SEO is an ever-changing field with constant innovation and algorithm changes from Google making it seem like there’s always something new to learn. Luckily for us, there are some things that will never change and no Google update will ever affect (at least in a bad way) – these are the pillars of what good and bad SEO look like. In other words, these are the SEO Dos and Don’ts.
But before we dive into what these are exactly, for the newbies reading this article, let’s recap what SEO is:
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation and is the practice of, you wouldn’t have guessed it, the optimisation of a website in an attempt to improve its ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). This is achieved in numerous ways but is often broken down into two categories: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. The first refers to changes made to the website and may include things such as copywriting or internal link building, whereas the latter focuses on optimising factors outside of your site such as increasing references to your website in an attempt to improve your authority.
Now that we’re all clued about about what SEO is, let’s jump into the DOs and DONTS of SEO.
SEO Dos (Tips that will grow your site):
DO Conduct Thorough Keyword Research
Keyword research is a vital step to ensuring that your content is reaching its target audience. The chances are that you’re already naturally including keywords in your content without realising it simply by providing valuable content on a topic, but the keywords you use may not be what the majority of your target audience is searching for. Conducting keyword research will show you what keywords people are actually searching for and will help you better target your audience.
For example, If I were writing an article around the topic of Interior design, conducting keyword research on that term would show me that quite a few people search for ‘interior decoration’ instead – I would now know to make mention of that keyword in my article in order to give it a shot at ranking for that term and therby, boosting my articles visibility.
There are various tools and techniques for finding keywords that are relevant to your blog post that you may not have considered. The Google Ads Keyword Tool and Semrush both offer great tools that allow you to find keywords related to your topic and even spy on your competition to see what words and phrases they are targeting to bring traffic to their sites.
DO Use Keywords Wisely
Once you have targeted a few valuable and relevant keywords, it’s important to place them where they will have the most impact, both for humans and for search engines. Try to include them in the following places:
- Headings and subheadings
- Introductory sentence
- Concluding paragraph
- Anchor text (text you hyperlink to other related pages on your site)
- Title tags and meta descriptions
A word of caution: Don’t engage in keyword stuffing (we’ll touch on this one more later in the article), which is the act of filling your content with so many keywords that it becomes difficult to read. Not only will this irritate your human readers, but it will also get you penalised by Google. A couple of strategically placed keywords will do the trick.
DO Optimise Your Images
Whenever you upload a photo to your website, be sure to include keywords in the file name and fill out the alternate (alt) text field with a brief, keyword rich description of the photo. This will help people searching for images to find your website when they search for those keywords.
For example, going back the the interior design blog, if you uploaded an image of a minimalist styled living room, include those exact words in the file name and also the alt text. This will improve your chances of ranking higher in the search result pages (SERPs) and give your image a shot at ranking for the image results too.
DO Keep Your Content Fresh
Both people and Google prefer content that is recent or regularly updated. In todays world, information can become outdated quite quickly so users will prefer to look at recent content. Think about it, when’s the last time you came across an article that was 2 or 3 years old and opted to read that over one which was only a few months old?
And from a search engine perspective, it’s pretty much the same. They prefer content which is constantly being updated to keep up with new developments. Out-dated content provides a bad user experience and what the user doesn’t like, the search engine doesn’t like either.
Luckily for us, the solution is quite easy – just keep your content updated. Whether you’re changing images, removing/adding text, updating figures and graphics, or adding new sections, search engines will reward you for your efforts by ranking your content higher.
DO Promote Your Content
This one may seem like an odd additional to an SEO article but social media does have a positive impact on SEO so promoting your content will give it that all needed boost.
Even if we don’t consider the SEO benefits, social media is a great way to promote your website and share its content with a wider audience. For smaller websites, social media will likely be your main source of traffic for a good few months whilst your website grows.
When you post links to your articles or website on social media sites, be sure to include keywords in the title and in the description of the post.
DO Monitor Your Progress
Monitoring progress is important for motivation – SEO can be a lot of hard work and you can get disheartened if after all your work, you’re still not getting many visitors to your site. That’s why you need to monitor your site’s data on a regular basis. I would recommend doing it weekly, this should be enough time for you to notice growth in impressions, clicks to your site and visitors.
To best tools to use for monitoring your progress are Google’s search console and Google Analytics. If you run a small site, I’d recommend focusing on Impressions (this is the number of people who saw links to your site in the search results pages).
DO Be Patient
SEO isn’t going to work overnight, in the best case scenario you may start to see it’s effects in around 6 weeks but for the majority of cases it will take around 6 months. SEO is definitely not for the impatient.
If you’re just starting out. I’d recommend focusing on Impressions because these will start to move first. Increases in the number of clicks will follow suit.
DO Hire A Professional To Help You
SEO is one of those industries that sounds like it’s easy to do, after all it’s all just keyword research and adding the keywords to the right places right? I promise you it’s not as simple as that. When you really dive into things, you’ll soon come to realise that good SEO is a lot of hard work and it requires specific skill sets – especially technical SEO. Even the simpler sides of SEO, such as writing meta descriptions can quickly turn into a soul-draining activity – imagine having to write meta descriptions for 200+ pages (I’ve been in that situation, and I can honestly say that it doesn’t make for a good few days).
Hiring an SEO expert not only frees up your time for more important tasks but it also ensures that anything you do implement was done correctly. If you’d like to chat about how we can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out.
SEO Don’ts (Tips that will prevent your downfall):
DON’T Keyword Stuff
We’ve already mentioned this above as a caution when talking about including keywords in your content but it’s incredibly important so we’re mentioning it again – Please don’t do it!
It worsens the user experience and doesn’t help your SEO in any way – definitely one to avoid.
DON’T Use The Same Keyword Again And Again
Back to the interior design example. If you’re writing a good search engine-optimised blog article on interior design, it’s likely going to be between 2000 and 3000 words long. I’d bet that you’re going to use the term ‘interior design’ a lot throughout that article – this is a missed opportunity to add different keywords into your article, for example, the term ‘Interior decoration’.
This would help you rank for more keywords, thereby boosting your visibility. A nice and easy trick but one that many people ignore. Another advantage of this is that it may help prevent accidental keyword stuffing and make your article read better.
DON’T Panic If Your Metrics Drop
If you’re tracking your metrics, as we suggested earlier, there will come a time when everything just drops – your impressions may plummet all of a sudden and your clicks will follow. Your first reaction may be to panic but before you do, remember that progress isn’t a straight line. There will be ups and there definitely will be some downs too.
Most times this drop will be natural but if it seems far too harsh and it came out of nowhere, it’s worth looking over your data and trying to isolate the issue – it may be the case that a single page or article is responsible. There may be an issue with it that needs to be fixed ASAP.
If no single page seems to be responsible, it may be the case that Google updated their algorithm and it hit your site. I’d recommend checking out what the new update is and what type of sites it effects – a simple google search should help you find the answers.
DON’T Make Significant Changes Before Consulting An SEO Expert
I cannot stress this enough because I’ve seen businesses fall after making this simple mistake. You may think that something like redesigning your website won’t affect your SEO but it will… really really badly. Changing the makeup of the site or any other significant change will affect everything that you or your SEO expert has worked on. As a result, you’re going to log onto search console one day and see that your impressions, clicks and position have dropped harder than a rubbish crypto coin during a recession.
If you’re going to make any significant changes to your website, you need to consult an SEO expert first – they will advise you on how to mitigate any negative effects.
For example, if you have a WordPress site and you’re thinking about redesigning it or moving a whole section elsewhere, you’ll want to contact a WordPress SEO consultant to see how that can be done in an SEO-friendly way.
DON’T Ignore search terms with low/zero volume
I’ll put my hands up and admit that earlier in my career I did filter out any keywords with a monthly volume lower than 50. That was before I learnt about the power of the ‘Zero Click Search Term’.
Ranking for zero-click keywords or ones with lower volumes is far easier than competing for keywords with thousands of monthly searches. This means that you’ll have an easier time securing first-page rankings for that term and if anyone ever does search for those keywords, guess who’s in the best position to grab their attention and their click.
There’s also the possibility of growth in monthly volume for those keywords and wouldn’t it be great to be ranked first for a keyword that just grew from 0 monthly searches to 200 monthly searches?
By following these SEO Dos and don’ts, you’ll give your site a better chance of ranking higher in the search results – this will lead to more impressions, more clicks and more viewers/potential customers.
SEO can dramatically change your business for the better, something I’ve noticed that more and more people are becoming aware of as the demand for SEO Experts such as myself has risen dramatically over the past year or so. Again, if SEO is something that you want to seriously explore, have a look at the SEO services we offer.