The endless quest for SEO dominance begins at home — your homepage, that is. Here are five simple tips that can help improve your website’s rank on search engine results pages (“SERPs” to those in the know). The best thing about them? You can implement all five tips yourself.
1. Search your keywords.
Periodically do a search for your preferred keywords to see where you (and your competitors) rank for them on SERPs. No-brainer bonus: Be sure to review the related search phrases at the bottom of the results page — they’ll give you insight into other terms people are searching, and you may want to incorporate some of them into your content to boost your rank for those terms.
2. Use your keywords strategically.
Obvious places to use keywords: page titles, URL, meta descriptions, and the first paragraph of copy. A less obvious place: image descriptions and names. A search engine will take more interest in an image named “MBA students collaborate.jpeg” than one named “untitled.jpg.” Sprinkle a few keywords into the image-related metadata and alt text.
3. Link carefully.
Including high-quality links to related content on other domains will demonstrate the legitimacy of your own content. The more links you use, the greater the likelihood that you’ll receive backlinks from other domains. Backlinks are important because they make you look like an authority in Google’s creepy all-seeing eyes. While you’re at it, add links to relevant content on your own site to keep readers engaged and prevent them from leaving. Another no-brainer bonus: Don’t rely on “click here to learn more” as a link. Instead, turn keywords into a link that a search engine can get excited about: “Explore our hands-on program offerings.”
4. Keep things brief.
Keep URLs and page titles as brief as possible. You want them to appear in their entirety on SERPs, so searchers can know where they’re going when they click your result. Run-on page titles and URLs can run your webpage down to a lower rank on the results page.
5. Have a good SEO toolbox.
There are many tools that can determine where you currently rank and help you understand what you need to do to rank for specific keywords. Google Search Console is a good place to start. You can also explore the free offerings from Moz and choose what works best for your needs.
SEO is a balancing act.
Successful SEO is a careful blending of art, science, analysis, creativity, patience, tenacity, vigilance, luck, timing, and voodoo. That said, here are a few parting thoughts to keep in mind.
- Update your content regularly. Search engines — and more importantly, real people — will notice if your blog hasn’t been updated since 2016, and will take it as a sign that the rest of your content might not be worth considering.
- Search engines will lower your ranking if your website loads slowly; do what you can to speed up loading times (consider enabling compression, minimizing HTTP requests, and optimizing your hosting service).
- Search engines continuously alter their logarithms and magical formulas, so keeping up with SEO requires considerable commitment.
- Improving your ranking doesn’t happen overnight or by implementing a single change. Experimenting, tweaking, and monitoring are key to guiding your SEO efforts toward your goal.
John Beaupré, senior copywriter, has been writing advertising and marketing copy for more than 20 years and he’s still not done.