SEOs have a tough job. They’re expected to swoosh into a site, save the day, boost the traffic, raise rankings, and make the company prosper.
The problem is, SEOs have their hands tied on so many issues. What should the SEO do, for example, if the site isn’t responsive? Or the site was made in 1999 and needs to be updated? Or the server keeps breaking? Or any other number of problems that he or she can’t fix?
Most SEOs aren’t able to fix every problem on the site. Why not? It’s not because they lack skill. Often, the issue involves the buy-in of developers, the approval of executives, or implementation from third-party vendors.
How does an SEO even get their job done?
Thankfully, there are things most SEOs should be able to do. The low-hanging fruits of SEO are easy to spot, easy to fix, and can make an instant impact on a website.
Regardless of skills and regardless of experience, there are things you can do. If you’re an SEO looking for some easy fixes and quick tasks that will boost rankings, look no further than these seven low-hanging fruits.
1. Adjust Your Title Tags
Title tags are the most important on-page SEO element. Moz explains, “this element is critical to both user experience and search engine optimization.”
If a site’s title tags aren’t optimized, then the site will not do well in the SERPs, period.
The title tag is located in the site’s header and looks like this:
The problem with title tags is that many times, developers or website designers will put some stock text here without considering its SEO ramifications. You, as the SEO, will need to remedy this.
Here are the rules for optimizing title tags:
Make Your Title 50-60 Characters Long
If the title tag is too long, it will be truncated in the SERPs. If it’s too short, you’re not making full use of the tag’s SEO potential.
To make sure that your title tag is a good length, use Moz’s title tag tool. It displays an example of how your title tag will appear in the SERPs.
Use a Longtail Keyword in the Title
In order for it to be optimized, the title tag needs to contain a keyword. Focus on one longtail keyword per page.
A longtail keyword is usually a phrase that contains some descriptive words.
Be sure not to stuff the title tag with keywords. Doing so is a spam signal for Google. If Google’s algorithm suspects you’re keyword stuffing, they may devalue your site in the SERPs.
Place Your Target Longtail Keyword Toward the Beginning of the Title
I recommend putting the title tag at the front of the title.
I make this recommendation two reasons. First, the search engines will identify it as one of the most important keywords on the page. Second, users will see the keyword in the SERPs. When they identify the page tag as relevant based on the keyword in the title, they are more likely to click on it.
My title tags are usually the name of my blog post. For example, below, you’ll see that the title tag is simply, “How to Build 100 Quality Links Without Writing Fresh Content.”
This title itself is a long tail keyword phrase, and will help my site to be ranked in a relevant and appropriate way.
Place Your Business Name at the End of the Title Tag, Separated by a Vertical Line (|)
If you prefer, you can place your business name in the title tag. Remember, however, that your business name is not that important for SEO.
Why not? Unless something is severely wrong with your site, it’s going to rank for branded or navigational searches. That’s not what you need to optimize for. Instead, you want to optimize the site for organic longtail keywords.
Often, putting the brand name in the title tag is a waste of space. If you choose to include it, however, do so at the end of the tag, separate with a vertical line, like this —
Title tag optimization is a first order of business for any SEO. Here is a helpful process to follow:
- Identify a unique long tail keyword for every page on the site.
- Adjust every title tag to include the assigned keyword.
- If the site has thousands of pages, focus on the most important pages first — main navigational pages, top traffic pages, etc.
Once your titles are fully optimized, you’ll experience a noticeable increase in traffic and ranking.
2. Create Optimized H1s
The H1 tag is the bit of HTML code that identifies a major heading in your content.
H1s are one of the most common SEO elements. They’ve been in use for years, and every SEO knows about their usefulness and power.
However, I’ve been surprised at how many websites lack this core feature. Even if a page does contain an H1, it may not be fully optimized.
Here are the common problems that I’ve noticed surrounding H1s.
- Multiple H1s. If a page has more than one H1, it could be diluting the SEO power. More H1s is not better. Each page should have a single H1.
- Short H1s. Sometimes, the H1 consists of a single word. If the H1 is only one word, it’s not fully utilizing the SEO potential.
- Duplicate H1s. Google does not look favorably upon duplicate content — i.e., sections of text that are the same from one page to another.
- Very long H1s. Although short H1s are problematic, so are long ones. Make sure that your H1s do not exceed 70 characters.
One of the most useful tools for analyzing a site’s H1 tags is Screaming Frog. Using Screaming Frog, you can identify the following:
- Which pages do not have an H1.
- Which pages have duplicate H1s.
- Which pages have H1s that exceed 70 characters.
- Which pages have multiple H1s.
The tool also allows you to examine each H1 in detail:
Adjusting a website’s H1s is a relatively easy task. Once you know what you’re looking for, and how to fix it, you can instantly improve a site’s SEO power.
3. Add More Content
Google loves content — lots of it. The more content you have on your website, the better your pages will rank.
In one study of top ranked pages and content length, serpIQ discovered a strong correlation between lots of content and top-ranked pages.
Adding content is time-consuming, yes, but doing so will instantly ramp up your rankings.
Today’s web searchers expect great information, high-quality content, and plenty of it. Don’t simply throw content on your pages. Take the time to curate high-quality content that addresses the user’s needs and solves their problems.
4. Add Alt Tags to Images
An image’s alt tag is the meta text that describes that image.
Sometimes, a CMS will automatically assign an alt tag to images, but it’s usually not optimized. Something like “IMG-DSC1908183” is not a good alt tag.
This alt tag from Slate Magazine is an example of a well-optimized tag:
Obviously, you should also optimize the image title. Often, however, optimizing the title is harder to do. You should optimize image titles while you’re creating the page.
Optimization alt tags is much simpler and straightforward. Simply go into the image attributes or source code and change the tag.
Again, a tool like Screaming Frog allows you to identify how your site’s alt tags look.
5. Add Internal Links for Crawlability
Every website needs to be crawlable. What this means is that the search engines can easily access your website, visit every page, and index all the content.
What’s the best way to improve crawlability? There is a variety of structural ways to improve crawlability:
- Intuitive site navigation
- XML sitemap
- HTML sitemap
These are excellent tactics that you should implement. One of the best ways to enhance crawlability, however, is by building internal links.
Internal links are simply a link from one page of content on your site to another to help guide the user. There’s no complex science to internal linking. All you have to do is create a text link from page A to page B.
I’m not referring here to navigational links such as the header or footer. Those are a given. The links I’m referring to are text links, like this one.
The link in the SEL article below links to another article on SEL:
How do you do it? Simply go into the existing content on your website, and create text links from one page to another.
Although there are no hard-and-fast rules about internal linking, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t optimize the anchor text.
- Don’t link to the homepage.
- Don’t link to the “about” page.
- Link to deep, internal, content-rich pages.
- Add 2-4 internal links per page.
6. Improve Content Readability
Today, SEO is more about usability than it is about tips and tricks.
For this reason, you should make every effort to make your content easy to view, easy to read, and easy to digest.
How do you do this? It’s not hard.
- Use headings
- Use bullets
- Use lists
- Use paragraphs
By making your content more readable, it will be more user-friendly, and therefore, better for search engines.
How easy is it to read this text?
Compare that wall of text with this page:
The example above has clear headings (H3s), short paragraphs, plenty of white space, and centered images. It’s a well-organized page, and is eminently readable.
How hard is it to make your pages readable like this? It’s not hard at all. Breaking up your content, organizing it, and adding headings or lists where appropriate is all it takes.
7. Adjust and Optimize Meta Descriptions
A meta description is a brief description of the page’s content. It is located in the site’s metadata, and visible in the SERPs:
Meta descriptions don’t directly impact search rankings. But they do impact search rankings in a very real indirect way.
What do I mean by this? Let’s compare meta descriptions with the title tag. The title tag is a powerful component of the site’s search optimization. But the meta description? Not so much. It is not a built-in component of the ranking algorithm, and hasn’t been for many years.
Is it worth it then? Should you go to the trouble of creating meta descriptions for your website?
Absolutely. Here’s why.
A site’s meta descriptions are visible in the SERPs. As such, they impact whether or not and how quickly a user will click on the page.
It’s not just the technical elements of a site’s SEO that matter. What also matters? It matters what the user does when they see your site in the SERPs.
Do they click on your SERP entry (click-through rate)?
Do they dwell on your page (dwell time)?
These user metrics are critical for SEO. What impacts those metrics?
Part of the way to impact these rankings is to create a well-written, compelling, accurate, and engaging meta description.
For the amount of results you get from a SERP, the effort is well worth it. Simply revise your meta descriptions to make them the right length, to make them relevant to the content, and to make them appealing to the user
Full SEO optimization is a complex endeavor. But these simple techniques are easy, quick, and powerful.
These are the first things you should do to optimize your website for maximum performance. Within several weeks, your site will gain rank, increase traffic, raise your organic visits, and become more successful.
What are the quickest and easiest SEO fixes that you’ve discovered?