by Steve Fink

NEW YORK — If you don’t believe it, then Google it: Websites that put time and effort into search engine optimization and follow updated SEO best practices are more likely to see higher website traffic totals from Google. That’s because search engines crawl SEO fields to determine who gets the best placement on a search results page, relying on meta data to influence their rankings.

It’s important when creating content in 2017 that you follow SEO best practices consistently. Filling out the fields on the WordPress page is only half of the task: the other half is filling them out appropriately. Is your SEO Title less than 70 characters and does it include the most relevant keywords? Have you used at least five strong keywords that will help the search engine understand what your story is about and match up with a potential search query? Is your URL shortened with the most relevant keywords?

Person searching on Google

Following these updated SEO best practices will help you increase your website traffic from Google searches.

Don’t get me wrong, SEO can be overwhelming. So how can you figure out where to begin with SEO fields? Prime keywords.

A great way to ensure you’re using your best SEO judgment is by figuring out what the “prime” keyword or keywords would be for the story. What is the most valuable word or search term relevant to your story?

These prime keywords should appear in your headline, in your first paragraph, several times throughout your story, in your SEO Title, in your SEO description, and at the top of your shortened URL. The prime keyword gives you an ability to hone in on the most relevant aspect of the story and emphasize that aspect to the search engine. I do think it’s OK to have two prime keywords — two important terms that should be in each of your SEO fields — if necessary.

By giving the prime keyword prime placement, you’re telling the search engine: *this* is what my story is about, and if someone searches for this, my story is the best fit.

For this story, the prime keywords would be “SEO best practices.” After all, I’m counting on people to search for that very term. “Website traffic” might be another prime keyword, but I’ll stick with “SEO best practices” for now. I’ve made sure to use the term in my headline (even better if it’s the first part of my headline), in my URL (even better if it’s in the first part of my URL), and in my first paragraph. I shortened my URL appropriately to focus solely on this term.

I’ve also made sure to use it in my SEO Title and SEO description and Google News Keywords. After that, I’ve thought of some other variations of the term or related searches that might help. “Search engine optimization” of course is a natural fit, along with “SEO for website traffic.” I’ve also chosen to use “SEO tips” and “SEO for Google” and “SEO for Google News.” “Google search results” is another decent keyword. Then I’m going to use some potential search queries: “What is SEO”; “How do I use SEO”; “What are SEO best practices” could be another option.

Boom. Just like that I’ve hit my limit of 10.

If I’m thinking in terms of Google News, I’m going to focus less on the queries and more on the news aspects. For this field, I’m going to use “SEO best practices,” “SEO tips,” “search engine optimization,” “search engine optimization tips,” “search engine optimization best practices,” “SEO for website traffic,” “SEO for Google,” “SEO for Google News,” “Google search results,” and finally, “2017 SEO”.

It didn’t take me too long to come up with these, and regardless of the time, it’s worth it. With CBS Local sites seeing as much as 42 percent of traffic coming from SEO, why not take the extra two minutes to really think about SEO?

If you’re still confused, think of SEO fields as a way of telling the search engine exactly what your story is about. Ever see a story on the news or hear a story on the radio and you tell yourself to go search for it later? Think about what you would search for if that were the case for someone else who hears the story you’re writing.

Remember, SEO matters. We’re talking about the number one source of traffic to your website. You have the power to influence just how big that number is. SEO shouldn’t just be a tedious throw-in for your story: it’s just as important as the story itself.

Here are some great resources for understanding SEO:


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