Make sure your content is discovered and gain a fundamental understanding of SEO.

Content marketing that fuses a deep understanding of your audience, data, and sound SEO practice will bring relevant, high-quality traffic to your website, driving inbound lead generation.

This guide covers simple on-and-off-page SEO and basic technical SEO, helping you gain a fundamental understanding of SEO to make sure your content is discovered.

On-page SEO basics

Google spiders crawl web pages to analyze and understand the contents before organizing (indexing) pages for search. Algorithms help spiders (or bots) organize web pages so they can be found in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Around 7.5 million blogs are published a day. Imagine these blogs as pieces of coursework flung around a disorganized student’s bedroom.

With exams coming up, the student neatly stores their coursework in folders separated by topic tabs, making sure each has an easy-to-read title and a flashcard to summarize its contents. Just as the student can now find the right paper quickly, search engines index and store new articles in a similar way, so they can be retrieved fast.

Search engines want to serve users the best results for their queries, so competition for genuinely good, high-quality content is strong.

Ask the following before starting your content marketing strategy

  • Why are you creating your content
  • Who is your content for
  • Is your content more valuable than what’s already ranking?

Content quality vs quantity

If you can answer these things, the next step is to focus on getting your content read. Aim to create clear and engaging content. Low-quality content won’t rank for long – if at all, and will always be superseded by better content.

Title and headings tags

HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, is the building block of the web. The code is made up of simple tags and it’s good to have a basic understanding of HTML tags to understand their role in SEO.

These distinguish titles, headers, subheaders, and bullets or lists from the rest of your page content. The title tag and H1 tag can both be used for titles and are the most important in terms of hierarchy. While the title tag is primarily seen as the title on the SERP, Google can at times choose to use the H1 instead. The H1 tag is usually the main title seen when a searcher reaches a landing page.

The hierarchy is simple:

  • Title tags for your title
  • H1 for your main heading or title
  • H2 for subheaders
  • Followed by H3, H4, H5 and H6

These numbered tags help your reader understand the flow of your content, as well as provide a signal to Google that they are the next in line of importance. In practical terms, you’ll rarely need H4+ tags. When using them, you might use H2s as the subheaders in your article, and H3s as the headings of lists.

You may, for example, use H2s as the subheaders in your article and H3s as the headings of bulleted lists. Tip! Remember that a SERP can choose your title tag or an H1 if it thinks it is more relevant to the search, so think about this when writing them.

Meta description

When a SERP returns your title tag or H1, it’s followed by a short description underneath. This is the meta description, and while your declared text will often be selected – an alternative can also be chosen from your web page. It’s best practice to write a concise, appropriate meta description with a relevant keyword/phrase. While Google doesn’t consider meta descriptions for SEO, it does recognize click-through rates. So write a meta description that your users will be likely to click on – this is how a good meta indirectly improves SEO.

Your meta can be any length, but Google will display 155-160 characters, so stay in this sweet spot to avoid your copy being cut off in SERPs.

Here’s what they look like displayed under each article title:

Alt text 

Accessibility is super-important to make sure that everyone can access information on the internet, and the alt attribute was designed to help the visually impaired understand images, charts, and graphics published as image files like jpegs pngs, and svgs.

Even when images contain text, it’s impossible for spiders to read the text as it’s not ‘live’ text on a page. By adding an alt description, reading software can read out this description of the image, allowing everyone to fully access the contents of the page.

Alt text is also used by spiders to understand and index image content and is considered so important that not using it can negatively impact your SEO.

Summarize the image for your alt description

Don’t add this: People
Do add this: People standing by a snowy mountain

Image and video data

Even your image file names matter; use every data point as an opportunity to describe assets clearly to improve SEO. Think as if you’re communicating with computers – because that’s exactly what is happening.

When uploading any image file, change its name from IMG23561.png to People-mountain-snow.jpg and use a hyphen between each word.

An extra E in EEAT

EAT was Google’s guide for best-practice content and stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. A recent update has added an extra E for Experience.

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Now to better assess our results, E-A-T is gaining an E: experience. Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place, or communicating what a person experienced? There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand. Google, 2022

This update invites content creators to collaborate with experts and resist churning content that lacks depth and knowledge.


A backlink is when one website links to another. In terms of SEO, backlinks act as an editorial vote for the content it links to. In terms of search engines, more quality backlinks equal higher credibility, prominence, and trust.

Whenever you’re writing content, link out to relevant content from credible sources. The better your content is, the more likely you’ll earn incoming links to your content. Guest blogging, a digital PR strategy, and collaboration all work in favor of building solid backlinks.

There’s no great mystery to getting started with backlinks. First, you have to define what a good backlink looks like to your company - which sites do you want to target? Do you want to set domain rating or organic traffic limits? As with everything in content marketing, I’d always focus on quality over quantity. Then it’s simply a case of finding websites that match your rules and approaching them! You can try all sorts of backlink plays, but for starters, I’d always look at customers, partners, and your LinkedIn network.

Cognism’s SEO team spends 10% of its time on backlink outreach (10% of a roughly 40-hour week = 4 hours each per week). That’s a good amount of time to dedicate to it if you don’t have unlimited resources at your disposal. We track any backlinks secured on a Google sheet and use Asana tasks to provide weekly updates on progress.

Joe Barron

Senior Content Manager, Cognism

Backlinks are one of the determining features of domain authority, so what is that?

Domain authority

Moz coined Domain Authority (DA) and it stuck. These days Semrush has an Authority Score and Ahrefs use Domain Rating.

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“Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and total number of links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.” Moz, 2023

Essentially all include looking at the quality of a site’s backlinks to create a score that reflects a website’s authoritative standing. Domain authority scores don’t affect SERPs – you can see that SERPs often throw up results for low-scoring sites, prioritizing relevance instead.

While site authority doesn’t affect how this site in question appears in SERPs, these metrics help us understand how well-connected your site is compared to another. What does affect your SERP ranking is when you earn a backlink from a highly relevant site. Google’s algorithm PageRank (PR) looks at the relevance, quality, and quantity of links on a page to determine where to position it on the SERPs.


What’s important is that backlinks should come from a valuable source. You don’t necessarily only want to earn backlinks from any site with high domain authority, it’s better they come from relevant pages or terms you’re trying to gain genuine, worthwhile traffic from. 

A link from a niche source might be more valuable than having “empty” links with no anchor text in a viral campaign.

Headshot of Roan Bentley Digital Marketing Manager Turtl

Roan Bentley

Digital Marketing Manager, Turtl

Black hat SEO

You’re aiming to create useful user-driven content and search engines will reward you for that. Never stuff content with keywords – you’ll make your content sound unnatural which ruins the experience for the user.

Don’t be tempted to buy backlinks either, this will only bring low-quality traffic to your site – a pointless exercise. This traffic isn’t interested in your brand and has been swindled to stumble across your content marketing.

Always deliver on your promises and don’t lead people to content they’re not expecting. Titles, CTAs, and links should direct people to what they describe.

Bad practice SEO techniques are called black hat, while the SEO techniques recommended by search engines are called white hat. Wear your white hat proudly.

Getting started with technical SEO

Get to grips with these basics to help you communicate with SEO consultants.

Site architecture

To help bots find and crawl URLs, it’s important to have an easy-to-follow site structure. This means your site’s hierarchy is organized in favor of user experience.

Map out your site’s navigation menus, internal links, web pages, and content to create a  seamless experience for visitors. UX has been cited as the most important feature of a website.

Get started with a Miro Site map template or this one from Figma.


Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is the protocol used to send data between a browser and a website. As the internet grew and more people started sending sensitive information for things like online banking, an encrypted version of HTTP was developed, called HTTPS – the ‘s’ stands for secure. Today, all websites that store sensitive login data should use HTTPS. It’s generally good practice to use it anyway as browsers such as Chrome will flag up non-secure sites in the URL bar.

How to add HTTPS

You’ll need a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or (TLS) Transport Layer Security certificate installed on your website. This is usually supplied by your web hosting provider, often for free as part of your package. If your provider doesn’t, sites like Let’sEncrypt provide security certificates that you can install yourself.

Site speed and Core Web Vitals

People leave sites that don’t load quickly, so optimizing for speed is essential. There are free apps that check site speed and report on Core Web Vitals.

The three Core Web Vitals are:

Choose a speed checker that helps see where you can improve SEO, such as PingdomGoogle or DeBugBear.

Mobile and responsive

Most website tools now have mobile and tablet viewing options, so you can preview how your page looks across devices. Before you hit ‘publish’ check that layout and alignment work across these different size screens. You can also use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool in Google Search Console.

Making pages and images responsive means that they move to fit across various screen sizes and is another essential tip. This improves loading time and user experience.

Schema markup and rich results

Schema is a universal code (in the form of microdata or tags) created collaboratively by big search engines. You use schema markup to add rich data to your content that search engines can easily find to return better (richer) results.

Rich snippets, rich cards, and the knowledge panel are enhanced search results and are ideal to boost your content marketing strategy. For example, a user might ask: ‘cinema near me’ and schema could return a result with a cinema’s opening times, the distance to the venue or even the films currently being shown.

Schema can also display your logo alongside results, or a product or review snapshot. While it doesn’t affect SEO directly, rich snippets do get higher click-through rates and this will help raise your ranking.

How to add Schema

The great thing is that schema is simple microdata and easy to add, although it’s wise to ask a developer to do this.

Check to see if you have schema already, or head to to begin the process. This schema generator creates the code quickly for free.

Language and geolocation

The HTML hreflang tag specifies the language and geolocation of a webpage. When you’re creating different versions of the same page for users in different countries, hreflang helps Google and Yandex serve the page that’s been created for the region intended. Bing largely depends on different attributes and signals although they do stipulate to use it. It’s not the only attribute used to determine which version of a page to deliver and should be used alongside other techniques such as language variants and localized pricing (eg, using US English for US pages, such as ‘truck’ instead of ‘lorry’ and $ instead of £).

Hreflang also helps sidestep the problem of duplicate pages, sending a signal that this is more relevant content than the other versions and preventing confusion over duplicate pages.


This tag tells search engines not to give an editorial vote to the content it’s linked to. Sometimes, search engines suspect you’re practicing black hat SEO and cheating the system by selling or buying links.

For B2B content marketing, always link to valuable content that backs up or furthers your statement. You’ll usually only use a nofollow tag for paid content, unmoderated content (a comment section on a blog page), or any third-party content on your site that you don’t want to endorse.


A redirect sends visitors from one URL to another. Typically, redirects are used when content moves from one page to another or when tidying up broken or outdated links.

There are several types of redirects, and this is something a developer or SEO expert can help you with.

When improving your blog architecture, you might need to redirect pages to suit your new system.

The redirects you might need are:

301 redirect: moves a URL to a new location permanently. People use a 301 redirect when they remove web pages or when a website changes its domain.

302 redirect: tells search engines that the original URL has moved temporarily to a new location. It is commonly used for short-term changes, such as website maintenance or updates.

Canonical redirect: if you find yourself with a lot of pages with very similar content, we’d advise auditing what you have and deciding which to merge, keep or delete. In the meantime, a canonical redirect tells search engines which page to index and show in SERPs, preventing duplicate content issues and confusion around which is the preferred page to index.

404 redirect: is an error message page that’s displayed when links are broken or pages are moved and not redirected properly (so they don’t appear to the user). These are custom pages, so make sure yours shows site visitors what to do if they land on one.

Site maintenance

Broken links, failed redirects, missing images, slow load times and cannibalized pages all affect SEO. Check your website regularly using SEO tools while you’re tracking your keywords and content updates.

Luckily, there are many free or freemium SEO tools for content marketing – all widely used by the best in the business.

The four biggest SEO fails

Want to know what will really mess up your SEO? We asked an expert we’re pretty fond of to share advice. Here are the four biggest SEO fails according to Ben Goodey (if you don’t know Ben, we recommend you follow him on LinkedIn and check out his website).

Migrate a site and forget to 301 redirect the URLs. URLs build value from keywords, backlinks, and other factors, changing them without redirecting is a critical failure for SEO and it happens ALL the time.

Buy spammy backlinks. Google has done work recently reducing spam. So avoid buying backlinks from dodgy dealers.

Delete content just “because”. If an SEO has designed your content structure, there’s probably a reason behind it. Deleting paragraphs you don’t like, or deleting entire blog posts you don’t think fit your current audience, is a drastic move to do without consulting someone.

Remove internal links. Often clients will change the links in their header and footer to suit the visitor of the homepage. They should just be aware that those links do speak to search engines about what content they consider important—and removing them may impact results. Especially, if removing an internal link creates an orphan page, which often happens with product pages.

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