SEO Best Practices to Improve Rankings & Traffic in 2024

SEO is all about staying ahead of the competition by doing the right thing before everyone else.

Here are 16 best SEO practices that will put you ahead of your competition. 

1. Create In-Depth Content Focusing on E-E-A-T

Google’s new helpful content guidelines prioritize content with Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness and such content will rank higher.

With the explosion of AI content tools, it is elementary to create content in bulk that provides little value to the reader. To discourage such practices E-E-A-T is now a high priority. 

That’s why, as an SEO, creating valuable, in-depth content should be your number one priority. 

Imagine you have a blog about baking and you want to rank for searches related to “best vegan cake recipes.” Now, simply posting a few recipes about it won’t cut it. To truly stand out, you need to: 

  • Share your unique take on vegan cake recipes. (Experience)
  • Publish different content, (for example, kid-friendly vegan cake, decorating vegan cake, etc.) on the same topic. (Expertise)
  • Get mentioned by other experts in the same niche. (Authoritativeness)
  • Make sure to provide accurate and verified information. (Trustworthiness)

Pro Tip: Achieving E-E-A-T is not a short-term thing. You need to make a constant effort for a while to be seen as authoritative and trustworthy by search engines.

2. Optimize Your Meta Tags with the Keyword Near the Beginning

Placing the keyword early in the title tag and meta description sends a strong signal to the search engine that your page is relevant to that specific keyword. Most search engines, especially Google, analyze title tags to determine a webpage’s main topic.

For example, you write content on “best vegan cake recipes.” You can optimize your title like this-

50 Best Vegan Cakes That You Must Try

In this case, the title starts with the target keyword. This sends a strong signal to Google that your content is about the “best vegan cakes.” 

Or, for the same keyword, you can use this kind of title-

Exploring the Plant-Based Treats: 50 Best Vegan Cake Recipes

In this title, the main keyword is at the end of the title, which makes Google confused about the core topic of the content. That’s why it’s best to use the keyword at the start of the title.

You can apply the same rule while writing meta descriptions.

3. Place Your Target Keyword Early and Throughout Your Content

You should place your target keyword as early as possible and throughout the content including the headings. 

Like the last concept, placing the keyword early in the content will help the crawler figure out what the article is about.

The best practice is to place your keyword within the first 100 words of your content. For example- 

Let’s search with the keyword “how to make a cup of tea” and open the first result in the SERP. 

You can see that the primary keyword was used in the first line of the content. 

Apart from that, you should notice that the first heading also consists of the main keyword; which is also a good practice for SEO. Other than placing the keyword at the start and the heading, you should place it in the content. 

Pro Tip: You should be very careful about placing keywords in the content. If you overdo it, it would be a great mistake.

4. Optimize Your Images with Title and Alt Text

Using the correct title and alt text of images will help you long term because Google uses them to determine the content of the image.

To make valuable content for users, you must use images. But Google can’t really “see” images to know what it’s about. Instead, it reads the filename and alt text to figure out the details of the image.

So, if you are updating a picture of this cat, instead of using a random name, use a proper filename like black-and-white-cat.jpg.

For alt text, you can be more descriptive like “black and white cat lying on a bamboo in a room with green wall.”

With such SEO practices, your content and images will be more likely to rank.

5. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly

You are more likely to get more organic traffic if your website is mobile-friendly because Google has a mobile-first indexing policy, and most internet users are on their smartphones.

According to an important SEO stat, 96% of internet users own a smartphone and there are 5.44 billion unique mobile users worldwide. Also, almost 60% of all internet users browse from their phones. 

So, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you lose a lot of potential visitors.  

Because of this huge number, Google, which gets almost 95% of the world’s search traffic decided to implement a mobile-first indexing policy. 

In other words, it primarily uses the mobile version of your website’s content to understand relevance and rank it. This applies to everyone, regardless of whether users are searching from a mobile device or not.

As of October 26, 2023, all websites are effectively under mobile-first indexing; which is why it’s really important to have a mobile-friendly website. 

To make your site mobile-friendly, you can-

  • Implement a responsive web design,
  • Streamline your site’s navigation,
  • Use legible font sizes and contrast,
  • Control your site’s dimensions and scaling with the viewport tag,
  • Use standard, web-safe fonts, and more.

6. Improve Page Loading Speed

Google crawlers won’t crawl your site if it takes more than five seconds to load. So, if you don’t have a fast-loading site, your content won’t be crawled and therefore, not indexed. 

But, even if your site loads under five seconds, it might still not be enough. 

That’s because, Google may crawl and index your site, but the users won’t be happy with such a slow website. More than half of the users will leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. 

That means you should optimize your site speed to make it load in less than 3 seconds which will be convenient for both users and search engines. 

To achieve such loading speed, you can try-

  • Compress and resize images to reduce file sizes,
  • Distribute content across multiple servers geographically for quicker access,
  • Load critical content first for a quicker perceived page load time,
  • Lazy load images as the user scrolls to save initial load time,
  • Remove or minimize third-party scripts and plugins to reduce page bloat and more.

7. Keep URLs Short and Include the Primary Keyword

Including keywords in URL structures signals to search engines that a page’s content is relevant to the keyword. Your pages will be indexed more correctly and ranked more highly for relevant searches thanks to this. 

Instead of using random, long URLs for your content, use short URL slugs that contain the keyword. For example, if you have content on the “best places to visit in Italy,” your URL should be:

If you search with the keyword, you will see the top three results also following the same rule.

All the URLs are short and precise and contain the target keyword.

8. Utilize Internal Linking With Effective Anchor Text

Internal links with well-written anchor text pass authority from high-ranking pages to other pages on your site and give search engines valuable context about the relationships between linked pages, building topical authority. 

Internal linking is a tactic that is huge among SEOs and they take advantage of this amazing technique.

When you link relevant content to your blog post, the following things happen-

  • It passes link juice from one content to another.
  • It builds topical authority for your website.
  • It sends the reader to a different page, increasing dwell time and reducing bounce rate. 

Suppose, you are writing content about “best vegan cake recipes” and you have another content on “how to decorate a vegan cake.” You can easily link these two pieces of content with each other with clear and concise anchor text. 

Pro Tip: It’s better to not use the exact keyword as the anchor text. After the Google Penguin Update, this kind of stuff looks suspicious to it.  

9. Use LSI Keywords to Enhance Relevance

You can use LSI keywords to help search engines better understand your content. These keywords go beyond your primary keyword and cover related terms, synonyms, and concepts.

LSI means Latest Semantic Indexing; these keywords are phrases or terms that are closely related to your content topic. 

For example, if you are writing about “best indoor plants”, you can include phrases like “easy to take care of”, “avoid overwatering”, “bright indirect sunlight”, etc. All of these phrases show search engines how knowledgeable you are about indoor plants.

To find the LSI keywords, you need a proper keyword research tool.

10. Regularly Update Old Content

You should regularly update your content every 6 months or so because search engines prioritize fresh content. Also, regularly updating your content shows activity and engagement, which sends positive signals to search engines.

Your main goal as an SEO is to supply your readers with valuable content that they can use. If your content contains backdated information, will it be useful for them?

Also, search engines update their ranking factors now and then. To match their guidelines and current trends, you will also have to update your content to sustain your rank. 

That’s why it’s best to update your content on a regular basis.

11. Use the Right SEO Tools

Using SEO tools to analyze your website’s performance, keywords, competition, backlinks, and more will keep you on top of the game.

SEO is all about staying ahead of your competition, but achieving this feat is easier said than done. That’s where SEO tools will come in handy. 

With the right SEO tools, you can-

  • Gain actionable insights to make informed decisions based on data analysis. 
  • Understand what works, what doesn’t, and where to focus your SEO efforts for real results.
  • Automate time-consuming tasks, such as keyword research and technical audits.
  • Detect problems like technical issues, broken links, and content gaps.
  • Monitor performance metrics over time, visualizing progress, assessing the impact, and building SEO strategies.

With thousands of tools in the market, the challenge is to pick the right ones. Tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMRush, Ahrefs, etc. could be crucial for your SEO journey. 

12. Use Social Media to Promote Content

You can promote your content on different social media platforms to gain additional organic traffic, exposure, and visibility. 

Even though “SEO” literally means “Search Engine Optimization”, it is not limited to search engines. 

In this day and age, users love to search on social media besides Google. For instance, if you need to know about a local ramen shop, you may search on platforms like YouTube or Facebook as well as Google to get the information you want.

That’s why you should post a shorter or visual version of your website content to attract more visitors from different social platforms.

Pro Tip: Instead of focusing on one or two social media, you should take advantage of as many as you can by curating different types of content for each platform. It may take a lot of time, but it could be worth it.    

13. Optimize for Featured Snippet

Content that appears in featured snippets can exponentially increase impressions and CTR. Also, featured snippets are used to provide voice search answers, so your content will also be optimized for voice searches.

Featured snippets are like little billboards on top of SERP that appear even before the top result. These snippets provide a clear, direct answer to the user’s query.

To optimize your content for featured snippets, all you need to do is answer the question keywords in a direct and clear approach. 

If you need to answer “what is the world’s largest desert?” in your content you should answer directly and mirror the question. 

For example, the Antarctic desert is the largest desert in the world. Then you can add other information about the desert. 

As you can see from a real-life example, following this technique makes it easy for the crawler to relate the answer to the question.

If your answers are extensive and informative, you can either provide a summary or break them down into steps. 

For example, let’s look at the featured snippet for the keyword “how to cook a steak”, a summary of the whole process has been picked up as the snippet.

On the other hand, for the keyword “how to cook a lobster”, Google picked up steps for cooking it as the snippet:

Although optimizing your content for featured snippets will not guarantee it, it’s still a very good practice to follow.  

14. Use HARO for High Authority Backlinks

HARO or “Help A Reporter Out” connects you with journalists and bloggers who are looking for expert insights. By providing valuable quotes and getting featured in their articles, you earn organic backlinks from authoritative websites. 

We all know backlinks are crucial for building authority for your site. But link building is a tough aspect that requires a special skill. There are a lot of webmasters who use unethical link-building practices, which eventually get penalized.

HARO can be a simple solution for building natural backlinks from authoritative sites.

To use HARO, you need to:

  • Visit HARO’s website and create a free account.
  • Receive and review email queries from journalists.
  • Respond promptly with relevant pitches.
  • Provide clear and concise information.
  • Build relationships with journalists.

15. Utilize Community Engagement

Forums can be great sources for finding new content ideas, promoting your content, and getting backlinks. 

After the recent Google Helpful Content update, forums like Reddit and Quora are prioritized because of UGC (user-generated content), which is seen as helpful by Google.

To use these forums, you can find the relevant communities and you can- 

  • Ask questions and research previous threads to find pain points, which will give you new ideas for content.
  • Share relevant content from your website that answers the community members’ questions.
  • Build relationships with members by providing valuable resources who will share your content.

Pro Tip: Most communities do not tolerate promotional content. Take your time and prove yourself to be a valuable member of the community before you go for it.     

16. Broken Link Building

Broken link building involves tracking broken links on other websites and offering your relevant content as a replacement. 

When you replace a broken link with your content, you’re earning a natural backlink from another website. This way you can attract targeted traffic from users who are already interested in what you have to offer. 

Also, it can help to increase brand awareness and build trust with potential customers.

Other than, broken link building, you can target unlinked brand mentions. This involves finding where your brand’s name was mentioned without a link. 

Then you can reach out to them and politely ask for a link placement.  

Pro Tip: If you’re not careful, you could end up with backlinks from low-quality websites that could harm your SEO.

Stay Ahead of the Competition

With these best SEO practices, you can stay ahead of your competition.

But you need to always keep in mind that putting your eggs in one basket will not get you results in SEO. Rather you need to divide SEO efforts into every aspect.

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