Search engine optimization, structuring your website content in a way to increase your rankings on search engines, has been over-complicated.
Some SEO professionals love to talk in jargon and try to confuse you so you think the only choices to select from are to hand them a blank check or remain buried so far down in search results you’ll never be found.
That’s not to say there aren’t some technically advanced things that achieve great results that most of us have no idea how to do. There are.
However, unless something is broken within your website, there are some very simple things you can do yourself that can make a massive difference for your organic rankings, traffic, and click-through rates.
There are three that only involve entering the backend (logging into the web host) of your website and doing some typing. No coding or anything like that.
We’ll be showing screenshots from inside of our WordPress site with All In One SEO installed, but if you have Yoast or another plugin installed, everything we talk about should be in a similar spot.
Don’t know how to install a plugin? Here’s a good article that can help you with that too.
You’ll start by logging into the backend and then going to wherever you can see all the pages on your website. On WordPress, that will be the “Pages” area:
SEO page titles
Page titles, also known as title tags, are the blue words that show up most prominently on Google. These are incredibly important for that reason alone, but they also have a big impact on your rankings on search engines and click-through rates.
After you’ve navigated to the “Pages” area on WordPress, you can edit your page titles by hovering your mouse over the page you want to edit and selecting the “Edit” option that appears.
You can actually hit the “quick edit” button and edit the title there, but on the next page you can actually edit the rest of the things we’ll be talking about. So, go ahead and just click edit.
With Yoast or All In One SEO installed, the page title area will be just below where the page is displayed.
First, your title must remain less than 60 characters for it to be fully displayed on search engine result pages. Then, you want it to feature a keyword you think people would use in a Google search for your business, service, or product that is on that page.
This is a good article by Cyrus Shepard, a helpful and successful SEO expert breaking down a few things you should consider to include in your titles.
For most small businesses you should:
- Include name of the product or service on the page
- Include city in which your business is located so you show up for local searches (queries like “digital marketing near me”)
- Make it unique (search for a page similar to yours and ask yourself what would make yours stand out?)
For example, a sports card company in Springfield could have this title for their basketball cards page: “Basketball cards – Buy or Sell Basketball Cards | Springfield, Missouri”
I like to use the pipe symbol (this thing –> |) as a separator between keywords and phrases and the city, but you can just use a dash if you’d like.
One more thing: Don’t cram as many keywords that can fit into anything – titles, headings, body copy, or anything. Google will figure out what you’re doing and they don’t like it when people do that. You won’t get increased traffic and could actually receive a penalty that actually removes you from search results.
Search engine optimized headings
When you are looking at a page on the backend of your WordPress website, you can highlight the headings of paragraphs and see how what “level” they are – H1, H2, H3, etc.
Any 1, 2, or 3 headings, if it makes sense, should include a keyword or phrase that people would use to search for the content on that page.
Your H2 and 3s are perfect for keyword-related questions. Going back to our sports card store, if the owner had a page about selling cards, they could have a heading titled, “How much are my basketball cards worth?”
We have tools that pull in data telling us what questions people are asking on search engines, but you can find them on Google by typing in your keywords and looking at the “People also ask” section if one pops up.
Remember to throw your location in the headings here and there (only if it makes sense and doesn’t sound forced) to help show up for local searches.
Quality and relevant body copy
Look over your copy on each of your pages. Does it fully explain your product or service for someone who has never heard of it before?
Google does NOT reward the pages with the most uses of the keyword searched. It tries to show the page that best answers the searcher’s query and matches the intent — why they searcher is looking for the query they entered into the search engine.
So, if your H1 is a question, answer the question to the best of your ability. If it’s a product page, write copy that would help someone make a purchasing decision for that product.
Here’s a good article further explaining search intent.
As always, if you do business in your city, add it to your copy once or twice. Be sure to use your keyword and its synonyms a couple of times but don’t overuse it.
If you aren’t sure if you’re overusing keywords read the sentence out loud. Does it sound funny? You probably forced the keyword in there.
Search engines are getting better at “reading” copy like humans. Google understands syntax, can pick up synonyms, and related keywords. If you’re writing good copy, it’ll figure out what you’re getting at.
Small business SEO
Search engine optimization for small businesses is oftentimes centered around the local area. So it’s more of a focused effort and, personally, we think it’s less complicated.
You can truly make a difference with your rankings and organic traffic by simply employing these tactics we’ve laid out here.
Just remember: quality content that matches the searcher’s intent beats keyword stuffing every time.