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SEO Basics: How to Improve your Site's Ranking

SEO has been a buzzword for a long time now. Everyone knows what it is, but doesn't necessarily take the right actions to maximize their top-notch content on their website. So, make sure to check out these basics and review your website.
Amber Roosen
Last Updated
October 22, 2021

Why SEO matters

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, will help you get visible in the organic search engine results, such as Google, Bing, and so on. By focussing on this, you will get 1. more visitors to your website, and 2. more interested visitors.

Let's be honest, the term can be a bit misleading: you should optimize your content for humans, not for search engines. The search engines will crawl your website and show your content when a human searches for something.

What is important for your website?

This pyramid by Moz explains things perfectly. Let's dive into this:

1. Robots.txt

If search engines can't crawl your website, all your effort will be lost. This is where the robots.txt comes in: it tells the search engine crawlers which pages or files the crawler can or can't look into on your site.

2. Sitemap

Besides the robots.txt, a sitemap can also help search engines to find your website. A sitemap actually works in a similar way for Google as your navigation does for your website visitors: it tells search engines how your website is structured, but also tells them about new or changed pages on your site.

You can submit your sitemap to Google in Google Search Console.

3. Great content based on search intent

Do you want to rank in Google? Here's a pro tip: don't just create content out of thin air. Create content that people are actually looking for or that your clients could really benefit from.

Ahrefs defines Search Intent as the why behind a search query. They divided Search Intent into 4 categories:

  1. Informational: easy, the searcher is looking for information.
  1. Navigational: the searcher already knows where he wants to go, he is looking for a specific website.
  • Facebook
  • Willow login
  • HBR
  1. Transactional: ka-ching, the searcher wants to make a purchase. Most of the time, they already know what they want to buy, and they're just looking for where to buy it.
  • Buy macbook pro
  • Cheap SEO tool
  • Career counselling
  1. Commercial investigation: the searcher wants to buy a specific product or service, but is looking for the right solution. Think reviews, comparisons, and so on.
  • best career counselor
  • Mailchimp vs Active Campaign
  • Best accountant in New York

4. Optimized content

Once you defined your topics you can start writing compelling pieces. Make sure you include:

  1. H1, H2, H3: these are your titles. This structure your webpage and it basically tells search engines what titles are most important.H1: This will be the title of your webpage, limit this to 1E.g. The H1 of this page is 'SEO: basics'H2: You can have several subheadings, these will be the titles of your different paragraphsE.g. 'Why SEO matters', 'What is important for your website', 'SEO Basics Checklist'H3: And if you go further down, you can choose an H3E.g. 'Robots.txt', 'Sitemap', 'Great content based on search intent' ...Make sure to use descriptive titles with keywords.
  2. Meaningful (internal) links: When you link back to your star page, make sure to use meaningful words.E.g. 'Discover everything career counseling can do for you' instead of 'Click here to read everything about career counseling'
  3. Alt Tags for your images: This describes the image
  • For visually impaired users that use screen readers.
  • When your image isn't being displayed.
  • to search engine crawlers, which helps them to index the image.
  1. Title Tag: This is the title that is displayed in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). It's the clickable headline. Make sure to include keywords and put your company name at the end.
  2. Meta Description: It describes and summarizes the contents of your page for the benefit of users and search engines. Try to limit the meta description to 156 characters, afterwards, Google tends to cut it off.

        6. Example of a Title Tag and Meta Description in Google.

5. User experience

Fast loading website

Every second people have to wait is a second too long, because in a split second they're gone. You can check the speed of every webpage with Google's PageSpeed Insights.

Easy to navigate

You want your website visitors to easily find the most important webpages.

Make your webpages scannable

People rarely read entire webpages. They scan it first, read the titles, look at the images with captions and then read it if it grabs their attention. If they don't find what they're looking for at once, they're gone.

Clear call to action

Don't forget this one! Do you have a clear call to action button? On your homepage, in your blog posts ... Make it easy for people to get in touch with you, download a white paper, do whatever you want them to do.

Don't forget mobile experience

Google announced in 2020 that from March 2021 onward they will only index mobile pages. And yes, they even give you a score on your mobile pages. No worries, you can easily see what needs to be done in Google Search Console.

Next Chapter
What is Google Search Console?
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