Most articles discussing SEO best practices are actually discussing what worked five or ten years ago, and are no longer relevant.
This is a problem because the SEO landscape changes rapidly, with new algorithm updates from Google being rolled out constantly. As a result, what might have worked for you in the past may no longer work today.
What’s more, if you’re not keeping up with the latest SEO trends, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities to improve your website’s ranking and visibility.
In this blog post, we’ll go over 7 SEO best practices that you should follow in 2023 in order to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that your website is ranking as high as possible.
#1: Make Search Intent a Priority
One of the most important things to focus on when it comes to SEO is search intent. Search intent or user intent refers to the purpose behind a user’s search query.
Understanding search intent is essential for two reasons:
1. It allows you to create content that is relevant to what users are actually looking for.
2. It helps you to rank your content higher in the search results, since Google’s algorithms are designed to match user queries with the most relevant and useful results.
There are four main types of search intent:
1. Navigational intent: When a user wants to go to a specific website or webpage. For example, a user might search for “Facebook login” if they want to go directly to the Facebook login page.
2. Informational intent: When the user is looking for information on a specific topic. For instance, people could be searching for “what is SEO” if they want to learn more about the topic.
3. Transactional intent: When a user is looking to buy something. For example, someone might search for “best running shoes” if they’re in the market for a new pair of running shoes.
4. Local intent: When a user is searching for something nearby. For instance, if someone is looking for a “coffee shop near me,” they have local intent.
If you want to make sure that your content is ranking high in the search results, you need to make sure that it’s relevant to the user’s search intent.
One way to do this is to use keyword research to find out what users are actually searching for. You can then create content that’s designed to match their search intent.
For example, if you want to rank for the keyword “buy Nike shoes,” you would want to create a product page on your website where users can purchase Nike shoes.
If you want to rank for the keyword “restaurants in NYC,” you would want to create a blog post or listicle that features some of the best restaurants in New York City.
Making search intent a priority will help you to create content that is relevant to what users are actually looking for, and that will help you to rank higher in the search results.
#2: Look for Traffic Potential When Selecting Keywords
Another important thing to keep in mind when it comes to SEO is that not all keywords are created equal. In addition to being relevant to the user’s search intent, you also want to make sure that the keywords you’re targeting have the potential to drive traffic to your website.
There are a few different factors that you should look at when trying to determine whether or not a keyword has traffic potential:
1. Search volume: This is the number of times that people are searching for a particular keyword each month. The higher the search volume, the more traffic potential a keyword has.
2. Keyword difficulty: This is a measure of how difficult it would be to rank for a particular keyword. The lower the keyword difficulty, the easier it will be to rank for the keyword and drive traffic to your website.
3. SERP features: This refers to the different types of results that appear on the search engine results page (SERP) for a particular keyword. For example, if you’re trying to rank for the keyword “pizza,” you’ll want to make sure that your website appears in the Local Pack results since those are the results that are shown when someone has local intent.
4. Click-through rate: This is the number of people who click on a particular result on the SERP divided by the number of people who see that result. The higher the click-through rate (CTR), the more traffic potential a keyword has.
There are a few different tools that you can use to research keywords and assess their traffic potential. Google’s Keyword Planner is a good place to start.
You can also use a tool like Moz’s Keyword Explorer to get more detailed data on keyword difficulty and SERP features.
Once you’ve found a few keywords that you think have the potential to drive traffic to your website, you can start incorporating them into your content.
Make sure to use them in a way that is natural and relevant to the user’s search intent. Stuffing your content with keywords will not only make it less readable, but it will also hurt your chances of ranking in the search results.
#3: Improve Your Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
The title tag and meta description are two of the most important elements of on-page SEO. The title tag is the piece of text that appears in the search results as the title of your page.
The meta description is the piece of text that gives users a brief overview of what your page is about. Both the title tag and meta description are important for ranking high in the search results.
In addition to being relevant to the user’s search query, you also want to make sure that your title tags and meta descriptions are optimized for click-through rate (CTR).
Your title tag should be short and to the point, and it should include the keyword that you’re trying to rank for.
Your meta description should give users a clear idea of what your page is about, and it should be written in a way that encourages users to click through to your website.
You can use a tool like Moz’s Title Tag Preview Tool to see how your title tag and meta description will appear in the search results.
You can also use Google’s Search Console to see how your title tags and meta descriptions are performing in the search results.
If you see that your title tags and meta descriptions are not appearing in the search results, or if they are not performing well, you can make some changes to improve your CTR.
#4: Optimize Your Page Speed
Page speed is a major ranking factor for Google, and it’s also important for users.
Users are impatient, and they don’t want to wait around for a slow website to load. In fact, 40% of users will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
A slow page speed can also hurt your chances of ranking in the search results. In order to optimize your page speed, you need to find out where your website is slow and make some changes to improve it.
You can use a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your page speed and get recommendations on how to improve it.
Here are a few things you can do to help your pages load faster:
- Delete unused plugins
- Enable browser caching
- Optimize images
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests
- Use a content delivery network (CDN)
You can also use Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to improve the speed of your website on mobile devices.
AMP is a technology that allows you to create lightweight versions of your web pages that load faster on mobile devices.
#5: Focus on Having a User-Friendly Design
Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of judging a book by its cover. The same can be said for websites.
Users will often make assumptions about a website based on its design, and if the design is not up to par, they will likely leave the site and go somewhere else.
What’s more, if your website is not user-friendly, it will be hard for users to find the information they’re looking for, which could lead to a high bounce rate.
A high bounce rate is not good for your website’s ranking since it signals to Google that users are not finding your site helpful or relevant.
Therefore, if you want your website to rank high in the search results, you need to make sure that it has a user-friendly design.
There are a few things you can do to make sure your website’s design is user-friendly, such as:
1. Make sure your website is responsive: In other words, make sure it looks good on all devices, from desktop computers to tablets to smartphones.
2. Using easy-to-read fonts: You want to make sure that your website’s text is easy to read so that users don’t have to strain their eyes.
3. Having a clear navigation menu: Your website’s navigation menu should be easy to use and should help users find the information they’re looking for.
4. Adding visual elements: Visual elements, such as images and videos, can help to break up text and make your website more visually appealing.
5. Keeping things simple: You don’t want to overload your website with too much information or too many features. Keep things simple and straightforward.
Making your website user-friendly is not only good for the users, but it’s also good for your website’s ranking. So, if you want to rank high in the search results, make sure your site is designed with the user in mind.
#6: Don’t Ignore Navigation and Sitemaps
While the focus of SEO is often on optimizing individual website pages, it’s important to remember that navigation and sitemaps are also important factors in the ranking algorithms.
Navigation refers to the way that users move around your website. A well-designed navigation system will make it easy for users to find the content they’re looking for, and it will also help search engines to crawl and index your website more effectively.
There are a few things you can do to improve the navigation on your website. You should make sure to use:
1. Clear and descriptive titles for your pages.
2. Breadcrumbs to show users their location on your website.
3. Internal links to point users to other relevant pages on your website.
4. A mobile-friendly design so that users can easily navigate your website on mobile devices.
5. A sitemap to help search engines index your website more effectively.
Making sure that your website has a well-designed navigation system is important for both users and search engines.
Sitemaps are also an important part of SEO. A sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the pages on your website.
There are two types of sitemaps: XML sitemaps and HTML sitemaps. XML sitemaps are designed for search engines, while HTML sitemaps are designed for users.
XML sitemaps help search engines to index your website more effectively. They also give you the ability to specify the importance of each page on your website, and they can be used to submit new pages to search engines.
HTML sitemaps, on the other hand, are designed for users. They provide users with a list of all the pages on your website, and they can be used to help users find the content they’re looking for.
While XML sitemaps are important for search engines, HTML sitemaps can also be useful for SEO. If you want to improve the navigation on your website, using a sitemap is a good place to start.
#7: Leverage Semantic HTML
Semantic HTML tells Google what your content is actually about. It’s a way of writing HTML that is focused on the meaning of the content, rather than its presentation.
For example, consider the following two snippets of code:
1. <h1>This is a heading</h1>
2. <b>This is a heading</b>
The first snippet uses semantic HTML, while the second snippet does not. The first snippet tells Google that the content contained within the <h1> tags is a heading, while the second snippet does not provide any information about the content’s meaning.
As a result, Google is able to better understand the content on your website when you use semantic HTML. This can help your website to rank higher in the search results because Google will know that your content is relevant to what users are searching for.
In addition, using semantic HTML can also help to improve your website’s click-through rate (CTR) because it makes your content more accessible and easy to understand.
If you want to improve your website’s SEO, you should make sure to use semantic HTML when you’re coding your pages.
Not only will this help Google to better understand your content, but it will also make your content more accessible and easy to understand for users. This can lead to higher rankings in the search results and a higher CTR.
SEO Best Practices – Conclusion
On-page SEO is a critical part of any SEO strategy. It’s the backbone upon which you can build an effective SEO campaign. It doesn’t matter how great your website is if no one can find it.
By applying the above tips, you can improve your chances of ranking high in the search results and driving traffic to your website. We believe that WordPress is the best platform for SEO, but if you are using Magento, check out this Magento SEO guide.
Our agency works with many local companies that drive thousands of visits to their website every month using SEO best practices and strategies. We have been building websites and helping clients drive traffic to those websites since 2007.
Clio can help you get started on your SEO journey by advising where to focus your internet marketing efforts. We are often asked if our Calgary SEO services can make your website appear on the first page of Google. The answer is YES but this is neither cheap nor easy. Visit our case studies page to see how we have helped clients implement SEO best practices and unique strategies for their small businesses.
We can help you simplify your SEO journey by sharing some lessons learned we have acquired over the years and helping you define your marketing strategy.