Many SEO criteria are already implemented automatically by content management systems. But many things every website operator has to think about independently. Every consultant who wants to win customers online should also deal with the criteria that make websites more visible.
The most important basics for all SEO novices to be rewarded by search engines:
1. Write for your audience, not Google
The decisive factor for search engines is first and foremost the user. Unfortunately, many websites are filled with poorly written, poorly researched and boring texts and inappropriate images. Search engines want to offer users added value and display search results that answer their questions quickly and competently. Search engines can interpret which content is relevant for users better and better. Therefore, the guiding principle for all online content is: Create your content for the people you want to reach. Without “tricking” search engines, a target group-oriented content strategy automatically increases the ranking in search engines.
Everything that meets the needs of your target group is also relevant for search engines. What questions do potential customers have and how can you help them with your knowledge? Offer them useful information in the form of How-To’s (instructions), application examples, tips & tricks (for example in the form of lists, because search engines love lists) for frequently searched questions.
Also, a certain regularity of new content and the updating of existing content is rewarded by search engines. Since the length of time users spend on the site is also becoming increasingly important, formats such as videos and podcasts can also be useful.
2. Avoid duplicate content
In the online world, copying is an absolute taboo. Duplicate Content” or also “Near-Duplicate Content” are contents copied 1:1 from other sites or slightly modified. Such identical or similar content can cause massive damage to the ranking of a page. All your website content should, therefore, be “unique”.
3. Optimize for mobile devices
It should be clear, but even today there are still sites that are not optimized for mobile devices. The majority of web users are on the move with mobile devices, i.e. small screens. Most themes (a kind of building set with a collection of graphical elements that determine the look and feel of a website) and content management systems are designed for mobile devices and support responsive design (reactive website design with flexible layouts; that is, the layout automatically adapts to the screen size). Before creating your website, you should nevertheless check whether the technical infrastructure is suitable for mobile use and align the entire layout of your website with the mobile appearance.
4. Optimize snippets and titles
“Snippets” are teaser texts that briefly summarize the content of a website and are displayed under a search result. They are one of the first things potential customers see in a search query. Therefore, they have a high influence on whether a user decides for or against visiting a page. The website descriptions are like a shop window that presents the goods of a shop.
In the backend of a website, snippets are called “Meta-Description”. If no description is created by the website owner, the content management system does this more or less sensibly or the search engine selects a text module of the page. Therefore, meta-descriptions should be created carefully and updated whenever necessary.
According to a Denver SEO company in Colorado, the page title (search engine optimized title of a page that is not to be confused with the heading (H1) of a page) must not be left to chance. It is displayed above the corresponding snippet in the search results and thus helps determine the success of a page. The perfect title should be short, contain the main search term (keyword), get to the heart of what the page is all about and be clickable. Find out more about the perfect page title in this article.
5. Missing alt tags in images
Images also have great relevance for search engines. To make them easier to interpret, they should be provided with Alt tags (alternative tags). Alt tags are nothing more than descriptions of images that are not visible to the website visitor. Here it offers itself to place meaningful keywords to which the page is optimized. Even more important, however, is the most accurate and meaningful description possible of what can be seen on the respective picture. Good Alt tags improve the accessibility of the page by being read to blind website visitors.
6. Use interesting headings sensibly
Concise, meaningful headlines attract potential customers to your site. A good headline is formulated as a click stimulus and makes you want more. The higher the headings are in the hierarchy, the more relevant they are to search engines. Therefore, you should also avoid marking important headings as H3 or H4. In the continuous text, H2 headings are the preferred choice. It makes sense to place important keywords in the first paragraph to show page visitors and search engines what it is all about.
7. Change your domain to https
Google has long recommended switching http websites to https (“HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure”). Https ensures the encryption of data between web server and browser. A change to https is not a beauty correction, but a must for every professional web presence.
All advantages of https at a glance:
- Data security
- higher confidence of the website user
- https is mandatory in Germany for contact forms & shop pages
- aster loading of the page
- possibly better ranking on Google
Here you will find detailed instructions on how to change your page to https.
8. Bypass error pages
Search engines and website visitors are anything but happy to see error pages. Above all the “404 error: page was not found” does not cast a good picture on website operators and frustrates visitors. This error usually occurs when a page is deleted and someone tries to access the former URL.
There are several solutions to make unwanted pages no longer retrievable without provoking a 404. The most uncomplicated of these is the so-called “Header Redirect (301)”, where the old URL is replaced by a redirect to a new one. If someone now clicks on a link on the old page, they are automatically redirected to the redirection destination. For such a redirection, it is best to choose a page that is as related as possible to the old one.
9. Insert keywords correctly
Keywords are keywords that users frequently search for on the net and are sometimes the most familiar parameter when it comes to SEO. Optimally, each URL has its own focus keyword. You can use keyword tools such as SISTRIX, ahrefs or searchmetrics to search for relevant keywords and keyword combinations with a high search volume (number of monthly search queries for a keyword). If you don’t want to buy a paid SEO tool, you can also determine search volumes and frequently searched term combinations via the search slot of search engines. But beware: With this method, you should definitely research in incognito mode, otherwise the results will be falsified by previous searches.
Keywords, synonyms and the most common keyword combinations should not be used in an inflationary manner. At least the focus keyword should appear in the title, in the meta description, in a subheading (H2) and at the beginning and end of the text.
10. Track current SEO trends and news
Search engines like Google regularly release updates and innovations that change the criteria of the search engine world. I do this mainly by following SEO news websites like searchengineland.com and by reading articles that outline what is to come, like the SEO trends 2020. To this end, every webmaster should adapt it to the most current SEO measures. Here are two examples to illustrate this:
Number of characters in snippets
Google shortened the number of characters displayed in snippets with an update in spring 2018. If 320 were still played out under a search result until then, nobody really knows how many characters are visible since the update until today. As a reaction to this change, website operators can, for example, react by making sure that the most important part of the meta-description is in the first half and thus safely played out.
In addition to the usual search results, the so-called “Featured Snippet” has also been available for a few months now. This appears in the form of a conspicuous box at the top of the search results, which is why the click rate is much higher. In such a featured snippet, for example, the answer to a frequently asked question is displayed in the form of a section of a website. There is no concrete guidance on how to appear in the box. For example, site operators are experimenting with a focus on a question-answer structure in their content.