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SEO Fundamentals for Every Marketer
Does your bank website send the right message before customers get there?
The path to enlightened acquisition begins with search engine optimization (SEO), the process of improving the quality and quantity of unpaid website traffic from search engines such as Google, which continually index webpages. Therefore, your website must speak the web crawlers’ language.
However, appeasing search bots shouldn’t alienate your human visitors, and speaking to the two audiences simultaneously can be both an art and a science.
When it comes to organic SEO, fortune favors the wise, so here is some guidance to get you on the right path.
Accommodate Customers and Web Crawlers
The primary way to positively impact SEO is by using the best words in strategic places. At the risk of oversimplifying, websites should include the same phrases that people type into search engines.
But not all webpage real estate is created equal. Be sure to insert keywords into the prime locations for both algorithms and actual people.
What Humans See
It likely comes as little surprise that the most important place for SEO keywords is the text that appears on individual webpages.
- Use only one H1 per page; ideally, it will match or at least include the page name.
- Multiple H2s, H3s and so forth are acceptable, but stick to the ordered hierarchy; for example, don’t use an H3 until you’ve used an H2.
- When appropriate, use questions, such as “What is a home equity loan?”
- Each page should contain at least 100 words, and the first 200 of them are the most significant to search engines.
- Leverage link text, especially links that connect to other internal pages.
- Search engines love bulleted lists, but try not to exceed 10 items per list.
What Bots See
Web crawlers, conversely, dig deep into the metadata of webpages and their content in addition to scanning the text people see.
- Page name: While there is no character limit, shorter is better.
- Page title: Limit text to 50-60 characters, including spaces.
- Meta description: Limit text to 50-120 characters, including spaces.
- File name of page: Use no more than six words, if possible, and separate words with hyphens, not spaces or underscores.
- File name of images: Use no more than six words or 256 characters, and separate words with hyphens.
- Image alt text: Limit text to 50-125 characters, including spaces.
More SEO Tips
The first rule of SEO is thou shall not stuff keywords. People hate the awkwardness of the passages, and bots are too smart to fall for the blatant oversaturation of keywords. Use a single keyword five times per page, at most, and optimize for no more than four different keywords per page.
Even though it is acceptable to use four different keywords per page, that isn’t always the most prudent course. Whenever possible, create specialty pages for targeted topics, including promotional landing pages, learn-more pages and blog posts.
Transcend the Webpage
Beyond metadata and displayed webpage text, bots also crawl through other nooks and crannies — both on and off your website. Transcripts for embedded video and audio are a quick win for SEO and accessibility. PDFs that your site links to also have SEO opportunities; follow the same rules as standard webpage copywriting.
Finally, cultivating backlinks — external sites that link to your bank website — is another way to boost SEO. Focus on quality websites, not link farms. Contributing guest blog posts or other content for organizations and/or events your company sponsors can accomplish this. Remember to include links to specific product or service pages, not your homepage by default.