Unexpected Expertise: The Washington Post's Guide to SEO for Website Success and SEO Beginners

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This is a first, the Washington Post shared a piece about SEO for their audience. Saying Web performance and SEO are crucial aspects of a website's success.

Wapo is best known for its quality content, investigative journalism but no one thinks of it when it comes to SEO. So why are they sharing a complete guide on Web Performance and SEO Best Practices and Guidelines? Well, because they felt a demand for it.

People are more and more into Search Engine Optimization. As an aspiring SEO myself, I admit the validation feels good. But I digress…

The content of the piece

So what does these guidelines include? Well, it has 4 big sections. The first being Web performance, the second talks about SEO, and the last two bring up monitoring and resources (which is, I admit, kinda cool).

Web performance:

In web performance, the tabloid mentions three sections. Loading performance, rendering performance, and responsiveness. Here are the recommendations for each section:

Performance Aspect Optimization Techniques
Loading Performance
  • Compress images to reduce file size.
  • Use responsive images for different screen sizes.
  • Implement lazy loading for off-screen images.
  • Minify and compress CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files.
  • Utilize Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to distribute static assets across servers globally.
Rendering Performance
  • Optimize the critical rendering path to load above-the-fold content first.
  • Use efficient CSS selectors and minimize layout thrashing.
  • Optimize JavaScript execution through deferring, profiling, and using requestAnimationFrame for animations.
  • Design websites for various screen sizes and devices for a consistent user experience.
  • Implement responsive design techniques like fluid grids, flexible images, CSS Flexbox, and Grid Layout.
  • Prioritize CSS for layout and visual presentation, use JavaScript for interactivity and advanced responsive behaviors when needed.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

For SEO, the news editor focused on 4 areas: On-page SEO, off-page SEO, content creation, and technical SEO. Kudos, but they didn’t mention backlink acquisition…

On-page SEO Optimization Techniques
Title Tags Use descriptive and concise title tags to accurately represent the content of each page, helping search engines understand its purpose and relevance.
Meta Tags
  • Write informative and unique meta description tags for users.
  • Utilize meta lang tags to specify the language of the content.
  • Implement Open Graph meta tags for richer social media shares.
  • Use meta robots tags to guide search engines on how to handle the page.
Header Tags Use header tags (H1, H2, H3) effectively to structure content and provide hierarchy for better search engine understanding.
URL Structures Optimize URL structures to make them readable, descriptive, and concise, aiding both users and search engines in understanding the page's content.
Content Optimization
  • Write high-quality, unique, and engaging content that satisfies user intent.
  • Use proper keyword targeting without keyword stuffing.
  • Optimize images with descriptive alt text, relevant file names, and compression for improved page load times.
Technical SEO Optimization Techniques
Page Speed Improve site speed by optimizing page load times, as faster-loading pages are more likely to rank higher in search results.
Structured Data Implement structured data (schema markup) using JSON-LD to provide additional context for search engines, potentially improving search result appearance and click-through rates.
Crawlability Ensure crawlability and indexability by properly configuring robots.txt and creating XML sitemaps, helping search engines discover and index the site's content.
Canonical Tags Use canonical tags to avoid duplicate content issues and signal to search engines which version of a page should be considered the original.
HTTPS Implement HTTPS and secure the site to protect user data and improve trust with both users and search engines.
Off-page SEO Optimization Techniques
Backlinks Build high-quality and relevant backlinks from authoritative websites, as they serve as signals of the site's credibility and trustworthiness.
Social Media Utilize social media for content promotion, expanding the content's reach and potentially attracting more backlinks and organic traffic.
Guest Posting Consider guest posting and content outreach to build relationships with other websites and influencers, increasing the site's visibility and authority.

Last but not least, the piece goes through a bunch of tools to use for reporting, monitoring, and honestly, a full list of quality resources anyone interested in SEO should regularly check. Once again, kudos to the team who gathered these.

If you’re curious, here’s the full list of resources they recommended:

Web Performance Resources

Resource URLs
Google Web Fundamentals https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/performance
Mozilla Developer Network https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Performance
Web.dev: Fast load times https://web.dev/fast/
PageSpeed Insights https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
High-Performance Browser Networking https://hpbn.co/

SEO Resources

Resource URLs
Google Search Central: SEO Starter Guide https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/seo-starter-guide
Moz: Beginner's Guide to SEO https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
Yoast SEO: The beginner's guide to SEO https://yoast.com/complete-beginner-guide-to-seo/
Backlinko: SEO This Year https://backlinko.com/seo-this-year
Ahrefs: SEO Basics https://ahrefs.com/blog/seo-basics/

General Resources

Resource URLs
Web.dev: Measure and Optimize https://web.dev/measure/
Google Lighthouse https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse
Google Search Console https://search.google.com/search-console/about
Google Analytics https://analytics.google.com/
W3C Web Performance Working Group https://www.w3.org/webperf/

Check the full SEO guide for Wapo here.