These days, clinching the top spot on the search engine results page (SERP) is tougher than ever. Add the challenge of competing against dozens of other websites to the complexity of ever-changing search algorithms, and you’ve got a real challenge on your plate.
To put it simply, continuously updating and improving your SEO strategy protects your company from wasting money (unless wasting money is exactly what you’re going for—then by all means, go ahead and implement those techniques from 2015—we won’t judge). But if safeguarding your climb towards the top of the SERPs in 2018 is your goal, read on. The following updated SEO techniques are for you.
Focus on organic search rankings
We get it, going for sponsored placements on SERPs is understandably a tempting prospect. However, while this can be a great way to jumpstart your SEO campaign, you should avoid relying on it too much.
A study by eMarketer estimates that 3 out of 10 web users will be employing ad blockers by the end of 2018. This means more and more people will be able to disable tracking, skip ads, and tailor their social media feed to minimize exposure to sponsored content.
This merely stresses how important it is to secure great organic search rankings for your website, instead of banking chiefly on ads. Shift your focus and implement the following steps to get you up and running:
- Provide quality content. Your content shouldn’t only contain strong keywords that are backed up by research. More importantly, it should be relevant, helpful, and meaningful. Don’t forget to use strong keywords on your links, too.
- Take advantage of data tracking and analytics. No surprise here—these tools exist for a reason. Make sure to constantly keep track of your results and build on them as needed.
- Optimize according to search intent. Determine likely search phrases and queries and take them into account when planning out content.
- Run a multichannel SEO plan. When you work on improving SEO along multiple channels, they will all work together to help you get the results you want faster.
- Never neglect mobile users. The fraction of web users accessing the web primarily through their mobile phones has been increasing over the past few years. Optimize your website to ensure that it’s responsive and mobile-friendly.
- Be active on social media. Incorporate social media activity into your repertoire of strategies. Having an active and engaged audience on social media channels can do wonders for your SEO campaign.
Prepare for the emergence of “Internet of Things”
If you haven’t heard of Internet of Things (IoT), it’s simply the network of interconnected devices that have been embedded with software, sensors, and connectivity—such as home appliances and smart helpers (Amazon Alexa, anyone?), smartwatches, built-in automobile sensors, and the like.
IoT is expected to advance even more in the immediate future. And with Google moving more and more towards mobile-first indexing (where webpages are ranked according to how they look in—you guessed it—mobile devices), skimping on SEO practices for these non-desktop devices is tantamount to asking for trouble.
Aside from taking advantage of Google’s mobile-friendly test, we recommend the following steps to improve mobile and IoT reach:
- Link-building. Well, this one’s a classic. Building quality links is a universally-important strategy that’ll also help you advance in mobile-first indexing. Do you know where your links are coming from?
- Write shareable and dynamic content. Forget about racking up hundreds upon hundreds of words. In today’s digital world, conversational content coupled with multimedia elements like photos and videos will help expand your reach.
- Remember: crucial information first! Ever heard of the inverted pyramid rule? The most important pieces of information should be placed at the beginning of your content—all for the sake of audience retention and engagement.
- Bank on strong metadata keywords and campaign tracking. Pretty self-explanatory, wouldn’t you agree? These days, analysing click-through rates and engagement is easier than ever. There’s really no reason not to take advantage of it.
Trust is in, spam is out
Nobody likes spam and it simply doesn’t work anymore. If this isn’t obvious enough for you, well, where have you been the past few years? Just kidding. Seriously though, more and more online platforms are enforcing stricter anti-spam policies—like Google’s classic move to penalize duplicate content and Twitter prohibiting identical tweets on multiple accounts.
Google places special importance to valuable and relevant material in order to ensure that searchers are given the content they want—and you should, too. Win the trust of search engines (and your audience’s, of course) through the principles:
- Well-researched content is key. Have you experienced clicking on a link only to find out that it didn’t contain the information that was promised? Huge bummer, right? Misleading, click-baiting, and feeding your audience with irrelevant content is a sure-fire ticket to eventual failure.
- Reach out to your audience consistently—without spamming, obviously. Aim to build a connection by establishing your presence in a slow yet sure way. Engage your audience through regular press releases that employ an organic way of telling your company’s story.
- Be authentic. Brand awareness based on authenticity usually leads to better results. Demonstrate your company’s value without relying on false pretences.
Keep tabs on updates that can potentially affect your SEO campaign. These days, it seems to be mostly about prioritizing quality over quantity; so for now, make sure you have the following requirements taken care of:
- Secure HTTPS encryption. Getting marked as not secure is equivalent to lost opportunity.
- Customize content to cater to voice-activated searches. If you’re not in the position to rank first on SERPs just yet, getting voice-activated searches to deliver your content is a worthwhile strategy that you can build on.
- Don’t skip call-to-action. This is great way to improve engagement and build your audience database. It’s simple to implement, too!
- Don’t forget about the format. Search engines don’t just evaluate content. They care about how well you format your pages, as well. See to it that your website’s material is presented in a clear, readable, and easy-to-navigate way.
Google and co. continually roll out improvements on their algorithms, so it’s essential for you to be on your toes. To be fair, you did read this article describing updated SEO techniques—so we can assume that you’re off to a great start. Hurrah!