Take your SEO Game to the Next Level in 2018

When it comes to SEO the only thing that is constant is change. Tactics that you used this year or last year may not only have become obsolete, they could even be harming your efforts. 2017 said goodbye to keyword density, took confident steps into the age of semantic search, and moved toward safer and mobile-friendly web. With the new year right around the corner here are five ways to take your SEO game to the next level in 2018.

Mobile

How would you rank the mobile version of your website? When mobile searching overtook desktop searching it was inevitable that Google would expand the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. Many expected that change to happen in 2017, but were instead met with delay notes from Google. It now seems that 2018 is the year mobile-first indexing will take effect with Google ranking websites based on the mobile version of a site rather than the desktop version.

The number one factor that affects user experience on mobile continues to be load time. To help, Google has introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which can load up to 4x faster than the regular mobile pages and improve the user experience with little hints. With 900,000 domains already adopting the AMP framework case studies show that AMP implementation improves click-through rates and bounce rates.

If your mobile site is not fully responsive, and primary content and markup vary across mobile desktop, now is the time to make some changes. Do a side by side evaluation, ensuring that your mobile pages aren’t clumsy and that they provide just as much information as the desktop version.

Voice Search

As the accuracy of voice search recognition rises so do the number of voice search tools. From Siri and Cortana to Google Home and Amazon Echo, internet searching is becoming a hands-free activity.

With more opportunity, and a less frustrating experience, it shouldn’t be a surprise that over 70 percent of respondents to a recent survey said that they had used voice search at least once per month, with nearly half of respondents using voice search weekly or daily. Google has reported that 20 percent of mobile searches are made using voice search, and ComScore predicts that number will rise to 50 percent by 2020.

Voice searches can vary dramatically from text-based searches. Voice searches tend to be longer and more specific with their intent. It’s up to marketers to begin to optimize websites for voice search. These changes should include incorporating long-tail keywords to address the more precise voice searches. Marketers should also use more natural language and conversational tone. Make sure to answer the six Ws of information gathering: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

One way to add pertinent information to a website is by adding an FAQ page. Phrase your questions in the same way your customers would ask them and then provide clear and comprehensive answers.

Link-building

No matter how you feel about link-building there is an abundance of studies and surveys proving backlinks remain one of the major SEO ranking factors and uncovering the direct correlation of sites’ rankings with their backlink profiles. The key is to earn those links the right way.

A big key is to grow your link profile at a natural pace. Create useful and cornerstone content on your website that is worth linking to. Work on establishing relationships within your niche, rather than trying to simply get as many links as possible. If you decide to use paid methods of link building make sure they are legitimate.

You don’t want to waste time using spammy tactics. Google remains strict about unnatural backlink profiles and manipulative link-building methods, so make sure to avoid low-quality and spammy links. Be on the safe side and make regular backlink profile cleanup a part of your routine.

Crawl Budget

SEO efforts usually focus on the user experience but crawl budget optimization is all about making your site appealing to the search engine bots. And it just so happens that what’s good for your crawlability also benefits your searchability.

The biggest thing to remember is to keep your website healthy on the inside, which is your best shot at making Google want to crawl your site more frequently. Make sure that there are no unnecessary redirect chains, as the search engine spiders may give up before reaching the final destination page. You’ll also want to get rid of any broken links.

Keep your sitemap clean. An up-to-date sitemap is a big helper for search engines to discover new content faster. Don’t bury crucial or frequently-updated pages deeper than three clicks away from the homepage. Structured Data Markup is a great way to make your site crawler-friendly and help the search engines understand your content.

Content

When it comes to content quality beats quantity. As Google becomes better at understanding search intent it now relies on topical relevance, context, and other factors to return the results a user expects. That means that content optimization has gone beyond keywords. Focus on creating comprehensive ‘longreads’ and keep them updated, more than producing short pieces of content frequently.

Not to say that keywords don’t matter, as they do. Instead of stuffing, use them in a natural manner and support them with topically relevant context. Unique and helpful content, tailored to your audience needs, will never go out of style.

The future of SEO looks to be a combination of new trends and updated standards. Link building, mobile, voice search, crawl budget, and content are five ways to take your SEO game to the next level in 2018.

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