7 Low-Hanging Fruits That Any #SEO Can Fix

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7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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:

<head>
<title>Example Title</title>
</head>

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.”

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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 —

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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.

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

The tool also allows you to examine each H1 in detail:

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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:

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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:

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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?

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

Compare that wall of text with this page:

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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:

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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.

7 Low-Hanging Fruits that any SEO can Fix | SEJ

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

Conclusion

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?

 

Image Credits

Featured Image: Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo #2: Screenshot by Aki Libo-on. Taken August 2015.
All screenshots by Neil Patel. Taken August 2015.

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at Quick Sprout.
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  • R.Rogerson

    Title Length.
    Someone (SEO MoFo?) figured out several years ago that G were measuring and treating titles based on pixels, not characters. To further complicate things, the break point may shift depending how near the start/end of a word it would occur, and how near a “space” it is.
    Look at these three Titles;
    1) Rabbit Awareness Week | Because Rabbits Get A RAW Deal
    Rabbit Awareness Week | Because Rabbits Get A RAW Deal
    2) Rabbits may be stressed by hutch-mates and a lack of …
    Rabbits may be stressed by hutch-mates and a lack of exercise, study claims | Daily Mail Online
    3) Shocking images show horrific cruelty of rabbits used in pet …
    Shocking images show horrific cruelty of rabbits used in pet food – Mirror Online
    4) Land of the rising bunny: Rabbits take over Japanese island …
    Land of the rising bunny: Rabbits take over Japanese island, in pictures – Telegraph
    As you can see, G will try to break “evenly”, and it seems to be around the 430px mark.
    Obviously, things like the letters/characters used, the case and the number of spaces you use will influence what is shown and what isn’t.
    Also keep in mind that G may alter their font size in the SERPs at any point (again), and it could change what is/isn’t shown (again).

    Title Separator.
    Anything will suffice as a separator. As far as I’m aware, G don’t pay attention to special characters (be it a pipe, angle bracket, chevron etc.). I’m quite fond of using double symbols (such as “::”). It has no ranking influence that anyone has ever found out (and I’m sure years ago G explained they generally ignore it).

    Keyworded Titles.
    100% yes – put the keyword/target term in the Title.
    But, remember you are targeting people, who are looking for something specific. Your phrasing will trigger the click, or not. So if the content is a solution, or answers, or provides information, or serves some other specific task, make sure you include that qualifier in the Title as well!
    Consider these;
    a) Cleaning Rabbit hutches for health and well being
    b) How to clean a rabbit hutch safely
    c) 5 things to make rabbit hutch cleaning easy
    Each targets a different audience, and will suit them for different reasons. Those qualifiers are what will make or break your SERP CTRs (along with a good Description).

    Descriptions (why put at last, rather than right after Title?).
    These can influence SERP CTR. Keep them relevant, informative, short and as a general summary of what the page is about.
    You can also inject Qualifiers and Distinguishers (things like the Date, Price, free shipping, Brand etc.). These can save people bouncing, or encourage them to click.
    Be warned, G may opt to use their own. This usually happens if they think yours sucks … but may happen if they think your page is relevant to the Search, but the description is not relevant for that specific search (you may have better wording in the actual page content in some cases).

    Heading Tags.
    As far as I know, there is no harm in having multiple H1’s.
    G simply treats the rest as H2’s (unless they changed this in the last few years?).
    That said, if at all possible, do fix it so that you have more control, and you save G the effort 😀
    Another common heading misuse is people slapping them in willy-nilly. I often see templates use the H1 for the Logo/company name in the banner/mast-head.
    Ideally, the H1 should hold the content-title in the main content area (this should be the same as/a variant of the text in the title).
    It may also help to immediately follow an H1 with an H2 as a sub-heading/tag-line/distinguishment (thus you keep your Heading to the point, and follow it up with a clarifying/slightly more detailed H2).

    Alt Attributes (not tags :D).
    Images are often used to convey something. In such cases, the alt attribute should be used, and it should describe (succinctly) what is in the image.
    If you have an image of a fluffy bunny, you should Not include your company name, location and primary service in the alt attribute. That’s stuffing!
    If the image is decorative (part of the design), it should be a background image via CSS, or leave the alt attribute blank.
    Title attributes for images, as far as I know, don’t hold SE ranking value … but for some browsers will display a tooltip, so you can relevant/informative info there for the users that do hover over the image.

    Internal Linking.
    This is a very under-used method that improves SEO, UX, User Retention (can reduce Bounce Rate) and even increase CR in some cases.
    In-content/contextual links are important to aid users jump to related pages. They can help pass Relevance as well as PR flow.
    Sub Navigation systems (such as BreadCrumbs, Pagers (Next/Previous (and/or Numerical)), Suggestions, Related, Popular, Latest, Also bought, Also viewed … etc. can all help users get around the site, find relevant pages etc. All whilst aiding your SEO 😀
    Something to beware is over-optimising your internal links. To many people go and slap in links to various pages and tweak the link text to target various terms. G may view this as spam.
    Something else to consider is the User – they may be scanning the text. Use the links Title Attribute to include a little detail about where the link goes, so they can hover and get a good idea before hand.

    Readability is a big area, and may fall into Design and well as Content Creation.
    You are looking at Legibility, Viewability and Comprehensibility.
    – Legibility is how easy/hard it is to read the actual words/sentences. Font-types can influence this (it’s not just Serif vs Sans-Serif – look at how much space is between enclosed elements (like “a” and “e”), and how clear ascenders/descenders are (“h” and “p”). Letter, Word and Line Spacing can all be slightly adjusted to add a little more “gap” around them (not to much around characters/words).
    – Viewability is how you see the text as a whole. Semantic structure (headings, bullets, paragraphs etc.), alignment (flush please), styling to clearly indicate sections (lines, colours, margins between paragraphs etc.). Line Length also falls in here (between 13-17 words in most cases, depending on font-face and size :D). The distance between the text blocks and other elements (such as images, column borders/edges etc.) are important too. No spacing makes things cramped, and your eyes tend to jump.
    Contrast between text colour and the backgground is also worth looking at (busy backgrounds can make reading hard – bright backgrounds (white!) are terrible at 2am after a long day (almond/light smoke are far friendlier :D).
    – Comprehensibility is how easy it is to understand the content. You should be writing to your audience. You may write for the lowest common denominator, or refine your audience and use relevant language (tech/jargon for those in your industry, less for those not in it etc.). You also have to look at things like syntax and sentence structures. Do you need to keep most sentences short, simple, straightforward … or can you use various grammar and punctuation tools to create longer and more complex sentences that are usually harder to follow or retain the information from? (see :D).

    ……

    I’d also be looking at things like Load Speed, Crawlability and Canonical URLs.
    Nothings worse than working hard to find out that G cannot touch the content, or that half the pages aren’t linking properly, that the same page is indexed 5864 times under variant URLs, or that G is only crawling 10 pages a week because most pages take 40 seconds to load.

  • Scott McKirahan

    Great advice, as usual, Neil. I don’t know if adding your company name, separated by a vertical line, to the title tag is the best advice for many sites, however. For sure, if you are a major brand or if you are trying to become one, it’s good advice. For many sites, though, I always recommend adding something attention getting, separated by a dash, to the title tag. Since I work exclusively with eCommerce sites, I always advise people to add things like “Discount Prices”, “Huge Selection” or “Free Shipping” to draw attention. That attention leads to more clicks (similar to the reason you advise people to optimize their meta descriptions), which definitely helps sites climb the rankings.

    R. Rogerson makes many valid points in his comments as well. I doubt, however, that the staff at Google is actively evaluating meta descriptions (or for that matter, title tags) and deciding to switch them because “they suck.” I maintain (with no actual proof) that this is an algorithmic “decision” that is based solely on click-through rate. My theory is that if a site has low click-through rates, no matter where it is placed in the rankings, it triggers an automatic “re-write test” of the meta description (and sometimes the title tag) by the algorithm and that if that re-write results in a higher CTR, the machine generated one replaces the poor performing user-created description and/or title tag(s).

    • R.Rogerson

      As far as I remember, when the G-decided meta-description, it was originally for those pages lacking a meta-description, and mass-duplicated ones. They would extract a sentence or two that they thought relevant to the title/topic.
      (If I remember correctly, didn’t they introduce this for Titles too?)
      This then progressed to G automatically substituting them based on relevance (if they thought their snippet was more relevant, or more informative).

      If I remember correctly, they also made a change a few years ago based on Search Match. Depending on what you search for, you may see a different description used (the provided one, an excerpt from the page or a G created one).

      Triggers … I admit, I don’t know what else G may use.
      We know “not present”, “empty” and “duplicated” are triggers.
      I think low-relevance would also be one.
      Poor CTR would make sense though, but with G’s track record, I wouldn’t bet on G’s cobbled together one converting any better.

      • Scott McKirahan

        “but with G’s track record, I wouldn’t bet on G’s cobbled together one converting any better.” – I’d have to agree with you there. Again, though, I’m absolutely positive that it is an algorithm making this decision and not something initiated by a human. In the case of a machine generated one, I imagine they are searching for parts of a page that include the search term or terms that they “think” are related. In every case that I know of, if you include a targeted keyword phrase along with an LSI word or two in the meta description, you’re pretty much assured of Google leaving your meta description alone, provided the page, itself, includes those words.

      • R.Rogerson

        Oh, there’s no doubt about it being algorithmic (it’s not like they will sit there reviewing and creating snippets (considering how bad some of the snippets are, I certainly hope they aren’t man (or woman) made :D)).

        The automated detection seems fairly solid.
        It’s the rewrite/extraction that is often a little lame (though considering the difficulty, I can’t really blame them).

        I do remember people wanting to supply multiple “potential” MDs for G to choose from (targeting variant terms etc.).
        Shame we cannot help G extract more relevant items from the content 🙁

  • Nikhil

    Hey Neil,
    I loved the way you described the basics SEO steps for each website or blog. I have a confusion in my mind and I am searching the answer of it from a long time.

    Suppose, I am running a blog and using Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast provides space for the title and we also place title in our post. Do both titles matter for SEO purpose? If yes, then how?

    • http://semperplugins.com Tony Zeoli

      Nikhil,

      I’m the Community Manager for All in One SEO Pack, which is a popular SEO plugin in its own right and the most downloaded plugin for WordPress.

      The reason you have the Title field in an SEO plugin is so you can write a short, descriptive title for search, and you can use the Title field of the post itself for a bit longer Title, if you like. The goal is to ensure that you do not go over the recommended amount of text, so use the Title field of the SEO plugin of choice and that should get pulled by Google for your search engine listing.

  • http://www.aditmicrosys.com Hemang Shah

    Hey Neil,

    Actually you cover an excellent point in your articles with the latest SEO trends of 2015. I appreciate your your post. but you also need to write about eCommerce SEO trends and changes parameter.

    Regards,
    Hemang Shah

  • http://sourcetune.com/ Avenue Sangma

    Hello Neil,

    Great Advice and Awesome tips about SEO fixing. I would like to how to choose a longtail keyword especially for any product? If you give me answer it will be better for me.

    Thanks
    Avenue

  • http://www.kodematix.com David Markus

    Hello Neil,
    The first thing is, The title of this post is very unique and second is a very informative article which is very easy to understand for every reader. Title, Meta description, Image Optimization, How to use “H” Tags, Keywords, in short on-page optimization. These are the very important factors of SEO and boost traffic over the website and SERP ranking. Actually SEO is all about what searchers are looking forward to relate your business or blog. Just think about searchers and make a title, description, H1 and so on with focused keywords which is related to your business or content or product. SEO is the bridge between search and searchers. The article is very well written to fix these problems.

  • http://www.biancaswall.com/ Dale Limin

    Hi Neil,

    Google is now measuring the Title Tags based on pixels. Sometimes even if you created more than 60+ characters on the Title Tags it will still display the whole title. My advice is don’t create all caps. You should optimize it so they can easily read it and IT’S NOT ALL CAPS LIKE THIS. (Sorry for the capital letters; thought it would make my point clearer).

    Thanks,
    Dale

  • http://www.lovejournalphotography.com.au/ Neo Ni

    These are the basic SEO stuffs, may found more helpful to beginners.

  • https://www.literaturereviewhelp.com/9-custom-writing/800-case-study-assignments-editing Newton Moses

    I agree that writing a Long tail Keyword Toward the Beginning of the Title is a good way of Search Engine Optimization. I’m also perfectly aware that overdoing this leads to key word stuffing which in tuns triggers google spam filters leading to low ranking of your site. But I was wondering if you could please explain the extent to which image tags influences Search Engine Optimization.(SEOs)

  • http://www.platinumseoservices.com.au/ Ghan Bavadiya

    SEO now a days is 80% on page and internal page linking with Blog. IT only required 20% for off page work.

  • http://www.bournedigital.co.uk Chris Bourne

    Great description and walk through of the basics SEO

    Good basic advice to get you started. I’m Using Yoast on a new site and wondering how well this will work
    Are there any pitfalls or draw backs does anyone know?

    Thanks

  • http://proadinsight.com Chad Musgrove

    “Remember, however, that your business name is not that important for SEO.”

    I disagree on this one. Your company name is something that you should optimize for. Especially when the name of your company has a primary keyword in it.

    I always optimize the “about” page for the company name.

    Rather than just naming your about page “About” – name it “about my company” have that in the page url, title tag, meta description, heading tag, and somewhere in the content. This way – when / if someone Google’s your company name, hopefully your home page shows up, your about page shows up, your contact page shows up and you take up more real estate on the SERP.

    In addition to that, hopefully your Facebook page shows up, your Google Plus (My Business) page shows up, the map listing shows up etc.

    My goal with my clients’ websites is that if someone Google’s their company name, they OWN the first page of results so their competitors aren’t anywhere to be seen.

  • http://www.smarterdigitalmarketing.co.uk Brian Lonsdale

    Google certainly does love high quality content. However, this is just one piece of the puzzle. You need to do lots of on-page and off-page optimization if you want to get ranked!

    Thanks,
    Brian