Keep Your Website Clean With Search Engine Optimization Hygiene
Each day we all do things to make sure we are staying healthy and clean. This daily procedure is called personal hygiene, and just like our own hygiene, search engine optimization (SEO) needs the same type of attention and careful thought to support a larger, long-term SEO strategy. Maintaining positive SEO hygiene requires being proactive and doing the “little things” to lay a strong SEO foundation that allows your website to adapt or easily adjust to Google’s frequent algorithm updates.
At Blue Compass, we have been practicing SEO hygiene for years and have seen a wide variety of advantages from it. We want to help you achieve a successful long-term SEO strategy by diving into what SEO hygiene is and best practices to maintain a healthy website.
Why SEO is Important
Search engine optimization helps Google and its users easily understand what your website is about and how to use it. SEO is essential for online visibility, driving traffic to your website and gaining paying customers. Strong SEO not only helps you rank higher, but it creates more visually appealing ways for your website to appear in search results. This tells users your website is credible, secure and that they can trust it as a resource to their search query.
There are many elements to an SEO strategy, and mistakes can easily arise. Over the years, our team has seen several common SEO mistakes and how they can negatively impact a website's performance. Learn what they are and the best practices to increase your chances of ranking at the top of Google.
Hear The 5 Most Common SEO Mistakes from Our Experts
How to Improve SEO
Below, our experts have listed out the top components to a successful digital marketing strategy and how to maintain that success long-term. No matter what industry your business is in, you can improve SEO and maintain it with these effective tips and insights.
The best way to get in front of new users and increase organic traffic is by understanding what your users are searching for to find your products or services online. This is called a user’s search intent. When creating new content on your website, such as a blog article, it’s important to pick keywords you think you’ll be able to rank for and that follow the intent of your article.
Choosing the right keywords is all about understanding who your target audience is and what they’re looking for. However, intent can change over time and your content must change with it to remain relevant and in front of current and potential users. We recommend revamping old blogs and web pages routinely to keep up with keyword changes and ensure you’re still reaching your target audience.
There are numerous keyword research tools available that actually show the search volume and potential Google search results for specific keywords. On many of these tools, such as Soovle and Jaaxy, you can input a keyword like “running shoes” and receive a list of phrases that contain that term. We highly recommend finding a keyword research tool that works for you and using it to help select which keywords you want to use in your content and to monitor their effectiveness.
Meta Titles & Meta Descriptions
Meta information gives you control over how your page will show up on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). They include a title and a description, each of which should be keyword-rich and summarize the content on your landing page. Both are part of HTML code that Google can use to understand your web page. They tell users what your web page is about before they even visit it.
There are a few best practices for writing meta information. The keywords you picked for the content on your web page should be incorporated in your meta information as well. This shows Google that there is consistency in how you share what your web page is about and increases your chances of getting in front of users searching for your business, products or services.
Character count is also a crucial component when it comes to meta information. Only so many characters in the meta title and the meta description will show in Google on both desktop and mobile devices. If your title and descriptions are either too short or too long, they can get flagged by Google’s bots and potentially harm your web page’s ranking. At Blue Compass, we have found that writing meta titles within 40 to 60 characters and meta descriptions between 70 and 120 characters will ensure the full version of each will appear in SERPs. As you monitor and make keyword updates, be sure to include those new keywords within your corresponding meta information as well.
While word count and page length are not ranking factors, there are many studies that suggest longer content is valuable for search engine optimization. Copywriting best practices are constantly shifting with Google’s frequent algorithm updates, and website owners/digital marketers often overlook word count as a significant component to their long-term SEO strategies. With that being said, Google prioritizes the quality, relevancy and originality of web pages. Adding content blindly to simply meet a particular word count can actually clutter your page with misinformation or irrelevant content and hurt its rankings. So how does one utilize word count to improve long-term SEO?
There are few things to consider when deciding the best word count for your page:
- Competitive analysis - How long are your competitor’s web pages on average? If they’re consistently longer and more robust, it’s important you match or exceed that expectation as it will show Google that your brand has more credibility in your industry.
- Google’s algorithm - Writing longer content pieces full of relevant, original information will help Google figure out what your page is about, significantly increasing your chances of ranking high in SERPs.
- High-quality content - The more thorough and well-written your content, the more Google and its users will trust it. This will establish your brand as a credible leader in the industry and drive more traffic to your website.
At Blue Compass, our SEO copywriting experts create content for many different clients in a wide range of industries. Through our experience, we’ve determined that all web pages in your main navigation should be at least 600 words. Blogs and articles should be longer at 1,000 words or more.
There are dozens of factors that determine who gets the top positions in Google SERPs. Backlinking however is one of the more unique factors because websites can actually benefit each other by using them. Backlinks are created when one website links to another. They can be used to increase your authority and boost the value of other pages on your website by linking to a service page or another blog. When there is a strong linking structure between your content and other credible sources of information, it shows Google that another resource finds your information valuable enough to link to it within their own content. The more backlinks your website obtains, the more valuable it becomes.
However, not all backlinks are advantageous. This is where SEO hygiene can help. Be sure to routinely check in on your backlink profile to ensure they are coming from credible resources with strong domain authorities that are relevant and can easily be reached by users. Tools like SE Ranking and Sitechecker make backlink tracking simple. If you don’t track your website’s backlinks, your brand may be directly correlated to an unreliable resource that’s linking to your website and could lose its own domain authority.
Schema, Structured Data & Rich Results
If you use schema on your web pages, you’re taking advantage of an advanced SEO technique. Schema is a special code that lives on the backside of your content and “speaks” to Google bots in their preferred language. If you’re struggling to stand apart from the competition on SERPs, schema can help!
Once added to your website, schema introduces a plethora of rich snippet opportunities to enhance search results with elements such as images, videos, bulleted lists, etc. Schema can be used for all sorts of purposes including:
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- …. and more
There is no evidence that schema directly impacts rankings, although it can significantly increase the experience of a user’s journey to your website because it presents it in a much more visually appealing way. Below are examples of a few types of rich snippets that a website using schema could obtain.
Headings & Subheadings
Headers and subheaders are the different titles used throughout the sections of your content piece. They provide structure and context for your article and tell readers what information they can expect to find. Every page has a main title called your heading (H1). Any subsection that follows should use an H2. If there are any subsections under an H2, those should be titled with an H3, and so on. Every page should have only one unique H1 and at least one H2. After that, it all depends on how you want to structure your article and break up the content, so long as you always structure headings in order (don’t go from an H2 to an H4 because the missing H3 can confuse Google and readers).
Headers and subheaders are great ways to break up the content of your page and can even help that page rank for a featured snippet. Featured snippets appear at the top of Google in what’s known as position 0. It’s called position 0 because it appears above the first organic result in SERPs. If you have a section with the potential to rank for a featured snippet, try using a title that matches how users are searching for the information. For example, if more users are searching for “10 SEO Tips” than “Top SEO Tips”, try using a number in your heading.
All headings and subheadings should include a keyword from your article to add even more value and ranking potential. Be sure to update your headings after swapping out any keywords being used on the page to maintain consistency and keyword value throughout your headings. The SEO value of headings has altered slightly over the years and many Google updates. Our team recommends keeping up with the latest digital marketing news to ensure there are no significant algorithm updates that could affect the value of your headings. Blue Compass is always a great place to start!
Alt tags improve SEO because they provide alternative text that search engines understand. Alt tags include alt attributes and alt descriptions and are most commonly used for images. Adding images to your pages and posts is a great way to make your content stand out and encourage users to click on it. Search engines like Google, however, cannot read and interpret images. That’s where alt tags come in to concisely summarize to Google what the image is. When used properly, images with alt tags can increase your page’s rankings and overall performance.
Alt tags are also necessary for users who might be using a screen reader or browser that cannot process images. They make your website accessible to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to understand and interpret the content of your page. It’s critical that you run regular audits to ensure all current and new images on your website have alt tags.
Supporting a Long-Term SEO Strategy
Success in long-term SEO requires time and money, but the investment is well worth it. SEO is a long-term commitment and it can take months to start seeing results from your SEO efforts. Your strategy needs to be constantly monitored and tweaked as Google trends are ever changing. To support a long-term SEO strategy and ensure a healthy and successful website, follow these steps:
- Run frequent SEO audits to see how healthy your website is. SEO audits are an excellent way to discover any on-page and technical errors your website may be experiencing.
- Perform ongoing error correction to fix any errors you find after performing an SEO audit. This can be done by creating lists categorized by error type and working through them in an easy-to-track doc.
- Update any outdated content. Information online is always changing as industries evolve, and you must ensure your website is keeping up. Otherwise, your brand will lose its credibility as a resource.
- Continuously create new content to answer new, more specific questions about your industry, services or products. This will help you maintain your domain authority and credibility.
- Never forget that SEO is a job that is never done... It's forever!
Reach Out to the Experts at Blue Compass for SEO Help
As leading digital experts in the Midwest, the Blue Compass team is always researching the latest SEO updates and adjusting our processes to follow best practices. We’ve helped a wide range of businesses build successful brands online and experience significant results when they invest in SEO hygiene. Reach out to our search engine optimization team to ask the experts about all aspects of SEO; we love educating businesses on how SEO can help them grow!
Kevin McMurray is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Blue Compass. He enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on Cyclones sports and leisure sports.