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There is an excessive amount of content on SEO so I’m not going to bore you by repeating the same old stuff.
Rather, I want to address a few things that are essential SEO practices but are often overlooked.
For everything else, I’ll refer you to resources that are comprehensive and authoritative.
By themselves, the elements below don’t represent an SEO strategy. But they are an important part of your day-to-day on-site SEO efforts.
They are also things that many website owners ignore.
The goal is to make sure you’re not missing out on some easy-to-do things that will help your SEO.
We always create content for people and not search engines. But we also want to make it as easy as possible for Google to crawl, understand, and promote your content.
Image SEO is simple but I see countless websites ignore it. Image search can be a huge driver of traffic, but even when it’s not, it is a powerful indicator to the search engines of what your content is about.
For example, when you are building your about page it’s common to include an image of yourself and other team members. If so, make sure you rename the image file before you upload it.
The default image name will often be something like IMG00274.jpg. For an image of you, I would recommend changing it to firstname-lastname.jpg.
No one is going to search for IMG00274 but they may very well search for you by name. By naming your image, you make it easier for people to find you. It also adds contextual relevance to the other content on that page since your image will likely be right next to, or embedded in, your bio.
Always rename image files. If you use charts, diagrams, or infographics and you’re not renaming your image files you’re missing out.
Alt-text is the small text-based snippet of HTML that accompanies an image. While alt-text isn’t something your users will see, it does get crawled by search engines.
Alt-Text is also used for ADA compliance and will show up in the event an image doesn’t load indicating what should be there.
Most content management systems (like WordPress) will provide a field where you can enter alt-text for an image when you upload it.
Keep your alt-text short and descriptive. It’s not uncommon for the alt-text to be the same as the image name without the file extension (e.g. .jpg), but it doesn’t have to be.
Pro Tip: Add an image title and caption as well. You can create image titles in your CMS when you upload the image.
Image titles will often show in a browser when someone hovers over the image. You can make the title a little bit longer and more descriptive than the alt text.
The caption will show up below the image and is also crawled and correlated with the image for SEO.
Think of image naming, alt-text, titles, and captions as reinforcing the content of the image.
If you were to look at the image at the top of this newsletter on my site and open the page source, you’ll notice the following:
I don’t use captions in this case but for the image of me on my About Page I do.
Use your best judgment.
Whether you’re reading this as a newsletter or as a post, you’ll notice a very hierarchical in use.
That kind of site structure is useful for your readers who will often scan content more than they will read it.
That structure is also useful in helping Google to understand what your content is about, what’s most important, and how things fit together.
Think about it as though you’re creating an outline of your content. Make sure you structure your content to be reader-friendly and Google-friendly.
Pro Tip: I’m not addressing keyword research and use in this post, but it is important to make appropriate use of keywords in your H1’s, H2’s, H3’s, and so on. Don’t get carried away with it, but do use them.
Consider copywriting every title and making it searchable. This applies to sub-titles as well, not only your main title.
Meta-titles are an alternate version of the main title of your post or page. Sometimes your meta title will be exactly the same as your main title, other times you may want to alter it.
The key difference is that your main title shows up on your site, but the meta-title is what shows up on Google.
In some cases, you’ll want the title on your site to be very descriptive. But when it comes to Google you want the title that shows up to be very clickable.
Your main title is also reflected in your URL structure which you can customize as well in most CMS’s.
I recommend reading How to Craft the Perfect SEO Title Tag (Our 4-Step Process) on ahrefs for a deeper dive.
Like a meta-title, a meta-description is the description that shows up below the link/title in Google.
If you don’t write a specific meta-description, Google will decide for you what to display as the description.
The meta-description also plays a big role in getting people to click through to your site. So don’t copy/paste the first line of your article and drop it into your meta description. Spend the time to copywrite something compelling that tells the searcher what they can expect in your article and why they should click.
Again, keywords are important because if the keywords in your meta-description match the keywords a user searches for, they are displayed in bold in the search results. That means they’re more likely to draw a user’s attention and get the click.
Internal links are a very strong indicator to Google so be sure to use them to your advantage. Earlier in the SEO for Images section, I used examples from building your About Page and I linked the text “building your About Page” to an earlier Rogue Mogul post on that subject.
Be sure to use descriptive keyword-driven text (not “click here”) to link to contextually relevant content on your site.
Over time, that helps Google build a map of your content, what it’s about, and how different content relates.
It pays to go back to earlier content and look for internal linking opportunities. If you have a lot of content you don’t have to go back to every post and page, but I would look at the content that is currently the most popular on your site and create internal links to and from that content.
If you keep up with internal linking moving forward, it is much easier to maintain.
You’ll notice that copywriting is a big part of SEO. That is because the purpose of copywriting is to move people to action.
SEO is about ranking on search engines, but it’s also about getting someone’s attention so they click through and spend time on your site.
The more clicks on your links the more Google improves your search ranking. This accelerates if users are spending time on the content they click through to. Google monitors that activity and rewards you with a higher ranking position since it indicates that the content is helping the end-user.
At last count, there are more than 250 factors that go into ranking your content. SEO is far more complicated than what I have presented here but that doesn’t mean these steps aren’t important.
My goal in this article is to help you look at a few basic, easy-to-implement things that a lot of website owners miss
If you want to dig in more on SEO below are some resources I recommend. Please note, it doesn’t take much to get lost in the SEO rabbit hole.
These days, SEO takes months to start paying off and only gets harder each year.
And while it pays to get the basics right from the beginning, I don’t recommend obsessing about SEO right out of the gate unless you have a good reason to do so.
Cover the fundamentals and focus on other ways of getting your content in front of the right people. We’ll be covering more on that soon.