Search engine optimization is a complex subject, as there are numerous variables that can influence your ranking. But there are a few simple measures that you can implement on your own to lay the foundations for a better ranking.
Along with relevant and well-marked content, performance or website speed is one of the most important SEO variables. Often this is an IT, web host or web admin issue. However, there are ways to help along the way when you’re working in the marketing / editorial team. Images are some of the worst offenders when it comes to performance and loading speed.
Too often, images are uploaded in gigantic sizes regardless of how they are used. Even as thumbnails, you’ll sometimes see pictures that are a few MB big. That’s because most content management systems – like WordPress, for example – let you edit and resize the images as you need it on your web page. However, most of the time, the file size remains the same, even though it’s only embedded as a small image on the web page.
However, to be visible, the whole image has to be loaded and that’s the image in the original size. If you have several images on one single blog article or landing page that are all a few MB big instead of a few KB, then the page automatically needs longer loading times. For mobile phone users, it might even take longer, and it uses up precious data volume.
Pay attention to the size of your files. Consider how you want to present your images and who is seeing them with which device. Often smaller sizes are sufficient to achieve a good image quality anyway. Especially for thumbnails you should also consider saving and uploading smaller versions of your images.
Alt-Texts for Images
The alt text for an image is theoretically used to describe the content of the image. This allows the image to be „read“ even if it cannot be displayed e.g., due to individual security settings or if the person has a seeing disability (in this case, the text can be read out loud by a text-to-voice software). This helps with accessibility and is generally rewarded by search engines.
In the past, virtually every SEO professional has advised you to put all the keywords you know into the alt text of an image instead of describing what it actually depicts. This rule should no longer be followed. Accessibility comes first, so it’s always good to take the time to briefly describe the image.
Above all, however, you should not leave alt texts empty. Otherwise, usually the file name is displayed which is rarely descriptive. Much more often you will find names like „3450px_1200px“ or „ls_profil_rund“ that help you and your team but are not of much use to readers/users.
Links are a story full of misunderstandings in the SEO field. Even though most search engines place a much lower emphasis on the importance of external links/backlinks than 10 years ago, we still receive ling exchange offers for our blog. Apparently, there’s still a wide-spread belief that any backlink will do, if it’s roughly in the same topical ballpark. The truth is: it won’t, and search engines are getting better and better at reading logical and commercial link connections.
The Best Practice for links, whether they are external or internal: They have to make sense in the context of the text. A link should always offer an added value for the site visitor, be it to expand knowledge, as a reference or for other reasons. Links can help with navigation or to refer to a source or a further piece of information.
Especially internal links also can help search engines to define what your website and all your pages are about. So-called topic clusters mark a cluster of pages and articles that cover the same topic. You usually have a core page with the basic information which is then linked by and links to other pages that give further information on the topic. This is also called „Cornerstone Content„. These clusters also help you define your core topics and communicate these to search engines.
Other Best Practices for links
It is not important anymore to match (internal) link texts with keywords
There is however a limit to linking the same link on one single page. My advice: try to keep duplicate links to a minimum
It is a completely subjective decision whether to open links in the same or in a new tab. From a user perspective, I prefer to open links in a new tab, so they can decide whether to continue reading the current page or engage with the newly opened page.
Use tags and categories sensibly
Blog categories and especially tags are often scattered like confetti and even more so, when numerous people have worked on the same blog over a longer period of time. However, the colorful variety is only of limited help for search engine optimization.
Categories should be created in a manageable number and cover the core topics of your blog. They could be described as the „chapters“ in your blog. They should reflect your overall content strategy.
Tags are something like the „keyword directory“ for your blog and should therefore be set sensibly. If it’s too many, they end up being basically useless from a user’s perspective because they no longer act as „buckets“ for articles of a certain subject but rather act as a brainstorming session for each article with no real connect.
There are a few best practices for using tags
A category should not double as a tag. If you have the category „Marketing“, you should not create a tag for „Marketing“.
Ideally, tags should only be created if you have several posts. Since they serve for the blog readers to learn more about the topic – if there is only one post for each tag, the reader clicks in vain.
Each tag should describe one topic. This also means that a topic or subtopic should have only one tag. Different tags for the same topic (singular, plural, different spellings) should be avoided because then all articles for that topic will be divided up unevenly between the different tags.
Wrong: Rock, Rock Music, Rock’n’Roll, RocknRoll
Right: Rock, Soul, Blues, Jazz, Folk
Structure your content logically
Modern SEO is designed to serve the website visitor and not necessarily the search engine. This also means that usability is very important. For editors, this means thinking about what is most important to website visitors when they come to the site. What information do they want or need to see first? How should the site be structured so that visitors find what they are looking for and/or feel motivated to continue browsing?
Visitors should not be forced to search for the right content or go through annoying click-throughs just to increase the click/view numbers of your page.
A user-friendly structure is not always what marketing best practices tell you to do. Often you have to take off the marketing glasses and put on the user glasses. The great newsletter banner or white paper pop-up may not always have to be used immediately, especially if website visitors haven’t had time to get to know your website.
It all depends what visitors expect from your page and why they are here. If they are looking for information on a certain topic through a keyword search, then maybe refrain from immediately pushing them to subscribe to a newsletter and instead give them the information and then after a while, present your newsletter form.
By the way, you can also influence the visitor’s expectations via the tag lines and metatexts.
Page titles that are displayed in the search results. These do not have to be the headlines of your page automatically. They can also be formulated in such a way that they are more likely to appeal to people who do not yet know your company, for example.
Texts that are often displayed in preview images or in search results below the page title. In the past, they had a great influence on the ranking. Nowadays, they mainly serve as teasers to give interested parties an insight into what to expect on your site.
Tag lines as well as metatexts can be adjusted manually for most blogs. You can also communicate clearly what your site is all about and thus influence expectations in advance. This also helps with topics that may well appeal to different target groups and subject areas in keyword searches. For example, if you are a B2B company that sells office furniture, you can already address B2B buyers in the metatext.
Structure includes making it easy for visitors to access information such as the imprint, contact or privacy notices. Here, the standard is often more helpful than reinventing the wheel. Standards are there for a reason. They help visitors find what they are looking for based on where the information is on other websites.
SEO has changed rapidly over the last 10 years and is evolving more and more towards the user-friendly design of informative, entertaining and relevant web content. Editors and/or marketers can therefore increasingly influence the ranking by presenting well-prepared content in an easily accessible way.
SEO is there to lead visitors on your website. But once they are there, it’s up to your content to keep them engaged and interested and to generate leads or even customers. Find out how the right marketing tools can help you from targeting the right customers up to providing relevant and personalized content to new and loyal customers.