When you follow these simple rules of thumb, your content will be far more likely to rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs) and in Google News listings, generating organic traffic to your site!
Bear in mind that this list is not conclusive of all the techniques that a professional SEO would use on a day-to-day basis, but for a novice, these techniques will get you much closer to best practice.
Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions & Header Tags
Meta title tags should be between 50-60 characters long, including spaces. Your most important keywords need to be first in your title tag, with your least important words (if applicable) coming after.
Meta descriptions should be between 150-160 characters and targeting the main keyword(s). Well written and optimised descriptions will entice users to click. Also, users' search terms in Google are bolded if they are also included in your meta title and description, which also increases CTR.
The H1 header tag should be targeting your most important keyword but should not be the same as your title tag. A way around this can be to include both your primary and secondary keywords in your meta title, but only use your primary keyword for an H1.
You should always have only 1 H1 tag per page. You can have the less important but related keywords as H2’s, and sometimes H3’s further down the content.
Title tags, meta descriptions and H1s should be on every single page, they should all be unique and optimised towards their pages target keywords.
Page Speed & Images
Images used in the content should be correctly sized, meaning that they can be a minimal file size and load more quickly. Consider page speed when building out new pages, by not having too many images, oversized images, videos, widgets etc.
You’ll also want to update the alternative image text on every image you use. This allows google to be able to tell exactly what the image is and potentially rank on Image Search for the image.
Also, it really helps with the usability of your site as alt image text was originally designed for visually impaired people using screen readers to browse your site.
Page Structure & Content
Structure your new pages sensibly within the hierarchy. If your content can fall into categories and be more organised, it is looked upon favourably by Google.
If old content is removed, or if the slug (which follows the forward slash in the URL) is modified, then you will need to set up a redirect to the latest content. If possible, include the main target keyword(s) in the slug.
You’ll also want to create incoming and outgoing links to and from your new content. This will speed up and improve the crawling process, as well as provide your users with an onward journey. Make sure that the links into your page are spelt correctly and don't return 404 errors.
Make sure that all new pages have at least 200 meaningful words. Ensure there is no duplication of content across the site or from other sites.
Once you have uploaded your new content page, enter the new URL into Google Search Console to get the content crawled by Google more quickly, and rank faster.
By following this guide, you will be creating pages that are likely to rank well for the keywords you are targeting.
Of course, other factors come into this, like your domain and page authority, your internal link profile, your competitors and how well optimised they are, your websites depth… among other things.
But by continually optimising your new and existing content, you’ll give yourself the best opportunity to rank on SERPs.