For a long time, search engine optimized articles were stuffed with keywords and were fluffy in nature. Then along came Google's Panda algorithm in 2012 and changed all that, explicitly stating that they aim to provide credible search results to their users. Overnight, webmaster scrambled to change their strategy from quantity to quality-based content generation.
Here are some tips to help you still optimize your site but also protect yourself from over optimizing.
The basics are still beneficial
I'm surprised to see how many sites don't do the basics anymore, like meta descriptions. Now, before you get out your pitchforks, yes, I agree, meta descriptions do not carry as much weight as they used to. While they do offer a small opportunity to massage in some keywords, their bigger opportunity is with call-to-action.
Without populating your meta descriptions, Google will often pick a snippet of text from your page and use that instead. Instead, structure your meta description to encourage users to click on your search result.
For example, let's say I sell apples. In the first example, I forgot to add a meta description so Google generated one for me. Blue is my example title tag, green is my example domain, and black italicized text is my example meta description.
Damon's Delicious Fruit Store
apples come in various colors like red, green, and yellow. Depending on where you live, you may have different options on what colors are …
You can see that meta description is a random chunk of text from our mythical page. The text starts mid-sentence and cuts out mid-sentence. And there's no compelling encouragement to click.
Compare this to the example below where a meta description was strategically created.
Damon's Delicious Fruit Store
Are you ready to experience the most delicious apples? Click now to sample a variety of fresh apples in your choice of red, green, or yellow.
You can see in the second example that there is a clear attempt to make an emotional connection in the first sentence. And the second sentence encourages a call-to-action. Forget the keyword approach. Call-to-action is the real value of meta descriptions.
Share the love
The best way to help build your credibility is to help your visitors, any way you can. If you have a good resource to link your visitors to, do it. Linking to useful external resources helps search engines see that you are insightful on your industry's topics and knowledgeable enough to share other resources.
Be Mobile Friendly
Did you know that as of 2016, most industries hit the tipping point where 50%+ of their traffic came from mobile devices? Gone are the days of an Internet ruled by desktop visitors. To take advantage of this, or to at least not get left in the dust, your website should focus on being responsive to display content for any visitor, desktop or mobile.
Optimize Your Images
Let's face it. Few people read entire articles nowadays. Most of us skim the page for little bits of text that stand out or images that catch our attention. By including images in your content, you make it easier to read. But there's a catch. Images can also slow down your page's load time.
To optimize your website's images, make sure to scale down an image to be only as large as is needed for it to display on the page. This means that if your original photo is 4000 pixels wide and you're going to only show it as a 500-pixel wide image, don't just scale the display size down. Instead, resize the image to 500 pixels before even uploading it. This will save your visitors devices from having to unnecessarily load the other 3500 pixels of image size.
Additionally, compress your images before upload. Compressing your image will remove unnecessary meta information from your image, like the date and location it was taken, lessening the image's file size and improving the load time.
Source: Barry Moltz.