If you look back 10 years, Search Engine Optimization has changed dramatically; for the most part, mechanisms have been put in place making it harder to manipulate, with favor being put on doing SEO honestly – writing good content, linking from relevant, authoritative sites, etc. Don’t take shortcuts or cut corners. To be on top, you need to do things honestly, the right way, and put in the work.
Understanding SEO takes some time, experience, trial and error. There are 100’s if not 1000’s of rules in search engine algorithms, and no one knows the exact formula, as the rules change constantly. To stay ahead and have long lasting results, you need to put in time and effort, deliver real content and good value to your audience. Don’t go blackhat unless you want to be penalized or have short term results.
If you are a business just starting out, taking over competitors that have been in the game years in will take some work. If you are aiming for highly targeted keywords, you would need to aim in creating viral content containing your targeted keywords and dominate your competitor with quality and authoritative links. If the keywords you are targeting are too competitive, you might consider targeting long tail keywords with less competition. You should also piggyback on social media, get bloggers to blog about you, and videos talking about your product or your company. If you are a local business, directories like Google business/maps and Yelp are of great importance. If you have products, get them displayed on various outlets and marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. To get visibility right away, you may need to spend some money on paid ads, promoting your website or videos on social media or Google ads. You would want to give attention to all these areas, and focus on which avenue brings you more business. Always pay attention to linking back to your site, and make sure the sites linking over contain relevant content matching up to your keywords and your business.
If we go back to the beginning of SEO, Google’s PageRank was the original algorithm that the search engine was built upon. More links equalled higher rank. This however, made things easy to manipulate and although links still play an important part, it’s not just about links anymore.
Key SEO points to pay attention to are authority, content, and index age.
With authority, the more authority a website has, the more importance it has in the eyes of search engines, and the more “link juice” it can pass on. Some SEO experts use domain authority, page authority, domain score, and Alexa rank as a metric. These are a non Google metric, and can give some kind of gauge as to how important a site is, however these scores can also be manipulated and should only be given as much value as you feel acceptable.
Relevant content is key to having good SEO post 2017. It’s importance has increased dramatically. Spinning and duplicate content no longer works and in fact can penalize you. You should always provide content that retains and engages visitors. Focus on your target audience and use social media in combination to promote your content. The more engagement, the longer visitors stay your your site, share it, and ultimately give you better SEO rank.
For a new site, domain age is a factor, because typically a new site does not have much content or inbound links, so for that reason it will be more difficult to rank well in the search index. After a few months, site rankings can be based on various SEO factors, so at that point age is no longer such an important issue. Websites that have been around longer than others are given more authority for the most part due to their established credibility on the Internet. This is only accomplished with time.
Other Important SEO Factors
Page speed is important because it can play a big part in user retention. A slow loading page can give a bad experience to your visitor ultimately turning into a bounce visit. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights, Chrome developer tools, Pingdom, GTMetrix, and Varvy to determine areas you can improve on in regards to speed.
Some suggestions for improving page load:
- Use browser or server side caching to enhance website load speeds
- Enable gzip and other compression methods when possible
- Optimize image sizes
- Eliminate 3rd party plugins that add latency to your webpage
- Choose good hosting
- Block erroneous traffic
Use a CDN and Optimized DNS
Utilizing optimized cloud based offerings like Amazon Cloudfront for content delivery and CloudFlare for optimized and secure DNS can be beneficial for speed and security of your website.
Amazon Cloudfront and other CDN services offer media and image hosting in datacenters around the globe to quickly serve content to and from any area of the world. Content delivery networks mirror your content across multiple servers and serve the content from the datacenter closest to that visitor’s location.
CloudFlare optimized DNS can help with security and DNS propagation times. Typical DNS propagation can take days depending on the host. CloudFlare also has built in caching optimizing the delivery of your web pages as well as built in SSL, an added security feature and plus in today’s SEO requirements.
Content is King
An essential to good SEO is having useful content. Provide useful, unspun content that makes sense. Google has mechanisms in place to sniff out bad content, such and bounce rate, duplicate/spun content sniffing, etc. When developing content, always keep in mind if it is something you yourself would like to see/read about. Ensure that your keywords are well written and straight to the point such that the users will not take too long to figure out if the page has what they need; also make your content short and precise. By keeping that in mind, your content will be more engaging and will invite visitors to share.
When writing content, give focus to:
- Engage your visitors
- Create healthy backlinks with relevant inbound and outbound links
- Cite sources
- Make content easy to read
- Add quality images and videos that help retain visitors or add site time
- Utilize healthy keyword usage
- “How to’s” and “What is” type content is favored by Google as well as audiences
- Cater to humans and make content natural and organic while keeping in mind what search engines look for
- Focus on your target audience and use social media in combination to promote your content.
Mobile devices are taking over the world. Nearly 60% of searches are made on mobile devices in 2016, according to searchengineland.com. Websites should be mobile friendly and optimized for mobile devices, another element that gives added weight in search engine algorithms.
User experience helps with visitor retention and helps lower bounce rate. Make your website easy to use and easy to navigate. Provide call to action and engaging elements on your site such as gamification or watching videos. Visual content is more clear and understandable as compared to reading the words. This is because the clients get the actual steps to follow, or rather they get to see the expected results after using that particular service or products. So create videos to attract more people to your page and your products. Ensure your video is long enough and informative to your targeted customers as well. Not only are videos effective for promotion, you can also optimize your videos with keywords for search optimization.
Some more suggestions:
- Provide easy call to actions
- Have an easy site search
- Make navigation easy to use and make things easy to find
- Use breadcrumb navigation
- Categorize content
- Avoid too many pop-ups and annoyances
Engagement is very important especially for retaining visitors. Google looks at site time and bounce rate to determine if information is relevant. Provide useful and engaging content, videos and podcasts that help keep visitors on your website to increase site session times. Add more informative content on what already exists to drive more traffic. Integrate gamification techniques or a reward/badge system to keep visitors coming back.
As with any type of search engine optimization, doing research and optimizing your content for high volume keywords will get you more traffic. Remember that keywords and content should always be relevant and by doing so will increase conversion. It’s not always only about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors.
Optimize your keywords by putting them in the right areas, such as titles, headers, anchor links and organically in your content. Keep in mind Latent-Semantic Indexing (LSI) when arranging keywords. Basically LSI allows Google to see content in different ways. For example “Information Technology Blog” can be said in numerous ways, like “IT Blog” or “Best IT Blog”. Implement keyword variations and make things organic in your content.
Inbound and Outbound links are both important, but they should come to and from relevant sources. Relevant links help with site retention to and from a website.
Quality Over Quantity
As in marketing, it’s better to have one retained quality lead than a million ineffective leads. Same goes for SEO and link building. Go for the highest quality, relevant domains to link to and from your site organically. Market Content by Piggybacking on Trusted Domains
Use trusted domains that are authoritative in their industry like Quora, LinkedIn, etc. to market your content. If your business is product based, display your products and product descriptions on marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. If you have a localized business, make sure to add your listing on directories like Google Places and Yelp. Link back to your website when possible.
Reviews with References from Trusted Sites
Gathering and sharing client testimonials is perhaps the best way to improve your credibility and build a brand that is trusted by the customers. A credible testimonial is a strong proof that your products and services have been tested and provided satisfaction to customers.
A great way to earn trust from customers is to build great reviews and piggyback on popular review sites. Review sites are seen as credible and favored by search engines. They appear higher in Google results and will allow you to create search result visibility for your businesses quickly. Establish rapport with customers, acknowledge their feedback, and offer incentives for leaving reviews. Link references from other trusted websites in your industry to help to build your reputation as being a viable provider of products and services in your niche. Link references from professional associations such as your local Chamber of Commerce, the BBB, Yelp, Angie’s List and others which can also help with sending qualified buyers to your website or physical storefront.
Use Appropriate Placement of Ads
Be careful when using ads. Keep them out of the way and not annoying to visitors. Do not try to trick visitors into clicking. This can negatively impact your site by bouncing visits.
Avoid Blackhat Techniques
Being deceptive by using blackhat techniques like redirecting or cloaking content is a short term solution. If you are serious about long term results, stay away from these methods. In addition, Google will eventually find out what you are up to and penalize you for using such tactics.
Use Social Media and Aim for Viral Results
Social media sharing is an added weight criteria for SEO. It also brings traffic and engagement to your site. To jump start things, you may consider spending some money on paid ads, promoting your website or videos on social media.
If you haven’t already, be sure that you have a business presence on social networking sites and you are managing these pages well. Websites that do not have a presence on social media are less likely to get high organic search engine rankings. Businesses need a comprehensive web presence that goes further than just being found in search engines.
Ask Bloggers to Blog about you
Social influencers can help bring targeted audiences and visitors to your website. Not only can they be relevant to your niche, they can also bring trust to your brand and provide your business or blog additional visibility. Reach out to relevant niche blogs and inquire about a guest post or article about your business or product.
In a nutshell, long lasting search engine optimization in 2018 requires an honest, whitehat approach. The tips and suggestions mentioned should be helpful to get you on the right path. While some of these areas may take some practice and some time to see the results of your diligent work, over time you will see your rankings and traffic increase and be long lasting.