Basic SEO tools for beginner content marketers
What is basic SEO?
Why just basic?
Search Engine Optimization is a huge topic. It has a lot of different rules, tools to use, and terms to understand.
Not surprisingly, a lot of entrepreneurs, and small businesses who do their own online marketing feel overwhelmed when it comes to SEO.
I have collected some important tools that can help you optimize your website or blog post and allow you to start doing your basic SEO work.
To perform better SEO, your most important content should be in text format. The easiest way to ensure that the words and phrases you display to your visitors are visible to search engines is to place them in the HTML text on the page.
How do you make non-indexable content visible for search engines?
- Provide “alt” text for pictures.
- Supplement all the search boxes with Crawlable and Navigation links
- Supplement Java and Flash modules with the text on the specific web page
- Provide a text transcript for video and audio content
You can use the Google Search Console to monitor the status of your indexed pages. In the Google Search Console, click on your attached website image, and in the menu of the left-hand side, click on “Google index” and then “Index status” to get an overview of how indexable your content is.
It shows data from the past year.
Crawlable Link Structures
To see your pages, search engines use not only the content, but also links that connect users to that content. A crawlable link structure is essential to find all the pages on a website.
If you have pages on your website that don’t follow crawlable links, the search engines may not even know they exist. Moz.com provides a great illustration as an example:
Google was able to find page A. Page A links to page B and E, so the search engine can find easily both from page A. Pages C and D don’t have any links from A, B or E, and are not visible to search engines.
Usually blog posts are considered as links from the homepage, but sometimes pages can be hidden for search engines this way.
Consider the following best practices to make your pages rank better:
- Link to relevant content and high-level pages
- Place inbound links with relevant anchor text
- If you can, put keywords in the anchor text
Keyword Usage, Keyword Domination, Keyword Abuse
This is the most obvious element of basic SEO.
Keywords are one of the key factors to the search process. As the engines crawl and index the content of pages around the web, they keep track of those pages in keyword-based indexes rather than storing 25 billion web pages all in one database.
Obviously, if you want your page to have a chance of ranking in the search results for “shoes,” it’s smart to make sure the word “shoes” is in the crawlable content.
When we enter words to search for, the engine matches pages to retrieve based on the words we entered.
Search engines measure how keywords are used on pages to help determine the relevance of a particular document.
Be sure that you use the keywords you want to rank for:
- In the title tag at least once. Try to keep the keyword phrase as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible.
- Once near the top of the page, if possible, in the first paragraph.
- At least two or three times in the body copy on the page.
- At least once in the alt attribute of an image on the page. This not only helps with web search, but also image search, which can also bring valuable traffic.
- Once in the URL. Additional rules for URLs and keywords are discussed later in this section.
- At least once in the meta description tag. Note that the meta description tag does not get used by the engines for rankings, but rather helps to attract clicks by searchers reading the results page, as the meta description becomes the snippet of text used by the search engines.
As you make your keywords more specific, you narrow the competition for search results, and improve your chances of ranking higher in the search results for those keywords.
Stuffing keywords into text, URLs, meta tags, and links are not a good idea.
The best practice is to use your keywords naturally and strategically.
The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate description of a page’s content. They are the most obvious element in a search result, so it has to be compelling in order to get people to click on it.
As title tags are such an important part of search engine optimization, they also play a huge role on user experience. If your title promises something your page doesn’t deliver, then visitors will turn around and never visit your site again. And the last thing you want your visitors to do is to click on the ‘Back’ button because your page didn’t match what they expected or wanted.
The most important thing is that title tags should be descriptive and readable. Creating a compelling title tag will help grab visitors’ attention, and make them more likely to click on your link.
Search engines display only the first 65-75 characters of a title tag in the search results. However, you may target long-tail keywords, it may be good to go longer and include the long keyword, or multiple keywords in it.
If you place your keywords near the beginning of the title, they will be more helpful for ranking.
They must be unique for every page or blog post. Duplicating title tags will negatively affect your search visibility.
The meta description tag in HTML is the 160 character snippet that summarizes a web page’s or the blog post’s content. You basically tell the visitor what is on the page. Search engines do not use this tag for rankings, but meta descriptions inform the visitors what they can find, and if it’s relevant to their search.
If title tags are headlines of an advertisement, meta tags are the short description and call-to-action. We call it: search marketing.
Action words are ideal for a call-to-action in the meta description. Using terms like “Learn,” “Discover,” or “Grab,” will make visitors more likely to click so it’s wise to include some.
Creating a readable, compelling meta description with your keywords can result in much higher click-through-rate and send more visitors to your blog posts that are relevant and helpful for them. Done right, it will reduce bounce rate.
URLs work as the addresses for documents on the web. They appear in the search results after the title tag, and search engines are looking for keywords in them. Google’s search tools also make the keywords bold in the URL if they find one.
They can impact click-through and visibility.
Good URLs will remain relevant and descriptive not just now but for years to come.
Shorter URLs rank better, but if your page is targeting a longer term or phrase, make sure to include it in the URL. However, don’t try to stuff in multiple keywords for SEO purposes; it can result in less usable URLs and can be red flags for spam filters. You should also avoid keyword repetition within URLs. Adding the same keyword multiple times will lead to a spammy URL structure.
Separate words with hyphen, and use only numbers and letters. Don’t use special symbols and characters. Instead of using URLs like this https://marketing6pack.com/blog?id=635 convert it into a more readable static version like this: https://marketing6pack.com/create-your-lead-magnet.
Headings guide visitors through text content. People tend to read the heading and sub-headings first to determine if the content fits their need. They should describe what a paragraph is about, like it would be the title of the paragraph.
Using headings well is helpful for your readers, increases the chance of people actually reading the whole document, improves readability, and can even contribute to SEO.
They are very similar to headings in a book, but these come in a specific order. H1, H2, H3, H4, and so on, with H1 starting the page as the largest heading. The lower the number the smaller the size is.
<h1>Advanced WordPress SEO</h1>
<h2>The basics of SEO</h2>
The more specific your content becomes, the higher the number of the heading and the smaller they weight in the blog post.
Generally, there should only be one H1 tag on each page, and you can have as many h2s, h3s, and h4s as needed to organize your content effectively.
Sitemaps are like a roadmap for search engines. It’s a list of your site’s URLs that you submit to the search engines, and helps them to find your pages or blog posts more easily.
There are two types of sitemaps you can create: HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps. HTML is mostly designed for human users, while XML is coded specifically for search engines.
XML sitemaps contain every page of your web site, even if you have thousands of blog posts. You can use the Google Search Console to create and submit a sitemap easily.
These are just a few SEO tools you can use for your basic SEO plan. There is much more to Search Engine Optimization than this introduction to the basic tools. Read the following articles if you want to dig deeper in the topic: