The world of SEO is notoriously dynamic—tactics that work well one week may be punished by new algorithms the next week. White-on-white text was once an easy way to game Google’s search engines, but now that tactic or similar attempts at deception can tank your page rankings. Even white hat, user-focused SEO techniques can fluctuate in efficacy as search platforms change and less ethical sites try to game the system. This is why it’s essential to keep your SEO techniques up-to-date as we start a new year.
Here are a few tips for staying near the top of search engine rankings in 2018.
#1 Prioritize User Experience
This has always been and will always be an essential principle for any successful SEO practice. Search engines evolve continuously with the constant goal of improving user experience. If your website is impractical, or difficult to use, or aesthetically unappealing, or offers no quality content, no number of SEO tricks will do it any good in the long run. Search engines will eventually learn to tune you out.
So is it still worth it to invest in SEO? Absolutely. Many, many websites provide high-quality user experiences, and SEO can be the key to standing out in this pool of quality pages. And many SEO tips and tricks increase your website’s user experience quality while simultaneously improving your ranking in search engine algorithms. In this sense, SEO isn’t a technical challenge—it’s a customer service opportunity.
#2 Get Featured
Google and other search platforms are increasingly more focused on providing answers themselves, rather than a list of links for websurfers to click through. This means that searchers will often see information pulled from the top search result on the actual results page.
The rise of Google-featured-content has provided its own challenges for SEO practitioners. Backlinko points out that click-through rates have actually decreased 37% since 2015 because featured content provides click-free answers.
But if you’re the lucky page providing featured content, your click-through rate could go up. The Content Marketing Institute reports that being featured as a snippet or answer can increase traffic by up to 30%, and revenue from organic traffic up to 677%.
Google claims that their algorithm for determining snippets doesn’t depend on any specific code or markup, but the Content Marketing Institute suggests that phrasing headings as questions while providing clear answers in your content will help you get featured.
Search Engine Watch reports that Google anticipates over half of its queries coming from voice search by 2020.
When search engines—or home assistants—read out voice search results, they provide one answer rather than a list, and that one answer will often come from a featured snippet. In a world where mobile devices and voice searches are drastically reducing individuals’ screen exposure as they perform searches, providing a voice assistant answer can be a crucial SEO boost.
Search Engine Watch advocates providing high-quality content in a conversational tone to increase the chance of your page getting featured.
#3 Hire a Pro
The SEO world is huge and complex, and staying on top of it can feel overwhelming. It can be a time-consuming process. Search Engine Watch reports that initial optimization can take 10 to 40 hours, maintenance, monitoring and troubleshooting can take 3 to 12 hours per week, and generating content can take 3 to 50 hours per week. When you started your business, you probably wanted to spend time working with goods and services that you loved and knew like the back of your hand.
You probably didn’t envision spending hours and hours on website optimization. Because search algorithms change so constantly, it can be frustrating to constantly stay on top of the SEO landscape in addition to staying knowledgeable and nimble in your own changing industry.
That’s why so many companies work with SEO firms and consultants. 180fusion is one of the best SEO firms out there right now, offering services—and budgets—for everyone from huge enterprises to mom-and-pop shops. Their specialists are devoted to adaptive SEO. This means that you’ll get the benefit of their expertise without having to give yourself a SEO crash course. They’ll still work with you to find a strategy that best meets your business’s unique needs and that reaches your ideal customers.
Their services include local search optimization, social media management, video optimization, and many other essential digital marketing tools.
If your business is going to properly use SEO to boost its profile, then you’re going to have to be quick on your feet, learning and adapting constantly as the SEO and wider technology landscape constantly shifts. But with professional curiosity and the assistance of trained SEO specialists, your business can leverage SEO trends to come out on top in 2018 and beyond.
How will your business implement SEO strategies in 2018?Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.