Are you new to SEO? In this article, I talk about the basics of SEO and give you a few quick-fire tips on how to optimise your content for SEO.
*This post was updated on 4 April 2018.
Let’s start at the beginning…
What is SEO?
The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it is the term used for how people find your content or your website on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. If someone is looking for “fine liner pens” and you sell stationery online, then you would ideally want your website to appear on the first page of search results.
When you enter a query into a search engine’s search bar, you will be presented with a list of results that are most relevant to the keywords you used in your search term. SEOs use keywords and several other techniques to answer queries and to help search engines find their websites and rank it high in search engine results.
Now, let’s dive into how to optimise your content for SEO
1. PERMALINK STRUCTURE
Before you even set up your site, make sure your permalink structure is set up correctly. Your permalink structure should be set up to allow you to optimise your URLs for SEO. If you are using WordPress to create your site, you can change your permalink structure in Settings > Permalinks.
The ideal URL is short, keyword-rich and readable by humans. In other words, the ideal permalink stricture should look something like this:
Avoid dates in your URL where possible as there is no concrete evidence that dates in URLs actually help you rank higher in search engine results.
CAUTION: If you have been generating online content for a while, and your permalink structure is not set up correctly, it might not be that easy to just change your permalinks. Proceed with caution before you make any changes as this could cause your links on social media platforms or any other websites to break. Always ensure you include a redirect when you make changes to any URL structures.
2. TITLE YOUR ARTICLES PROPERLY
When you write headlines for your articles, consider what you might search for in order to find the content you are currently writing. It is always a good idea to do some keyword research before writing titles for your content (SEE POINT 3 FOR MORE INFORMATION ON KEYWORD RESEARCH).
Forget about creative, attention-grabbing titles when it comes to SEO. Rather focus on writing titles that describe exactly what the reader can expect from the content.
Don’t forget to include your keyword and a variation thereof in your post title and headings within your content.
Here’s an example of a good SEO title: Top art schools in Johannesburg South Africa
Bad SEO title: Grab a paintbrush and learn how to do art at these fine schools
A good SEO title is short, informative and includes a keyword.
3. DO KEYWORD RESEARCH
Before you start writing anything for your article, do some research. Type your topic idea into a search engine’s search bar and take a moment or two to READ! See what the headlines are for your topic, take a look at how others incorporated their keywords within their content and make a list of keyword ideas for your article.
I always make a mind map of my keywords. This makes it easier to incorporate all of my SEO keywords into my content.
READ MORE: HOW TO FIND SEO KEYWORDS
4. YOUR CONTENT IS IMPORTANT
When writing an article, make sure that your content is informative – ensure that you answer a reader’s query with as much information as possible. Include popular search terms in your content to increase exposure of your article. It is a good idea to link your keywords to any relevant articles on your website too.
When writing content for SEO, always include a:
- Body copy (separated into short paragraphs)
Remember that you are still writing for your readers and not only for search engines, so make sure that all of your articles are reader-friendly.
5. USE TEXT INSTEAD OF IMAGES
Search engines cannot “read” an image. What this means is that search engines can’t actually see what is on an image and therefore, if you have an article that is only filled with 100s of images and no text explaining what these images are about, it would be absolutely worthless.
It is a good idea to include several images within your content, but make sure these images are titled correctly and that you include an informative alt text as well.
READ MORE ON HOW TO OPTIMISE IMAGES FOR SEO IN POINT 6.
6. GET HYPERLINKING AND LINK-BUILDING
There are three different types of hyperlinks to consider when you are writing your online content:
- Internal links – links between content on your website
- Outgoing links – links from your website pointing to external resource on another website
- Incoming links – links pointing from another website to your website
Always ensure that you include at least 2 internal links (to relevant content) and 1 external link (to a trusted source) within your content.
ALSO READ: FOLLOW VS NO-FOLLOW LINKS
The anchor text for these links should be keyword-rich.
6. OPTIMISE YOUR IMAGES FOR SEO
Many people always forget the importance of optimised images for SEO. When you are including images within your articles, always ensure that your image title contains your keyword or a variation thereof. Save your images on your Laptop/PC with these keyword-rich names BEFORE you upload it to your website to make sure that you do not forget to include it.
Once your images are placed on your website, always make sure to include an alt text. Your alt text is an alternative description that tells search engines exactly what your image is about. Always include your keyword or a variation thereof in your alt text.
It is best practice to avoid having your title and alt text be exactly the same. You won’t necessarily be penalised if your image title and your alt text is the same, but when these two are similar, you have more opportunity to include your keywords.
READ MORE: HOW TO OPTIMISE YOUR IMAGES FOR SEO
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
One thing that will get you penalised with search engines is keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing happens when you overload an article with keywords. Not only does keyword stuffing make your content extremely difficult to read, but Googlebots will mark your website as a spam site and your posts will be ranked accordingly.
Always try to make your keyword density 2% of your article. If your article is 500 words long, it is generally accepted to have 10 or fewer keywords. It is a good rule of thumb to include your main keyword at least twice (maximum 4 times) and then to add a few variations of your keyword.
We are an SEO agency in Johannesburg, South Africa. We provide SEO services that range from keyword research, content creation and strategy building and more to increase your search engine ranking. Better search engine optimisation means better conversion + more clients = more money. If you need someone to help with your search engine optimisation, contact us today.
IMAGES: Imka Webb SEO and Unsplash