In the olden days before the internet was bigger than prime time TV, if you wanted to advertise your shiny new business you would put an ad in a magazine or slap your face on a billboard on the side of a highway. But times change and so does business. In our high-tech modern age, businesses set up websites, and half-page paid placements in the phonebook have been replaced with SEO.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process by which you optimize your website for the maximum amount of love from all of the major search engines. A search engine’s only job is to provide users with the results they were hoping to see when they typed in their search query. What that means for you and your online business is that if you follow SEO best practices and put a silver coin in a wishing well at midnight, potential customers who are looking for products that you sell will find you, fall in love and become brand-loyal customers.
Here is what SEO best practices currently look like for websites in 2022:
- Unique meta descriptions – Every single page on your site needs its own meta description that contains that page’s keywords as well as info that identifies your site. Oh, and you only get 250 characters to accomplish all of that. Just think of it like Twitter but with fewer hashtags. Protip: Use a tool to help you see your descriptions through the eyes of your customers.
- Functional meta descriptions – Not only should your meta descriptions be unique to the page, but they should also contain language that explains what is on the page to help users find what they are looking for.
- ALT text on all images – One day we will write 1000 words on only ALT tags, but for now suffice it to say that ALT tags were originally designed to improve browsing experiences for the blind and visually impaired by allowing screen readers to describe images. The reason ALT tags are so important is partly that they were designed to be read by robots and Google is powered by robots and if the robots are able to “read” your photos they will get cataloged in an image search which is more opportunity for people to stumble upon your site. Secondary to that anything that makes the web more universally accessible to everyone is a good idea.
- Title tags – According to Moz “A title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. A page’s title tag is displayed as part of the search snippet in a search engine results page (SERP). It appears as the clickable headline for the search result and is important for user experience, SEO, and social sharing. The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content.” It’s not going to be the sexiest piece of content on your site but anything that adds details to your user road map is important.
- Submitting a sitemap – A sitemap is a map of all of the URLs that smoosh together to create the beautiful tapestry of your website. Although a sitemap isn’t normally customer-facing, a sitemap is incredibly important because it lets Google’s robots know how many pages are on your site so each one gets indexed.
- Simple slugs – It sounds like a problem, but a “slug” in website terms is actually part of your website’s individual page URL. It it normally the title of your page and it should be! If you find yourself with links that sound a lot like phone numbers, its time to make an update.
- Pages with content – One of the most important steps you can take to improve your site’s SEO in to regularly post useful content that your audience will want to read. Maybe it is how-to articles about flower arranging or an explanation of how pine branches are harvested, there is content out there that your audience needs from you. All you have to do is identify what it is, write it and make a plan to push it out.
Although SEO can get infinitely more complicated than these seven basic steps we shared here (think linkbuilding and SEO landing pages), following these tips will give you a good start. And if you have read all of this and feel like you are a little out of your element, click here to schedule a discovery call and see how we can help you carve out some corner lot real estate on the main street of Google.