Happy 2018! As with every new year, new goals come to the fore and for most small business owners improving brand awareness, online marketing efforts and increasing profits are all on their resolution list.
Given that we live in a digital world, ranking higher up in search results can help to achieve all the aforementioned business objectives. Essentially, the higher up you rank in Google results, the more likely your brand will be seen, and thus the more traffic you’ll get to your website and in turn, hopefully an improved bottom line. But this all begins with making sure you are keeping Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind.
As with all things, as time passes the rules also change and SEO is no different. Gone are the days of stuffing keywords into your webpages or buying links from link farms. Search engine algorithms continue to improve, getting smarter as AI advances and lessons are learned. So what SEO techniques are still relevant in 2018? What will help move your website higher up the search result ranks? Well, let’s get started:
Write as You’d Speak
For anyone who’s ever dabbled in SEO you’ve heard about ‘keywords’. In the olden days, you’d find websites that would reiterate over and over again the same keywords in an effort to rank better for whatever term they were targeting. But gone are the days of stuffing your website with keywords as Google views this as spammy and well, their mission is to provide users with the most relevant answers to their questions and the best experience.
That said, algorithms can now detect when you’re being spammy with in-your-face repetition of keywords again and again. So! While you are crafting copy and verbiage for your website you should be thinking first and foremost of your audience, not computers! What you write should include all the necessary information that your ideal audience is looking for and as such, the words you choose to use will naturally include keywords, synonyms, and phrases associated with the topic you are addressing.
Interestingly, people are changing the way they search and you can benefit from this by again, writing as you’d naturally speak. This means full sentences, questions, and long tail keywords. People are searching less with disconnected individual words like “Beyonce husband” and are more likely to type in a full question instead like, “Who is Beyonce’s husband?”. (Jay Z, obvs – but just making a point here.) Keeping this in mind, consider crafting content that uses a more conversational tone that matches the way people are phrasing their questions to search engines.
Additionally, you can craft content in a Q & A format to really target and address those potential clients of yours who are seeking information you may specialize in. Anticipate the queries prospective clients would search for and then create the content that will help them. Remember to create URLs that Google can understand and index accordingly, instead of just having a mismatch of letters and numbers in your URLs.
But First, Are You Mobile?
If your website is not mobile responsive, you need to contact a web developer ASAP and start thinking about what you want your new mobile friendly web design to look like. It’ll be fun! The fact is mobile web traffic continues to rise, beating out desktop use with more people searching on the go via their smartphone or tablet devices.
Thus, Google announced Mobile-first indexing a few years back now, stating “our algorithms will…primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site”. This means, web pages with responsive designs will be indexed higher by search bots and thus, websites that are mobile-friendly will rank higher up.
Not only is it a matter of being in Google’s good graces, but having a mobile responsive web design makes for a better user experience for your prospective customers and clients. They shouldn’t have to struggle to find your phone number and pinch, double tap and all kinds of things to call you – they should be able to do it easily with one click. That’s what getting a responsive web design can do for your business.
Spread the Word
The more citations you have on the net, the better your website will rank in search results. This means, links that take web users back to your website. Links resemble votes in your favor, lending credibility to your website and in turn, making Google look favourably on you. That’s why – in the olden days, there were link building schemes and farms where you could pay to buy links but doing this kind of thing now, will get you penalized. In fact, it can get you gone from search results.
Spreading the word about your website, is a matter of maintaining active social profiles where applicable. Search engines now take into consideration mentions of your brand by users on social channels and of course online review sites.
Think about developing an online review acquisition strategy to help with your local SEO efforts. And more importantly, make what you have to say – so good – that people want to share it.