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The Invaluable Art of SEO

Google’s search engine works by gathering information from a range of sources, such as web pages, public databases, and other areas through crawling, indexing, ranking, and serving web pages.

The “crawling” and “indexing” of web pages are done by search algorithms. Search algorithms use automated programs that are typically referred to as bots, crawlers, or spiders. When someone types in a query, results pop up depending on the frequency and location of keywords on the page. The results also depend on how long the page has existed, and various other factors that impact search engine ranking.

From a technical perspective, you need to help Google’s search algorithms find your siteunderstand your website so that it knows when to serve the site to users, and finally, help visitors use your site. Below are the bare minimum basic tasks needed to Google find your website:

    1. Providing a sitemap file with links pointing to the essential pages of your website. 
    2. Using appropriate, relevant keywords throughout your content.
    3. Ensuring all pages on the website can be found through another page with links.
    4. Limiting the number of links on any given page of your website.
    5. Ensuring your web server supports the proper HTTP header.

Finding and understanding your website are two very different things. You want search engines to understand the context behind your website. This means you need to:

    1. Craft useful pages that clearly describe what you do and offer.
    2. Keep all HTML tags accurate and specific throughout the content.
    3. Design the website with a clear page hierarchy that’s easy to navigate.
    4. Allow all site assets to be crawled.
    5. Placing your most valuable content above the fold.

Next, it’s time to focus on helping visitors use your website. You don’t want people leaving as soon as they arrive, as that’ll increase your bounce rate. Here are a few tips:

    1. Ensure all links are valid and go to live pages.
    2. Use a responsive design that works on all types of devices.
    3. Make sure your website functions correctly in all browsers.
    4. Secure your connection with HTTPS for more excellent protection.
    5. Ensure all pages are accessible for the visually impaired.

These steps can be summarized with keyword research, content optimization techniques, and technical SEO strategies.

Keyword Research

Keywords are a huge part of ranking well in the search engine. REMEMBER: Your customers or users often refer to your product or service differently than you do. You want to make sure you’re using the right keywords that are relevant to your products and/or services. When optimizing your website, keep the following pointers in mind. These pointers all center around understanding your keyword search volume, competition, and relevance.

  • Ask questions before you research: Spend some time thinking about who would be searching for your products and/or services. What are they interested in? How would they phrase their questions?

  • Look into what terms are commonly searched: Use a keyword research tool to figure out exactly what terms people are searching for in terms of your niche. This will give you insight into what keywords to use. Below the most popular Keyword Research Tools are Google Ads Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Moz Keyword Explorer.
  • Pay Attention to Search Volume: You don’t want to bother optimizing your website for keywords that are searched infrequently. Pay attention to the keywords searched hundreds or thousands of times per month. If you are using the Keyword Planner, this is indicated by using the Search Volume metric.
  • Pay Attention to Competition: If the search volume is high, it’s harder to rank for that term. This essentially means that a keyword is already used on many different websites. It will be harder to rank for highly competitive terms.
  • Keep in Mind Searcher’s Intent: Are they looking to make a purchase quickly, or are they looking to gather information? Or maybe they’re looking to watch a video? Think about the searcher’s intent. This is indicated with terms such as “free,” “buy now,” or location indicators such as “near me.”
  • Determine the Value of each Keyword: Usually, keywords that have a high search volume with low competition and high relevance to your product or service are the best keywords for your site.

You must also understand your ability to own them within a short amount of time, let’s say a couple of months or so. This means that the keywords must be particular and not just what the Keyword Planner gives you or words that are related to your business. It must be a combination of those four factors I mentioned above.

Content Optimization is the backbone of any SEO engagement. Making sure your content keeps users engaged, informed and inspired to take action. Your content also informs Google as to the conext of your website so that it serve your web pages to those who may be interested in your content.

Content Optimization

Your copywriting should include keywords, but it must be robust, quality, and useful to the visitors. The determining factor for the length of your site copy AND, more importantly, your blogs are going to be determined by your competitors, specifically in your region and/or demographic.

 What this means is that whoever is ranking No. 1 and is your direct competition has set the bar for ranking where you want to rank. You must do the research to figure out who is ranking for what you should be ranking for and how can we take their strategy and make it better. 

Blogs are by far the most critical aspect of a content program because not only do they keep you ranked, but quality content keeps users engaged. But there is a science to this is well. First, the H1 title is essential as they convey to Google and the user what the content really is about.

The most effective technique for writing H1 tags consists of qualifiersmodifiers, and a prepositional phrase that denotes either a purpose or action the user wants to derive from the information. Usually, a subject is not needed since you are communicating with the user.

  1. Qualifiers/Intensifiers:  essential, top, best, worst, finest, sharpest, heaviest, etc. These are words that separate you, your product, or what you are discussing from the competition.
  2. Modifiers: These are usually numbers or words that restrict or adds to the sense of a head noun.
  3. Prepositional Phrase: this phrase brings everything together.

Technical SEO

The most straightforward part is making sure the site is technically viable and user-friendly. This part includes the technical SEO audit, basic CRO, and UX. I think this will be more beneficial than attempting to do it yourself, and it forever getting pushed on the back burner.

Title Tags: Title tags are the most important on-page SEO element. Each page should have a unique title tag that’s less than 65 characters and begins with the primary keyword.

    • Search Engine Result Pages: Your title tag determines (with a few exceptions) your display title in search engine results pages and is a search visitor’s first experience of your site. Even if your website ranks well on the SERP, a good title can be the make-or-break factor in determining whether someone clicks on your link.

    • Web Browsers: Your title tag is also displayed at the top of your web browser tab. This is useful for people, like myself, who keep many browser tabs open at once. Unique and easily recognizable titles help ensure that people recall your content amidst the avalanche of information they could be sithing through.

    • Social Networks: Some external websites — especially social networks — will use your title tag to determine what to display when you share that page.

    • Title Tag Best Practices:
      • Avoid Using Stop Words
        • articles (such as “the”, “an” and “a”)
        • auxiliary verbs (such as “am”, “is”, and “can”)
        • conjunctions (such as “and”, “or”, “but” and “while”)
        • particles (such as “if”, “then”, and “thus”)
        • prepositions (such as “of”, “that”, “on” and “for”)
        • pronouns (such as “he”, “we”, “which” and “her”)
    • Put Important Keywords First – You’ll know what’s important based on your keyword research.
    • Capitalize the First Letter of Most Words – except articles and prepositional phrases.
    • Find Long Tail Variations of your Primary Keyword – Long-tail keywords are the search queries with deficient individual search volume, but an enormous total search demand as a group.
    • Use qualifiers, modifiers, and a prepositional phrase that denotes either a purpose or action the user wants to derive from the information.
    • Place Top Keywords in Descending Order
    • Make use of Pipes, Dashes, and Colons
    • Place Branding at the End of Title Tag
    • ALWAYS review competition for ideas.

Meta Descriptions: Meta Descriptions don’t hold SEO value any longer. However, they do encourage users to click from the SERPs. They should be enticing and brand-focused, with a maximum of 156 characters.

H1 Tags: H1s are an important on-page element. There should be one H1 per page that describes the content and reflects the primary keyword in the title tag.

Alt Tags: Alt tags are necessary for accessibility. ALT tags help impaired users better understand images on your site. Search engines and other robots cannot interpret images, but images can play a crucial part in how people interpret a web page. Using relevant keywords can help the odds of appearing in image search results. Alt-text is contained within the image tag: <img src=”myimage.png” alt=”nike_air_zoom” />.

UX and Responsive Design: User experience refers to the combination of design, navigation, and content and how visitors perceive that combination. Mostly, you want a positive user experience on your website, including a low bounce rate, high time-on-page, etc. Remember, we live in an age in which people are on the go and need to make decisions in a pinch. Even if they aren’t in a hurry, people will quickly lose interest if your website is hard to navigate.

    • Responsive Web Design – If someone enters your website via mobile phone and it is difficult to read, some of the buttons don’t work, out of view or only hard to reach and/or it is slow to load, you will never be able to reach one of the top spots on Google.

    • Simplify Navigation – Website navigation is a crucial factor when it comes to UX and, consequently, your search engine ranking. Your homepage should feature clear and easy navigation. Users should be able to use your website intuitively – they shouldn’t have to think about their next step. One effective method for helping Google to understand and index your pages includes a sitemap on your website.
    • Focus on Quality – Navigation is not the only factor that Google considers when determining whether your website is of high quality or not. Other factors you need to work on include page layout, content relevance, content originality, internal link structure, and page speed.

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