SEO best practice at your fingertips

Digital360 on 18 May 2017

Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to combat SEO companies and agencies from using outdated or' black hat' SEO. Using these black hat SEO tactics can not only waste client money, but also harm a client’s performance. In some cases, the tactics of the SEO company may slap the client with a Google penalty.

Search engines not only update their algorithms frequently, but they also place varied weighted importance on the different aspects of your website. While these specific factors are not publicly available knowledge, best practice SEO tactics will always keep in line with Google's Search Quality Guidelines.

To achieve this, website SEO will address so-called 'onsite' and 'offsite' SEO ranking factors. If you're a business owner or manager, it's wise to understand these SEO ranking factors yourself. This way, you can ensure your SEO agency is keeping strategy in-line with your business goals, as well as with the demands of search engines.

Offsite best practice SEO tips

Domain-wide or offsite factors include areas like inbound backlinks to your site, inbound traffic from social media and increasing domain authority.

  • Social media – Social media is becoming a dominant and important part of the web. No doubt, SEO is also influenced by social media activity by helping your content get discovered by a relevant audience, building traffic, links and authority. Make sure that your business has social media accounts properly set up, and these accounts are linked to your site and Google My Business account.
  • Outreach – Reaching out to other, reputable sites in your industry will help you build more inbound links to your site. However, it is important to always triple check who is driving traffic to your site for any dodgy-web behaviour.
  • Partnerships and affiliations – Your business may have a number of existing business partnerships and affiliations, such as suppliers, community organisations, or industry bodies. Make sure that your site is linking to these organisations, and vice versa.
  • Business directories – Listing your business is another great way to get your name out there and build valuable links to your site. Just be sure to keep these listings up-to-date and only on sites and directories that are in wide circulation.
  • Reviews – Reviews are great for your business, as these sites will often rank for searches around your company and brand name. And not only do they send valuable traffic to your website, but a star rating may also appear next to your business name, increasing the likelihood a potential customer will 'click-through' to your website from search engine results.
  • Spam links– Check for backlinks pointing to your site that have a low domain authority. These links add no value to your SEO efforts, and may even be damaging your rankings. A free tool to check for these links is the Google Search Console.

Onsite best practice SEO tips

Onsite factors include areas like website code (HTML, CSS and Javascript), page content and page metadata. Be sure to look out for these onsite SEO best practices and make sure that your SEO agency is giving them due consideration.

  • Metadata – Metadata includes the page title and meta description. This is the content that will be displayed in search engine results, and have an important role to play in increasing visitors that click-through to your site.
  • Headings – Page titles (using H1, H2 and H3 HTML tags) are typically given significant weight by search engines indexing the page. Make sure that page titles are found throughout page content, and they are clear, accurate and contain keywords and key phrases.
  • Anchor text – This is the text used in hyperlinks. It signals information about other relevant pages and content to search engines crawling the site. Make sure anchor text contains keywords and capture the context of the destination page.
  • Long-tail keywords – Semantic related algorithms place importance not just on the keywords, but on all supporting vocabulary, words and phrases. Using a variety of phrases will help broaden your rankings and make them more stable.
  • Page relevancy and specificity – The purpose of each page is to be relevant and directly related to a specific topic throughout the web page. This includes the title tag, URL, on-page content, and image alt text.
  • Original content – The page copy should be as unique and original as possible. You should avoid duplicating content from other parts of your website. And it definitely should not be plagiarised from other websites, including competitors and Wikipedia.
  • Information Architecture and internal links – All pages must be linked properly, in that all category and subcategory pages link back to their parent page and back to a homepage. Pages that are related should also be linked.

Final thoughts

SEO best practice really comes down to keeping in line with what Google wants. For all business types, whether you consider yourself an SEO expert or not at all, it is important to keep up-to-date with the latest information released by search engines like Google.

The more you know and understand, the more likely you will be able to work collaboratively with your SEO agency, if you choose to work with one. Your understanding and their transparency will stand everyone a good chance of front-page success.

More questions about best practice SEO? Talk to a search marketing specialist about your SEO goals.