SEO – Know enough to be dangerous
So what is SEO, and do you know enough to be dangerous? And what does that even mean anyway?
As business owners and marketers, we are often expected to be ‘Jacks of All Trades’. If that’s the case though, we need to equip ourselves with enough knowledge to do the job properly, or to hold the agency doing the job for us accountable. That’s what I mean when I say that you should know enough to be dangerous.
As a Social Media Agency, we are not in the habit of providing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) services to our clients, but we do provide referrals to specialists or ‘SEO Experts’ that we work with and recommend. for any business owner that is serious about the success of their online presence, it is important to understand the nuts and bolts of search engine optimisation so that you can health check with an expert to ensure they are doing what they need to be for best results.
So here is my checklist for SEO success, which we apply to our own websites, and I thought it might come in handy for you too.
My SEO Checklist for Success
Question to ask: Do I know what keyword or longtail search term my blog is targeting?
Keywords are the words and phrases you think people will type into Google and other search engines to find information on specific topics. Every post should be written with the specific keyword or phrase in mind that is most relevant to your post. You can use the following tools to find the best keyword:
Google Trends: Hot Searches: Check out what’s hot in search right now with this great little tool., but be warned it is a little mesmerising: Google Trends.
Soovle: Type any keyword into Soovle and it will search for the most popular terms across a wide variety of search engines: Soovle
The Title Description
Question to ask: Is the title straight to the point, interesting, and does it contain your keyword?
On average only 20% of viewers read beyond a headline, which means your traffic levels are highly contingent on getting your title right.
- Aim for a succinct descriptive title.
- Include your main keyword
- Make it sexy (read: click bait), with adjectives and adverbs.
- Remember that lists and “How To’s” are likely to generate higher click-throughs.
- Keep it under 55 characters (or have a more succinct SEO title if using YOAST)
You can test your title using:
The Advanced Marketing Institutes Headline Analyser. http://www.aminstitute.com/cgi-bin/headline.cgi
Sharethrough Headline Analyser. https://headlines.sharethrough.com/
Question to ask: Is my URL optimised for search?
The URL or permalink is the permanent link by which someone can navigate to your post. You want to edit it to ensure that it is only reflective of the keyword or phrase you are wanting to rank for. Try to keep your url as short as possible. Don’t merge words together, but keep them separated with hyphens so search engines can easily parse and match your url to the keyword. If you are using WordPress, the first thing to ensure is that you are using custom links as it is set by default to auto-generate (see below).
The Body of the Article
Question to ask: Is it formatted to be easily readable and optimised for search?
Here are some tips for the body of your article:
- Clear and concise writing is important in every medium but even more so online because Internet users want information fast, and we also tend to read things at a slower pace online. A simple and direct style works best. Make sentences and paragraphs short — three to five concise sentences at most. Leave breaks between paragraphs. Use active verbs and write in present tense. Avoid the passive voice, as it complicates the sentence.
- Use a “Read More” tag to control how much text is visible from your blogs home and archives.
- Shorter is better online, in most cases. While space on the web is practically unlimited, very long stories are generally not suitable for web readers. Keep your article somewhere between 300-800 words.
- Headlines serve the same basic function on the web as in print, to communicate information and attract readers. Unlike print, however, straightforward headlines work better online than indirect headlines that play on words. Why? Internet users want to get information fast. Headlines that leave them guessing about the topic of a story do not entice them to click through to read the rest of it.
- Subheads (use your H2 and H3 tags) every few paragraphs can help to direct the eyes to “entry points” where users can start reading. They should be concise and to the point – preferably three to seven words – giving readers a clear indication of what comes next. They also help to break blocks of text into manageable chunks. In addition they allow search engine spiders to easily crawl and rank your post so H2 and H3 tags are great places to store your keywords if they make sense there.
- Bullet points and lists are another effective way of breaking up a long story to facilitate reading and attract attention, as they make absorbing the information easier. They can be used in the body of a story or at the beginning to highlight the most important points in a report.
- Images: Articles that use 1 image to every 75-100 words get shared the most.
- Include a hyperlinked Call to ACTION item in the closing statements – tell your readers what action you’d like them to take. For example, ‘Click Here to Contact Us’, or ‘See how we’ve helped other people with XYZ ‘
- Internal and External Links: A solid post links to useful related content sources. Internal linking within your own site signals to search engines as to which pages on your site are the best resources. External links out to sites with relevant information and a good domain authority are best practice and can further develop your websites ranking over time. Try for a minimum of 2-3 links in each post and ensure they open in a new window.
Other Things to Consider
- Have a Meta Description that reflects the content of the post. Given that this is the small snippet of text that appears beneath your search engine result, you want to make sure it tells the reader what to expect. And make sure you have worked your keyword or phrase in here too.
- Have a Featured Image for every article on your site that is relevant to the post, and eye-catching. People like pictures, and consequently evidence shows that posts with images get better click-through rates. Make sure that your image is sized to be the same width as your post, rename the file and set the title and ALT text to include your keywords. Other handy tips include adding a description of the image in the description field to optimise the image for screen readers used by visually impaired people, and as always – please make sure the image is yours or that you’ve purchased them for the correct use.
- Select the Categories and Tags that make sense for your article. Categories tell us broadly what the post is about or what area it sits under, whilst Tags are further used to describe the post and its topic.
So there you have it – my SEO Checklist for Success.
Keep in mind that we always recommend speaking to an SEO professional if you want this done properly, but I hope I’ve at least given you some quick and easy things you can do to help you in the right direction!
If you’d like to be put in touch with the people that we trust in the SEO game (we only recommend the best!), please get in touch!