Best Ways to SEO Optimize Your Site in 2022
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of many marketing strategies designed to help your audience find you online. Unfortunately, many people think it’s as simple as having a website (build it, and they will come?), and others are familiar with the concept yet not using the techniques to their full potential.
Even in 2021, 70% of small and medium companies still don’t implement SEO at all.
If you’ve ever thought that SEO was stuffing keywords into a post or on a website page, think again. Those old-school techniques are likely to have the exact opposite effect you’re looking to accomplish.
To get the most from SEO, you need to implement multiple techniques, do proper research and be willing to adapt when it’s not working the way you want.
1 – Start with Great Content
Relevant, timely, and valuable content is essential to SEO optimize your site. A website without these components may be able to draw traffic initially; however, those visitors are not likely to stick around or convert into customers – the goal of your website.
When creating content for your website, visualize a web with your primary content categories in the center and supporting articles or related content branching out from the center. As you create more content, ensure that it’s tied to another piece in a manner that encourages a reader to read more than one article at a time.
This content cluster approach accomplishes several different goals:
- It keeps website visitors on your website longer.
- It establishes your authority in your industry.
- It tells Google and other search engines to show your content to people interested.
Creating three to five-pillar posts is also an effective content marketing strategy. These pillar posts are high-word count (4,000-5,000 words) and comprehensive on one topic. You’ve likely seen these as “Ultimate Guides” or “Everything You Need to Know About XYZ.”
If writing that volume of content feels daunting, you can write these pillar posts over time, layering on additional content as you can do so. These pillar posts become your primary content sources – the center of that Content Cluster web.
If you’re unsure what to write about, talk to your audience and discover what they hope to learn from you. Or there are plenty of digital resources available to help generate content ideas, as well.
It’s also important to mention that you should write your content for your audience – not for Google. Companies often make the mistake of writing for search engines instead of their target audience, which almost always backfires. When the content you create meets the expectations of your audience, Google takes notice and rewards you accordingly in the search engine results.
2 – Build a User-Friendly Site
Once your great content pulls a potential customer to your website, it’s critical to deliver an outstanding user experience to keep them engaged. A user-friendly site incorporates plenty of visual cues, offers clear and clean navigation, and works well on all devices.
When your website is user-friendly, visitors are more likely to spend a long time perusing the site, which in turn tells search engines they’ve found what they came to see. This “time on site” metric is vital in determining search engine results.
A visitor is also more likely to bookmark a user-friendly site and return again and again.
Keep in mind that mobile-friendly and mobile-responsive sites are not the same things. With a high percentage of people using mobile devices to access the web, having a mobile-friendly site is non-negotiable.
Mobile-friendly means that your site is easy to navigate. Users can complete forms without pinching and zooming, you’ve optimized online payments, and the site’s design translates to mobile using any browser. Mobile-friendly sites also ensure that lines of text are not too close together to click an individual link.
If you’re not sure your website is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Site to see how it responds.
3 – Incorporate the Right Keywords
Keywords are essential for optimal SEO, but they are often misused, abused, or not used at all. Keywords are the words or phrases related to the content on your site that Google searches for when deciding what to display following a search query.
Then, based on keywords and other SEO factors, relevant results are shown to users on the search engine results page.
Doing keyword research is the first place to start incorporating the right keywords. Many digital tools are available for this, some even free to use. For example, Keywords Everywhere is a Google Chrome extension that shows you keyword popularity and other metrics right inside your Chrome search results, and it’s free to use.
Other tools like Moz or SEMRush are more expensive and offer more insights into which keywords may help your website perform best. They include data like the volume of keyword searches, the degree of competitiveness for word, and other potential keywords that might be performing well for your specific website.
Another easy way to find your best keywords is to use the “people also search for” results in your search engine. Start by searching for a phrase that you know produces your website in the search results. Then, scroll to the bottom of the page to find this section. You’ll see what people are also searching for, related to your original search.
These search suggestions make for significant keywords and help you generate new website content. Another great source for keyword research is YouTube or Pinterest. Both sites are considered more search engines than social media. To use these sites for keyword research, begin typing a phrase into the search box and review the auto-complete suggestions.
Once you have a list of your keywords, incorporate them into your website organically. Using them in your headings, meta descriptions for pages, and blog post titles is the most effective use of keywords.
Be careful not to “keyword stuff” or use a string of keywords in places where it doesn’t make sense to do so. Keyword stuffing doesn’t help your website visitor, and search engines have evolved to recognize this tactic and will penalize your site. However, when your focus is on informing and educating the reader and not writing for Google, the keywords will fall into place.
4 – Complete Your Site’s Metadata
One of the more overlooked components of SEO optimization is metadata. It’s cumbersome to go into every page of your website and complete the metadata for titles and descriptions. However, this is a critical step in ensuring that search engines understand the content of your website and know when to show it in search results.
Completing the metadata is better than nothing but using best practices will ensure the most significant return on your investment of time.
- Pay attention to character limits. Google prefers a specific number of characters for meta descriptions in titles and page descriptions. When you exceed this count, the text will be cut off and may be difficult to read.
- Use keywords strategically. Again, it’s not okay to stuff keywords in your metadata, but you should use them in your title. Your meta description is a great place to incorporate those if you have long-tail keywords.
- Don’t forget your sitewide description. If you’ve ever noticed on the search engine results, there are about two lines of text under every page that’s listed. This text is customizable to your website platform. This text should help the searcher decide whether to click on your link. Use a call to action, where possible, and be brief but relevant.
5 – Optimize and Name Your Photos
Taking the time to optimize and name your photos before you upload them to your website has the potential to improve your SEO ranking dramatically.
While many website builders and platforms allow large file sizes, keeping photos to less than 500MB is optimal for quick page load times and provides plenty of resolution quality for users.
There are also a few other best practices you can follow when it comes to optimizing your photos:
- Descriptively name your photos before you upload them to your website. Include a keyword or two in the photo name, as well. While naming your photos should primarily serve your website visitors, it also tells Google what your image is all about.
- Don’t include photos that have text on top of them. While these types of images are great for social media, search engines cannot read the text, and you’ll potentially lose some great SEO power using this method.
- Use photo captions whenever you can. Photo captions are helpful to the website visitor and allow you to expand on the photo’s message beyond the photo name. Plus, they are one more opportunity to work on your keywords.
6 – Understand the Multiple SEO Types
Ignoring the extra SEO opportunities on and off-page is a common mistake that some people mistake. We’ve already addressed on-page SEO, but there are other SEO types:
Off-page SEO encompasses your SEO efforts that happen outside of your website. One of the primary off-page SEO techniques is backlinks – links to your site from other relevant sources across the web.
With backlinks, relevance and authority are of the utmost importance. If you’re a golf club and your local supermarket is linking to your website, that’s not very helpful at all. It might even damage your search engine rankings.
However, if your local golf club repair shop or sporting goods store includes links to your website from their website, this is a relevant backlink. It sends a signal to Google that your sites are related in content and relevant to one another.
Obtaining high-quality backlinks is helpful in your SEO optimization journey but can also be time-consuming and risky. Your SEO strategy should never rely on backlinks since you don’t directly control how long those links will be live.
Technical SEO is the optimization work in your site’s code or back-end engine. Website developers spend excessive time ensuring the site’s functionality is satisfactory to the user, and these back-end mechanisms are equally crucial to Google.
Implementing practices such as schema for specific article types, keeping code clean and limited to only essential functionality, and ensuring all administrative settings are correctly configured contribute to your technical SEO score and results.
Local SEO is location-based information that displays results based on a user’s location or a search related to your location. By using local SEO, your company can appear in Google Maps or other location-based directories.
Local SEO optimization should be an essential part of your digital marketing strategy for local or regional establishments. A quick win for establishing local SEO results is to create a Google Business Profile.
A Google Business Profile is that box with a company’s basic information that appears to the right of the search engine results. Unfortunately, many companies neglect to create or complete their profile, and Google uses the information it can find from the web to make one instead. These are often inaccurate or unprofessional.
If you have not created your Google Business Profile, you’ll need to have a Gmail account to begin. Then, start by searching for your company name on the Google Business webpage. Next, follow the steps to claim your company and complete the approval process.
Once Google verifies your ownership, you can complete your profile by adding photos, business details and hours, website, and other information to serve your target audience better.
Google Business Profile will also connect your Facebook reviews and show them to potential customers. In addition, when you take advantage of Google products, your search engine rankings improve.
7 – Monitor, Measure, and Retool Often
Most people mistakenly believe that you can develop a website with good SEO, set it, and forget it. This mentality is not good practice. Even the best websites will ultimately begin to move down in the search engine rankings if it isn’t updated regularly.
First and foremost, using a content marketing strategy and calendar system ensures that new content is a priority for your business. It’s easy to overlook this work when business is going well, and the workload is heavy. However, by the time a sales slump arrives, it’s almost too late to rely on content marketing to save you.
Create a content catalog of your website content using a simple spreadsheet system. Log all your website pages, the URL, and the topic or keyword for each page. If your business has a blog, include every blog in the content catalog, as well.
This catalog becomes a reference point to consult before writing new content or outreach for backlinks. It’s also extremely handy for internal page linking – adding links to your blog or page content for related reading, often seen at the end of articles.
Refresh Content Weekly
Aim to refresh or layer new content onto one page or post each week if you can. If that goal is too ambitious, aim for twice a month. To SEO optimize your site effectively, it relies on fresh content, so even if a previous page or post has performed well in the past, there’s no guarantee that it will continue to do so.
Monitor and Measure Performance Monthly
Every month, use a tool like Ahref to monitor your SEO performance. Keep track of your top-performing keywords, highest-ranking pages, and conversion rates. Then, spend time researching what content works best for your competitors and use out-of-the-box thinking to create rival content that exceeds the competition.
Identify content gaps not currently covered among your competitors and create blog posts that serve your audience well.
Evaluate Strategies Quarterly
SEO optimizing is not always a quick win and can sometimes take months to see results. If specific content is not performing as well as you’d like in the search engine results, evaluate your strategies quarterly.
Where needed, test out new keywords or add to your word count for your pillar posts. You should also experiment with your calls to action to see if you can improve your conversion rates.
Include SEO in Your Annual Digital Strategy
Revisit your digital marketing strategy annually and include SEO efforts in your plan. Investing in the right tools or training can make a big difference in how your site ranks and takes planning and patience.
Final Thoughts on How to SEO Optimize Your Site
SEO optimizing isn’t magic, and there are no hacks or secrets. Instead, the best results come when you aim to serve your readers and potential customers with practical, relevant content that helps them decide.
SEO is also not an overnight or one-time task. First, spend some time reviewing your website and making a list of quick wins you could accomplish in the next 90 days, using ideas from this list. Then, prioritize refreshing your content, monitoring, and measuring results, and reevaluating when necessary.
Like any marketing strategy, it’s about finding the right balance between design and execution and settling on the right mix for your company.