key illustrates seo best practicesThere are two key SEO best practices that apply to virtually every post, every article, and every blog or website. After your initial SEO research is complete, your site is built, and you  have structured your ‘pretty permalinks,’ added title tags and descriptions in all the right places, it’s all wasted if you don’t apply these SEO tactics.

I hesitate to call these, “SEO tactics,” because it’s simply applying the basic writing skills you learned in fourth grade. Every essay that you ever penned in school probably earned at least a “B” if you followed these two rules:

[space size=2] 1. Write naturally
[space size=2] 2. Stay on topic.

Let’s back up a little. If your site is new, you should have already chosen one “long tail” keyword to focus on that best describes your blog or website, before you ever sit down to write your first post. Likewise, every post on your blog will focus on one to three keyword phrases, all of which should be closely related and relevant to your blog.

A long-tail keyword is actually a keyword phrase that relatively few people will search for in comparison to a related single, broader subject or keyword.

Your long-tail keyword phrase will contain the word(s) that define the broad subject, and additional descriptive words, or adjectives, as well. For example, “graphic designer” is broad and highly competitive, but “affordable freelance graphic designer Dublin, CA” is a long-tail keyword phrase that can potentially take you to the top of several search results pages within a couple of weeks of launching your site.


Well, assume that there are only one or two searches a month for that exact phrase–maybe fewer. But here’s what you may not realize: that phrase contains several broader search terms. For example, search engines will extract from this longer term, the phrases: “affordable graphic designer, Dublin, CA,” “freelance graphic designer Dublin, CA,” and “graphic designer,” and additional phrases with the words rearranged.

To search engines, “Dublin graphic designer” and “graphic designer Dublin” are one and the same, because the intent is the same.

So now that you have one phrase on which to focus your full attention, begin writing your post or page. Write all about what an awesome graphic designer you are, and how your affordable freelance services in Dublin, CA can help small businesses.

Look again. That previous sentence was written naturally, and my entire keyword phrase was used to good effect. It isn’t necessarily natural to always use those words in the same order, and search engine algorithms account for that. Spammers “stuff” their pages with exact phrases, and you don’t want to send a signal to search engines that your content resembles spam, so go ahead and mix it up.

Continue to write, and don’t worry too much about your keywords, just stay on topic. But beware: If you start describing  yourself as a “Bay Area artist,” then you’ve just lost the battle. Your market is not searching for Bay Area artists, and if you succeed in ranking well for that term, you’ll end up with a lot of visitors who click away from your site immediately. That will cause a regrettable bounce rate and hurt you in the long run.

Describe your skills, and use adjectives that your prospective clients are using. Words like, “brochures,” “logos,” “same day,” “low cost,” etc. are all helpful and relevant.

While you are describing your services, talk about why they are important to your clients. A guaranteed 24-hour, same-day, turn-round service matters when deadlines are looming, and the fact that you use Pantone brand spot colors is important to clients with standardized logos. Relevant details equal quality content.

Describe all of your services in detail–or all of your services in one subject area–both to help your specific market find you, and to help the search engines understand that your site offers more value than most. If you also sell dog food, don’t even mention that here. Stay on topic.

Continue to write in a natural manner, using more adjectives and synonyms than you might otherwise use, say, in an email or an essay, but don’t fill the page with meaningless fluff. Useful content should be, well, useful.

Once you are finished with your first draft, you should review your post and try to find a couple of places where you can edit your phrase in naturally. You may even find that you have overused your keywords, and your text looks too forced.

Don’t count keywords. Don’t use some magic keyword density formula. If SEO ever really worked that way, it doesn’t now. Write naturally, with an emphasis on relevant synonyms and adjectives.

Make adjustments and add a call to action at the end of your article, using as much of your original phrase as you can without appearing artificial. You might say, “Call our Dublin office today to discuss our affordable freelance graphic design services. We’re available for rush orders, and by appointment on weekends.”

Apply this same strategy to naming and describing your on-page images. Keep your alt tags descriptive of the actual image though, because while alt tags are considered by search engines, someone who uses a page reader or whose browser does not display images should still have a good idea of what your image is about.

That’s all there is to it.

If your content is original, unique, useful, and focused, and your site is non-spammy and structured properly, you can apply this strategy to each of your pages for increased search engine rankings. I have personally boosted several articles, blogs, and websites to the top of search engine results using these SEO best practices, and you can, too.


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