So… Search Engine Optimization (SEO), huh? If you’re unfamiliar with SEO and you think it’s this big, hairy, scary beast, that’s totally okay… after reading this article, you’ll understand what it is and how you can best leverage your website’s content to maximize your SEO. The typical result of Search Engine Optimization is ranking higher in Google’s organic search results for relevant, industry search terms. To simply define SEO – it’s how well your content is aligned to what search engines ACTUALLY care about. So what the hell does Google care about (we are going to use this article as an example of SEO best practices, too)?
Here are the 5 key components that search engines care about and what you should take into consideration:
- Page title tag
- URL structure
- Structured Data
- Image ALT Text
- Meta Description
What is a page title tag?
A page title tag is the first place a search engine ‘crawls’ to understand what the page is about. You can find it in the text that occupies the tabs in your browser (see image above). Typically, a poorly optimized page title tag looks something like this, “WebDude – Blog Article”. This is what we would see if someone has a website that hasn’t been well optimized because they named their blog post “WebDude – Blog Article”. When in reality, people who know your company are going to find it every time they are looking for you! Then, why the heck do we include our branded keyword, “WebDude” for example, in our page title tag. It’s a waste of characters and a crappy descriptor of the web page.
A good page title tag would look something like this, “Boston Web Design Company | WebDude”. The reason why this is a successful page title tag is because it includes keywords like, “Boston Web Design”, “Web Design Company”, and “Boston Web Design Company”… 3 in 1! Additionally, Google only reads the first 70 characters of your page title tag, and Google reads left to right in order of importance. Therefore, put your beefiest and more important keywords as far left as you can!
What is good URL structure?
A URL is a specific, unique domain name address for each piece of content on your website. For example, “http://Webdude.co/sales”. The ‘/sales’ is the location in which the page resides. The URL is arguably the easiest piece to maximizing your SEO. It’s astonishing how many people get it wrong. If we keep using the example of WebDude, a good URL to make the page title tag “Boston Web Design Company | WebDude”, is “http://Webdude.co/Boston-web-design-company”. Now as Google continues to crawl your content it says, “AHHHH! I think I know what this content is about… the page title tag is Boston Web Design Company AND the URL is Boston Web Design Company… it must be relevant to a Boston Web Design Company!”
What is structured data?
Structured data is the breakdown in which you align your content in order of importance. Google looks at different pieces of your content with varying levels of importance. For example, do you notice how all of the section headers in this article are a bit bigger in font size? That’s not only to help you read more easily, but it’s also to tell Google what I’m writing about. These section headers are called “h2 tags”. Meaning, they are a title that I wish Google to crawl with more emphasis. There are a few different structured data tags.
- header tags ( h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 )
- lists ( ordered lists, unordered lists )
- emphasis ( bold, underlined, italic )
- ID naming
- Class naming
Header tags are different ways to tell search engines that a particular piece of copy is more important than the rest. For example, you may want a title when starting a new section or trying to demonstration higher value for one particular phrase.
Lists are easy ways to tell search engines, “here are some important things!” For example, we have 2 lists in this article already… one that is ordered (you can tell by the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and one that is unordered (you can tell by the bullets).
Different pieces of your content may want to be emphasized more drastically. Google loves when you help tell them what you think is important for your readers by bolding, underlining, or italicizing specific content.
Lastly, ID and Class naming. This is the trickiest for non-technical people. What this means is that you’re telling search engines that this section of content is called “product pricing”. This is super helpful in similar pages like eCommerce websites. For example, AirBnb calls the title of each listing “name”, easily telling Google that this section is the unique name of this particular listing.
What is ALT text and how can I change it?
ALT text is the copy you insert into the images you add to your website to tell search engines what the images are. Currently, search engines can’t really see your image, but rather read the ALT text to understand what your image is about. This is one of the biggest mistakes that companies make with their websites that is actually SUPER easy. Don’t be lazy with your ALT text behind images as it’s another area to tell Google what you’re writing about that they take into consideration for your organic ranking. See how in the image the alt text reads, “What does SEO stand for? | URL structure”? It’s well optimized for the article and it describes what the image is showing!
What is meta description?
Meta description is a 160 character summary that describes the web page clearly and concisely. It’s a key component to search engine optimization that also helps the reader significantly. Notice how in the image there is a short blurb that has the keyword phrase we’re trying to optimize around. Then, also notice how there is a subtle call to action that will hopefully help the Googler click… Now the meta description has the keyword that our page title tag, URL, content, and images all contain? That’s great SEO!
How do I write good content?
Now that we’ve laid out what search engines prioritize in evaluating content the next and most important thing to do for good SEO is writing user-friendly, helpful content. Google’s algorithms are getting wicked smart and will continue to penalize content ranking for poorly written collateral. Their business revolves around excellent user experiences, and if they are putting nonsensical articles in front of their audience, they will lose trust AND so will you! Focus on writing helpful content that follows the key components listed above and you’ll start outranking your competitors and educating the people who need your help!