“Organic SEO is non-negotiable,” I recently wrote here on the StitchDX Blog. If I’m going to tell you that you must do something, then it’s only fair that I give you some of the “how.” So let’s start with the fundamentals: Here are the 6 SEO basics that many SMB websites are missing — and how to get them right on yours (and potentially gain competitive advantage when customers are searching).
SEO Basic #1: Your Keyword or Keyphrase
I’ll repeat what I wrote in my last post: SEO starts here. Optimize each page of your site (blog posts, too) with a unique keyword or keyphrase. Every pointer I’ll lay out in this post starts with those keywords.
First, here’s a summary of my 4 SEO keyword research strategies for better SERP (search engine results page) rankings:
Know your competition. When you know your competitors’ keywords and how well they rank, you can strategize your content and optimization to take advantage of their vulnerabilities and challenge their strengths. SEMRush and the Moz Bar are my two favorite tools for this effort.
Improve your chances. You want your keywords to be unique. You also want them to be relevant terms that your customers are actually searching for. BUT you don’t want your keywords to be so popular that your odds of high SERP ranking for them are low. I use Keywords Everywhere in my research to help me strike that balance.
Use more longtail keywords. The goal of search (and content) optimization is to meet your customers where they are, and faster is always better. Longtail keywords can do more to advance this objective.
Longtail keywords seek to attract longer, more specific search queries. As an example, look at the specific and detailed choices Google offers you as you type in a search. Keywords Everywhere will also offer longtail suggestions.
Act locally (if it makes sense for your business). Adding local or regional references to your keywords will make you more visible and competitive on SERPs. Whether you’re a corner coffee shop or an industrial company with coast-to-coast warehouses, this is how you show up in “near me” search results.
Let me also say this before I go any further: You can change the keyword you’re optimizing for on any page at any time. But when you do, don’t forget to update SEO Basics 2 through 6.
SEO Basic #2: Your H1
The 6 SEO Basics Your Website is Missing (and How to Get Them Right) is the H1 (main head) for this page. Your H1 must contain your keyword because it’s an on-page attribute that attracts the crawlers search engines deploy to scan and index your site.
You should also always seek opportunities to leverage each page’s keyword in lower-level subheads (H2, H3, etc.).
Most of the time the H1 lives at the top of your page (In WordPress, your page’s title becomes its default H1.). However you can tag any bit of copy on the page with “H1” if it suits your purposes. What’s important to remember is that every page should only have a single H1. You can have as many subheads as you wish.
SEO Basic #3: Your URL
Naturally if your keyword is in your H1, so should it be in your URL. WordPress will generate a default URL (“slug”) from your H1. Ideally your keywords should come first in the URL.
SEO Basic #4: Title tag
Title tags are the blue subheads at the start of every result on a SERP — visitors click them to go from the SERP to your site. Type in practically any search phrase; the top results you receive will contain it.
SEO Basic #5: Meta text
Meta text (or meta description) appears directly below the title tags on a SERP and serves to describe or preview the information you’ll see when you click.
Too often, web development teams don’t do the work of intentionally crafting this copy. When they don’t, search engines will just populate the meta text with copy from the web page. That’s a shame because meta-text absolutely deserves your attention. Here’s why:
Meta text is an opportunity to “close the deal” with searchers, to get them to click to your site, which helps that page rise on its SERP. A attention-getting teaser, an offer, a high-value promise, or a unique benefit can entice the searcher to click. (Then it’s the job of the web page to convert visitors to leads.)
SEO Basic #6: Alt-text
Search engines don’t see images. However, a website CRM like WordPress enables you to easily assign “alt-text” that search engines can read. Alt-text should briefly describe its image while incorporating your keyword.
How to avoid missing these 6 SEO basics on your website.
At StitchDX we build every customer website in WordPress, pretty much the gold standard platform for site development. And on every website we install the Yoast SEO plugin.
What Yoast will do:
As you do the work I’ve outlined above, Yoast:
- Scans the page you’re working on.
- Rates it for SEO and readability (which factors into SEO) with red/amber/green color codes.
- Gives you real-time feedback across more than a dozen on-page attributes, telling you where you’ve nailed it and where you need to do more work.
I like to think of myself as well outside the “target demo” for gamification of work tasks. But I’ll admit to getting a slight little dopamine buzz when I see my Yoast ratings change from red to amber to green.
What Yoast won’t do:
Yoast will NOT guarantee your pages’ SERP placement — that’s totally up to Google or Bing.
But as someone who believes that opportunities are to be seized, I find Yoast to be a priceless tool for giving every page of your website the fighting chance it deserves to outrank your competition.
Learn more about how to do better in search:
Blog post: Google Ads vs. SEO: Which Is Better For Search?
Blog post: 4 SEO Keyword Research Strategies for Better SERP Rankings
Blog post: What is Technical SEO? The Essential Basics for SMBs
Blog post: Website Authority: What it Is, Why it Matters, How to Get it
Blog post: Page Authority: A Quick Primer for Your Website
Blog post: Link Building: An Introduction for SMBs
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- Download the ebook 10 Critical Questions You Should Ask About Your Website.
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- Reach out to our Digital Marketing Team. Contact us here or click the orange chat button in the lower right corner.