Search Engine Optimization Best Practices:
A Beginner’s Guide
On-page Keyword Integration Best Practices:
- Metadata – Page Titles and Descriptions
- Heading Elements
- Anchor Text – Internal/External Links
- Image Alternative Text (alt text)
- Get Creative
This information is intended to provide a general overview of best practices for on-page SEO keyword integration. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions on any particular area for anything related to SEO methodology.
Whenever possible include the focus keyword within the page’s URL (slug). The URL for the page is the first identifier utilized by Googlebots. This provides valuable initial indexing information.
In WordPress, the default URL slug for a page is the title separated by dashes i.e. domainname.com/page-title-separated-by-dashes. This can be manually updated to include the focus keyword if it is not found in the page title.
This is the highest hierarchy of page data structure that the focus keyword is found. See examples below.
Consider updating https://www.blueway.design/seo-example
Consider updating https:/blueway.design/about/dei
2. Metadata – Page Titles and Descriptions:
The second highest hierarchy of page data structure to focus keyword integration on is within the metadata, primarily page titles. Whenever possible, include a focus or supporting keyword for the metadata page title.
Currently, the default Yoast metadata page title is, Page Title – Brand Name. Depending on the length of the title this can initially be optimized by utilizing as much of the available characters as possible. See example below.
Optimal Page Title Length: 600px, ~50-65 characters
Website Design – Services – Blueway Design, Inc.
Responsive Website Design and E-commerce – Blueway Design
Your page title within the metadata should provide value to the page by clearly identifying to Googlebots and human users what the page is about in the most broad but simultaneously concise manner.
The examples above are optimal for providing a baseline for initial page indexing. After initial indexing and performance metrics are available, utilize the page title as keyword real estate. When optimizing metadata it is often helpful to view the page title as the headline of an article in a newspaper.
When optimizing for Local SEO it is important to include the targeted geographic location within the page title. To optimize initial indexing the following is an ideal starting structure for the metadata page title for Local SEO.
i.e. Organizational Development – Steamboat Springs, CO – Blueway Design
Keywords found within the metadata description do not directly help/hurt in search engine results page (SERP) rankings. However, this is a space for marketing language and to attract viewers to the page. Utilizing keywords in this pace can attract a user’s attention by integrating words that they are searching for.
Well written metadata descriptions are intended to grab a reader’s attention. These can have a significant impact on click-through rate over time. See example below.
Optimal Description Length: ~155-160 characters
Blueway Design is committed to its individual effort to help build communities that provide equal support and opportunity to all individuals.
3. Heading Elements:
Integrating keywords within header elements, h1, h2, h3 etc. allows your keywords to define the content of the page working from the top of the page to the bottom. Also included in this are heading elements found within the footer, sidebars, call-to-action sections etc.
When looking for heading element optimization opportunities in areas such as calls-to-actions, language can easily become awkward and quickly bring the design out of balance. Only add keywords to these areas when it aesthetically and logically makes sense to do so. CTA’s are a lower priority for optimization opportunities but they are worth being consciously aware of. Only integrate keywords into CTAs when it adds value to the overall page structure.
When organizing your content below your header elements utilize bulleted, lettered and/or number lists when possible. This adds another layer to your data structure when being scanned by web crawlers.
When implementing SEO content is being optimized for both machine and human reading. If Googlebots are unable to identify what your content is about it will not index your pages efficiently and pages will suffer in a loss of rankings for related search queries. Similarly, if a human is unable to connect with the content being presented, they will abandon it as it does not provide them with value.
As you optimize your content, think about your designed web page as a content outline. Attempt to integrate focus keywords towards the top of the page (above the fold when possible) as these will carry more weight. Web pages follow the information funnel where information found towards the bottom of the page will not be identified as being as significant.
It is also important to include location keywords whenever applicable and/or appropriate. Utilizing location keywords has a significant impact on Local SEO. This helps inform web crawlers of your physical location as well as your intended audience’s physical location.
Additionally, utilizing supporting, secondary keywords helps to build context for your page’s content. Google’s search algorithm continues to become increasingly sophisticated. It is now able to decipher meaning from groups of words and sections of text. The days of listing keywords at the bottom of the page are long over and now results in ranking penalties.
A solid go-to initial content keyword integration strategy is to replace existing nouns with focus keywords. See example below:
replace ‘Rank high in search results’
with ‘Rank in Google’s top 10 for search queries related to your industry.’
Due to the ongoing rise in false news and misinformation, an increasingly weighted ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm is what is referred to as E-A-T. This acronym represents expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. It is important to emphasize these factors in all aspects of content development. For additional information on E-A-T and its significance to user’s and Google visit, Google E-A-T SEO: How to Create Content Google Wants.
The primary intent for all content found on the web is to help users in one form or another i.e. entertain, inform, sell etc. while keeping their best interest in mind.
When integrating keywords into content it is important to avoid stuffing keywords as this will result in penalization from Google. A solid frequency rule of thumb is to identify one keyword phrase/string per page including 3-5 supporting keywords. When selecting supporting keywords, make sure that it makes logical sense to be on the same page as your keyword phrase/string. It is equally significant to ensure the number of supporting keywords does not disrupt the flow and cohesiveness of the page.
5. Anchor Text – Internal/External Links:
Anchor text for both internal and external links is another key location to integrate focus keywords. Link the identify keywords that help define/explain what the link is instead of a ‘Click Here’ or ‘Learn More’ at the end of a sentence or section. This can also be utilized in button text. See example below.
In St. Petersburg, FL, Jonathan Barrett worked from inside the Tampa Bay Innovation Center.
In this existing example, the anchor text Tampa Bay Innovation Center
is linked externally to Tampa Bay Innovation Center’s website.
Depending on the approach, this can also lead to a more seamless user experience providing additional content flow.
From a machine reading perspective, this provides additional, identifying information when Googlebots are crawling your page. It is important to remember that during the crawling process the number one goal is to inform web crawlers of what the information on your page is intending to convey.
6. Image Alternative Text (alt text):
Whenever possible, it is advantageous to include visuals (images, graphics, infographics etc.) that support and provide additional meaning/support to the content.
It is important to make sure that the alt= field is present for all images that support your content’s intended message. This will not only help Googlebots understand the content of your page as they are unable to read an image, but it also will provide a description of the image to the user if the image does not load properly.
When naming your images utilize focus keywords separated by dashes. i.e. image-that-supports-your-message.jpg. See example below.
Original file name: black-and-white-globe
Optimized file name: seo-best-practices-a-beginners-guide
Please note that image alt text is not needed for decorative images and decorative graphics.
Including both image alternative text and image naming mechanics will help Google properly index your images resulting in higher SERP rankings for individual pages and in image search results.
7. Get Creative:
SEO is strategy driven. Strategies that produce significant results can and will diminish over time. Keyword integration strategies that are successful for one campaign will not necessarily produce the same results for another campaign.
When creating new content utilize your focus keywords as a catalyst to develop content around, or, if looking at existing content, see/identify the big picture and then work inward for focus keyword integration.
It is important to not get too lost in the specifics. The overall intent of content optimization is to answer a user’s search query. Best practices help identify the key areas to pay attention to. Make sure that you are providing proper page markup for Googlebots and crawlers but also don’t lose sight of your intended audience.
The most important SEO factor is consistency over time. Quality content that is clearly defined using the SEO best practices establishes domain authority. The ultimate goal is for your website(s) to be recognized as the subject matter expert for your industry.