What’s Working in SEO in 2018
Tthe old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” has led many a site owner down a long painful path of watching their traffic dry-up because of this inactive mindset. In contrast, when it comes to anything dependent upon Google Search, a better mantra would be “Pay attention…it’s gonna change soon!”
Already in 2018, there has been a lot of talk about SEO trends like image & video search, machine learning, voice search (Hey Google!) and hyper-local search. These are exciting topics for bloggers but the truth is that they don’t affect 99% of website owners today. Our clients are not asking about geeky SEO tricks, they’re wanting to know what REALLY works and will have a tangible impact on their business.
Here’s how we answer them.
Website Health Still Matters
On-site SEO will never entirely go by the wayside. While we can all agree that the importance of description tags has changed over the years, site owners will always need to pay attention to the health of their website from Google’s perspective. You’re going to have to keep a close eye on things like site security. Do you see the “Secure” lock symbol in Chrome? You will need to. Does your site utilize Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to deliver your pages to your mobile users faster? It should. These are the kinds of tasks that won’t propel your site to #1 in Google, but if you ignore them, they will keep your site from reaching your SEO effort’s full potential.
Structure Your Data for Local Search Success
The Google Knowledge Graph has become the talk of the town among local search optimizers in recent years. You’ve seen the Knowledge Graph in your searches: it’s the box on the right side of the search results that presents essential information in a consistent format. When you use structured data on your website, Google (and other search engines) can more easily identify and display information about your business. Things like your address, telephone number, hours of operation and type of business are just a sampling of the kinds of information that Google is looking to display on the knowledge graph. Using structured data vastly improves click-through rate, too. Some references have stated that showing up in the knowledge graph can enhance click-through rates by as much as 80%.
Take Advantage of Smart Backlinking
When it comes to SEO, backlinks will always matter because the Internet is a dynamic matrix of linked content. In the not-to-distant past, Google placed a ton of weight on the quantity of backlinks. This led to abuse with search engine black-hats manipulating rankings by purchasing thousands of links from sources all over the world. Google wised up pretty quickly and adjusted their algorithms placing more weight on the quality of the links. For 2018, you want to make sure that you’re creating “smart” backlinks. This means that you’re only obtaining inbound links from high-quality (high-authority) websites and, perhaps more importantly, growing your links slowly. We recommend this approach because it looks natural to Google and reduces the risk of getting your site penalized.
Never Forget that Content is King
The secret of SEO is that there are no secrets. Google seeks to bring the worlds web content to its users as quickly and efficiently as possible. Google bots scour your website pages indexing every byte of code to gain an understanding of your website’s message. The more you “say” to Google, the better it will “understand” and be able to align it with search results. Before you go and create a 500-page website, there’s more to understand. Google also measures visitor behavior on your site. If your visitors don’t stick around, Google will conclude that your site is not saying the right thing to the right person and adjust your rankings proportionally. The takeaway here is that you need to have ENGAGING content. Video, info-graphics, quizzes, polls, and blog posts are all proven content types that keep visitors engaged and will convince Google that your website is a site worth offering to their users.
If promoting a business online were a walk in the park, everyone would be doing it successfully. Unfortunately, gaining FREE traffic from Google through improving your company’s search rankings requires a smart strategy and good execution. It also demands patience and technical knowledge. Many site owners have the time, know-how and patience to achieve great rankings. If you’re one of those that don’t have that luxury, we might be able to help. Contact us here to set up a call with one of our marketing consultants today.