19 December 2014,
Written by Shelly Moreau, with collaboration from Jérôme Léon, SEO Analyst, SEO TWIST.
Basic SEO Rules For Optimal Website Results
I’ve often wondered how much business owners know about basic SEO rules for optimal website results. Are they just winging it? Would it be helpful to have some key information to help in their quest for improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
I employ SEO principles in my own work, but I’m no expert. Once I’ve reached a certain point, that’s where I ask for help from the pros, and have engaged SEO TWIST to work on my online presence on a monthly basis.
So, in preparing this article, that’s also where I turned to get professional insights. I posed some key questions to my friend, Jérôme Léon, SEO Analyst at SEO TWIST. He was good enough to lend his time and expert advice about basic SEO rules for business owners.
Getting Down to Basics
And, according to Jérôme, the best and most basic SEO rules that business owners can implement to help their web presence are related to providing high quality (useful) content.
A lot of sites are laden with oodles and oodles of fluff and useless information. Keep in mind; folks are looking for a solution. That’s why they’re searching online.
Your copy needs to show – as quickly as possible – that YOU are that solution. That means information should be clear, direct, and concise. Provide your most important and relevant details that will lead folks to make a decision about whether or not they should keep reading what you have to say.
Frequency and Density of Keywords
Jerome also recommends using no more than one to three keywords per page for best results.
In terms of frequency and implementation of keywords/phrases, it appears that each SEO expert has his own opinion. Jerome recommends staying within a keyword density of 1-5%, and never to repeat the exact same keyword to the point where you feel like it is too many times.
But don’t let the issue of keyword density rule the writing process. Basic SEO rules aside, it’s more important to make sure the copy reads fluidly and with clarity. To help with this, there are free tools available online to check the keyword density of a page and I would strongly suggest finding a reliable one that suits your specific needs.
Changes Are ‘A Coming
Most people are used to hearing about using keywords, but Jerome has advised that it’s worth noting that Google is heading toward a more contextual search instead of a keyword-based search. That means using close keyword variants and synonyms is a good practice.
In my view, that leaves more options for basic SEO rules, and for business owners working toward perfecting their copy.
And for best results, don’t forget to have your keyword(s) and/or close variants employed in title tags, headers, body content, and alt tags (image descriptions).
Back Link / Inbound Link
I’ve been frustrated and confused about what a back link or inbound link is, and what results they yield. I can only guess that I’m not alone in this, so I’ll share Jerome’s explanation:
A back link is a hypertext link (on an external site) that points to your site. Google sees it as an indication of popularity/authority.
It is similar to the idea of quoting credible authors/references. Getting high quality back links can help your SEO, but not all back links are valuable. Some of them can actually, in some cases, penalize you if they look artificial.
So, be mindful my friends, of how you use these as a strategy in your copy or blog articles.
For business owners who want to develop a keyword list on their own, there are a number of keyword research tools available online. Any business owner can use tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush. What you’re looking for is to identify keywords that yield a high search volume, but low competition.
At some point, I figure you may need professional assistance to implement SEO strategies that go beyond the basic SEO rules and what you can do for yourself. I asked Jérôme, “How do you know when you’ve reached that point”?
Jerome adds that because there are numerous factors, it’s not possible to cover them all in this forum. Google for instance, has more than 200 ranking factors, and using your keyword(s) in your content is merely one of them.
A digital marketing agency like SEO TWIST helps review your site structure, improves user experience, grows and engages your social media audience, and creates high quality back links/co-citations (all of these are ranking factors used by Google).
SEO professionals implement and monitor on-page/off-page SEO strategies, tactics, and results, which no business owner can do when they already dedicate all of their time to their business.
Who Should Write Your Content?
Writing the copy for a website can be a challenge for many business owners. Some don’t have the time for the task; some are just not comfortable writing. And that’s ok.
Jérôme suggests that ideally, content should be written by an expert in the field or by someone who has the ability/time to do his or her own research and then write like an expert (referring to high quality content here, not content optimized for SEO).
For the SEO part, it’s always safer to have a professional implement it because they know from experience what really works and what doesn’t. They know what not to do, to stay away from being penalized by Search Engines. They’ll also make the appropriate recommendations for your business growth and success.
In the end, the message (content) is the most important thing; the SEO/keywords should be integrated in the most natural way possible to ensure a better user experience, and natural flow to reading.
Photos are added to our websites to create a visual break for the eye (from reading), and often support the copy with related captions.
Jérôme notes that filling out the Alt tag or adding a description below an image helps in terms of SEO. People could find a business through any image in Google images. This is why images should be optimized just like content.
To learn more about the future of SEO & images, I invite you to read the following article, written by Jerome, last month (entitled, Object Recognition in Images): http://thevoice.ottawachamber.ca/2014/11/06/object-recognition-in-images-and-its-impact-on-seo/
The Last Word
SEO can be a complicated thing. Don’t let it overwhelm you. The more sophisticated your website, the more likely you will need additional support. In the meantime, I hope this article have provided some valuable information about basic SEO rules and helps get you to the starting line.
Let me know how you tackle your SEO challenges. I’d love to hear from you.
And, many thanks to Jerome Léon, SEO Analyst, at SEO TWIST, for the inside scoop on SEO tips for business owners. Be sure to visit the folks at SEO Twist for more answers to your burning questions about basic SEO rules.