Most agency creatives would probably agree that search engine rankings generally aren’t the primary objective when they are developing a creative concept or campaign. In fact, SEO might not even be mentioned in the creative brief. This leads to the development of websites and digital assets that cause more work for the SEO team down the road — something that could have been avoided had search engine optimization been taken into account at the beginning of the process.
As a creative working on any kind of project that includes a new or redesigned website or similar digital media, there are a number of steps you can and should take to ensure that search engine optimization remains a priority during a creative exercise. Here are nine tips that will make the SEO team say “thank you!” instead of cursing your name.
Know that Flash is mostly unnecessary. It doesn’t work on iPads and iPhones, requires updated plug-ins and means that the search team will have to develop ways to work-around it. Unless you have a compelling reason or requirement to use flash, why not use HTML5 instead?
Use keywords in title tags and meta descriptions. Even though these elements are not always visible to the end user, they do show up in the search results and should include targeted key phrases while still being relevant and enticing to the target audience.
Use alt tags. Descriptive alt tags (alternative text) should be included for all images on websites, social properties and other digital media.
Understand how to use the H1 tag. Understanding of the H1 tag while writing titles that are compelling for the user is the most important aspect of web copywriting. Equally important is ensuring that keywords are placed prominently in the text.
Use keywords. While the days of keyword stuffing are (thankfully) over, keyword density — seeding keywords naturally throughout the text of a webpage — is something that copywriters should definitely keep in mind.
Choose anchor text wisely. Try to use keyword-rich anchor text for links instead of the standard “read more” or “click here” options.
Use search-friendly URLs. Including keywords in the URLs is a simple and highly effective way to help ensure good search rankings. This practice is often overlooked by busy developers.
Keep new content on the home page. Consider featuring blog posts or similar constantly refreshed content such as social media feeds on the homepage. Having regularly updated content improves search performance. Plus, it gives users a reason to return and read the new content.
Include “share” buttons. Social integration is increasingly becoming a key part of SEO, so “share” buttons and links to relevant social pages should be included where possible.
Overall, an understanding of the “why” behind keyword strategy is perhaps the most important element of the relationship between the creative and search teams. As a creative, if you know why specific terms are being targeted and what the search strategy is meant to accomplish, that should help inform your process from start to finish.
Originally published Dec 18, 2012 12:00:54 AM, updated July 28 2017