Now hold on… Before you think I’ve lost my mind, notice the title doesn’t say “Don’t do SEO” or “SEO Doesn’t Matter.” In fact, spending quality time on SEO is anything but a waste of time. It’s no secret that search engines are the primary source people use to find your site, and it’s also true that if you’re not ranking pretty high in the search results for your relevant keywords, you’re not going to get much of that traffic. So SEO is unquestionably vital to your site’s success. But which areas of your site’s pages should you be focusing on to improve your SEO? If you focus equally on everything you can, you’re going to be wasting your time, because the truth is, some areas just don’t matter as much as others. While people have different views about which areas are most important, most agree that there are 5 critical areas you must nail to really have a positive effect on your SEO, so here they are:
1. Content – Well, duh, right? As is often said, content is king. That’s not only true for keeping people coming back to your site – it’s also true for SEO purposes. Search engines love fresh new (relevant) content. There are a lot of bloggers who post infrequently and sporadically, and they’re just not doing themselves any favors from an SEO standpoint. Relevance is another important issue when planning your content. There are blogs out there that are mind-blowingly broad in their content topics, and this makes them less attractive to the search engines. If you have posts about software, nutrition, politics, celebrity gossip, and how to do origami all on the same page, chances are you won’t rank high for any of those topics. The exception might be a news site that already has substantial traffic, but even those tend to categorize their content both for better readability and SEO performance.
2. Keyword Frequency – The trick for some people is to balance quality, well-written content with keyword frequency. This shouldn’t be hard though. If you’re writing about a topic and you’re going to cover it well, you’ll naturally use your keywords in your writing. One thing you can do though is scan what you’ve written and change some wording to other keyword variations – as long as it doesn’t make your writing sound dumb. For instance, in this post, it would be fine to mix it up and spell out SEO as “search engine optimization” now and then, as long as it flows and doesn’t detract from the writing. But it shouldn’t be obvious that you’re optimizing. That’s annoying to read (even if it’s an SEO blog about SEO), and your readers – who want to learn about search engine optimization – will not tolerate it, nor will the search engines who you’re trying to search engine optimize your search engine keywords for in your article about search engine optimization. (SEO)
3. Title – Your title tag (or post title for a blog) is an important consideration for a couple of reasons. First of all, and perhaps most importantly, you want to give your readers and idea of what the page is about. In doing so, you’ll no doubt use your target keywords in your title – which is the other important aspect of title tags. This makes perfect sense. When people get a long list of search results, what do they do? They scan the titles to find the result most relevant to their search. So you’re helping yourself by helping your site’s visitors when you optimize your title tag with relevant keywords. Also, for search purposes, try to keep your title under 72 characters. That way the full title will show in search results.
4. Meta Description – Following your page’s title in the search results is the page description. There are varying opinions about whether using keywords in your description meta will improve SEO, but it’s still something you want to pay attention to. Why? Because even if it won’t help you get ranked higher, it will increase click-through rates once you are ranked. After scanning titles of search results for relevant content, searchers read descriptions, so even if you have the perfect title, the proper description will validate and cement their decision to click through to your page.
5. Links – Search engines believe (if a computerized algorithm can believe something) that the more connected you are, the more relevant you are. So both incoming and outgoing links matter when it comes to SEO. Outgoing links can be to other sites with related content or to relevant internal pages. This basically tells the search engine, “See – what I’m presenting must be relevant. Here are other sites and pages talking about the same thing.”
Obviously, like I said in the beginning, there are a lot of other areas that can affect SEO, including H1 tags, link alt tags, image alt tags, keyword meta tags, etc. But if you want to spend more of your time running your business, focusing on the above five areas will improve your SEO without wasting your time.