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Blog SEO: 11 Tips to Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO (like a Pro)

Optimize your blog posts for SEO

The best time to optimize your blog content for SEO is when you are creating it, but you can always go back and improve your old articles as well.

Blog SEO is important because it helps you consistently get more traffic to your website. There are many things you can do to optimize your blog posts for SEO.

In this article, we will share our best blog SEO tips to help you optimize your blog posts for SEO like a pro. These are the tips that we use on our own blogs, which gets millions of visitors from search engines.

By the Editorial Staff at WPBeginner, a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Trusted by over 1.3 million readers worldwide.

1. Plan Your Content with Proper Keyword Research

Many beginners just use their best guesses to write about topics they feel that their users would be interested in.

You don’t need to rely on blind guesses, especially when you can do keyword research to find out exactly what your users are looking for.

Keyword research is a technique used by content creators and SEO experts. It helps you discover topics your users are interested in based on the search engine data.

Plan your content with keyword research

You can then use these keywords to plan your content strategy. This will ensure that you write about topics that people are actually looking for, and it’s a great way to find new blog post ideas.

We recommend using keyword research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs. They offer in-depth keyword data, competition analysis, keyword position tracking, and tons of other useful features.

For detailed instructions, see our article on how to do keyword research for your blog posts.

2. Find Semantic Keywords for Your Focus Keyword

After you have done your keyword research and discovered keyword ideas, it is time to pick one that has the highest search volume and low competition.

This will be your focus keyword. It is the search phrase that your users are most likely to look for.

If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, then you can set the focus keyword in your article’s SEO settings. This would allow you to see how effectively you have used it in your article.

Setting focus keyword in Yoast SEO

Next, you need to find out the Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. These are the searches related to your focus keyword.

The easiest way to find them is to simply enter your focus keyword in Google Search and scroll down to the bottom of results. There you’ll find them listed as ‘related searches’.

Related keywords

You need to incorporate as many of these keywords in your content, so you can have the most complete content for users.

It’s very important that you don’t try to stuff them in your content. This would look odd to your users and search engines are pretty good at detecting keyword stuffing.

3. Write an Effective Blog Post Title

The title of your blog post is extremely important for search rankings.

A good blog post title makes your article more relevant to the search query. More importantly, it motivates users to actually click on your article when they see it in search results.

You can make your blog post title more SEO friendly by using your focus keyword in the title.

Focus keyword in blog post title

Aside from adding your focus keyword, we also recommend making your headline catchy and click-worthy. That’s because click through rate (CTR) plays an important role in SEO.

There are several formulas to write effective headlines. The one that still works is called EMV or emotional marketing value.

This formula recommends using power words that trigger specific emotional responses in your audience. There are online tools like EMV headline Analyzerwhich help you calculate your title’s EMV score.

For more tips, see this article on headlines that went viral and how to copy their success in your own articles.

4. Make Internal Linking a Habit

Once you have blogged for a while, you will have enough content that you would want users to read. With internal linking, you can send new readers to check out your older relevant posts.

Internal linking is a great way to develop a contextual relationship between your new and old posts. It also allows you to pass relevant link juice to your older articles.

WordPress makes it easy to search for your old posts right inside the post editor. Simply select the text that you want to link and then click on the link button.

Internal linking

A text pop-up will appear below your selected words. You can start typing to search for the older articles that you want to link here.

Making internal linking a habit will make sure that your on-page SEO is good, and that your older articles continue to get new links.

Often beginners make the mistake of doing 1-way internal linking where they link to older posts from new articles. You can and should also go back to edit older posts to link to your new articles for maximum benefits.

5. Add Images and Videos to Your Blog Posts

Add images and videos to your blog posts

Search engines often rank engaging content higher in search results. Images and videos are far more engaging than plain text.

You want to make sure that your blog posts contain images between paragraphs.

When adding images, you want to be careful about image copyrights. Often beginners copy images from other sites to use on their site, and this can get you in legal trouble if you do so without proper permissions.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of places where you can find royalty free images to use in your blog posts. You can also use your own original photographs or use websites like Canva to create engaging graphics.

Make sure that you optimize your images for SEO. See our tutorial on how to optimize images for search engines for detailed instructions.

Videos are even more engaging than images. You can convert your blog posts into videos by creating slideshows, vlogs, or experiment with other formats.

However, you should never directly upload videos to your blog posts. WordPress is not optimized to serve videos, and your shared hosting service can’t handle them.

We recommend uploading your videos to YouTube. It is the second most popular search engine, and the second largest social media platform right after Facebook.

See our article on how to embed videos in WordPress for more details.

6. Add a Meta Description to Your Blog Post

The meta description is an HTML meta tag that you can add to any page. Its purpose is to provide a short description of your article for search engines and other crawlers.

Some SEO experts believe that the meta description tag on a page has become irrelevant. However, many others would disagree. At WPBeginner, we recommend using the meta description for all of your posts.

A good meta description can explain a lot more about an article. Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn also display it when your articles are shared on those platforms.

Meta description shown on Twitter

Since now you know that people are going to be reading your meta descriptions, you want to make sure that it’s helpful.

You also want to make sure that you at least mention your focus keyword once in the meta description for search purposes. The character limit for Meta Description is 155 characters.

Try to stay within that limit or your meta description will be truncated after 155 characters. You also want to make sure that you use the focus keyword earlier in the meta description rather than later.

To add meta description, you need to scroll down to the Yoast SEO meta box on your post edit screen.

Adding meta description for your blog posts in Yoast SEO

7. Make Your Articles Easier to Read

Readability is an important factor considered by search engines. Articles that are easier to read often rank higher than articles that are not user friendly.

Computer and mobile screens are still not an optimal platform for reading.

This is why most users just scan through articles. In fact, studies found that users spend less than a second to decide whether they want to stay on a page or leave.

That’s a very short time for you to convince the user to stay and scroll through. By improving readability, you can make it possible for your users to quickly scan an article.

You can improve readability by using shorter sentences, smaller paragraphs, punctuation, headings, and bulleted lists. We recommend adding white space around text and use images to make your text look easier on eyes.

You can use tools like Grammarly, which allows you to check grammar, punctuation, and spelling on the fly. It also gives suggestions to improve the readability of your articles.

Yoast SEO plugin also comes with a built-in readability checker. It shows the flesch reading score of your article under ‘Readability analysis’ tab.

Readability score

For more on this topic, see our article on how to improve the readability score of your blog posts.

8. Use Categories and Tags to Organize Content

Categories and tags help you sort your content not only for yourself, but for the readers and search engines.

The problem is that many WordPress beginners often end up using them incorrectly.

If you think about your website as a book, then categories would be the table of contents and tags will be the index part of the book.

Categories are used to divide your content into major topics discussed on your blog. Tags, on the other hand, are the topics discussed in an individual blog post.

To learn more, see our beginner’s guide on using categories and tags for maximum SEO benefit.

9. Aim to Be The Featured Snippet in The Search Result

Google has been trying to answer user questions as quickly as possible. As part of this effort, they have introduced the featured result or answer box.

Answer box in search results

This is the highlighted search result that appears on the top. Google generates a custom snippet from the article’s content highlighting the part that their algorithms believe to be the answer of user’s query.

According to research conducted by Advanced Web Ranking, Answer boxes secure almost 32.3% CTR. This makes them immensely important for your SEO strategy.

There is no specific set of instructions provided by Google regarding how they would pick the featured snippet. Their recommendation is to improve your content and make sure that it offers the information users are seeking.

However, at WPBeginner, we have created helpful tips based on our research that will help you appear in Google answer boxes with your blog posts.

10. Make Your Blog Posts Comprehensive

Search engines love articles that cover a topic with great detail. This is why we asked you to gather the semantically related keywords (LSI Keywords) as part of your content planning step.

These related keywords give you an idea of different variations of user searches regarding that particular topic. By covering those keywords in your article, you would be able to make it more comprehensive, informative, and useful.

You should use headings and subheadings to include those keywords and try to cover as much ground as you could.

Aside from LSI keywords, another tip to create complete content is to type your desired keyword and then switch to Image Search. You will see topic bubbles with a variety of keywords.

Blog SEO - Image Search Complete Content Tip

We recommend including these when creating your content, so you can have the most comprehensive content.

11. Optimize Older Blog Posts

Many beginners tend to forget about a blog post after they have published it. In fact, you are not done optimizing your blog post for SEO once it is published.

Here are some things that you need to do after publishing your blog post:

  • Promote it on social media – Promote your blog post across your social media profiles. You can even automate this task by using IFTTT to share your content.
  • Add internal links – Once you have published a post, you can go back to relevant old articles and add a link to your new blog post. This gives your new articles link juice while also allowing users to discover it more easily.
  • Track search rankings – You have optimized a post for SEO, but how do you keep track of its search rankings? See our guide on how to track search rankings for your blog posts for instructions.

We recommend optimizing old posts on a regular basis, so you can continue to improve your rankings.

We hope this article helped you optimize your blog posts for SEO like a pro. Need more tips to promote your content? See our article on how to get more traffic to your blog posts.

We could help even further by evaluating your current website and providing suggestions for improvements for SEO. Reach out to us today for website improvement or a complete redesign.

 

Look Out for These 5 Signs of Black Hat SEO

black hat seo
Black hat SEO techniques will hurt your rankings and your business. Here’s how to spot them.
Black hat SEO refers to unethical practices to help a website rank higher in Google. Often times, a website doesn’t even know it’s suffering from black hat search engine optimization — and being penalized for it.

Though black hat can temporarily help a website rank higher in Google, search engines will ultimately demote it for bad practice. You need to know how to identify black hat SEO techniques. Here are five signs to look for in your website and others.


by Scott McGovern
CONTRIBUTOR
Founder of crypto site Blocklr & Growth Nuts, an organic growth co.
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


What Is Black Hat SEO?

SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is the process of designing a website to rank higher in search engines like Google, Amazon or the App store. It’s an innovative way to “optimize” content, whether you’re a media company or an online retailer, to drive traffic organically instead of paying steep advertising fees.

There are two main kinds of search engine optimization: white hat and black hat SEO. White hat websites use legitimate techniques to rank for keywords that are relevant to its content. Black hat content is geared towards search engines, not humans. This means misleading both the reader and the algorithms.

You can’t afford the stigma of black hat SEO.

There are two big reasons why you should avoid deceptively optimizing your website. First, it creates a terrible user experience. Ever clicked on a website and found that the content mismatches the headline you read in Google? This does not foster long-term business growth, never mind the fact that it’s unethical.

Second, search engines will demote your website, which will tank your traffic. A decade ago, most search engine optimization was of this unethical kind because it’s easier than staying up to date on the top SEO marketing trends of 2019. Google and other search engines now have sophisticated algorithms for uncovering black hat SEO, so the danger of deceptively optimizing your website far outweigh the benefits.

Here are the most common black hat SEO techniques you should look for.

Paid links

Link popularity is one of the ways that Google ranks websites. The more websites link to yours, and the better the domain authority of those websites, the more authoritative Google will consider you to be.

According to Google’s own definition, a paid link is a link you bought with money or goods. Today, Google devotes significant resources to shutting down link farms and paid links but you don’t need SEO tools to determine if a website is buying links.

First, look at the “anchor text,” which is the wording that is hyperlinked. If the text seems random with no connection to the link (or apparent use for it), it could be bought. Next, consider the number of links on a page. If a page is full of randomly linked text, they’re most likely paid links.

For a more granular search, there are SEO tools for spotting paid links. The best SEO tools to help you rank higher in Google will create a full link profile for your website or others. Among other things, this can tell you how many back links a website has and where those back links are coming from.

Typically, people buy links in bulk. If you see that a website has a laundry list of back links coming from blogs or other sites with very little authority, chances are that at least some of them are bought.

Related: 5 Red Flags That Can Destroy Your Google Ranking

Keyword Stuffing

“Keyword stuffing” is when a keyword appears on a website an inordinate number of times in order to have it rank higher in Google search. It’s one of the most common black hat SEO techniques. Ever read a keyword or phrase out of context or unnaturally phrased? This could be keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing can be tough to identify because Google regularly changes its definition of what percentage of text should incorporate your keyword. The best way to identify keyword stuffing is to look for it in key places like the title, meta description and introduction. Does a keyword appear somewhere where it’s seemingly irrelevant? Is it used an unnatural number of times?

The best way to avoid keyword stuffing is to be intuitive about it: If you think you’re using your keyword too many times, you’re probably right. Deciding the optimum keyword strategy is also something to discuss with your SEO analyst before choosing your next SEO firm.

Related: 5 Tips for Choosing Your Next SEO Firm

Hidden Links

Hidden links are less common than they once were but you’ll still run into this type of black hat SEO from time to time. Hidden links are exactly what they sound like: They’re links that the user typically does not see. However, search engine spiders still take them into account when determining a website’s ranking.

Google’s Webmaster guidelines specifically outlaws:

  1. Placing text behind an image
  2. Off-screen links
  3. Text with the font size of zero
  4. Using a white background with white text
  5. Linking a small part of a text

Aside from going through the backend of a website page by page, you can also use an SEO tool to analyze its entire link profile. This will give you a complete list of a website’s links, including the ones that are hidden to the naked eye.

Cloaking and Redirects

These two processes refer to similar types of black hat SEO. In simple terms, URL redirects and cloaking are when websites show search engine crawlers and users two different types of content.

Ever clicked on a website and been directed to an entirely different website? This is what Google calls a “sneaky redirect.” The objective of a sneaky redirect is to bring traffic to a specific page while having a search engine rank a website based on the content from an entirely different page. This is especially common on mobile version for a website. While a desktop version might remain the same, the mobile site could display an entirely different spam URL.

Related: 6 Tricks to Optimize Your Site for Search Engines and Real People

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Private blog networks are a way to build back links, typically through a series of blogs. They can either be used to build domain authority for each other through a web or increase the ranking of one central website. Google has been working hard to penalize private blog networks. Specifically, they can connect a network of blogs through the following information:

  1. Same IP addresses
  2. Similar or identical content
  3. Same owners
  4. Shared servers

Uncovering this type of black hat SEO is relatively simple for search engines because it’s easy to identify these types of patterns. It may seem like a simple way to build a back link profile, but PBNs are also an easy way to have your website penalized for bad practice.

Related: 10 Strategies to Drive More Back Links

Black Hat SEO Will Affect Your Google Rankings

Today, Google algorithms are some of the most sophisticated in the world. This is a good thing for entrepreneurs and qualified optimization companies working to rank for relevant keywords. With the help of a qualified optimization firm, you can build a booming online business, but for people using unethical optimization techniques, the chances of receiving a Google penalty for black hat SEO increase with every update.

Overall, the best ways to increase your search engine rankings are to create informative content and follow Google’s rules.

Google Introduces WordPress Plugin With Integrated Analytics, Search Console, More

Matt Southern

Matt Southern

 

Google has introduced a new WordPress plugin which brings insights from Google tools to users’ dashboards.

Site Kit by Google allows users to access information in Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, and PageSpeed Insights from the WordPress admin panel.

“With Site Kit installed, WordPress users can access unified insights and Google product capabilities directly from the WordPress admin panel. Where it is helpful, Site Kit will also provide deep links into Google products for advanced reports and product configuration capabilities.”

Google will release Site Kit to beta testers in early 2019. Those who are interested in the plugin can sign up for the beta version here.

Site Kit doesn’t add any new insights that are not already available in Google’s tools, but it does make them easier to access.

For example, users can navigate to a page on their website and click on the Site Kit button in the admin panel to see stats for that specific page.

Google Introduces WordPress Plugin With Integrated Analytics, Search Console, More

The plugin will also notify users when they’ve hit publishing milestones and show combined stats for the most recently published posts.

Google Introduces WordPress Plugin With Integrated Analytics, Search Console, More

Google plans to expand Site Kit’s capabilities and integrations in the future based on feedback from beta testers.

12 Completely Outdated SEO Practices You Should Avoid

Sam Hollingsworth

 

by Sam Hollingsworth

12 Completely Outdated SEO Practices You Should Avoid

SEO has gone through extensive evolutionary changes over the years, and continues to do so every day.

While most traditional marketing tactics (for the most part) still hold true in digital marketing today, SEO changes have quite drastically changed the landscape.

Most, if not all, of these changes have helped improve the web – and search, in particular.

Yet, some people still cling to the “old ways” and try to use outdated SEO practices to improve their brand’s organic search visibility and performance.

Some of the tactics worked a few years ago, but now just aren’t as effective as they used to be.

Yet many novice marketers and/or small business owners are still using these “zombie” SEO techniques (tactics that should be dead, but aren’t for some godforsaken reason).

Not only are they ineffective, but many of the 12 outdated SEO practices below are potentially dangerous to the well-being of your brand, websites, and other digital properties.

1. Keyword Abuse

There are so many ways webmasters and “marketers” continue to misunderstand keywords’ role in general SEO initiatives, and how they should be used in the day-to-day strategy.

Let’s take a more granular look at specific types of keyword abuse and mismanagement, including irrelevant usage, writing for a specific keyword density, and keyword stuffing.

Irrelevant Keyword Targeting/Confusion

All too often, novice SEO practitioners try and fit their content and messaging within the confines of their keyword research (and not much else).

These “marketers” will shape the content and its metadata to represent keywords it’s not properly aligned with, nor the proper intent of the users conducting the searches for the high-volume keywords being targeted.

This causes brands to likely lose the attention of readers before ever having the chance to communicate a real message with them.

If the keywords marketed for don’t align with the content on the page, the disconnect will hinder the success of content even if it’s otherwise of good quality.

Don’t try to mislead users and direct them to content that is misrepresented by high-volume keywords in order for increased visibility.

Google knows what this looks like, and it can truly be defined as an obsolete SEO practice (as well as a “black hat” technique, in many instances).

Keyword Density

Writing for a specific “keyword density,” like many keyword-focused marketing tactics, is just missing the mark.

Google no longer depends on keyword density (or the ratio of specific keyword usage to the overall page copy) to determine whether a webpage is an effective source for answering a search query.

It is so much more advanced than simply crawling for keywords; search engines like Google use a multitude of signals to determine search results.

While keywords remain important to the topics and ideas they represent, they are not the lifeline for ranking for high-value search queries.

The quality of content and how the messaging is delivered are the lifeline for that.

Keyword Stuffing

This is probably the oldest trick in the book.

SEO is about keywords, right?

So, loading up our webpages with keywords — especially the same high-value keyword we are aggressively targeting throughout the website — is going to help us show up higher in search, thus outranking out competition?

Absolutely not.

Search engines have, for a long time, known what keyword stuffing is and what kind of text combinations are unnatural. They notice these as attempts to manipulate search results and demote the content as such.

Yes, there may still be valuable content that uses simple keyword stuffing, either intentionally or unintentionally, that is not demoted because of its actual value to users.

Back in the day, webmasters trying to game the system would go as far as putting every keyword variation of a high-value keyword in the website footer or, even more sketchily, make those keywords the same color as the site’s background, effectively hiding them from humans but not the search engine crawlers.

Webmasters have also tried this with links. (Don’t do anything like this.)

Remember, you’re writing for humans, not search engines.

2. Writing for Robots

It’s important to understand that writing unnatural is, well, not natural.

And search engines know it.

The belief is: writing for the web means we should repeat a subject by its proper name every time it is mentioned, working in variations and plural/non-plural versions of the word so that “all bases are covered.”

When crawled, the crawlers see the keyword repeated, and in several different versions, thus leading the page to rank well for the keyword variations used (over and over … and over again).

This isn’t going to work anymore.

Search engines are advanced enough to understand repeated keywords, their variations, and the unfavorable experience of generally bad content.

Write for humans, not search engine crawlers or any other robot.

3. Article Marketing & Article Directories

Any attempt to game the system doesn’t usually work out in the world of SEO.

But that doesn’t stop people from trying.

Especially when these tactics offer noticeable improvements to a brand, its website, and/or its associated digital properties.

Sure, article directories worked. And they worked pretty darn good for a long time, too.

Commonly considered one of earliest forms of digital marketing, article syndication was low-hanging fruit to those in the know. And it made sense since the idea was similar to other channels like TV and print that already use syndicated content regularly.

But Google eventually caught on, unleashing its game-changing Panda update in 2011.

Panda chewed up the search landscape, targeting content farms and directories, as well as other websites offering crap content (whether it was simply bad/false, horribly written, makes no sense, or stolen from someone else).

The idea behind article marketing doesn’t make sense in today’s world, where your high-quality content needs to be original and demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

4. Article Spinning

Typically done with software, article spinning is the black-hat tactic of trying to recreate quality content using different words, phrases, and organization.

Essentially the end result was a garbled mess of an article that made the same points as the source material.

It’s no surprise this isn’t effective anymore.

While AI is getting better all the time at creating content, anything generated by a machine is still of a lower quality than what a human can produce – something original, helpful, and of substance.

5. Buying Links

This one is still biting webmasters many years later.

Like most SEO tactics, if it seems shady, you probably shouldn’t do it.

Buying links is no different.

Once upon a time, it was routine practice to quickly pay to get a high volume of links pointing at your site.

Now we now that backlink profiles need to be maintained and optimized just like the websites we oversee, and low-quality domains with far too many backlinks pointing to a website may be dangerous to a website’s health.

Google can easily identify low-quality sites, and it will also identify when those sites are sending an abundance of links out that they shouldn’t be.

Today if you want to legitimately help boost the authority and visibility of your website, you need to earn links, not pay someone to build them manually.

6. Anchor Text

Internal linking is a characteristic of any good site structure and user experience.

This is typically done with anchor text, an HTML element that allows us to tell users what type of content they can expect if they click on a link.

There are various types of anchor text (branded, naked, exact-match, website/brand name, page title and/or headline, etc.), but some have most certainly become more favorable than others, depending on the usage and situation.

In the past, using exact-match and keyword-rich anchor text were standard SEO best practices.

Since Penguin, Google has been better at identifying over-optimized content.

This goes back to the Golden Rule about producing well-constructed content that is user-friendly and natural.

If you’re optimizing for search engines and not humans, you’re likely going to fail.

7. Obsolete Keyword Research Tactics

Keywords have certainly gone through some drastic changes over the last five to 10 years.

Marketers used to have a plethora of keyword-level data at their fingertips, allowing us to see what works well for our brand and what doesn’t, but also to get a better understanding of idea targeting and user intent.

Much of this went to the wayside with keyword “(not provided)”.

In the years following, tools popped up that tried to replicate keyword data. But to fully recreate it correctly is simply impossible.

And yet, even with that now-stripped keyword data, marketers are required to do keyword research of their own to get an understanding of the industry, the competition, the geographic region, etc.

To do this, many marketers turn to Google’s free Keyword Planner. While the data in there has been subject to some scrutiny over the years, it’s a free Google-owned product that gives us data we previously couldn’t really come by, so many of us continue to use it (myself included).

But it’s important to remember what the data actually represents for keywords.

“Competition” in the Keyword Planner pertains solely to paid competition and traffic, thus it is practically useless to build an organic search strategy around this data.

Some alternatives to this are the Moz Keyword Explorer tool and SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, both of which are paid tools.

Google Trends is helpful for this type of competitive analysis, too, and it’s free.

8.  Pages for All Keyword Variations

This was once a useful tactic to rank well for all the variations of high-value keywords targeted by your brand and its messaging.

Fortunately, algorithm updates like HummingbirdRankBrain, and others have helped Google understand that variations of the same word are, in fact, all related to the same topic.

The best, most-useful content around these entities should be most visible due to the value it offers users on the topic, not just one variation of the word.

Aside from the fact that this will lead to brutal site self-cannibalization, it makes a website considerably harder to use and navigate since content will be so incredibly similar.

The negative user experience alone is reason enough not to do this. But the added fact that Google knows better than to overlook this practice makes it a no-brainer.

This tactic evolved and eventually helped lead to the inception of many content farms that were targeting traffic solely for their keyword value and visibility.

This was attributed to the “old way” of optimizing a website — for keywords and search engines, rather than users and their intent.

9. Targeting Exact-Match Search Queries

The tactic of targeting exact-match search queries in hopes to rank for those queries solely for the traffic numbers — and not because the search query or its answer actually pertained to the business optimizing for it — became a somewhat popular practice before the full deployment of the Google Knowledge Graph.

Marketers would strive to rank in the top spot for exact-match search queries to trigger a breakout box and an increased click-through rate for their sites.

10. Exact-Match Domains

Having high-value keywords in your URL makes sense. To some extent.

But when it becomes confusing or misleading (i.e., it results in a bad user experience), you have to draw the line.

A main best practice for domains is to keep it consistent with your brand.

Brand names should be short, concise, and somewhat meaningful.

Why wouldn’t you want the same from your domain?

Google would value exact-match domains a long time ago because it made sense to use it as a signal.

The behavioral data now has helped Google make changes like this (and many others) that are common sense, clean-up moves.

Run a good company and offer great products and/or services under the brand name, and Google will do work of making your brand visible when it’s relevant to the people searching for it.

11. XML Sitemap Frequency

We should never try to manipulate search engine crawlers so that our website is crawled more than others because it believed new content was published or substantial site changes were made.

But, since webmasters did that in the past, the sitemap is used quite differently than what was once intended.

Previously, webmasters could give a priority number to each page of a website listed in the sitemap ranging from 0.0 to 1.0.

Since that was never quite used correctly, crawlers don’t even honor the frequency rating.

Instead, search engines just crawl the content it deems it needs to crawl

Make sure you adhere to XML Sitemap best practices. Sitemaps are an incredibly important element for every website.

12. Bad Content

Face it. There was a time in our world when crappy content could still rank well.

Oh, how times have changed.

Stolen content, thin content, keyword-stuffed content, non-credible content — there was a time when all of this could get by search engine crawlers and regurgitated back to users as worthy results.

But no more.

We know what it takes to make quality content that is rewarded by search engines because they tell us what’s right and what’s wrong.

If you want to succeed at SEO today, you must do what’s right.