Search engine optimization has been the primary tool at the hand of online content marketers. The better your strategy, the higher the search engine ranks your page. The battle for higher ranking is motivated by the notion that customers will click on your site first before scrolling down to other search query results. It has also been assumed as a sign of superior quality. However, for reason outline below, you may need a complete overhaul of your SEO strategy.
Why you need to update your SEO strateg
When the concept of SEO began nearly two and a half decades ago, the process was as simple as pilling keywords and a load of backlinks on the content. However, this strategy no longer works and if it still does for some unscrupulous marketers, it soon will not. Here are some of the reasons why digital marketing will require a more advanced best practice SEO strategy to succeed 2018
1. Evolution of Search Engine
The main reason for the evolution of search engines was the need to root out uncouth players. Such players undermine user experience by manipulating the results to earn higher rankings for their low-quality content. Search engine evolution began with the blacklisting of black hat SEO strategies. Over time, they have refined their algorithms to near-perfection. The process will become more intense in the coming year as the search engines strive to aid in the fight against fake news and other contents of mediocre quality.
The effect of evolving search engines is more evident with the giant search champion, Google than others. According to the founder and president of inSegment, a digital marketing agency, Alexander Kesler there have been numerous changes in Google, and the changes are coming on fast. He points out RankBrain as one such technology that has transformed the digital marketing arena.
What is RankBrain?
RankBrain is an algorithm that utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning to rank websites. It takes into consideration the number and rate of bounces from a webpage. If most people click on it and leave as soon as they enter, RankBrain marks the site as having low-quality r irrelevant content. With this technology, dubious SEO strategy will get you to the top but cannot keep you there long enough.
2. Customer-centered content
The development of RankBrain brought a new perspective to SEO marketing. It is no longer the ranking that only matters but also the relevance of the content to the people who initiate the search queries. The quest for customer-centered content is bound to increase in 2018 going forth.
3. Development of nontraditional search engines
There has also been a rise in the use of nonconventional search engines such as Amazon, Google Maps, Facebook, and other social networks with search bars. Tech-oriented users also give verbal commands to virtual assistants that search the internet on their behalf.
How to update your SEO strategy for 2018
There are numerous best practice marketing strategies which SEO marketers can implement in 2018 to help sell their brand. Below are tips on how to develop a plan that will not only earn higher rankings but also attract your targeted consumer segment.
a. Knowing the search engine that matters
The first step in creating a successful SEO marketing plan is to know which search engine matters. William Richards points out that Google remains the most significant player. Richards is the founder and CEO of a URL redirection service firm, EasyRedir. The company focuses on helping organizations with their SEO strategy and brand marketing.
The observation of William Richards is confirmed with facts from NetMarketShare. They indicate that over 78% of all the desktop and 95% mobile devices search queries in January 2017 were through Google. Bing, Baidu, and Yahoo had 7.8%, 7.7%, and 5.1% respectively. Other engines such as Ask, AOL and Excite shared the remaining percentage.
It is clear that no SEO strategy will bring worthwhile success if its design is not based on an understanding of Google’s algorithms.
b. Understanding why people use nontraditional search engines
It is understood that people have come to find answers to their questions through other search services other than search engines. A traveler is more likely to depend on Yelp for a restaurant recommendation than Google or simply check out reviews on Amazon about different “Coffee Makers”. It is therefore essential to understand what drives people to use these alternative search services.
Collin Colburn, an analyst at Forrester, points out that there are two types of discoveries that make people use these alternatives. The first one is an intent-based discovery. In such cases, consumers search for their intended product on any relevant site besides Google. It is the easiest form of discovery to handle. All you need to do is apply the SEO best practices you employed in Google to improve your product listings on this service.
Serendipitous discovery, as Collin Colburn calls it, is the second type. It is where a person bumps on information he did not know existed and uses it to make purchase decisions. For example, when you see a beautiful picture a friend took in a restaurant during a vacation to Hawaii and based on the picture alone, you choose to visit the hotel on your next trip to the island.
Colin points out that the second type of discovery is slowly eroding traffic from search engines. Unfortunately, as he notes, SEO marketers cannot control it. Nevertheless, understanding the channels that influence your customers’ decision will help you fine-tune your strategy. A proper data management platform is the best starting point.
c. High-quality content
Even though the catchphrase “Content is King” has become a boring cliché, it is still true. Quality content will always be vital to the success of any SEO strategy in 2018. Unfortunately, there is neither a shortcut nor magic formula for quality content. Search engines do not help much either with this problem; they do not care whether your content is 2000 words or just 300 words, whether you add graphics or not, all they check is whether it is consumed.
The definition of quality content, therefore, remains at the discretion of the organization. However, there are still markers that show if the content is meeting its objective; attracting the right audience. If it is a video for example, do people watch it to the very end or click out as soon as it reaches the 20th second?
The burden of creating a quality content lies with the organization. You should sit back and consider the type of material that might interest your target market. The best way to achieve this is by creating different customer personas. After which, you should strive to create content that meets the needs of the personas at the different stages of the buying journey. Such a breakdown will make it easier for you to determine the length of the content you need to market your brand or organization.
d. Do not overlook technical basics
Spend time cleaning up the technical aspects of your website to fast track your search result rankings. Take careful considerations of the basics such as code layout, load time, safety, and security of the site. Focusing on content and neglecting the technical aspects of your SEO will hamper the achievement of the success you are working too hard to attain. The two should go hand in hand.
The most ignored SEO technical basics is the proper use of schema markup techniques. They help search engine crawlers to navigate your site. You can achieve this by ensuring proper code-to-content ratio. Simply put, your source code ought to have more readable content which makes meaning to the search crawler than the code which it cannot understand.
Ensure that the source code is not stuffed with poor coding even if you choose to create your own CMS. A visitor might never notice cancer on your back-end, but it inevitably affects your SEO performance. Improve it by cleaning up the junk that compromises your code-to-content ratio.
Another behind-the-scenes strategy for better SEO success in 2018 is site structure and navigation. It might be a no-brainer, but it is surprising how many SEO marketers ignore it. Tools such as DeepCrawl can help you analyze your site’s architecture to understand how deep the crawler goes into your site. One way of limiting the crawler’s access is by burying some contents such as the product’s page too deep on the website. Analyze your webs structure and adjust these aspects accordingly.
SEO marketing in 2018 will obviously require more skill and tact than the previous years. Search engines have perfected the art of filtering out contents built primarily for search result rankings. Consequently, customer-centered highly optimized content is the only SEO strategy that will be effective going forward.
If you do not have a content-marketing strategy, you are leaving money on the table and will quickly find yourself playing catch up with business around you. Maybe at an even more basic level you do not have an SEO plan at all. There is hope! Dotcom Design is here to help. Reach out and we would love to chat about content marketing, website development, or search engine optimization.