SEO best practices – 2 guides, 2 steps and 2 checks

Posted by Dave CollinsSEO

This is the most minimalist checklist you’re likely to find for making sure that your content is SEO friendly.

It isn’t comprehensive. And it certainly isn’t a guide to doing SEO as such.

It’s a very basic checklist of quick steps that anyone should take when creating a piece of content on their website.

There are two guiding questions, to help keep on track for when you’re at the thinking about what to write stage.

Then there are two steps to make sure that you’re writing about the right subject. This will make sense later.

And finally two optimisation checks to making your content as Google-friendly as possible.

Two guiding questions

When you’re setting out on a journey, heading in the right direction gets things off to a good start.

Enough Zen.

1 – Is this content going to be good?

Will it be worth reading? Will it deserve to rank in Google’s results?

Or will it just fall into the yet-another-article-on-X category?

Coming out with new ideas can be difficult, but sometimes all that’s needed is a slightly different angle or spin to move away from the over-trodden path.

Something like the title of this very article, as opposed to yet-another-how-to-do-SEO type of post.

2 – Are you writing for humans or spiders?

Writing for Google’s spiders means producing thin, pointless and generally soul-destroying content.

It means cramming in keywords and phrases to impress Google, but human visitors are less likely to be dazzled.

If humans aren’t impressed, there’s no point whatsoever in anyone finding the content on Google.

In the unlikely scenario that it even ranks in Google, the visitor clicking on the link will leave your website within a second or two.

So always write for humans. The spiders will understand – especially when you follow the steps below.

Two simple steps – before starting

3 – What are you writing about?

In an ideal world you’d be carrying out keyword research, perhaps using ahrefs. But there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be too busy for that.

keyword research means not guessing the terms that people are searching for

So at the very least start by deciding the type of search that you’d like your article to show up for.

I might, for example, want this article to be listed when people search for SEO best practices, or SEO checklist.

Once you have the phrase or phrases, this will better focus the content. For the person reading it and also Google.

4 – What do Google think of your idea?

This is an incredibly useful reality-check. What other websites are listed when you search for your keywords?

If, for example, my plan was to advise UK citizens on working in the US, I might want to choose my title carefully.

If the search results broadly reflect what you’re writing about, then you’re probably heading in the right direction.

But if the results have nothing at all to do with your topic, you might want to rethink your focus.

Two quick checks – now it’s all about Google (mostly)

5 – Enticing, bland or repulsive?

You already know the importance of your titles and descriptions, but did you consider what they look like?

Imagine you were searching for an emergency plumber.

Which of the following would you be more likely to click, as water pours out of your ceiling?

Organic listing - bland and uninspiring

Organic listing with compelling text and the information I need

When we write paid ads, we go to great lengths to make sure they look tempting and compelling. Somehow this is often overlooked in SEO.

Tweaking a title and description can be done in less than a minute or so, but can have an enormous impact.

6 – More speed less waste.

Google care about the speed of your website’s content. More now than ever before.

They’re not going to penalise your slow content as such, but they’re more likely to show your competition above you if it loads a lot faster.

Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool will not only give you an easy to understand score on your speed, but will also give you tips on how to improve it.

Note that the scores aren’t written in stone, but if your mobile speed score is single figures, you’ll definitely want to improve it.

If large images are the problem, as is often the case, ShortPixel will let you optimise 100 images a month. And using my link will get you 100 + 100 images for free.

Adopt the DHPCTN method (Mnemonics aren’t my thing)

Every time you write a blog post, follow the six basic steps. Google will love you for it and reward you accordingly:

  1. Does it deserve to rank?
  2. Humans before spiders.
  3. Pick your keyword and stick with it.
  4. Check your keyword with Google.
  5. Titles and descriptions that compel.
  6. Need for Speed.
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