It’s time to change the way you think about SEO. Whether you’re looking to step up your SEO game this year, or just interested in learning best practices, here’s a list of what you should be doing to win at SEO in 2018.
For years, one of the top ranking factors for SEO has been page content. However, the way Google reads content has advanced to meet users’ needs. In the past, Google would analyze a page to see how many times a specific keyword was used. It would scan for words in title tags, URLs, image ALT text, meta descriptions, as well as within the content of a page. While it’s still important to include relevant keywords in all these aspects, the focus now is less on the keywords themselves and more on the overall effectiveness and usefulness of a page.
Publishing detailed content is the best way to ensure your website is providing the best answer to a user’s search query. New studies have shown that longer page content is more likely to outrank short articles and blog posts. This is due to the fact that longer content gives Google a better opportunity to understand what a page is about and what it should rank for. It’s also helpful for users. If a page provides useful and descriptive information, they are likely to spend more time interacting with the page, which will signal to Google that they find the information relevant. Keep in mind that this does not mean pages should be stuffed with unnecessary content or “fluff” just to add length. Quality will always be more important than quantity.
Google uses RankBrain, an artificial intelligence system, to help sort through live search results and it has been cited as the third most important ranking factor for Google. RankBrain is Google’s way of determining the “best fit” for search queries. The two main factors RankBrain takes into account when delivering search results are; how long users typically spend on a page, dwell time and organic click through rate. With this in mind, tactics should be implemented that will drive users to click through to a page and stay there for a longer span of time. As mentioned in the section above, detailed and unique content is the ideal way to keep users on a page. As for click through rate, optimizing page titles and descriptions to entice people to click will also help with organic search result rankings.
It’s no secret that search engine algorithms are constantly changing. Trying to meet the standards of every single update will eventually have you running in circles. The good news is that all of the algorithm updates are made with one idea in mind, user experience. The best strategy to have, is to design your website to be as user-friendly as possible. This means designing your site with a clear objective in mind and creating a path, or funnel, to drive users through. Navigation should be simple and effortless and content should be relevant and engaging. Give people a reason to visit your site and look around.
Google has been encouraging websites to become mobile friendly for years. In 2017, nearly 60% of search queries were performed on a mobile device. Google anticipated this shift and announced they would be implementing a mobile-first algorithm expected to launch in 2018. This means Google will begin using mobile versions of sites as the primary way to rank a website’s pages. For most, this will not have a huge impact, but for those who have not adapted a mobile friendly site it could have major repercussions. To take advantage of the shift to mobile, make sure your mobile and desktop sites are cohesive and translate properly.
SEO is a long term strategy. It’s important to keep in mind that it can take up to six months to see results. However, consistently monitoring performance and making changes that improve user experience will help you grow your organic presence and drive new users to your site.
Interested in optimizing your website? Contact our Google Certified marketing team today!