SEO Hobgoblin Consistency shares an overlooked search engine optimization (SEO) problem for many websites - consistency. When Google's search "spider" encounters confusing inconsistencies between site metadata, image alt text, and body copy dissonance happens. Confused search spiders do many things positively ranking web pages isn't usually one of them.
As with all things digital marketing, there are notable exceptions. Some sites don't need or care about SEO. Oprah's web pages will be opened, joined, and visited no matter how many inconsistencies in "technical SEO" exist. If you don't have Oprah's brand awareness here are places to be consistent.
- Metadata - Page Title and Description.
- Headings - H1 (only one) and H2 through H6 (as many as you want).
- Copy - Body Copy or Copy INSIDE of main HTML tags.
- Image Alt-Text - Keywords Are Important But Don't Stuff.
- Links - Consider What Links To Follow and Where To REL=NOFOLLOW.
Metadata Less and More
Metadata evolves. Back in the day, we worried over keywords. Today, keywords don't matter but Twitter cards and Schema does. Here is Moz.com's Rand Fishkin.
SEO questions? Moz.com is always our first stop before bothering friends. NOTE: Google expanded "best practice" for meta description from 155 characters to 320 in December 2017. Google's expansion means we should use the meta description tag to tell better stories. Read How To Create The Right Meta Description on Yoast for seven great tips.
No one reads anymore. Years of smartphones, pads and the crush of information mean scanning is the new reading. Headings help scanners. Titles and headings are lures you troll to catch fish (readers). Google's algorithm rewards heuristic measures such as time on site, pages viewed, and low bounce rates.
Great, relevant, and sticky headings help with heuristics. Use of more than one <h1> is considered spam, but you can use as many of the other headings tags as needed. <h2> is a subhead tag, so we preach only using one <h2> too.
Using a WordPress theme? Your WordPress them sets cascading style sheets (CSS). These days, you can easily override your theme's default CSS with the "add CSS" option include in Appearance > Customize. Beware, unless you know a lot about programming setting new CSS will be universal. Change the <h4> tag with the customize option and all <h4> tags change.
Read Quick Web Writing Lessons to learn why Hemingway beats Faulkner in web writing. Use the Yoast SEO tool because the "readability" tab helps structure body copy for optimal reader engagement and SEO. Common web writing errors include:
- Too Long - Write 300 words or less after each heading.
- Passive Voice - Write in an active voice online.
- Too Complex - Short sentences, remove conjuction words like "and", and don't over modify.
- Same Word - We like rhythm, but Yoast catches our tendency to start sentences with the same word.
- Transition Words - We don't get hung up on this one, synergy between paragraphs is important.
- Too Few Words - Generally it is a bad idea to post fewer than 300 words.
Sometimes body copy teaches other times your copy tells stories. And other time your copy should split the difference and teach while telling a story. Remember the old Indian saying:
Tell me a fact, and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth, and I’ll believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. Indian Proverb
Image Alt Text
Images breathe life into your copy. We love Avi's first image tip on Moz - USE THE RIGHT IMAGE. Images dissonant with your copy creates spam.
We add an 11th tip to Avi's ten image tips - don't use stock photography. Many SMBs can't shoot their own photos. If you have to use stock pull from an "alternative" resource such as Pexels.com. If stock photos are inevitable DO SOMETHING TO it. Here is an example of a typical stock image of a pissed off man standing in front of a crew that seems to be laughing at him.
We spent ten minutes with Photoshop and Illustrator to create this version.
Not perfect but good enough. The days when your website could afford bland stock images seen on hundreds of other sites are over. Know how to manage your images by learning SEO and image best practices.
Links are tricky. We "nofollow" most external links because we don't want the rank we've worked so hard to build into a page to simply bleed all over the web. Bleeding rank applies to your site too. If your "terms" links aren't "nofollow" you lower the rank on whatever page links to your terms. Depending on how you program your footer, you may have a "terms" link on every page.
That said, there are times we let rank pass out of a page. We were trained in "website silos" by Bruce Clay. Bruce is smarter about SEO than us, so we follow his lead. And that was an example of a link where rank passed out of Curagami. We are sure Bruce will appreciate it.
In summary, SEO's hobgoblin is consistency. Even if you do all of these SEO things WRONG doing so consistently may help keep the hobgoblins away from your site.
Thanks to The Outhousers for the amazing Hobgoblin image.