How To Dominate The Ever Changing World of SEO in 2018
Get on Top of Your SEO with These Quick Tips
What a crazy world we live in. Technology is constantly changing, and it's increasingly difficult to stay on top of the times. This is especially true for businesses trying to maintain a good web presence and standing. Even in the past year, since beginning my career doing SEO, the “rules” and best practices have changed significantly. Here’s a general outline of the changes, as well as the best practices for keeping your SEO future-focused.
1. Keywords just aren’t the same anymore. You probably know by now that keywords are the main focus for your content, around which you base your page. You may also know that keywords switched from being one focus word to being what we call “long-tail keywords,” which are extensions to a basic keyword. But now search engines are focusing around the user's intent. Even the popular marketing software HubSpot is getting rid of their keyword tool (which many users are unhappy about). The fact of the matter is, even though keywords have been important for years now, and they still are, the time has changed to focus on just one per page. In doing this, it is important to avoid stuffing and making the language of your content sound unnatural. Remember, we are looking for a good user experience here, and having the same keyword show up unnaturally will divert potential leads away. Here’s what some popular SEOs have to say about keyword density: “Overrated concept”—Aaron Wall of SEOBOOK; “Using a ratio of keywords to the total text on a page is not a good metric for SEO”—Jim Boykin; “I’ve always considered keyword density to be more likely folklore than fact”—Bill Slawski. So, you heard it from the experts, don’t stuff!
2. Title tags and meta descriptions have changed. Remember when meta descriptions weren’t to be more than 180 characters in length? Well, it’s time to say goodbye to that thought, as the average length has increased to 275-350 characters. Many SEOs have even gone so far as to say that your meta description is actually the thing that makes a user click on your website through search engines. It makes sense: if your description resonates in any way with a user, chances are you may have the answer to the question they are looking for, so they are more likely to click. With that being said, title tag specifications have also changed slightly: what used to be a maximum of 50 is now a maximum of 70. However, don’t stick too hard to that number because what really ends up mattering here is the width of your title tag, measured in pixels. Moz says that the maximum width is close to 600 pixels. This makes perfect sense when you think of letters and their individual widths (like the width of “iiiii” vs. “ooooo”).
3. The way people search is different. Think about virtual assistants for a moment: we have Siri, Cortana, Alexa, etc. Many people have them in their homes, so it’s important, as an SEO, to ensure our content is in natural language (as mentioned before). People are asking their devices questions, or commanding them to do things in full sentences, simply because they know their devices CAN do these things. What used to be a requirement to hop on a computer and search the internet is no more, which leads me to my next point.
4. People are using their phones more. I mean why wouldn’t they? We basically have a whole computer in our pockets 24/7, so there isn't much of a reason to go out of our way to access a desktop. In the United States, mobile now represents 65% of digital media time, meaning people primarily spend their time on their phones, away from computers. You may be thinking, “but surely a good chunk of my traffic will still be from people using computers, so that’s more important”—you aren’t wrong. However, we don’t want to miss anyone, so we need to optimize a good experience for ALL users.
5. People want fast. No one is going to be patient with load times, so, as an SEO, it’s vital that your website’s page speed is as fast as possible to ensure the user experience is a good one. If you have ever been on a website that was taking too long to load, I’m sure you went back to your search and tried a different link. This is not good because you want people to keep coming back to your site because they trust you and like your content. Optimizing for page speed is one of the simplest ways to outshine competitors. To check your page speed, you can use Google’s page speed tool.
6. Don’t forget about images! We’ve all heard the quotation, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but on the internet, it should be taken even more seriously. An image gives the user a general idea or picture of what they are about to read. So, when putting an image in any of your content, the first step is to ensure the file name is something relevant. This is important because you want Google to know what the image is about, without even looking at it. Also, the image should include what is known as "alt text." The alt text is a brief description of the image that will be read aloud to visually-impaired users. Alt text is also important to have if there is ever a circumstance where the image cannot be shown on your webpage. Lastly, alt text helps provide better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, which helps them index a page properly.
That about wraps things up. While this is just a brief description of some best practices and updates, there is still a ton more within these categories that you can implement to improve your SEO strategy and rankings. It’s best to tweak a few things and then check your improvement along the way. Best of luck, and as always, contact us with any questions. We will be more than happy to help you along on your SEO journey.