Search Engine Optimization has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing, hiding text on your site with same color as your background, paying for spammy back-links, and writing for robots. Google has seen to that by way of their algorithms updates.
First and foremost, quality content. Lots of it. Google is all about “organic” growth and rich user experience. The Internet has become a noisy place and it gets noisier everyday.
Just creating a static website with a few pages on it that never gets updated is a sure way to get lost in the fold. Conversely, writing for the Google Bots is also a sure way not to get noticed.
A good rule of thumb is that any post or page on your website should have 300 – 1000 words, two to three pictures, and a video if you’ve got it. The words must be written naturally, for humans and not search engine bots. If you follow this one rule and disregard all others, chances are you’re website will start ranking well if you regularly update your content. If you are trying to outrank national competitors, you can about double the requirements for your content. Start thinking posts/pages of 2000+ words, 6 to 10 images (all optimized of course) and targeted for keywords which you know actually get search traffic.
Page load speeds must also be considered, as the more content you pack onto a page, the more time it can take to load. If your pages are taking more than three seconds to load, that’s a problem and needs to be addressed. You can run your site through tools like:
to get an idea of how fast your website pages are loading. The two most common causes for slow page load speeds are hosting and non-optimized images. There can be many other causes, but addressing those two factors will almost always improve page loads to within acceptable times.
This is another topic which is becoming more and more important for SEO in 2018. The way your site is structured affects User Experience (UX) and also affects how Google is able to interpret your site. This is becoming a bigger part of SEO as User Experience is a ranking factor. Some examples of site structure considerations are:
Your site should be easy to use, easy for people to navigate, and also understandable to Google. Your pages shouldn’t compete with each other for rankings. Categories, Tags, and other taxonomies should be used to properly organize everything. Having a site with lots of high quality content and also a strong site structure is a sure fire way to start ranking well in search engines.
Good old back-links right? Having a strong back-link profile is as important as ever. Without some authoritative domains pointing back to your website, it’s hard to raise your own domain’s trust profile and thus start appearing in more search results.
DO NOT PAY FOR BACK-LINKS
Paying for spammy low quality back links to your website is how you disappear from search engine results altogether. You may realize a short term benefit, but it will be followed by long term pain.
There is one situation where paying for a back link can be beneficial. If you join local trusted organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, or other business related entities, those can be very beneficial for your back link profile. The more trusted business domains start pointing back to your website, the higher your domain authority will become and Google will start featuring your site in their search results more often.
This is one of the hardest things to do for your website SEO, but also one of the most beneficial. Long story short, if you want quality back links, give people something to link to! People will share and link to your content if it makes them look good, smart, or adds value to their users somehow. If your website is an encyclopedia of knowledge about your industry, people will want to link to your content. However, just pumping out that content is not enough; you need to promote too! (Yes, this is hard work)! If you can consistently produce high quality, relevant content, then promote that content on social media and by directly sending it to local and national influencers, your website will start to sky rocket in the search rankings. Conversely, if there’s nothing to link to on your website (just a home page and a couple service pages) don’t expect a lot of people to link to you (or care about your site).
One more strategy for seo in 2018 that many website owners should put some solid effort into is compiling as many great online reviews as they can. Online reviews serve more than one purpose. First, they provide social proof which is one of the most important factors that people use when making a purchasing decision. The value of good social proof is hard to over-estimate. (Think about when you’re about to purchase something, you go on Amazon and read some reviews about it, if it turns out to be a one-star item, you’re probably going to rethink that purchase, your brand is no different). Secondly, they can help with SEO. The more places linking back to your website with positive reviews, the more search engines start to understand that you’re a legitimate business and one people should be paying attention to! Bonus points if you can get your reviewers to use search engine friendly terms in their review (such as, “this is the best seafood restaurant on Cape Cod”).
One word of caution, Google wants everything to be “organic,” if you’ve had a business website up for 10 years and never received a single online review, then all of a sudden, overnight, you suddenly receive 50 five star reviews, Google is going to know something’s up. They’re going to think that you’re soliciting reviews (the opposite of organic) and may penalize you. So the strategy here is getting these reviews to trickle in naturally. Go for one or two a week and keep them coming, they will only help your business grow.