Best practices for SEO

On this page
  1. Keyword research and optimization
  2. Content creation and quality
  3. Link building and outreach
  4. Technical SEO
  5. On-Page SEO
  6. Off-page SEO
  7. Analytics and tracking
  8. Best practices for effective internal linking
  9. Best practices for writing strong meta descriptions
  10. Best practices for building backlinks
  11. Best practices for improving the user experience
  12. Best practices for creating an optimized page title
  13. Best practices for creating useful content
  14. Best practices for optimizing page speed
  15. Best practices for optimizing images
  16. Satisfy search intent
  17. On-Page SEO Checklist

Keyword research and optimization

  • Conduct keyword research to identify relevant and high-traffic keywords.
  • Optimize content for target keywords, including page titles, meta descriptions, and header tags.
  • Use descriptive and SEO-friendly URLs.
  • Optimize images with descriptive alt text and file names.

Content creation and quality

  • Create high-quality, original, and engaging content.
  • Conduct keyword research to ensure content is relevant and optimized.
  • Use headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to structure content.
  • Use descriptive and SEO-friendly meta descriptions and title tags.
  • Regularly update and refresh content.
  • Build high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources.
  • Use descriptive and SEO-friendly anchor text for links.
  • Avoid duplicate content and plagiarism.
  • Engage in guest blogging and content collaborations.
  • Use social media to promote content and build relationships.

Technical SEO

  • Ensure website mobile-friendliness and responsiveness.
  • Optimize website speed and performance.
  • Use descriptive and SEO-friendly meta tags and titles.
  • Use schema markup to provide additional context to search engines.
  • Ensure website security and HTTPS protocol.

On-Page SEO

  • Optimize page titles, meta descriptions, and header tags.
  • Use descriptive and SEO-friendly URLs.
  • Optimize images with descriptive alt text and file names.
  • Use internal and external linking to enhance user experience and SEO.
  • Ensure website structure and organization are clear and logical.

Off-page SEO

  • Build high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources.
  • Engage in social media and content marketing to build relationships and promote content.
  • Monitor and respond to online reviews and mentions.
  • Participate in online communities and forums related to your industry.
  • Use online directories and citations to improve local SEO.

Analytics and tracking

  • Use Google Analytics to track website traffic and behavior.
  • Monitor search engine rankings and keyword performance.
  • Track conversion rates and goal completions.
  • Use A/B testing and experimentation to optimize content and SEO strategies.
  • Monitor and respond to user feedback and reviews.

Best practices for effective internal linking

Internal links between pages on your website can help improve your search engine rankings. They make it easier for search engines to evaluate the hierarchy of information on your site and see how you make it easier for visitors to access the information.

By strategically placing internal links within your content, you can drive traffic to other parts of your site that may be relevant to your audience. This supports your content marketing efforts by keeping users engaged and encouraging them to explore more of what your site has to offer.

  • Relevance: ensure that the linked content is relevant to the context of the current page. Irrelevant links can confuse users and may be seen negatively by search engines.
  • Quality over quantity: focus on quality over quantity. A few well-placed, meaningful links can have a greater impact than numerous irrelevant ones.
  • Use descriptive anchor text: the anchor text should accurately describe the destination page. This helps both users and search engines understand the purpose of the link.
  • Avoid broken links: regularly check your site for broken links and fix them promptly. Broken links can harm the user experience and potentially affect your SEO rankings.
  • Link to your best content: identify your most valuable content and ensure it’s easily accessible via internal links from other pages on your site.

By following best practices for effective internal linking, you can leverage internal linking to improve your site’s visibility and engagement metrics.

Best practices for writing strong meta descriptions

A meta description (technical example: <meta name="description" content="A sticky chicken recipe featuring a blend of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors thanks to the addition of honey, ginger, soy, and hot sauce.">) is a brief summary of a web page’s content. It typically appears under the title of a webpage in search engine results pages (SERPs). While it doesn’t directly affect your site’s ranking in search results, it influences click-through rates (CTR), which indirectly affects SEO.

A compelling meta description can increase the number of clicks your listing receives. It helps search engines understand what your page is about, improving relevance. It provides potential visitors with a preview of what they’ll find on your page, enhancing the user experience.

Note that search engines may use a bit of text from the page that they believe is a more accurate or compelling response to a user’s query, so the meta description should align with potential search queries.

  • Keep it short: aim for 120 characters or less to ensure that the entire description is visible in search results. Anything longer may be cut off in SERPs. Generally, this parameter is very dynamic, and each search engine has its own rules. Check the length of the description in search results, including mobile devices.
  • Include relevant keywords: incorporate keywords related to your content, but avoid keyword stuffing. Use keywords that are most frequently used on the page.
  • Use for the page summary: use the meta description as a summary of the content and display it at the beginning of the content.

Building high-quality backlinks is a critical component of SEO strategies aimed at improving a website’s visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). High-quality backlinks serve as endorsements from other reputable websites, signaling to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy.

  • Relevance: backlinks should come from websites that are related to your content. This increases the likelihood that users interested in your content will follow the link, thereby increasing engagement and potentially leading to conversions.
  • Authority: links from high-authority sites carry more weight. These sites are recognized as leaders in their field, and having backlinks from such sites enhances your credibility.
  • Become a source for reporters and bloggers: offer unique insights, statistics, or research data that reporters and bloggers might find valuable. This can lead to mentions and backlinks from these publications.
  • Guest blogging: seeking opportunities to contribute guest posts to reputable websites can help in acquiring quality backlinks.
  • Where backlinks should point: the best practice is to ask yourself which page on your website is most related to and useful for the content you have written. Also, backlinks from other sites through the footer section of those sites can significantly enhance your website’s visibility on search engines. Backlinks are a form of link equity, or link juice. When another reputable site links to yours, some of its authority passes over to your site. This helps search engines understand that your content is valuable and trustworthy. Additionally, having your website linked from the footers of various other sites increases brand awareness. It exposes your brand to a wider audience, potentially leading to increased traffic and engagement.
  • Nofollow vs. dofollow: dofollow links (default type of link in HTML) are essential for passing authority and improving a website’s domain authority and keyword ranking, while nofollow links (link that has defined the attribute rel="nofollow") have minimal impact on search rankings but can still contribute to a natural backlink profile. Note that you can use the newer attribute rel="ugc" (User Generated Content), which is specifically designed for comments and forum posts, or rel="sponsored", which is designed to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships, or other compensation agreements.

Best practices for improving the user experience

You can improve your website’s user experience by looking at page load speed, specifically optimizing images and videos, reducing redirects, and enabling browser caching and HTTPS security. Other metrics to consider are interactivity, visual stability, and Core Web Vitals from Google.

  • Optimize page load times: optimize your site to load quickly, as this is a significant ranking factor. There are several areas that can be improved, like optimizing images, minifying the code, reducing HTTP requests, loading scripts asynchronously, using the Content Delivery Network (CDN), or implementing caching.
  • Make the content accessible: making web content accessible means designing and developing it so that everyone, including people with disabilities, can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with it effectively. This includes providing alternatives for various types of disabilities, such as auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual impairments. When your content is easily accessible and understandable, not only will we as humans be able to use it, but also search engine algorithms will understand your content better.
  • Scannable content: format content in a way that allows users to easily scan and read key points. Use the correct heading hierarchy. Headings communicate how the page’s content is organized. Web browsers, plug-ins, and assistive technologies can all use them to provide in-page navigation.
  • Intuitive navigation: ensure easy navigation through clear menu structures, informative service pages, and engaging multimedia elements. This helps in retaining visitors’ attention and improving SEO metrics.
  • Content quality: provide high-quality, relevant, and well-structured content that meets the needs of your target audience. This not only improves UX but also signals to search engines that your website is authoritative and trustworthy. When possible, include media like images, video, and audio.
  • Responsive design: make sure your website looks and functions well on all viewports and devices like desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Responsive design is crucial for both SEO and UX, as it ensures a consistent and positive user experience across all environments.
  • Create web page content without intrusive ads: Too many ads can distract from or interfere with the main content, negatively impacting both the user experience and SEO. Strive for a balance that keeps your site monetized without compromising the user experience. Make sure ads are clearly labeled as Sponsored or Advertisement.
  • Keep updating the content: search engines favor sites that keep their content up-to-date. Regularly updating the content signals to search engines that the site is active and provides fresh, valuable content to users. Moreover, updating the content of an existing page instead of creating a new one allows you to avoid the problem of which page should currently be given to the user by the search engine because, in this way, we limit competition between pages with the same topics.

By focusing on both SEO and UX, you can create a website that not only ranks well in search engine results but also provides a delightful experience for your users. This dual approach drives more traffic to your site and also encourages users to engage more deeply, leading to higher conversion rates and customer loyalty.

Best practices for creating an optimized page title

Crafting an optimized page title is crucial for SEO, as it directly impacts the click-through rate and search engine rankings. Technically, it refers to the <title> HTML element, which is a fundamental part of any web page.

  • SEO contextual understanding: ensure the title tag accurately reflects the content of the page, as this helps search engines determine the page’s relevance and context. You can get inspiration for the page title by entering queries related to your content into search engines and checking the titles in the search results from other pages.
  • Character limit consideration: focus on the first 60 to 70 characters of the title, as this is what is typically displayed in search results. However, note that there is no strict character limit as it depends on the visual space available in the search snippet. A page title that is too long or unclear may be ignored altogether or truncated as a fragment with three periods at the end.
  • Changing the page title: when changing the page title, don’t forget to set up a 301 Moved Permanently redirect from the previous page URL to the new URL. The 301 Moved Permanently status code is specifically designed to inform web browsers and search engine crawlers that a resource has been permanently moved to a new location, and they should update their records accordingly.
  • Location: for local businesses, including location information in the title can be beneficial.
  • Unique titles: ensure each page has a unique title. Duplicate titles on web pages can indeed confuse search engines, leading to potential issues with how your site is indexed and ranked. Search engines use the page title element of a webpage as an important signal about its content. When multiple pages have identical or very similar titles, it can make it difficult for search engines to understand the unique value each page offers, which page to serve, and hence, it may negatively impact your SEO efforts.
  • Use canonical tags: if you have duplicate content due to URL parameters (like session IDs), use canonical tags to tell search engines which version of the page is the canonical or preferred one.

Your page title provides search engines with a brief overview of your page and your audience with a quick summary of the page’s contents. Because they are the first things users see, they must be perfect to capture visitors’ attention.

Best practices for creating useful content

To increase organic traffic, make sure your content is both informative and relevant to your target audience. Search engines prefer content that focuses on topical depth and provides easy access to information. So make sure that the content you create helps people find answers to their questions and easily explore the solutions they’re looking for. Creating detailed content that answers your audience’s questions will give you a much-needed ranking boost and allow you to outperform your competitors.

Try to include examples, working code, videos, or links to well-known research or places that enjoy widespread authority.

  • Quality over quantity: create simple, as much as possible short, and to the point content. Adding extra content just to meet the number of characters or words will not affect SEO.
  • Provide examples: include examples whenever possible. Especially regarding some functionality. This is a great way to not only show that you’ve gone the extra mile, but it also allows the reader to see the workable solution immediately.
  • Organize the content structure: use headings and subheadings effectively to structure your content. This not only makes your content easier to read but also helps search engines understand what your content is about. It also helps screen reader users navigate through the page structure. Aim for an h1 HTML element at the beginning of your article, followed by several h2 HTML elements for subtopics and possibly h3 HTML elements for further breakdowns within those sections.
  • Make the content up-to-date: ensure that your content remains relevant and timely, as this can significantly impact its visibility and engagement. Connect your content to current trends, stories, or topics that are of interest to your audience.
  • Invest time in research: research what others write. What questions do users ask? Use multiple tools at the same time to check what is being written about the topic you want to write about.

Best practices for optimizing page speed

Optimizing page speed refers to the process of making web pages load faster for users. This involves improving various aspects of how a website performs, which can significantly enhance the user experience, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and overall site performance.

  • Minification: minify the CSS and JavaScript to reduce their size and speed up loading.
  • Compression: use Gzip or even better Brotli compression to compress static assets and reduce the size of HTTP responses sent from the server to the client.
  • Caching: implementing caching strategies to store copies of resources on the client side, reducing the need to reload them every time a user visits the site. Caching can also be performed on the server side, like database caching, reverse proxy caching, or content delivery network (CDN).
  • Lazy loading technique: lazy loading is a technique to defer the initialization of resources until they are needed. It is an optimization strategy that can improve website performance and the user experience by loading and/or rendering only the content that is immediately required and delaying the loading or rendering of non-essential elements until they are requested. This refers to not only fetching images or rendering the content but also other resources like loading application parts when they’re needed. For example, lazy-loading feature modules for Angular.
  • Server response time: optimizing backend processes to ensure that the server responds quickly to the HTTP requests.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN): when possible, use CDN to serve static assets from servers closest to the user, reducing latency.
  • Eliminate render-blocking resources: render-blocking resources refer to any part of the process of loading a website that blocks the rendering of the user interface. This means that they delay the browser from starting the render process, which can extend the page’s First Paint, causing a delay in the time until users can interact with the site, such as viewing content or interacting with controls. The most common types of render-blocking resources are initially-loaded CSS or JavaScript files. When a browser encounters a render-blocking resource, it stops downloading the rest of the resources until these critical files are processed, putting the entire rendering process on hold. To mitigate the impact of render-blocking resources, it’s important to identify what’s critical and what’s not. This can be done by inlining critical resources, deferring non-critical resources, and removing anything unused.

Best practices for optimizing images

Optimizing images is crucial for website performance and search engine visibility.

  • Optimizing file size: reducing image file sizes through efficient formats, dimensions, and resolutions without compromising quality.
  • Client-side image optimization: compressing images in the browser before uploading can reduce file size and improve loading times.
  • Responsive images: implementing responsive images with srcset and sizes ensures optimal display on various screen sizes and resolutions. Read also about Why is the image srcset attribute not working on the page?.
  • Lazy loading of images: using the loading attribute improves loading times by loading images only when they’re about to be rendered in the viewport. You can go even further with lazy loading and use technique we call improved lazy loading, which effectively loads the image, video, or audio when it stays in the viewport for a specific amount of time. Not all resources should always be loaded, even if they reach the viewport, because the user may scroll through the content quickly, for example.
  • Prioritizing image loading: using techniques such as link rel="preload" and fetchpriority (allows developers to signal to the browser the relative priority at which they want a resource, such as an image, script, or stylesheet, to be fetched) can indeed ensure that crucial images are loaded faster, thereby improving the user experience on web pages.
  • Background images with image-set(): using image-set() in CSS allows you to specify multiple images for different device pixel ratios or resolutions, enabling responsive design that adapts to various screen sizes and resolutions. This feature is particularly useful when you want to serve high-resolution images on devices capable of displaying them without compromising performance on lower-end devices.
  • Speeding up loading and rendering small images: utilizing techniques like image sprites, CDNs, or embedding images directly in HTML with data URIs (data:image/png;base64,) for small images.

Satisfy search intent

Satisfying search intent refers to creating content that aligns with what users are looking for when they type a query into a search engine. This concept is crucial because it directly impacts how well your website or webpage ranks in search engine results pages (SERPs) and whether it meets the needs of your target audience effectively.

On-Page SEO Checklist

See On-Page SEO Checklist on a separate page.