Search Engine Best Practices (SEO)

We can spend all of our time creating beautifully crafted messaging and images. But if people can’t find us or the information they’re looking for, we’re wasting our energy. Most people enter our site through a search engine. They’re looking for an answer to a specific question, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps us be one of the first to answer that question (by being at the top of the search engine rankings) and to best answer their question by providing the most accurate response to their query.

After launching a new website, it's important to let the major search engines know that it exists so they can index it. The simplest way to make sure this happens is to submit your website directly to the search engines:

Writing with keywords

Speaking the language of your audience is key. And answering people’s questions quickly and efficiently means that we should write our text and structure our pages around the keywords or phrases that people use in their search queries. The most important step in SEO is choosing the keywords that people actually use. There are a number of tools that can be used to identify these. Once the keywords for a page are selected, they should be strategically located so that search engines, as well as viewers, understand their importance: by their location, frequency and density.

Each page should concentrate on one or two keywords or key phrases so pages don’t compete with one another.

Internal SEO factors

Search engines crawl a website for the most important keywords, weighting some locations more than others. The most important keywords for a page should be in the strategic locations that provide the most value for search engines, including (in order of importance):

  • URLs
  • Title tags
  • Header (H1) and subheader (H2) tags
  • Links
  • Body copy
  • File names for documents

Although they’re not used in ranking a page, using keywords in the description tags, ALT texts and keyword metadata also can improve the user’s experience by helping them find the right information on a page. The description tag should also be attractive so viewers will want to click on your page rather than the other pages in the search results.

External SEO factors

Search engines also use a number of factors in addition to keyword placement to rank pages in their search results, including:

  • Social clout: links, mentions, etc., on social media sites
  • History: time that a page or pages that redirect to it have been online
  • Popularity: links to and from other reputable sites, number of visits
  • User experience: bounce rate, average time on page
  • Rich content: presence of photos, videos and interactive elements
  • Update frequency: how often a page’s content is updated

As search engines are continuing to evolve, it’s becoming more critical to not only use best practices for structuring a page, but also to provide the best user experience possible to be at the top of their list. Our information should be both efficient to help people quickly find what they are looking for and effective to encourage them to engage with us.