A few years ago, I wrote a post about how to optimize your website for Google. It's been very popular over the course of time, so I'm republishing it here:
Writing for Humans First and Search Engines Second
Google has always had an excellent algorithm which determines what sites are “good” and which ones aren't. But there's another factor at work here - human behavior. If you write on-page content that is well written and provides value to your visitors, then chances are good that not only will they come back to your site again, but they'll also click through to other pages and share them with their friends.
When someone shares something on Facebook or Twitter, they're actually talking to other people. They're telling these people "Hey, look! This thing is cool!" What does this tell you? That people want to know more about things that they find interesting. And if your site has information that's useful to them, why wouldn't they want to visit it again later?
There is no doubt that writing great on-page content can be one of the most effective ways of improving your SEO. However, many webmasters forget about two important aspects of SEO:
1. Writing for humans first and search engines second
2. Using targeted keywords in all the right places
If you do both of these things, you stand a much better chance of ranking higher for competitive keywords than otherwise. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Use targeted keywords in all the right places
One way to improve your keyword density is to use phrases instead of individual words. For example, instead of saying "how to bake cookies", say "baking cookies". Then instead of using the word "cookies" as a keyword, try saying "cookie recipe", "cookie baking guide", etc.
Another tip is to include the actual keyword in different forms throughout the text of your page. You could have a section called "search engine optimization" (SEO), where you describe what SEO is and how it works. In that same section, you could list some of the benefits of being ranked highly by search engines (e.g., "high rankings increase brand awareness").
You might even use the keyword in the title of your page. The title tag is extremely important because it appears in search results and often gets clicked on. So make sure you use keywords in that tag as well.
Finally, don't just throw your keywords into random places. Instead, find the exact spots where you want them to appear. For example, if you want to rank well for the term "best organic dog food," you probably want to put the term "organic dog food" in your heading tags, the body copy, and the URL.
Focus on user experience (UX)
The last piece of advice I'd like to give you involves UX. UX stands for user experience, and it refers to how easy it is for users to navigate your site from one page to another. There are several factors that contribute to UX:
· Page load speed - The faster the page loads, the less likely your visitor will leave before completing his task.
· Navigation - Visitors want to be able to easily find what they need.
· Design - A simple design makes it much easier for users to complete tasks.
· Content - Visitors should be able to find the information they need, without having to dig around for it.
· Usability - Users should be able to accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently.
These elements of UX affect your search engine rankings as well. For example, if your page takes too long to load, it will be penalized by Google. Also, when you link out to other websites, make sure those sites are reputable and provide quality content.
Format content for featured snippets
Featured snippets are little boxes that appear under search results which contain excerpts of the article that is displayed in the box. These snippets tend to display the most relevant information in the snippet, so if you want to rank well for a particular keyword, you need to create content that focuses on that keyword.
To create featured snippets, follow these steps:
· Write unique content focused on your primary keyword (or phrase).
· Make every paragraph count (use subheadings, bold, italics, lists, images, videos, etc.).
· Include targeted anchor text.
· Use internal linking (i.e., hyperlinks within your content).
· Include relevant calls to action.
· Use a sitemap.
Remove anything that slows down your site
Slow loading sites will probably never rank high on any SERPs, so you need to take care of that problem immediately. One of the best ways to do that is to use a CDN. A CDN is a content delivery network, and it serves up static files, including images, scripts, CSS, and HTML, from servers located around the globe.
This means that a visitor doesn't have to wait for your page to load before he can see your content. And, since content is cached, you needn't worry that he won't be able to see your content when he returns.
In addition, a CDN enables you to serve smaller images, thereby reducing bandwidth usage. Finally, it allows you to quickly and easily update your site with new content.
In such cases, it's time to start thinking about performance optimization.