With millions of businesses on the web, showing up in organic search results has never been more important. To make this happen for your website, basic search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for you to understand. Regardless of how much time and money you put into designing a website, your website can remain virtually invisible to users without SEO.
Here are some basics practices that will optimize your site and help it appear on search engine result pages.
1. URL Structure
The first step in optimizing your website starts with your URL structure. URLs should be consistent throughout your website and reflect the path users take to get to that page. For example, if a user reaches a subpage through your Services page, the URL should be: www.domainname.com/services/page-title
URLs should also include business name, primary keywords, and hyphens to break up content. Hyphens should be used sparingly, as having too many could make your site look like a spam site.
2. Page Titles
Your page titles need to be consistent. They should be structured the same way on all of your website's pages and reflect the page title in your URL. It's also important to include the primary subject and keyword for that page within the title. For the best optimization, try to keep your page titles between 50 to 70 characters long. For example, page titles should be structured: Primary Subject | Company/Brand Name
Avoid Including unnecessary information in your page titles. At Onsharp, one of our services is providing website design. However, we would not include "services" in the page title before "website design" because SERP visitors will understand that "website design" is a service that we'd provide.
- Home | Onsharp
- Website Design | Onsharp
- Contact Us | Onsharp
- Services - Website Design | Onsharp
- About Us - Our Team | Onsharp
Keywords are the most important SEO element for search engines. Keywords are the common words or phrases that users search for to find information, research before making a purchase, or browse products and services. Search engines use keywords to decide what results they should refer visitors to when a query is made.
There are two different types of keywords: short-tail and long-tail keywords. Short tail keywords are very broad and have very high search volumes. A good example of a short-tail keyword is the word "smartphone." Long-tailed keywords are more specific and give you better results because they focus on a user’s specific interest. Following the smartphone example, a long-tailed keyword would be "Apple iPhone 6." Another example of an even more specific long-tail keyword would be "Apple iPhone 6 screen repair."
When choosing which keywords you want for on-page and metadata content, you want to include a variety of top-ranking, short keywords and long-tail keywords for specific searches. You also want to include localized keywords that include your city or state name. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to see what your customers are looking for, how many searches keywords get, and which keywords make the most sense for your target audience.
4. Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are a website's opportunity to entice a user to click-through. Meta descriptions are brief paragraphs that appear beneath the Page Title and URL link during a search. These paragraphs tell users what they can expect to find on your website before visiting it. This short description, at 158 characters or fewer, should be unique to each page and should incorporate primary keywords for an easy-to-read and compelling description.
"You've heard about SEO, but you're not sure what to do. We'll tell you how to optimize your website for search by focusing on these 6 SEO elements."
It's under 158 characters, contains keywords, and accurately describes what this page is about.
"SEO Basics: 6 Important SEO Elements to Optimize Your Website"
This description contains keywords, but it's too short and doesn't convey the purpose of the page.
5. H1 Tags
Heading tags, located in the code of your website, are used by search engines to differentiate the overall theme of each page. Search engines place the most importance on the H1 tag followed by the H2 tag, H3 tag, and so on. Heading tags should include keywords that closely relate to the page title and content. Most commonly, the H1 tag is your page title and the H2 tag is a subheading that relates to the paragraph following it and contains other primary keywords.
6. Alt Text
Alt text makes your website's images accessible to those with limited vision who use screen readers. It's also another avenue for search engines to find your website based on keywords. The alt text description you provide for an image, which is different than the title of the image, helps give search engines an idea of what the image represents and in what context it's being used. Because of this, it's frustrating when the alt text of an image is—for example—IMG3806823. You must use keywords in image alt text.
The Bottom Line
All of these elements are key components to optimizing your website for search. If this is done correctly, it can help your website rank on search engine result pages. If you're looking for more information or need help with SEO for your website, let us know. We'll help your website get in front of the audience that's searching for you.