Freelance writers and entrepreneurs need to stop looking at SEO as the final ribbon to tie around a nicely-put-together website. Yes, the process can be vast and complex, but it isn’t the huge undertaking it is perceived to be. There are simple SEO practices that anyone with a website should start the very first day they go live.

Use Proper Title Tags

Using title tags isn’t just about making articles look prettier, they tell search engines how to analyze text. If, for example, you wrap a line with “h2” tags, you are telling a search engine that it is looking at a subhead. If you were to simply bold that line of text, the search engine has no idea that it should deem that line any more important than another.

Use Proper Plug-Ins

I would wager that the majority of professionals who need to implement simple SEO practices have self-hosted WordPress sites. For those professionals, installing a plug-in like Yoast SEO is a must. Through Yoast, you can customize your article to comply with best SEO practices, and Yoast even provides a score, suggestions to improve, and generates your sitemaps.

Use Keywords

If you want your website to show up in search engines, you must use keywords. If you are using a plug-in like Yoast SEO, you can enter your focus keyword into a designated field so the plug-in can analyze your work. Then you want to make sure your keyword is used in your title, subheads, meta description (the paragraph that appears under the title in search), within your body text, and as part of your alt tags.

Use Alt Tags

What is an alt tag, you ask? When you insert a photo into your article, you want to make sure you include an alt tag, which adds keywords to your pictures. Alt tags also help with screen readers, and for contextualizing a photo if it doesn’t render on the page.

Use A High-Quality Title

Not only do you want your title to include your focus keyword, you want it to draw in your readers. A tool I use every single time I write an article is the headline analyzer tool on Co-Schedule. This tool will take your headline and grade it based on powerful, emotional, common, and uncommon words. It also analyzes the length of your title. It’s a must.

Use This Practice Now

I can’t tell you how many sites I come across that are not using basic SEO. Trust me, there is plenty more to dig into when it comes to SEO, but these simple practices will make a world of difference with your website. What’s more, not using these practices can really hurt you. If your site is sloppy and doesn’t translate well with search engines, you can be penalized. You don’t want that!

So do yourself a favor and start implementing these strategies today. It will save you a lot of tedious work in the future!