Website SEO Basics to Master Now

Master these website SEO basics for your business

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You know that updating your site for SEO is paramount to driving traffic from the organic search results. But, many of the tactics and metrics that used to be considered important for SEO are no longer relevant. So what really impacts your search visibility today, and what website SEO tactics should you be focusing on now to improve organic traffic?

Download our free ebook: The New Rules for Winning at SEO to get more helpful SEO insights!

Fix Your SEO Foundation with a Site Audit

Site not mobile-friendly? Still using Flash? Navigation and sitemap a mess? You might think these are small infractions, but search engines think otherwise. For instance, Google has on multiple occasions made updates to its algorithm that favor mobile-friendly sites in searches conducted on mobile devices. In addition, having a site that uses outdated technologies and ineffective website technologies may hinder search engines from being able to even read or properly index your site. It may also increase the rate at which visitors bounce form your site.

If you don’t know how technically sound your website is, conduct a thorough website audit and make technical changes to your website that will help it appeal to searchers and increase page load speeds. This includes checking for website SEO factors like mobile-friendliness, a simple site design that loads quickly on all devices, and an organized sitemap and navigation. All of this provides search engines with a structure they can quickly make sense of when trying to determine search results.

Create Content that Helps Search Engines Find Your Site

Search engines index millions of web pages, using thousands of signals to determine which contain content they believe will satisfy a user’s search query. So, to help search engines surface your website for searches for your products and services, it’s important to do thorough keyword research, then create content on your site that’s about the top terms and phrases you want your site to rank for.

Remember: When creating content, your first priority should be your target audience, not search engines. This is imperative now that search engines have a more human-like way of understanding what a search query means, rather than simply relying on keyword matches. Despite this learning and understanding, it’s still important to include your target keywords or phrases, synonyms, and related concepts naturally on your site and in a way that’s helpful to your visitors. Simply stuffing your website with keywords not only provides a lousy user experience, but it can negatively impact your site in search results for having poor quality content.

Provide Additional Site Context with Metadata

Every page on your website is backed by metadata, or code, that search engines use to better understand what your site is about, and it’s often displayed to searchers on the search results page. Metadata is usually accessible and editable through your website’s content management system. Here are some types of metadata you need to think about:

  • Page Title: Page titles quickly tell search engines what your site is about. These tags also appear in search results and should provide the searcher with a quick overview of the page’s content. Google has recently started to show longer page titles in its search results, providing more options for writing titles with longer-tail keywords or providing additional value to a potential site visitor.
  • Meta Description: A page’s meta description is a longer description of the content on the page, usually a sentence or two. This also provides searchers with a snippet of information that lets them know what the page is about before they even click on a search result.
  • Alt Text: Don’t forget that images are content, too, and should be optimized for SEO just like the rest of your website. Use this tag to provide a short tile or description of any images on your website that includes your top keywords.
  • Anchor Text: Anchor text is the meta content that’s assigned to any links on your page, usually consisting of a short title that’s descriptive of the page the link is pointing to. You should have an internal linking strategy on your site to connect related pages to one another.

Improve Site Authority with Offsite Citations

Search engines use offsite citations as a way to determine your website’s relevance in local search results. A citation is simply a place other than your own website – like a directory or map listing such as Google or Yelp— that lists information like your business name, address, and phone number. This tells the search engines that other sites recognize your business name and information, increasing the authority of your website itself. The more comprehensive the information is about your business, the stronger the citation may be to the search engines.

Ensure your business information is listed consistently between your website and your local listings and directories because search engines will use those third-party sites to determine your website’s authenticity and authority. And the more citations you have that are consistent with your site, the stronger your website’s authority to search engines.

What To Keep in Mind with Website SEO

Because search engines often update their algorithms and ranking signals, it’s important to make sure your site is always following the latest best practices. With an expert SEO service, you can ensure your website and local listings stay up to date with the latest changes. Learn more about SEO best practices on our blog.

Tamara Weintraub

Tamara is a content marketing manager at ReachLocal with over 7 years experience in B2B marketing and has a nerd-level affinity for software and technology. She specializes in helping local businesses succeed online, writing and learning about Google, search advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. When she's not writing about online marketing, you can find her watching cult TV and hanging out with her Doberman.

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