3 SEO Tips to Help Your Site Get Seen
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is essential to making your site seen by search engines. It’s also as much an art as it is a science.
Knowing how to bolster your brand is how you get people to your site. SEO is how you get them to it even they aren’t looking for it.
The demands for effective SEO are ever-changing. Every time Google’s algorithms change, so too does SEO. Webmasters used to cram pages with keywords to get higher rankings. Then there was the shift to focusing on local SEO. And who could forget link schemes?
If you research how to do SEO for any length of time, you’re bound to find a LOT of information. Much of which is either outdated, contradicts itself, or is in violation of Google’s policies. The long and short of it: it can be hard to find good, accurate, up-to-date information on how to do SEO.
Here are three tips straight from Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide, which is current as of the time of writing. Master these, and you’ll be one step closer to getting your site seen by the almighty algorithm.
Master the Art of Titling
Creating good page titles is crucial to getting seen by Google’s search results.
Good page titles need to be accurate to the page’s content. Giving a page a title like “Page 3” for the third page of, say, a news article tells the user nothing about what it is about or if it is relevant to them. At the same time, it doesn’t help Google figure out whether the page is relevant to the user’s search results.
Page titles also need to be unique. Even if your website is the New York Times, and you want everyone to know it’s the New York Times, you shouldn’t name each page “New York Times.” Doing so makes it difficult for Google to know how each page is distinct from one another, which in turn makes it less likely for your pages to appear in search results.
Another consideration is brevity. Stuffing your page title’s with needless keywords is an easy way to ensure readers skip past them. Sometimes Google will only show a portion of your title, or automatically generate one. But you shouldn’t rely on Google to shorten your page title, as there’s also the chance that it simply won’t show the page at all.
Learn to Love the Description Tag in SEO
The “description meta tag” lets search engines know what the page is about. Think of it as a short summary, ranging from a few sentences to a brief paragraph.
Often Google will use sections of visible text from your page to show beneath search results. But sometimes a page won’t have much descriptive text, such as when a page is showing shopping results with many individual items. Because of that, it’s always good to add descriptive meta tags to your pages as a sort of backup.
Like the title, it’s important these tags be both accurate and unique. For a page showing hammers being sold by a hardware store, “Page about hammers” would probably be too broad a description. At the same time, you don’t want to make the description nothing but keywords either.
Another wrinkle is whether or not your meta tags should be hand-written. Say your hardware store sells thousands of hammers. If you have 50+ pages of nothing but hammers on your website, you may want to use tags that are automatically generated. Still, even in those instances, Google discourages using a single description meta tag across large groups of your site’s pages.
Embrace SEO’s Structured Data Markup
Structured data is like a stealthy ninja working in the shadows to help your site’s pages get seen.
It’s code that tells search engines what your pages are about. This allows search engines to show your pages’ content in ways unique to said content, which in turn helps attract customers specific to your business. Google calls this “rich results.”
Another benefit of structured data markup is allowing results to be seen in non-standard formats. For example, say a user is looking up the hours for your hardware store. Using structured data markup allows Google to put that information right at the top of the search results and tell the user directly whether or not your store is closed, rather than the user having to go to your website to get that information.
If implementing structured data markup sound intimidating, don’t worry. The Data Highlighter built into the Search Console is a free tool you can use to try structured markup without having to alter your site’s source code. Once you have given it a try—or implemented it in your own site—Google has a Google Rich Results test to help ensure your markup is error-free.