No matter how good your website is, you need it to be found. The days when designers could game the system with keyword spamming are long gone, and good riddance. Humans aren’t searching for repeated keywords, they’re searching for a piece of advice, a crucial fact, or a quality product. Search engines therefore should—and fortunately do—prioritize useful pages in order to be useful to users.
Let’s look at several “human friendly” changes you can make to your site that will lead to better rankings.
Use an SEO plugin, especially if you’re adding content
Even if you’ve done thorough keyword research with tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Answer the Public, a good SEO plugin can help you turn those keywords into pages and posts that search engines love. Most of them use a “traffic light”—red, yellow, green—rating system to rate how well each portion of your page matches up with SEO best practices and helps you rank for the keyword(s) you’ve entered. Some also rate your page for readability.
And speaking of readability…
Write for humans, not for search engines
Counterintuitive as it might seem, search engines like text that has the kind of flow humans like to read. This is because the algorithm has been designed to prioritize what’s useful and reject what has been artificially designed to attract their attention. Good writing won’t have stilted paragraphs crammed full of keywords, and good writing is more useful to the reader.
Make sure your titles and snippets are good descriptions
Another place to use good writing is in page titles and meta tags. When you look at search engine results, there’s a short paragraph of text under each title. This paragraph is referred to as a snippet, or for a more technical vibe, metadata.
If you don’t include metadata for the engine to read, it will borrow the first text on your page, which can lead to confusion. Use the snippet to reinforce the marketing message of your page, and if phone calls are one of the main methods of contact for your business, include it there.
Make sure they have keywords, and use the available space
The page title in your snippet should be more than just “Home” or “About Us.” Use a vertical bar character (this one: |) to separate the page title from a section that includes a marketing message.
On the home page, put the name of the business on one said and the massage on the other, like this:
Lucy’s Coffee Shop | Coffee, Food & Atmosphere That Will Make Your Day
On other pages, either include the page title as part of the message, or use two bars:
Lucy’s Coffee Shop | Our Coffee—The Gourmet Brew That Will Make Your Day
Lucy’s Coffee Shop | Our Coffee | The Gourmet Brew That Will Make Your Day
In any title tag (and in your snippet paragraph) use the keyword you want that page to rank for. All this makes your page stand out, tells potential customers exactly what they’re getting, and of course, puts the keyword front and center without playing games.
Make sure you have alt tags for every photo and graphic
Each image on each page should have a description in an alt tag that tells search engines—and more importantly, screen readers for the visually impaired—what is depicted. Search engines greatly prefer pages with tags to those without.
Offer useful information and publish frequently
Search engines based on usefulness love sites that are updated frequently, because they perceive them as more useful to readers. If you use a blog or other regularly updated content to provide advice and information to your audience, it will not only serve them well, but boost your rankings.