In 2020, optimising your content for search engines is incredibly important and a practice many companies are not doing. As we know, search engines require content specifically in text form, and optimising this content for Google will ensure the Google crawlers understand the article better. It will also tell the search engine where to rank it. There is great value in taking time to craft an article to rank highly on a search keyword or phrase.
Meta Title Tag
This tag should be 65 characters long, bearing in mind that this is the first thing people will see in their Google search results, so make sure the headline is catchy. Research shows that an increased click-through rate from the search results page quickly increases the SEO rankings.
Meta Description Tag
Next, on Search Engine Optimisation, we need to ensure we have an optimised meta description tag of 300 characters. This is what Google shows in the results page. It helps the user understand the relevance of the page. Google has said that they don’t use the meta tag to rank websites.
In HTML we are able to assign a hierarchy of tags to our headings. H1 is the top heading and the most important. Underneath that H2, H3, H4 headings will follow. Make sure your heading or title of the article is the H1 tag. In WordPress or other content management systems you generally have the option to edit the headings.
It is important to include the subject of the post, which includes in the first sentence the keywords you want to rank. This should not be too obvious and must be done subtly. For example, if your article is about fixing a blocked drain you cannot start your opening paragraph with “Top plumbers fixing a blocked drain in Johannesburg, South Africa”. Rather leave out the location and superlative-type words. Remember to include anchor text to another article relating to the story. Internal linking is beneficial such as linking to another article on your website about roots can cause blocked drains.
Breaking the article up into sections is important to keep the reader’s attention and for SEO. The search engine will look at the layout and ease of readability point of view. We recommend using the H2 tag for subheadings. In the second paragraph remember to use anchor text again. Before paragraph three, it is a good idea to include a call to action. Perhaps a sign-up or subscribe for more information or an early-bird discount.
Search engines appear to prioritise articles above 500 words. This also gives more leverage to play around with the keyword density and to include more relevant information relating to your business. A few years ago Google was happy with 250 words, but this is no longer the case. It flags pages with 500 words or less as thin pages. We recommend 500 words just to be safe, as sometimes there isn’t more to say on the topic. HubSpot found in their 2017 post, that the prime word count was in fact 2 250 – 2 500 words. If the target-keyword density is too high, Google will see this as trying to manipulate its algorithm. Keywords should represent between 1.5% – 3% of the total text.
Having related articles at the bottom of the article is a good way to reduce bounce rate and keep people engaged on your site.
Page Authority and Domain Authority are metrics which Moz developed to predict how well a page will rank in a search results page. You can test your sites domain and page authority here
It is important to monitor the bounce rate and keep it manageable, ie a low bounce rate means that people are reading more than one page on your website. Many news sites have a high bounce rate because people often go on to read only one story and drop off. However, if there are many pages on the website and especially if people from an organic search are showing a high bounce rate it is important to use tools and techniques to keep them on the site longer. Site speed is an important factor in reducing bounce rate. Having a slow website will drastically decrease user interaction.
You will notice that websites with HTTPS in the URL are those with an SSL certificate installed. The SSL certificate will encrypt data, making it more difficult for hackers to gain access to the website. Google has said it will eventually prioritise websites with SSL certificates.
Google looks for social shares of articles. Make it easy for people to share your content on social media. If Google sees a lot of activity on social media it could rank your article and website higher.