Posted by Cameron Francis
The search engine marketing area is a highly dynamic one, and businesses are being forced to create new strategies every year. Google is forever changing its algorithms based on the changing significance of ranking factors. Creating an effective SEO strategy for 2018 is all about looking into the key things that matter in SEO. When you understand and harness these things, you will start to see your site rank well. Read below to find out how you can create an effective SEO strategy.
Recently, it was revealed that the most important factors Google uses to determine rankings are the content, backlinks and RankBrain. Our strategy will start by looking at these briefly and see how you can optimise your site based on these factors.
READ MORE: Introduction to SEO for Accountants
Content is king. You have probably come across this phrase before and indeed; content is arguably Google’s most important ranking factor. However, playing around with content has become harder as Google does not only call for good content. There has been an increased concern for high-quality content that explains the topic being talked about broadly. Coming up with such content can be reduced to two factors which are the length and context. Your posts should be long, above 1500 words since it is known one cannot cover an important topic in less than about 1,500 words. Thus there is a strong connection between the length of your posts and the rankings. The shorter articles that are stuffed with keywords no longer rank highly as the context is now more critical. Google searches for the main keyword as well as the all the LSI associated with it. It is increasingly difficult to include all of these things in a 400-word piece.
When creating your content, you need to include the secondary and tertiary keywords. You can find these at the bottom of the search engine results page when you type in a particular keyword. Keyword research is essential as it guides the content you create and you should do it diligently, lest you waste your time creating posts for the wrong keywords.
The debate about the impact of backlinks on your rankings has been an ongoing one, and you should not ignore it. In the past, the more backlinks you got, the better you ranked, but Google now looks at more than that. You need to ensure that you generate quality backlinks to your site. While on the quality issue, try and focus on the relevance as well as the domain authority of a site you are linking to. If you run a business that promotes internet marketing services for example, try and get backlinks from sites within the same niche rather than millions of links from more general sites. Relevant backlinks will show Google that you are an authority in that area and this will improve your rankings.
Back in 2015, RankBrain was tossed into the fray, and it has greatly changed the way rankings are done. This is an artificial intelligence programme that helps Google to process search queries. It does this by recording and measuring the way people respond to search results and adjusts the rankings accordingly. For instance, assuming that you search for the best lead generation tips on Google and find an article that has everything you wanted and even leave the tab open for future reference. After some time you come back and search for the same thing but click on another article that isn’t as good. Normally, you will close that tab and try to find the initial one you were using.
RankBrain focuses on the average time spent on a page and the click-through rate before adjusting the rankings. In the case above, it will increase the rankings of the first article and reduce that of the second one if several such instances are noticed. The time people spend on your site is dependant on your content, so as we have discussed already, quality content is super important. If you want to optimise your website for it to have high click-through rates, you need to optimise the metadata and clearly outline the solutions required by users on the text that appears on the SERP. Keep your titles direct and catchy so that people will want to find out more about what you are offering and as a result, your CTR will increase.
When creating your SEO strategy, ensure that the UX of your site is the best it can be. This is determined by three things which are the speed of your website, mobile optimisation and mobile proof. Internet users are impatient, and you need to make it load fast so that users do not bounce off from your website. You can improve your site speed by compressing some of the files, optimising your code, optimising your servers by allowing browsers to cache some data.
Google has already moved to a mobile-first index, and now they put a strong emphasis on the performance of the mobile version of your site when determining rankings. It’s critical to ensure that your site is optimised to sense the screen resolution of the device one is using and let it adjust to fit the screen size so that users can clearly see all the content.
Lastly, social proof can be seen from the comments section of your site. Google expects to see people engaging with your content and sharing the posts on various platforms. Do not make the mistake of switching off your comments and make sure that all your social profiles are accessible.
In 2018, security has become an important factor as more business transactions are taking place on the web. You can make your site secure by purchasing an SSL certificate from your host. This certificate will not cost you a lot of money, but it will boost your rankings as well.
It is a surprise to see this appear here because a Google employee says that social signals do not affect search rankings. While this might be true, social media affects several ranking factors, and it should be part of your overall strategy. Having a massive following on social media will result in more people clicking on your site, and this should increase your rankings. It gives you the chance to build your name as an authority and encourage more people to follow your recommendations.
Creating an effective SEO strategy involves looking into some of the aspects we have discussed in this article, and they are arranged in order of how important they are. Last but not least, do not forget to work on your on-page optimisation as it still has an impact. Your site should be well structured as all your marketing efforts start from here. You can do everything mentioned above but when someone clicks on your site and finds that it is disorganised, they won’t probably stick around, which will render all your previous efforts useless.