Semrush provides helpful insight into SEO marketing strategies for small and large businesses. Listed below are their 4 top tips for boosting your online rankings.
- Align Your Content with Search Intent
Search intent (also called “user intent”) is the purpose behind every search query. Understanding and satisfying search intent is Google’s ultimate priority. Pages that rank on the first page of Google have all passed Google’s litmus test on search intent.
For instance, take a look at the search results for “how to make oatmeal cookies.”
The top search results are blog posts or videos, not ecommerce pages selling oatmeal cookies. Google understands that people who are giving this specific search are looking to learn, not to buy.
On the other hand, top search results for a query like “buy oatmeal cookies” are ecommerce pages. Because in this case, Google understands that people are in buy mode. Therefore, the top results don’t include links to oatmeal cookie recipes.
For that reason, if you would like to rank your pages on page 1 of Google in 2021, you need to understand the concept of search intent and create content that aligns with user intent.
There are four common types of search intent:
- Informational: A search falls under informational intent when the user is looking for specific information. It can be a simple search like “what’s the weather today?” that provides instant results or something complex like “best SEO strategies” that requires a more in-depth explanation.
- Navigational: In this case, the searcher is looking for a specific website or app. Common examples of navigational searches include “Facebook login,” “Semrush,” and “Amazon.”
- Commercial: The intent behind a search is commercial when the user is looking for a specific product but hasn’t made the final decision yet. For example, searches such as “best SEO tools” and “best DSLR cameras” are all commercial searches.
- Transactional: Here, the intent is to buy. The searcher has already made a decision to buy a specific product or tool. Examples include searches such as “buy Nikon d500,” “buy Macbook Air,” and “buy groceries online.”
An SEO best practice is to always keep the search intent in mind while creating content for your website.
For instance, if you would like to rank for the keywords “best DSLR cameras,” you need to realize that the search intent here is commercial, not transactional. The user is still undecided on which DSLR brand to choose.
There is no point in optimizing your DSLR landing page with those specific keywords. Google understands what users want when the search query is “best DSLR cameras.” They are looking for options. They are looking for a blog post or video which lists down the best DSLR cameras, not product pages or ecommerce pages.
Bottom line: Create content that aligns with the search intent of your target audience.
- Write a Compelling Title Tag and Meta Description
Your page title and meta description are two of the most important meta tags on your page. Let’s cover title tags first.
Title tags are clickable headlines that appear in search results and are extremely critical from an SEO perspective.
According to Google:
“Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.”
Search engines like Google typically display the first 50-60 characters of a title. Google will display the full title to your page as long as you keep your title tag under 60 characters.
Here are some other best practices to keep in mind while creating title tags:
- Include your target keywords.
- Write a title that matches search intent.
- Avoid creating duplicate title tags.
- Avoid keyword stuffing.
- Keep it descriptive but concise.
- Meta Descriptions
The second most important meta tag on a page is the meta description. A meta description is a brief summary of a page in SERPs it displayed below the title tag.
Example of title tag and meta description
Meta descriptions do not directly impact search rankings, but they can influence click-through rates.
Google explains it best:
“A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”
Google typically truncates meta descriptions to 155–160 characters, so make sure you provide an accurate summary of your content while keeping it under 160 characters.
Here are some best practices to follow while writing your meta descriptions:
- Write unique meta descriptions for each page.
- Use action-oriented copy.
- Include your target keywords.
- Match search intent.
- Provide an accurate summary.
- Optimize Your Images
Images play a crucial role in improving the user experience of visitors on your site. Chances are you spend a lot of time selecting the right images to enhance your blog posts, product pages, and other important pages on your site.
But do you spend an equal amount of time optimizing the images on your site? When used the right way, images can contribute to your site’s overall SEO and boost organic traffic. Below are four things you can do to optimize your images.
Choose the Best File Format
Site speed is an important ranking signal, and images are often the largest contributor to overall page size. As a result, you need to optimize images for speed in order to improve the overall performance of your site. The first step involved in optimizing images is picking the best file format, so let’s look at JPEG vs. PNG. vs. WebP.
The most commonly used image formats on the web are JPEG and PNG. Both of these formats use different compression techniques, which is why the file sizes between these two can be dramatically different.
Showing JPEG vs PNG – image optimization best practices
Looking at the difference in file sizes above, it would be easy to declare JPEG as the clear winner. But it would be a mistake to use JPEG as the de facto image format for your site.
While JPEGs look great for photographs (as seen in the Panda image above), PNGs are best suited for images that contain text, line drawings, etc. This illustration by Digital Inspiration proves my point.
JPEG vs PNG
WebP is another option, which Google breaks down here. They state, “WebP is a modern image format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web.
WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs.
WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images at equivalent SSIM quality index.”
Learn more about how to use WebP in this Google guide.
Compress Your Images
The larger your image file size, the longer it takes the web page to load, which is why it is imperative that you compress your images before uploading them on your site.
Luckily, there are several free tools out there that can help you compress your images.
TinyPNG: TinyPNG uses smart lossy compression techniques to reduce the file size of your PNG and JPEG files.
ImageOptim: If you’re a Mac user, you can download and use this free tool for all your image compression needs. ImageOption is a tool recommended by Google as well. It’s by far the best tool for compressing JPEGs, but not for PNGs. For compressing PNGs, you’re better off using TinyPNG.
ShortPixel: If you run your site on WordPress, you can install this plugin to compress your images. ShortPixel’s free plan allows you to compress 100 images per month.
Provide Alt Text for Images
Despite advances in Google’s abilities to understand images, adding alt text to images is still a necessary step. Adding alt text to images improves web accessibility and helps browsers better understand the images on your site.
Here is what Google says about writing alt text:
- “When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page.
- Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.”
- When writing alt text for images, be concise in your description, and avoid stuffing your target keywords.
Lazy-Load Your Images
Lazy loading is a technique that defers the loading of non-critical resources (images, videos, etc.) at page load time. Instead, images and videos are loaded only when users need them.
Here is how Google explains the link between lazy loading and site performance:
- “When we lazy load images and video, we reduce initial page load time, initial page weight, and system resource usage, all of which have positive impacts on performance.”
- Learn more in Google’s resource guide for lazy-loading images and videos.
- To lazy load your images and videos on WordPress, you can use the free a3 Lazy Load plugin.
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