processes your content like a reader, so if they would find it odd (e.g., “Following our SEO best practices is a great way to achieve best practices in SEO, and using SEO best practices is important!”), Google will too.
Additionally, note that high search engine results page (SERP) rankings and scores are the result of authentic viewer engagement, not keywords and gimmicks.
When an authentic keyword or phrase is identified, it can then be placed strategically and contextually throughout multiple touch points in the content. With the right mix of SEO best practices and patience, we watch our search engine rankings rise like the perfect soufflé.
This printable cheat sheet maps out all the places your focus keywords should go, every time you post.
SEO Best Practice No. 5: Group Your Content Accordingly
- Tags. Your tags help users find content. Remember to:
- Use words and phrases from the text that would be easily searchable.
- Include variations of phrases that different people might type into a search engine to find your content.
- Use eight to 10 tags. Be careful not to exceed this by too much: You can be penalized for over-tagging, and your content can be flagged as spam activity.
- Categories. Most blogs have set categories — our writers are given a list of them to select from. Categories:
- Group together a broader pool of content than tags.
- Allow users to quickly filter out the content they want.
- Are flexible enough to select one or more for each post.
We realize this is a lot to keep up with, so consider an application like this Yoast SEO plug-in to see how well you’re following SEO best practices in your blogs. And keep in mind that when you’re optimizing your content for SEO, the work is worth it when it means getting your content in touch with your dream reader.
We’ve got more where that came from. Our resident expert put together this in-depth SEO best-practices guide for your reading pleasure.
For more ways to improve your digital presence and overall content with best practices in SEO and other areas, contact us.