Nothing could be more confusing to the beginner than search engine optimization, and the fact that Google is making things even more complex with the inclusion of services like Google Now, Google Lens, and Google Assistant, things are bound to get even hairier for digital marketers who don’t know the first thing about SEO.
What’s the lowdown on SEO 101?
Obviously, there is going to be a huge pressure on digital marketers to know how to make their websites SEO 101-compliant.
Google has been blogging for years about the best ways to optimize websites, and for those who have not been able to keep up, that’s going to be a problem.
Luckily, we have come up with a short list of priority steps that you need to take to ensure that Google will absolutely love your website.
1. Get Those New Plugins in Place
You may not know what an SEO plugin technically is, but you have probably encountered it many, many times as you surfed the Web.
SEO plugins are neat little apps or programs that run in the background and foreground of websites, distinct from the page’s HTML code, to perform important tasks like allowing people to share images and pages, monitoring traffic and user data, determining the ‘heat’ or where people are focusing on a page once they arrive from a search engine, and more.
The WordPress community is constantly creating and publishing different SEO plugins for the world to use.
Some of them are completely free, while most of them are freemium, meaning, you have to pay a one-time or recurring fee to unlock all the best features. These tools do cost money to create, so it’s a fair trade between the developers and users.
Some of the best plugins in the market are: Yoast, All In One SEO Pack, Google XML Sitemaps, Broken Link Checker, Google Analytics, and W3 Total Cache.
2. Start Developing Topic Clusters
Currently, the most effective model for developing content on the Web is the cluster model, which is a huge leap from the more mechanicals strategy of the early 2000s.
Basically, you are going to be focusing on creating comprehensive cornerstone articles (these will serve as the foundation), before creating supporting clusters of articles or posts that will all lead back or refer to the cornerstone articles.
Technical SEO is important to make these content clusters work.
The SEO title must include the target longtail keywords, as well as any other related keyword/s that are suitable for the context that you are trying to create.
The SEO title must be long enough to describe the content in an engaging manner, but not too long that it gets cut off by Google when it is finally surfaced on SERPs.
What makes topic clusters work now is that it’s fairly easy to organize vast amounts of content around specific cornerstone articles without breaking the architecture or content schema of the site.
All the main clusters refer back to the mother keywords that the website is targeting, and the clustering model gives the content development team enough leeway to generate engaging content without upending the SEO team’s research and recommended plan of action.
3. Perfect the Art of the SEO Meta Description
The SEO meta description is the quiet, magic element that makes pages stand out from other pages that offer similar content.
You see, Google indexes HTML elements as well as textual content on websites, and if you take the time to optimize your SEO meta description, you will get better results. Here are our tips:
– Limit the text to one paragraph that is roughly 155–160 characters only. You can write a longer paragraph, but make sure that the most interesting bits are in the beginning (in the first 155–160 characters).
Google ‘reads’ all of it, but will only display the length stated above. Within this in mind, you wouldn’t want your paragraph to be pinched mid-word, or where things have just begun to get interesting.
– Use the active voice when writing your SEO meta descriptions. The subject should be in the beginning of the sentence, followed by the action and/or object.
Using the active voice makes statements straightforward, easier to read, and of course, easier to understand. Do it for the readers, and they will reciprocate with more visits.
– Don’t forget to include a CTA or call to action in your text. It can be as simple as “visit today for a free consultation” or “read this to find out more.”
The important thing here is that you are able to instruct the reader as to what must be done to obtain the benefit that the content wishes to give.
4. Optimize Multimedia Elements
Everyone loves images and videos, right? But what if we tell you that these need to be optimized, too?
If you are uploading original images and content or just annotating stock photos and videos from YouTube, make sure that you are being descriptive enough when deciding on the file names, titles, and other alt text associated with these multimedia elements.
The reason for this recommendation is that Google indexes not just text, but everything else on the page.
In fact, Google is encouraging people to search for products visually, meaning, if you run an ecommerce platform and you have hundreds of images that have random filenames and titles, you may be missing out on the free organic traffic coming from Google Image searches.
And let’s not forget that Google Assistant can also fetch image results and videos from voice assisted queries. The company behind the search engine is truly widening its net to include all kinds of elements in the search formula, so that users will be able to find what they need faster and more conveniently.
It won’t hurt to align image and video optimization with the intent behind a particular piece of content, so that all of elements on the page harmonize with one another.