12 SEO Best Practices That Everyone Should Follow

Most SEO best practices lists are outdated. Or they emphasize unimportant topics.

No, SEO tips.

Anyone running a blog, eCommerce store, or local store should follow best practices.

Today’s post covers website best practices.

1. Use HTTPS

HTTPS encrypts visitor-server data. Google started in 2014.

Check your site’s loading bar for HTTPS.

Locked URLs are safe.

Install SSL.

They’re on many hosts. LetsEncrypt provides free certificates.

Once-only HTTPS switch.

2. Load pages quickly

Slow websites are annoying. Desktop and mobile page speed are ranking factors since 2010.

Speed depends on code, server location, and images.

Google Pagespeed Insights measures page speed. Enter a URL to get a score and tips.

Pagespeed Insights tests one page.

Google Search Console’s Speed report. Why desktop and mobile pages are slow.

Developers (or technical SEO experts) should fix some of these issues.

Fast-page tips:

CDN. Single-server sites are common. Some visitors’ data travels far to their browsers. Slow! CDNs copy images to a global network of servers for local loading.

Image-compress. Big pictures load slowly. Compressed images load faster. Size and quality should balance.

Lazy-load. Lazy-loading loads needed off-screen resources. This means browsers don’t need to load all page images.

Theme optimization. Optimize your theme’s code. PagespeedInsights demo.

3. Target’search traffic potential’

SEO is keyword-driven. Spending time and money to rank for unsearched terms is a waste (unless you just want to attract links).

Sell software tutorials. Coffee cup HTML editor font size is a low-volume keyword.

The top page gets no organic traffic.

Search volume can be misleading as a traffic indicator.

Two keywords show:

The first result gets more monthly searches, but only 65 US organic visits per month.

The first result gets more monthly searches, but only 65 US organic visits per month.

People prefer tutorials to reviews.

Search volume is a good way to find keyword ideas, but estimated traffic to rank pages shows search traffic potential.

4. Match intent

Nobody wants “protein shake” product pages.

Don’t buy, learn.

Google’s top results are blogs, not protein powder sales pages.

The opposite is “buy protein powder.”

Not a recipe, but protein powder. The top 10 results are mostly eCommerce category pages, not blogs.

Google’s top results can reveal a query’s intent, helping you rank.

21k Americans search for “best eye cream” monthly.

This keyword may make sense for an eye cream retailer’s product page. The results disagree.

Not product pages, but list-style blogs.

Follow this keyword’s lead.

Search-intent content isn’t enough. Format and angle matter.

Search intent guide explains more.

Not product pages, but list-style blogs.

Follow this keyword’s lead.

Search-intent content isn’t enough. Format and angle matter.

Search intent guide explains more.

5. Focus on a strength

Large brands with deep pockets dominate competitive keywords.

NerdWallet, Credit Karma, and CreditCards.com have over 300 referring domains for “best credit card” pages (backlinks from unique websites).

Short- to medium-term, 99% can’t rank for this keyword.

Target niche keywords.

Lounge access credit cards?

There are fewer big brands to compete with, so you won’t need as many backlinks.

Find easier topics.

After searching, check Ahrefs’ “Phrase match” report. Choose keywords with Keyword Difficulty under 20.

Include filters irrelevant suggestions. Let’s select “best” keywords.

6. Use keyword three times

People search for a page’s “head” keyword.

Natural weight loss is a blog post.

This keyword appears three times.

a)Title Tag

Google recommends accurate title tags. Target a keyword or phrase.

It shows that your page matches a search.

This affects rankings? Still important.

If a keyword doesn’t fit, don’t use it. Readability first.

“Cheap kitchen cabinets” is a meaningless title tag. Google understands rearranged and stop-worded sentences

b) Header

 (H1) Each page should have a keyword-rich H1 heading.

c) URL

Google suggests keyword-rich URLs.

Target queries are easiest.

7. Use a short URL

Google warns against long URLs.

Target queries shouldn’t always be URLs.

Search results will truncate it.

To shorten a sentence, remove stop words and unnecessary details.

Your CMS’s ugly URL structure is fine. Fixing it isn’t worth it. Nowadays, Google shows fewer full URLs.

8. Write a title tag and meta description

SEO is about clicks and rankings.

Write good title tags and meta descriptions for search results.

Title and description sell.

Searchers will choose another if neither stands out. Besides using your target keyword, how can you boost CTR?

First, limit title tags and descriptions to 60-150 characters. not duplicate

First, use proper capitalization.

Match search intent with title and description.

Nearly all “best headphones” titles include the year.

People want up-to-date recommendations as new headphones are released.

Fourth, use power words without clickbait.

9.Optimize images

Image compression helps pages load faster, but it’s not the only SEO strategy.

Use filenames and alt tags.

Both help Google understand your images, which can boost your web search and Google Images rankings.

Google Images matters. 5,500+ clicks in 3 months:

Optimized file names. Hyphenate image descriptions.

Example: \sFirst-handsome.jpg

Alt tags should not use hyphens.

lt text is important for Google and visitors.

The browser displays the alt tag if an image doesn’t load.

8,1 million Americans with vision impairments use screen readers. Reading alt tags.

12 Image SEO Strategies

10. Write carefully

Many pages get long-tail traffic, so search volume doesn’t always predict organic traffic.

This page’s #1 for “best laptop brands”

… and over 300 other keywords like “best computer brands”

Normal.

According to a 3 million-query study, the average top-ranking page ranks in the top 10 for almost 1,000 other keywords.

Better rankings? Complete.

Not length, but relevant subtopics. It helps SEO blog posts and other content.

How to find subtopics:

a) Search top-ranking pages for relevant keywords

Top “best laptop brands” pages include “dell,” “hp,” “quality,” “reliability,” and “hardware.”

b) “Best laptop brands”

Questions concern reliability.

c) Content Gap analysis

In Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool, paste three top URLs. Blankly click “Show keywords.”

This shows top-ranking queries.

Disable intersections 1 and 2.

11. Link to internal pages

Web pages linked internally.

PageRank improves with more external and internal links. Google’s ranking algorithm uses this.

In 2016, Google stopped publishing PageRank scores. Ahrefs’ URL Rating predicts rankings.

Internal links tell Google a page’s topic.

Most CMSs link to new pages automatically. This is in the blog’s menu or homepage.

Add internal links to new content.

google.com/site [Title]

This returns the topic’s most relevant pages.

Connect relevant pages.

Ahrefs’ Site Explorer shows link opportunities. Then click “Best by Links.” This lists page URLs.

Add internal links when relevant.

12. Add backlinks

If other prominent websites link to the page, the information is good, according to Google’s “how search works” page.

Google lies…

Organic traffic and backlinks are correlated in our study of 1 billion web pages.

Quality trumps quantity.

Create backlinks from credible sites.

Backlinks: Read or watch.

Final Thought

Best practices can help you rank, but not always. Consider other ranking factors and SEO strategies.

If you’re still struggling to rank, read or watch this.

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