There is plenty that can be done off-site and on the back-end of a website to make it accessible and favorable to search engines’ crawlers (bots that scour every page of the web gathering information to create search entries), but there is also much to be done on the front-end, or on-page, to optimize your content. After all, the off-site and back-end work will only be truly effective if your content is thoughtfully optimized for SEO.
Today, on-page SEO is more complicated than loading your copy with keywords that you want to target. In fact, the SEO community generally agrees that keywords should only be used once per every 200 words on a page and even then, copywriters should be sure to use synonyms and variations of phrases rather than a repetitive keyword. Don’t worry, today’s search algorithms are smart enough to recognize related words.
Instead of focusing on keyword density, you should be sure that your primary keyword (or keyword phrase) for each page is used at the beginning of the page’s title tag, prominently near the top of the page, in an image alt tag, in the page’s URL and in the meta description, as well as throughout the body copy as described above.
Strategically placing your primary keywords helps search algorithms determine the content of your pages, but don’t stop there. Now that the search engine knows what your pages are about, it needs to know whether or not they’re high quality.
One way that search engines determine the quality of a search result is by measuring the amount of “long clicks” – where users click on a result without immediately returning to the SERP (search engine ranking page). Over time, long clicks will improve your ranking because they show the search engine that the user’s intent was fulfilled on the page. There are three categories of search intent: transactional (I want to do something), navigational (I want to go somewhere) and informational (I want to know something). By understanding the intent of your site’s users, you can carefully craft your content to answer their needs.
The “long click” doesn’t necessarily mean that the user has to stay on the page for a long time, it simply means that they didn’t return to the SERP after their visit. For example, a user with an informational search intent often needs to satisfy their query quickly, creating a “micro-moment.” The user may leave the page almost immediately, but the search engine determines that their query was satisfied. Clear, concise copy and an easy-to-understand page layout are integral to the success of these queries.
Search engines aim to show users only the best websites that deliver credible content, and users are the best ambassadors. Their behavior and interactions with your website provide search engines with valuable, real-time feedback. No matter your website’s purpose, the content will drive user experiences, making it more important than ever. Before you call your web developer and ask them to improve your search ranking, thoroughly audit your website content to make sure it checks all of the SEO boxes. Know that SEO is a process, not a goal, and that your content should evolve over time to continue meeting the needs of your users.