In the age of ever-limiting attention spans, the importance of ranking within Google’s top 10 results has become increasingly essential. According to HubSpot, 75 percent of users never scroll past the first page of search results. This statistic isn’t surprising considering how quickly we scan, click a few links, and arrive at our desired answer or destination in our searches.
Creating compelling content is only half the battle when competing across the world of the search engine results page (SERP). Developing strategies and techniques underneath the hood that drive sessions, clicks, and conversions is also crucial. In the first of our two-part series, we’re sharing our SEO best practices for rising in search rankings. By following these four effective methods, you’ll build a foundation that propels your SEO ranking skyward.
Align your content with search intent
What is search intent? Search intent (or user intent, audience intent) describes the purpose behind or why someone is conducting an online search and usually falls into one of four categories:
- Informational intent: Searches with a specific question or on a particular topic.
- Navigational intent: A query for a specific website.
- Transactional intent: Users searching for an immediate purchase.
- Commercial investigational intent: Research prior to a purchase (usually in the near future).
To drive search traffic to content, you’ll want to focus mostly on informational and commercial investigational intent. If you sell financial services, you could, for instance, optimize a product (or category) page for “buy financial services.” Moreover, you will also want to align articles with this search intent by writing posts about the benefits of financial services (more on this in the next section).
Write compelling title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text
Finding the right keywords is a critical piece of any SEO strategy, but where you place them is just as important. It starts with page copy, but for full optimization, marketers need to think beyond the words on the page. Meta and alt text offers important opportunities for SEO success, including:
- Title tags: The title is the primary way a user (and Google) determines whether your content is relevant to their query and a decisive factor in deciding whether they click. Search engines like Google usually display the first 50-60 characters of a title, so keeping your title tag under this top limit is recommended. Include as many keywords that make sense (stuffing can hurt you in the long run).
- Meta descriptions: More than a decade ago, Google announced that neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into its ranking algorithms, leading many organizations to overlook it in their list of SEO priorities. That’s a mistake. While they may not factor directly into SEO ranking, they can influence click-through rate (CTR). Think of your meta description as the teaser trailer. The more enticing you can make it, the better your CTR will be.
- Alt text: Alternative text is used within HTML code to describe an image. It provides better image context and descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them index images properly. It also offers marketers another opportunity to align content with target keywords. So it’s in your best interest to create alt text that describes the images and, if possible, includes a target keyword or keyword phrase.
Optimize your page load speed
Page load speed is often overlooked when it comes to SEO, but it’s an important part of UX, which can seriously affect how long visitors stick around (and Google will notice). Speeding up a slow site may sound like a complicated process, but some simple steps can bring your page loading up to speed in no time:
- Enable browser caching
- Delete unnecessary plugins
- Reduce server response time
- Reduce redirects
- Optimize image size
Use internal links
Internal links are simply any link from one page on your website to another. They connect your content and give search engines an idea of the structure of your site. When used strategically, links can establish a hierarchy on your site and assign greater value to the important pages and information.
The big picture of SEO
Each of these strategies can each boost your SEO on their own, but implementing a holistic approach that includes elements of all of them is when you’ll see substantial gains in your site’s SERP performance. But these techniques are only the beginning. Stay tuned for the second part of our SEO best practices series, where we’ll share even more tactics to rocket up the rankings.
This article originally appeared on the Tier One Partners blog; reprinted with permission.