SEO is still one of the best, most cost-effective ways to drive traffic to your website. However, to do that, it’s necessary to be filled in on SEO best practices and what’s working now.
Adhering to SEO best practices means ensuring your content is easy for search engines to crawl and understand. This way, you have a much better chance of ranking on the first page of search results, which grows your organic traffic and gets your content seen.
However, SEO best practices change over time. What might have worked five years ago isn’t necessarily a best practice today. This list is curated to share what's working now.
Here are 11 SEO best practices you need to know.
1. Write catchy titles
Titles matter. Without a compelling title—regardless of the type of content you’re creating—you won’t get much traffic, clicks, or conversions from your content. Improving your titles can not only improve your click-through rates but it’s also a way to help your brand stand out from the competition.
Here are a few ways to think about improving your titles:
- Try to include your root keyword in your title
- Be as specific as possible
- Include numbers in your headlines if relevant
- Use power words when possible
If you’re having trouble coming up with a compelling blog title, Google to look for inspiration. Let's say we search for “how to start a blog post.”
Copyblogger does a great job of creating a compelling title that captures the attention of a reader (it also helps that they optimized their content to snag the featured snippet!)
5 Easy Ways to Open Your Blog Post With a Bang has all the elements that make a blog title effective:
- It includes a number that adds specificity
- It isn’t so long that Google cuts off the end of the title
- It uses powerful words like “bang”
2. Invest in backlinks
You’ve probably wondered at some point, ‘how important are backlinks really?’ The answer: very important. Think of backlinks as “votes of confidence” you get from other sites that Google considers reputable.
The more “votes of confidence” your website has, the higher Google tends to rank your content because it deems your website as valuable. There are lots of ways to gain backlinks, each with different levels of success depending on the context.
Generally, you can either try to build backlinks naturally, or you can opt for the paid agency route to launch outreach campaigns to win more backlinks. The more natural links Google detects pointing to your website, the better.
Pro tip: Take Jasper’s free course on SEO to learn about earning backlinks and increasing your website authority.
3. Create an internal linking strategy
Much like backlinks, internally linking to related content within your own web pages matters. It helps Google get a better picture of your site’s structure, thus more accurately indexing your content. PageRank, an algorithm used by Google to determine page rank, also considers internal links to determine page authority.
To create an internal linking strategy, you first need to know the current state of your internal links and the content you’ve published. Once you have a list of all your content, identify your pillar pages.
Using the HubSpot Topic Cluster Strategy, identifying your pillar pages will make it easier to know which pages to interlink to and from each page. Go down your list of related content and interlink it with your hub pages where it makes sense.
Remember to use relevant anchor text to add your link since they are important as well.
Additionally, with tools like Ahrefs, you can easily crawl your website and check for broken links as an opportunity to create a new link to better internal content.
Go down your list of web pages and take the time to check for broken links. Redirect them to new, better internal links or eliminate them.
4. Improve your technical SEO
Technical SEO is the foundation on which your website is built. If your foundation isn’t up to standard, it’s going to diminish the ROI of any other on-page or off-page SEO efforts.
- Ensure your website address includes an SSL certificate
- Eliminate duplicate content
- Register your website with Google Search Console for additional SEO insights
- Add structured data markup like FAQ schema to your site
- Improve your URL structure
If you aren’t technical, don’t overlook the technical needs of your website. Outsource this task if necessary to ensure the best results and secure higher positions on results pages.
5. Optimize for faster load times
According to Google, a faster webpage load time is one of the over 200 ranking factors it takes into consideration when evaluating your website. This means optimizing your website for the fastest load times possible should be near the top of your to-do list.
With tools like GTmetrix or Pingdom Speed Test, you can easily check how your website is performing. If it’s loading slowly, here are a few things you can do to increase your website speed:
- Use caching plugins
- Optimize images
- Reduce redirects
- Use a CDN
6. Create quality content
More traffic, more conversions, and higher earnings can only happen when you’ve taken the time to create quality content. Whether you’re a YouTuber or a blogger, creating high-quality content helps you build a library of content pieces you can fall back on as you maintain your growth year over year.
But what does quality content mean? Pay attention to things like:
- Incorporating actionable information
- Ensuring your content is up to date
- Creating content that’s original
- Formatting with plenty of bullet points, headings, and images to break up walls of text
- Ensuring your sentences are easy to read
- Use large fonts that are easy to read
- Keep sidebar distractions and pop-up sign up forms to a minimum
- Make sure your content fulfills search intent and answers search questions thoroughly
AI-powered writing assistant tools like Jasper can help you cut your production process in half and beat writer’s block when it comes.
Consider using AI to optimize your content creation workflow. For example, with Jasper, you can create quality content with the click of a button.
7. Update your UX
The user experience is an important part of ensuring all your SEO efforts pay off. The last thing you want is for your target audience to land on your website, only to be met with a poor user experience that turns them off from your content before they’ve even had a chance to consume it.
To update your site’s UX:
Improve your navigation: One of the best ways to improve site navigation is to revise your main menu. Does it have any categories that could be subcategories? Does it include any categories that could be removed? The easier it is to navigate your website, the longer your visitors will stay and browse. The goal is to create a welcoming experience for both new and repeat users.
Improve site speed: Nobody likes to wait on websites that take forever to load. A slow website increases your bounce rate and lowers your sessions. Take the time to optimize your blog posts for speed and make sure your technical SEO is in good shape. Compress images when possible, use caching plugins, and test your loading speed with free tools like PageSpeed Insights to monitor your progress.
Watch for broken links: Broken links happen for a variety of reasons. But you don’t want them lingering in your content if you can help it. Consider revisiting older content to check for broken links. While fixing broken links improves the user experience, it’s also something search engines look at as part of their greater ranking algorithm.
Use better images: When you land on a website that uses dated images it’s easy to question the quality of the rest of its content. By using better images, you increase user trust and ensure your website is appealing and well branded. Using visual examples is also a great way to use images to your advantage.
8. Consider search intent
Search engine optimization used to be as easy as targeting keywords by creating content that included them and then calling it a day. However, Google’s algorithm has gotten better at determining search intent.
This means you need to think deeper about your keywords and what their search intent is. For example, someone who searches for “best brand pressure cooker” is signaling they are searching with “purchase” intent.
They’re trying to find the “best” of something. As such, you’ll see some of the biggest websites in the space walk the user through a list of the best brands.
Search intent usually falls into four buckets:
Transactional: Transactional keywords are keywords with the intent to make a purchase. For example: users who specifically search for “buy Sony PlayStation 4 slim” are showing buyer intent. Users searching with keywords like buy, where to buy, discount, coupon, deal, or cheap are searching with high buyer intent.
Commercial: Commercial searches are made when a user is still trying to decide on the purchase of a specific product. They’ll usually search for keywords looking for comparison posts, best-of lists, or reviews.
Navigational: Keywords with navigational intent are searches looking for a specific online destination like a website or a webpage. If someone searches for “Instagram” or “Bing” then it’s considered navigational intent.
Informational: Searches looking for specific information like “what time is it in India?” or “SEO best practices” are doing so with informational intent. The result is finding more information that answers their question.
Pro tip: Jasper’s Content Mastermind helps you apply all this and more.
9. Optimize your images
Images can sometimes be added to blog content as an afterthought. In some cases, they are critical to the content itself. Either way, it’s important to optimize your images so that your pages load quickly.
What does this look like? There are two ways to optimize your images:
Adjust their file size: The smaller your images can be the better. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to resize your images without losing quality. Free image compression tools like TinyPNG easily compress images.
Add alt text: Your images need “alt text” which is a way to describe to search engine crawlers what your image is. Ideally, your image is related to the content you’re creating, so describing it accordingly and incorporating your keyword in the process should be easy.
10. Update your XML sitemap
Has your website gone through a lot of changes lately? Then it’s time to update your XML sitemap.
A sitemap helps crawlers index your website more efficiently regardless of its size. It’s a way to ensure search engines are discovering all your content. If you already have an XML sitemap, consider submitting your website to be recrawled when you make major changes.
Here’s an easy way to create a sitemap without having to deal with any code:
- Download and activate the Yoast SEO plugin (for WordPress users).
- Navigate to SEO, then click on General, and finally tap Features.
- Toggle on XML Sitemap.
- You should see your sitemap created along with the date it was last modified.
Here’s how to submit your sitemap to be crawled by Google:
- Navigate to Google Search Console
- On the left-hand menu, click on Sitemaps.
- Submit your URL.
- Wait until your submission is confirmed.
11. Use keyword research to inform your meta descriptions, title tags, and more
Gone are the days when keyword stuffing would work to show up higher on search engine results pages. Ranking in SERPs for your target keywords takes incorporating them into your content meaningfully.
But it doesn’t stop there. Thorough keyword research should also inform your:
- Page titles
- Long-tail keyword choices
It isn’t enough to find one keyword and call it a day. Find related, supporting keywords and identify their searcher intent. Are they worth incorporating into your content? The more thorough your approach to SEO is, the better positioned you’ll be to gain organic search traffic.
How Jasper and Surfer SEO Help Create Search-Optimized Content
Now, to use Jasper with Surfer SEO, you’ll need to be signed up for the Boss Mode plan. If you aren’t familiar with Surfer SEO, it’s essentially a content optimization tool that uses algorithms to help you rank on the first page of Google.
With Surfer SEO you can:
- Generate a content strategy
- Create article outlines
- Run SEO audits
- Get SEO suggestions to rank higher
When you use Surfer SEO and Jasper together you get a powerful set of tools you can use to create content that ranks higher in search engines. Once you’re in the Jasper dashboard (and you’ve signed up for Boss Mode) you can turn on SEO Mode to use the Surfer SEO sidebar inside Jasper. This is yet another way to streamline the content optimization process with powerful SEO-focused features.
Write content that ranks with Jasper
Writing content that ranks can be easy once you start creating good content and make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content. The secret is in staying consistent.
Every piece of content you publish—whether it’s a YouTube video, an infographic, a long-form blog post, a guide, or even a glossary—needs to follow SEO best practices to increase your chances of ranking on search engines.
After all, SEO is a competitive space, Even though it’s still one of the most affordable ways to grow your traffic, it’s a competitive process with the need for long-term investment and constant upkeep.
However, a hugely time-consuming piece of the puzzle is creating your content. And that’s where Jasper comes in. Supercharge your SEO efforts to ensure you write AI-assisted content in half the time while using keywords throughout everything you create naturally.
Start optimizing your content in half the time with Jasper here.