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SEO Guidelines for Content Editors

As a digital agency, we like to ensure that technical best practice is adhered to during the build of a new digital solution, however, the content within your site is the most important part of ranking well within search engine results. As they say, Content Is King!

To help with structuring your content, we have put together this high level overview of some of things you can do to lay the foundation for solid on-page optimisation.

Keywords
Define a list of the keywords & phrases which you would like to be ranked highly for within search results.

Defining the keywords you want to be found by before you start writing any content is key. There are a number of tools that can assist in identifying the most competitive keywords or alternative keywords. If you have a large site then you may need to define separate lists for different areas of the site, however all lists should be cohesive in some way.

These keywords will become the focus for inclusion in your content as these are most likely to provide the highest return of traffic. However, be aware that forcing keywords into content can be obvious to the reader, so try to write the content using natural language and then review against the guidelines below to incorporate keywords effectively.

Content
All pages within the website should have a page header or title section, this is termed as the H1 tag and you should also incorporate your primary keyword or similar into the H1 tag. Look to also incorporate keywords (and synonyms) into any sub-heading you may have on the page.

Your content should be useful and unique (search engines do not love duplicate content which is content that can be reached by different URLs) and also have cohesion across the page URL, titles, image alt text and main body text.

Within each page there should preferably be 250 words or more on each page. Use synonyms as well as relevant keywords in your copy to avoid over-saturation of your keyword target. Focus on usability and throw in more, less searched for synonyms which will provide benefit for your SEO rankings, but also allows for more natural website content creation and a better user experience.

Search engines love fresh content, so ensure that you have at least one area of your website that has fresh content added on a regular basis.

Meta Data
Meta data are elements within each web page that contains information about the content on the page. The three most common meta-tags are the meta-title, meta-description and the meta-keywords.

The meta-title is the title that is displayed in search results. All meta-titles within your site should follow the same format so where multiple pages from your site are returned within search results they have a consistent look and feel to the user as well as adding to the SEO ranking. Titles should be no more than 65 characters.

The meta-description should be 50-155 characters only (descriptions longer that 155 characters are truncated in most search engines) and any keywords within the description that match the search terms entered by the user are hi-lighted which makes your search results stand out. The meta-description should be written to describe the content on the page and sell your company/service. The description is the hook that gets users to click through to your website over other search results. Lastly, meta-descriptions must be unique across your site.

Meta-keywords have little importance with Google now, but other search engines still use these for ranking, and even google will look for cohesiveness here, so provide a relevant list of keywords/phrases separated by a comma for each page.

Images
Use descriptive ALT tags and filenames for images, ensuring where possible they are cohesive to the page content. Search engines ‘see’ images by reading the ALT tag and looking at file names, among other factors.

SEO rankings can be affected by page load speeds and so the use of very large images can be a hindrance. Ensure you optimise all images before loading to the website. If you have the option to load different images for desktop and mobile devices ensure you create appropriately sized images for each device to assist in performance on mobile platforms.

Visibility
Whilst writing content is important, it is also important to define a linkage strategy to help boost rankings once live.

Search engines use links from other sites to your site (backlinks) to analyse the popularity of websites and pages based on the number (and popularity) of pages linking to them, alongside metrics like trust and authority. Search engines wants to see links to your website on other high-quality sites, and websites that pop up out of nowhere with hundreds of links to them already in place raise red flags, and will probably be penalised.

Social signals are growing in importance as ranking factors for search engines. They leverage social intelligence (via our interactions) to determine more accurate relevancy for searches. Sharing of content directly from your website with integrated social buttons is beneficial. However if you do not have this functionality, linking to your content from your social media platforms will also be helpful.

Going Forward
Once live you need to ensure that someone is monitoring the results from the initial SEO work to see how well it’s really working for you.

Continually reviewing your website’s analytics, and then making changes to your site based on what you learn, is vital to staying in Google’s (and other search engines) good graces.

For more information on content and SEO, contact Cucumber or call 0800 CUCUMBER