1. Search engines are like children
They are difficult to please, need a constant flow of entertainment and can change their behaviour overnight. So even though you should adapt to indulge some of their whims, keep your content strategy focused on pleasing people. I won’t tell you what to write about, but make it relevant to your audience. However, when it comes to structuring your pages, you can follow these tips:
- Publish or update at least 1 page each week
- Make sure your pages are roughly 500 words long (or more). Be concise, but don’t condense your information too much.
- Start your H1 and Page titles with your most relevant keyword (relevant to the page’s content)
- Break up your article with easy to scan, keyword-driven headlines
- Add images to your pages; make sure your images are properly named (2937210-0008284297&89.jpg doesn’t fit a picture of a pair of boots on an e-commerce site); remember people search for images using words. Name images properly - descriptively.
- Make sure your keyword is embedded in the URL as well
While the above are valuable SEO tips, their main purpose is usability. They aim to simplify your readership’s scanning of your page. Make it easier to read and thus easy to understand.
2. Make mom proud
Imagine the website you’re building is your old room, from when you were still in highschool. Would your mom brag about her child’s space or would she nag you about cleaning it? Google is the mom. And it wants things orderly, easy to find and digest. To this end, you can do a couple of things to improve your standing with the search engine:
- Implement a clear website structure and proper linking:
- Every page should be accessible in <3 clicks from every other page;
- The website should have at most 2 subfolder levels - domain.com, domain.com/level1, domain.com/level1/level2 ; the longest url should look like this: domain.com/level1/level2/unique-page-id
- Keep your sitemap up to date
- Put 301 redirects in place (old/unused/obsolete pages should point to newer, more relevant ones)
- Add rel=canonical tags to all pages with duplicate content, pointing towards where the original page resides
- Implement SCHEMA.org (it doesn’t help SEO rankings, but it improves a website’s presence on the SERP, by showing more of your content)
- Optimise your website for smaller screen sizes (mobile devices, tablets)
3. Be fast, fast, fast
Decrease your average page load time by implementing google AMP, using a CDN or faking an internal CDN* whenever possible. The slower the site, the lower its SEO rank.
*To improve your load time without a CDN you can help browsers request more resources at the same time - aka start parallel downloads. Yahoo recommends that you “Split Components Across Domains”. You can do the same for CDN-dependent resources, as detailed on Cloudinary. There have been reports that splitting domains doesn't always work (especially if you're hosting all subdomaines on the same server), so always test before going live with anything.