With more than 455 million websites in the world, and over 1.3 billion websites in total, the internet is hopping and websites about every topic in the world exist. After search engines created a directory for the Internet and the billions of websites, users began to change the way they search.
To see the results of that change head to any search engine and type in a question and you’ll see multiple results about that particular question. Some search engines even refine the question for you as you type it.
When a user is searching for information related to a website, it should be easy for their idea to lead them to the right content.
One of the single most effective (and long-tail) ways to build an audience is to optimize all of your content for search engines. Embracing search engine optimization (SEO) can mean the difference between customers visiting your website or a competitor’s.
1. Design matters to search engines as much as content
In a 2021 Google introduced Core Web Vitals in an algorithm update that considers user experience indicators as a part of the Page Experience update. This update factors in metrics such as loading performance and visual stability.
WordPress sites starting with a great user friendly design that incorporates Core Web Vitals will help at every other step along the way. As you work with a website designer, consider how each element will affect load times and limit the number of features that will require plugins.
An important aspect of great UX, Information Architecture is equally important in helping users and search engines understand the content. Starting with the homepage and primary category pages and incorporating the necessary architecture of information with secondary and tertiary web pages as needed to direct users through a site to find the information.
Google considers time spent on a web page or site when deciding how it should be ranked. More importantly, a solid UX pleases visitors, lengthens their time visiting the website, and keeps them coming back. All very important metrics to SEO.
2. Title tags inform the reader and search engines about the page
Relevant titles are essential for describing to the user at a glance what a page offers while title tags also tell search engines what titles to display on the Search Engines Results Page (SERPs).
Although there is no specific length to aim for, titles beyond 60 characters run the risk of being truncated in Google search results. We recommend titles between 50 and 60 characters long.
A cut-off title doesn’t make for a great result. Users won’t see all the information you want to share with them. Crafting a relevant and snappy title will draw more people to your website.How can you be sure that your title tag meets requirements? Use plugins such as RankMath or Yoast which offer a way to see an example of the result mocked up in SERP format.
3. Meta descriptions allow more detail than title tags
Great titles and headlines are important to entice your audience, meta tags can be even more crucial. After seeing an interesting title, most users skim through the description to determine if the content matches their search intent. Use those extra 150 characters wisely to persuade them to click through.
On competitive SERPs, compelling and interesting meta descriptions make a difference in connecting with the readers.
4. Headings matter for many reasons
Sub-headings throughout a page’s content also inform search engines, but their real strength is in connecting with users who skim content. Many users will scroll through a page, only then reading if a portion grabs their attention.
Breaking up the content by using H1, H2, H3 and other headings will help. The most important tags to search engines are H1 tag which is typically the title of the page and using H2 tags for key subheadings. The remaining header tags should highlight related topics inside the larger subheading.
Hyperlinks move people across your site
Internal links signal to search engines that you have other relevant content for the user that they may be interested in. These links will create a more friendly UX by pointing users to relevant content, keeping them on site longer.
Alt text tags improve user experience
Alt tags are vital for providing the best experience to all visitors. Search engines consider the alt tags of media as indicators and use them to rank content and media included in your page in SERPs. Additionally, if your website must meet 508 compliance regulations, alt text tags are essential.
5. Keywords are important, but they aren’t everything
Best practices 1-4 didn’t mention keywords for good reason. Current algorithms consider so much more, while keywords are still important to SEO and user search intent.
Keyword research is a great place to start and will guide you when creating content. Do the research to understand the search intent of the user to find the content you are creating for them. Beyond that, remember that keywords alone won’t deliver – only compelling content will. Write for the user, not search engines, and enhance your chances of success.