SEO tip – 5 SEO Basics to Do Today

Organic search drives 51% of all visitors to business-to-business and business-to-consumer websites, a study by BrightEdge found. If your goal is to get your website in front of fresh eyes, you need to get comfortable with search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is a combination of art and science, but for every marketer with 1,000 other things to do, SEO is a worthwhile priority. To help you get started, we’ve laid out a simple list of 5 things busy marketers can do today to improve SEO efforts.

SEO Recap

Quick recap for all you SEO newcomers – before you sign up for a service or buy a product, what do you do? You Google it, or use another search engine like Yahoo to look at product reviews, compare prices, or check out the firm’s reputation.

After inputting keywords into the search engine, you likely click the first, second, or third search result, oftentimes skipping over the paid results. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll click one of the results on the first page, instead of navigating to page two to see more options. The best, most reputable results are on page one, right?

THAT, right there, is why you need SEO. SEO is a collection of best practices to shape your web pages and copy into orderly and descriptive preferences set by popular search engines (namely, Google) to help boost your webpage to the top of search results.

You can perform SEO on web pages, blog posts, or any online content you want people to find. Follow our 5 SEO basics to get started.

SEO basics 1: Create Unique Page Titles

A webpage title is a brief page description that tells search engines what your page is all about.

For example, let’s say we Google “Omaha Steaks.” We used a name brand, as opposed to just searching “steak,” so it’s no surprise that Omaha Steaks is the first search result.

If I click the listing to land on their homepage, I can see the first part of their page title in the browser tab: “Buy Steaks, Gourmet Food…”. If I hover my mouse over the title, the rest of it shows up: “Buy Steaks, Gourmet Food Gifts, Wine, and Lobster Tails Online {Omaha Steaks}.”

SEO-basics-Page-Titles-Omaha-Steaks

Navigating back to the search results, you’ll see these same descriptive keywords in the page title, shown in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Omaha Steak in Google Search Results

Every page on your website should be different and the page title indicates what makes content different from one page to another. It also tells search engines the keywords relating to each page, so your webpage is returned when someone searches for those keywords.

The Omaha Steaks example shows the importance of using a variety of keywords that make sense for the page. They could have just chose the word “steak” or “ribeye,” but then customers searching for “Gourmet Food Gifts” might not find the Omaha Steaks homepage.

Perform keyword research and develop a list of words your target audience is likely to search for, then front load those keywords in the page title (like Omaha Steaks did).

Though it’s tempting to stuff every possible keyword into the title at the off chance a customer may search for it, don’t do this! Keep page titles to 50-60 characters of targeted keywords. You don’t want to drive the wrong audience to your page or get penalized by the search engines for keyword stuffing.

Your page title is visible in SERP’s and should be readable and compelling. It should accurately describe the page and entice prospects to click – like the title of an ad striving to grab customers’ attention.

SEO basics 2: Don’t waste the meta description

The meta description tag also describes the page’s content. Meta description tags get a bad rep, oftentimes deemed unimportant to SEO. Although it’s true that search engines do not use meta description keywords to rank pages, they form the basis of the page snippet visible to searchers beneath each search result.

See Google’s results when we search for “budgeting tools.”

Mint - meta description

The meta description, circled, tells us what each search result is about. Like the title, it acts as ad copy to entice us to click one result versus another. Google also bolds the search terms, whether they’re an exact or close match. Meta descriptions should stay around 155 characters – anything longer risks getting cut off.

Search engine optimization is all about optimizing our web content to resonate with our human audience. After all, that is usually a search engines goal – getting the most useful information upfront for humans. The human aspect is key with meta description tags – your copy should both describe the page and compel your audience to click and read more.

Each page’s meta description should be different from one another (since every webpage should be different) and convey the valuable information on that page. Keywords help your audience and the search engines understand the page’s intent, but again, keep the description readable to make sense to your audience.

SEO basics 3:  Add in alt-tags

Adding alt text to every image on your site helps search crawlers “see” the image by describing it to them. During instances when the image doesn’t properly load, the alt text is displayed instead, telling your audience what the image is.

Incorporate keywords into your images’ alt text to provide context about each image and keep it to around 140 characters.

Similarly, the image file name should also include relevant keywords (all lowercase) separated by hyphens to give search crawlers context around elements on your page.

SEO basics 4:  Write great copy

Search engines aim to help searchers by returning the best content for every search query. Sounds like a no brainer, but one of the most effective ways you can improve search ranking for specific keywords is to write informative, well-written content on your subject.

Excellent content incorporating keywords (in a natural way – remember, no keyword stuffing!) that your audience finds useful will be more highly read and shared, indicating to search engines that it deserves to be higher up in SERPs.

It’s not enough to write just one article, but instead, consistently create original, valuable content that keeps your website fresh and your audience happy. Remember, the human element of SEO is as important as pleasing the search engines.

SEO Basics 5: Use tools to track your search optimization progress

There are a ton of helpful tools to track your SEO progress.

Google Analytics is a free tool to track all kinds of important website metrics. Use Google Analytics to track overall traffic and traffic derived from organic search. Dig deeper to see what landing pages drive the most organic traffic. Whether you’re looking into traffic, conversions, or demographics, there’s a ton of helpful information available in Google Analytics. (Need a crash course? We write about Google Analytics tips and updates all the time.)

Try Google Search Console (formally Google Webmaster Tools) for insight into how Google views your site. In Google Search Console, you can gain insight into search appearance, search traffic, Google Index, crawl status, and security issues. This information can help you determine whether your site is performing optimally, and whether your search efforts are paying off. (We go into more detail on Google Search Console here).

Moz offers a ton of resources for link building and analysis, keyword research, webpage performance, local listings, and more. They also have a very informative, helpful blog and other resources. If you have questions about SEO success, start with Moz.

Follow these SEO basics for search success

Following these SEO basics every time you add new content to your site will boost search rankings and get your website in front of a larger audience. Just remember, SEO is part pleasing the search engines and part compelling your audience to click for more. Make your content readable, informative, and valuable and you’re halfway there!