Start the New Year by Improving Your Search Engine Optimization

Illustration of a stick figure pointing to the top search result in a search engine

In the new year, resolve to make your targeted, actionable, plain language online health content easy to find. How? By making it appear in relevant searches on Google and other search engines. This is known as search engine optimization (SEO).

Try these simple steps to improve your SEO.

Use words your audience is searching for.
Writing about myocardial infarctions? Be sure your content mentions heart attacks, too. (But you knew that already.)

It’s also important to include related words that people may use to search. For example, you may not have a shot at coming up first on Google for “asthma,” but you can improve your chances for searches like “how to make an asthma action plan” if those words are in your content.

Include key terms in headers and linked text.
Search engines weigh headers and linked text more heavily than body text. A header that says “Introduction” or a link that says “More information” doesn’t help people find your content.

Meaningful headers like “Shop for low sodium foods” and actionable links like “Use this calculator to figure out your BMI (body mass index)” are much better for SEO.

Provide a text version of graphics.
Image files (like JPGs or PNGs) are invisible to search engines. No matter how much time you’ve spent making that awesome infographic, it will be harder for people to find if you don’t include alt text or an HTML version, too.

Make the meta description brief and clear.
The meta description is the text that displays below the link title on a search results page. It doesn’t affect search results, but it helps users decide whether to click on a link. Think of it as the elevator pitch for a webpage. Since you can’t change a first impression, make it a good one.

Write stellar content.
In the end, the #1 thing you can do to make your information more findable is to write clear content that people want to read. Sound familiar, dear readers?

The bottom line: Don’t worry about keywords or complicated formulas for SEO. Just write good plain language content — and remember alt text and descriptions.