Here at iocea we believe that SEO in 2018 will be a major part of any online marketing strategy. Below are our top ten tips for improving both your SEO and your online visibility.
It has long been a staple of an SEO strategy to prioritise quality backlinks. Links means a website is reputable and no links mean a site is untrustworthy. However, this may no longer be the case. With new developments in Googles algorithm, this means that linkless mentions on your website could be just as valuable as backlinks to your website.
It would be naïve to think of the internet as a web of pages and links. It is a complex ecosystem of implied mentions and conversation. This means that unlinked brand mentions and the context they are said is now understood by Google and they use this information to rank your website.
Googles Panda patent has mentioned “implied links” and during a keynote speech a spokesperson for Google said, “If you publish high-quality content that is highly cited on the internet – and I’m not just talking about just links but also mentions”. Therefore, your brand’s reputation on social media could severely affect your SEO in 2018.
Although this technology has been present on our smart devices for a while, the data from Google and Amazon is still yet to be released.
However, this does not mean that we should not do anything to optimise for voice search on Google and Bing to futureproof our SEO.
Featured Snippets have become hot property on Google. This is the piece of text that gets read to a Google Home user when a query is made. Currently being read aloud by Google Home is reserved for the website in position zero and that has been granted a featured snippet. The pay off for the website that is being used is that the website is cited in the Google Home App on the user’s phone. As marketers, this means that we can begin to consider how best to answer searches that use natural language. Being credited by Google for having the best answer would be a massive boost for your company in terms of brand recognition and awareness.
2018 could see the beginning of a big change in how Google ranks results. It is easy when looking through your website for possible SEO to almost forget that most searches are on mobile.
This cannot go ignored for much longer. Google has indicated that they will begin to rank both mobile and desktop search results according to how optimised your website is for mobile. So, what must a website include to be deemed suitable for mobile? Arguably the most important factor is whether you have a responsive design that can fit different size screens. Static websites will get left behind as Google is prioritising the mobile experience. Marketers and web developers must begin to rigorously test their websites on multiple devices and browsers to ensure they don’t get left behind.
Engaging content that is optimised for mobiles will be an important factor. Images, GIFs and videos all help to retain user’s attention keeping them on your website. Shorter article titles must also be a staple as you only have 5 seconds to capture a reader’s imagination and you do not want to waste precious time on a long title.
The prospect of machines teaching themselves is always a scary one for me. The mention of the letters “AI” trigger a deep thought of how all our jobs will become obsolete in the future. However, these thoughts are always followed by the quick realisation that the risk of that happening, in my lifetime at least, is very low.
Google has introduced their latest deep thought trigger in the form of RankBrain. In simple terms, RankBrain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system. “What is machine-learning?” I hear you scream as you reach for you robot killing device. Well to put your mind at rest machine learning is the process of a machine teaching itself how best to complete a task. RankBrain is part of Google’s arsenal when it comes to producing search results and has become a vital player.
Google has announced that RankBrain is “The third-most important signal” when it comes to search rankings. The role of this new AI system is to connect complex search queries to simpler ones. In 2013 Google announced that the percentage of queries that have never been searched before was down to 15%. However, this is still a big number of searches. RankBrain is a tool that is to help with previously never seen before searches and to produce an answer.
It has always been quite annoying when we have taken the time to click on a link only for a pop up add to cover the whole screen before the content loads. Well, now Google is going to be cracking down on this marketing scheme.
That is not to say that all pop-ups are bad and will be punished by Google. Only pop-ups that are intrusive. So, which are the types that will be punished:
• Pop-ups that cover the content trying to be accessed by the user
• Screen-filling pop-ups that completely block the webpage trying to be used
• Content that is being hidden by a pop-up
A spokesperson for Google has said that “pages, where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results, may not rank as highly.”- Search Engine Land
This means that marketers should be wary of using any interstitials in the design of a website as it may harm their SEO in 2018.
It is no mystery that Google is trying to answer searches themselves without the user clicking any links. Featured Snippets, Ads and suggestions are all causing click through rates amongst all types of websites to be reduced. This only looks to increase as Google develops new ways to display quick answers using their RankBrain technology
This means that the link to your website now needs to look even more inviting to a searcher than before. Meta descriptions and dates published need to be well written and updated frequently to still look appealing to a searcher.
Another aspect of SEO in 2018 that may need rethinking is the use of keywords. In the beginning, Google would rank your page on how relevant it is to the search according to how many times your website included the keywords being searched for.
Then the Google spider will check that keyword is included in the:
• Title tag
• Image ALT text
• Description tag
• H1 tag
These are still very important ranking factors. It is no longer what you’ve written but more how you have written it these days. Context will play a massive factor in how Google understands you present your readers with information. This is because Google wants to present their users with the best possible answer and quite often this is not a keyword stuffed piece of content.
It has been theorised that if you cover an entire topic and provide the reader with all the knowledge they need then your website will be higher in the ranks. So how do we achieve better ranking by improving our content? Well for a start you could make it longer. Content that is above 2000 words will have achieved better ranking according to Backlinko. This does not mean just waffle on but see if you can go into any more detail. Secondly, LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords) need to be included. These are related searches that a user may also type in to find the same result. If Google sees that not only is your content including the right keyword but also includes related keywords, then you are deemed to be in possession of comprehensive content.
Since their introduction on the Google search page, featured snippets have confused marketers as they try to unpick how they get their content included.
Not all featured snippets include information from websites as Google will try to answer queries using their own data. If you search “population of the United Kingdom” Google will answer this query citing a source but not providing an explicit link to it.
More complex queries require Google to look to other sources for information and this is where the opportunity for your content to be used for the featured snippet lies. Confluentforms.com saw an increase in traffic of 20% – 30% when they held a featured snippet on the featured page. This is a strong indication that we may have to consider how our content can become a featured snippet. Little is known about how to achieve these goals, but the consensus is that you must provide the most comprehensive content to the user’s query.
It is no secret that video content is the most popular source of information on the internet. Cisco has predicted that by 2021 video will make up 80% of all web traffic.
This means to get ahead in the future video content must be a key component for your online marketing strategy. With the biggest provider of video content being YouTube, the platform demands your attention when considering video content. The second largest search engine in the world (YouTube) is now owned by Google so it is a reasonable assumption that Google would prefer this content over competitors such as Vimeo and Daily Motion.
Local SEO in 2018
If your business also relies on walk-in business, then it is important that you consider your business listing online. With Bing pushing their BingPlaces to rival Googles My Business, the market for Local SEO in 2018 is becoming busy.
Both platforms provide an opportunity to list your business for their respective maps and local search results. Within the features, your information such as opening/closing times and contact details can be included. These are displayed when a local search like “closest Bakery” is performed and if your rival has set up business listings and you have not, they will be more visible on the search page. This will subsequently drive your potential traffic towards them increasing their walk-in business as well.