Your basic SEO checklist 16 Dec 2019
Making your copy search engine friendly
Creating search engine friendly content on your website is a straightforward task. It follows a logical sequence that you can apply as you create and write your copy.
Writing for the web is a specific skill which, once you understand what search engines are looking for, is easy to learn. This blog outlines a basic SEO checklist comprised of five easy-to-follow points. They will show you what to take into account when writing new website content. I hope you will find it useful.
Before you start writing, work out what your keyword is going to be for the page. This is important because it will signpost to search engines what your page or article or blog is about.
You can have a short-tail keyword which is just one or two words. For example, Anglesey beaches. Or a long-tail keyword which longer and less specific. For example, dog-friendly Anglesey beaches. For good search engine rankings, where possible you should aim to use short-tail keywords.
Why is the keyword so important? Because using it consistently through the course of your post or page tells search engines what the content is about.
Your keyword should be in:
- The page/post URL
- In the SEO Title
- In the SEO Metadata
- In the page or post title as an H1
- And used appropriately within the body copy of the page
If your copy is under 300 words, using the keyword a couple of times will suffice. If your copy is longer, say 600 words or above, then you use it more often – perhaps four or five times. However, search engines don’t like overuse. So if you pack your keyword in too hard, your copy will look forced and contrived. There is a balance to be had here.
Let’s use the keyword “kitchen garden” as our example and work through each of the five points listed above.
Page or Post Title
The title of your page or post should contain your keyword, preferably at the beginning of the title. Do bear in mind though that there’s a balance to be had here between how literally you execute your SEO versus how well a piece reads and scans. Some SEO experts may disagree here but I don’t enjoy reading copy which is clearly been forced around a keyword.
So, for example, your title could be Seasonal Kitchen Garden Ideas.
This should be set as an H1 on your page or post and you should only have one H1 title on a page.
Think of H1, H2s, H3s and so on as the elements of a book. They should be used to signpost to search engines what your content is about. An H1 is the title /cover of your book, H2s are chapter titles, H3s are sub-headings within a chapter and so on.
Keyword added to your page title – tick. That’s point one on your basic SEO checklist sorted.
Page or Post URL
The URL for your page should also contain your keyword. With tools such as WordPress, this is easy to do. If you have a hardcoded website which only your developer can update, you need to make sure that they set up your URLs correctly.
Incidentally, a slight divergence but if you use a hardcoded website, do give serious thought to moving to a content managed website. You can update it yourself and it will save you money, give you flexibility and allow you to control your content as and when you choose. Back to your basic SEO checklist…
Using the keyword “kitchen garden” your URL would like something like this:
Setting up the correct URL ticks off point two on your basic SEO checklist.
You may be asking what this it but you will already be familiar with SEO titles on an everyday basis.
The SEO title is also called a title tag and is part of a website’s metadata. It is the first thing you see on a search results page listing – it’s usually blue. And it is also the content that sits on your website’s open tab within a browser.
As you will see in the image, all these search results have the keyword “kitchen garden” in the SEO title.
Google currently imposes an SEO title limitation (including spaces) of 70 characters. If you go over this, the rest of your SEO title will not display.
If you use WordPress, then the Yoast plugin displays how your SEO title and meta description will look. So it’s easy to see if you have gone over your limit.
If you are using other tools such as Weebly or Squarespace or Umbraco, you are working blind which makes the job a little more tricky. There’s a fantastic free tool called the Snippet Optimizer Tool from SME Rush which does a similar job and is worth making use of.
Keyword added to your SEO title – tick. That’s task number three on your basic SEO checklist done.
SEO Meta Description
The SEO meta description summarises a page or a post’s content. Again it should contain your keyword.
Currently, Google will display up to 156 characters (including spaces) for your meta description. If you go over this, the rest of your meta description will not display and it will end in dots.
WordPress users can make good use of Yoast. Users of other tools such as Weebly or Squarespace or Umbraco will find writing the right length of meta description more challenging. And the Snippet Optimizer Tool from SME Rush will again be a great help.
Writing your SEO meta description completes task number four of your basic SEO checklist.
This leads us onto the main content of your page or post i.e. your copy.
Your copy should contain your keyword. How many times depends on the length of the piece and common sense should prevail here.
As a rule of thumb, if your piece is around 300 words long, then using your keyword two or three times will be enough. If it is shorter, use it once or twice and if it is longer, then use it proportionately to the piece. For example, if you write a 700-word blog, then I would look to use my keyword four or five times.
Google does not like overuse of keywords so don’t be tempted to overstuff your writing with yours. Besides, the more contrived your copy looks, the less well it will read for all concerned.
When I’m working on drafts in Pages or Word, I tend to highlight my use of a keyword to keep track of how often I’m using it and where. This trick might work for you. More often than not, I write straight into my content management system, which tends to be WordPress and use Yoast as a guide.
Adding your body copy with an appropriate scattering of your keyword completes task number five on your basic SEO checklist.
To sum up
By following this five-point to-do list every time you create a page or post on your website, you will improve your site’s search engine listing.
Getting your website to rank well on search engine listings is a complex task. Your website design and structure, site speed, referral traffic, third party links all also play roles.
However, ensuring that all your content is clearly structured and optimised following these five simple steps, will help you to create an effective website. Don’t be tempted to spend money on Google Ads and agency boosts until you’ve got these steps in place. And they will take you a long way, free of charge.
If you’re still unsure what to do or how to go about making sure that your website is set up well to rank on search engine listings, feel free to contact ItsLello.