6 SEO best practices you should implement now
In order to improve your search engine optimization, you need to improve your content and metadata.
Written by Vegard Ottervig on
In the olden days of the 1990s what mattered in the world of search engines was keyword quantity. If you mentioned a keyword a lot on your website (never mind the readability), your page would probably land high among the search results.
And this is exactly what you want—to be on top of the first page. You might have heard the joke: “What is the best place to hide a body? The second page of the search results.” And there’s a truth to that statement.
When Google came along they started to rank search results not based on keyword quantity, but the number of external links leading to a specific page with the keyword. If a throng of websites linked to your website, Google thought it was a seal of approval.
Today Google’s search algorithms have changed drastically, and are now focused on intent, context, and topics. If you for instance search for “who is the villain in the lord of the rings?”, the top results directs you to “Sauron”, even though you didn’t mention his name at all. This is because Google now understands connections among searches, and gets better every day.
With this strategic overlook in mind, here’s our tips of SEO best practice:
Forget the technical talk for a while and focus on what really matters in your content production, predominantly writing: Act normally! Write for humans, write colorfully, write in a lively language. And keep control of your metadata.
This will not solve all your SEO woes, but it delivers the best starting point. Write and produce content that naturally incorporates the keywords you want to rank for. After all, you are addressing a given topic, and then it will only be natural to mention keywords associated with it.
Do keyword research with tools like Google Keyword Planner, or simply search in Google and watch for both the autofill function in the search field and the related searches on the bottom of the result page. In this way, you can see what terms users search for and snatch keywords you otherwise might have forgotten or even didn’t know about.
With Google Keyword Planner you can delve even further into the details of search volume and competition related to search terms and keywords. If your chosen keyword e.g. has a large search volume and low competition, this means that the demand is high but the supply is low, and you should probably put your efforts in producing quality content about this given topic.
See what your competitors do with tools like BuzzSumo, which shows you what content from a given domain that is most shared in social media. Now, we don’t mean you should go around and copy your competitors uncritically and without shame, but it might be useful to see what they are writing about on their blog or website to give you inspiration and some idea about what works and what doesn’t.
Incorporate keywords organically in titles (H1, H2, etc.), body text, image names, alt tags, and metadata. We mentioned this earlier and we make a point of mentioning it again, with a separate listing. Act normally!
Take ownership over a topic with pillar pages and content clusters. As Google further tries to understand the connection between seemingly different keywords, they increasingly discover the common denominator of keywords in the form of a topic, and this is where the so-called pillar page and its related cluster pages come into play.
A pillar page is first and foremost a giant page about a topic, not too broad and not too narrow, that provides a quality overview, with links to blog posts – or “cluster content” – which explains a subtopic in more detail while also linking back to the pillar page. A pillar page and its content cluster is a great way to organise your content hierarchically and logically, something which Google loves. HubSpot provides a explanation detailing further what a pillar page is.
Don’t forget the links when you produce content. As hinted above, hyperlinks are still a must when it comes to connecting users to useful content and gaining search engine ranking. Link to relevant pages where it is natural and include keywords in the link text, as this tells both users and Google more about what the link contains. There is also no problem to link to external sites, as long as they give your consumers value.
With these few tips you should have a head start in your SEO adventure, making your website and ultimately your product and/or services to be found by your prospects. Make sure to choose a CMS where SEO efforts are made possible and easy, with metadata fields readily available for you to fill in your magic words.
First published 15 August 2018, updated 28 June 2022.
The aggregated efforts to make your digital experiences visible and understandable for search engines, and thereby for humans.
Vegard Hovland Ottervig holds a Master's degree in film studies and has worked with journalism and marketing since 2010. He loves cycling, philosophy, gaming, and writing.
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