You’ve heard the term “SEO” tossed around, but chances are you’re not 100% sure what it means. It stands for search engine optimization, and it’s a critical technique to ensure you’re taking steps to help your content perform as well as it possibly can online. Here are a few best practices to get you started on optimizing your content for websites, social media or membership directories.

1 | Consider length and structure.

Sure, you want the quality of what you’re putting onto the internet to be top-notch. What’s just as important, however, is making sure it’s optimally structured. Start by making sure your content is the right length for the platform on which it will be hosted. If it’s a social media post, content length varies by platform, and everything from character count to the number of hashtags can have an impact on performance. If it’s website content, a good rule of thumb is to ensure your copy is at least 300 words. Longer is better, so don’t worry about going higher on the word count if you’re putting out valuable information.

While you’re at it, consider the structure of your content. For a social post, think about how to structure your text so it’s visually appealing. Clumping hashtags together promotes findability and keeps your main text clear. For web articles and pages, don’t forget to use headings, subheadings, imagery, and internal and external links. Headings help search engines scan your article to determine what it’s about and which topics it hits on, while also serving to break the page down into more digestible segments for readers.

2 | Optimize meta data — images, descriptions, excerpts, etc.

You may be focused on crafting quality content, but don’t forget about the meta data either. In fact, meta data is arguably just as important as the page content. Unfortunately, it’s also forgotten all too often. To make the most of your meta data, take time before publishing content to make sure all the behind-the-scenes information is good to go. Check your photos to make sure they include alt-text (descriptive text for each image). Fill out the excerpt and meta description fields on your page. Before you hit publish, make sure your links open in a new window to keep people from navigating away from your website too soon.

3 | Write around a unique keyword.

Before you begin writing, it’s important to identify one unique keyword that will function as the anchor for your content. This should be unique to your website (i.e., you don’t want to have 10 articles devoted to “apples” as a keyword). When writing, you should make sure the keyword is dispersed throughout the content in an even manner without being too repetitive. Synonyms are your friend here; think about different ways to get concepts across and provide new information to the reader.

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