For any business or blog owner that has touched base with SEO before, you will be well aware that it is constantly evolving. Google are always looking for new ways to fine tune search engine results, pushing constantly to deliver better results for the user. Because of this, the practice of search engine marketing is ever changing too. Making SEO in 2018 no different.
You might already be at the top of the search results for your targeted keywords. Or maybe you really want to drive forward this year and increase your rankings. Either way, it’s important to understand what you should be doing to deliver the results you need, to achieve growth or maintain.
SEO can be complex and tricky to get your head around. As a business owner though, SEO shouldn’t be overlooked. This is why I have created a full yet straightforward guide to SEO in 2018. Read on to gain a full picture of what SEO looks like and what you should be doing to achieve amazing search engine results this year…
1. User Experience Signals
Many of you will already be aware that modern SEO is all about on-site content. This doesn’t mean that link building should be completely overlooked. It does mean that on-site content should be your priority in 2018 though, with a huge focus on blog content. If you’d like to know more about what you should be doing with link building, you can read more about that later in the ‘quick and easy SEO tips section’.
In 2017, Google announced that RankBrain was their third most important ranking factor. RankBrain is set to be even more important in 2018. The update was only launched a few months prior to it becoming such an important factor to SEO. Making it clear to see why Google are putting so much importance on the RankBrain results for the year ahead.
Put simply, RankBrain measures how users interact with search engine results. It measures the click-through-rate (CTR) of each result, the dwell time (time spent on the page), and generally how the user behaves when they see the results and click through to a page. This means that if Google notices the page in the position five result is getting more clicks than the position one result and has a longer dwell time, they will quickly rank the page in position five higher.
To conquer RankBrain you need to make your search engine result really attractive. The aim is to lure people to click on it. Then you need to make sure that your content lives up to expectations. Your aim is to get the user to stay on the page, scroll down to the bottom, and spend as much time reading the post as possible.
There’s a science to getting your content just right to achieve amazing RankBrain results. This is where I come in – creating content that’s perfectly optimised for your targeted keywords, of optimum readability and designed to ensure users spend a long time on the page. In addition, I ensure that the search snippet is super attractive, to gain more and more clicks, using proven methods to drive more traffic.
As you can see, attractive search results and amazing content are equally important (CTR and dwell time). What you want to avoid when it comes to RankBrain is luring people in, only for them to find that the content isn’t what they expected and quickly click back.
2. Mobile First
In 2017, Google announced the launch of their ‘mobile-first’ update was imminent. Up until now, Google has considered the desktop site to be the main site, using this to build a picture of what you do and how to rank you. But in 2018, Google will switch their focus, instead choosing to look at the mobile version of your website first.
This has come about due to reports showing that 60% of Google searches are carried out on a mobile device. The results mean that it makes perfect sense for the search engine to focus on the mobile version of your site first. It also means that it makes a lot of sense for you to put more importance on your mobile site too.
In order to avoid seeing a dip in your search rankings when this switch lands, it’s essential to ensure that the mobile version of your site is up to scratch. In addition, if 60% of your customers or readers are looking at your site via a smartphone, it’s key to your business to ensure that they respond to your site in the way that you want them to. Not having a hard-working mobile site could result in less purchases or enquiries, It could also impact on your search engine marketing, influencing rank brain as people click back off your site or spend little time looking at your content.
To prepare for the mobile first update, you will need to make your content consistent across the desktop and mobile version of your site. This means no more hiding content on your mobile version – everything must be visible. You will also need to move from a mobile ‘M.’ version of your site to a responsive design for smartphones and tablets. Finally, you need to make sure that your website is easy to use on mobile. You can check this by using the mobile-friendly test tool from Google – you’ll get recommendations on how to improve your site for mobile here too.
3. In-depth Content
If you’re still focusing on one keyword per blog post and you’re only publishing short blog posts your efforts might be going to waste. A short and well-written blog post is better than no blog post at all. You could be seeing a far better return on the effort you’re putting in if you focus on long-form content that’s in-depth and uses a range of keywords instead.
Not so long ago Google looked at your pages content and searched for a single standout keyword. In 2018, Google is looking at the context of your content. This means putting a lot of importance on in-depth content that covers a topic as a whole.
This year you should be focusing on long-form content. Google are constantly working to give their users the very best results, and SEO in 2018 means providing the user with everything they need in one place.
Google is favouring content that’s around 2,000 words – a ranking factor study found that blog posts of 2,000 words outranked shorter content – meaning long-form posts are key this year. Google then works out how in-depth your long-form content is by looking at LSI keywords, in addition to your focus keyword. Google wants to see lots of highly relevant keywords and phrases within your content. If it finds that your content is over 2,000 words, uses lots of LSI keywords and is well-written, it’s likely to rank your page higher.
Put simply, in 2018 you should be publishing on-site blog posts of around 2,000 words regularly. As well as using LSI keywords to ensure Google picks up that the content covers the topic in-depth.
4. Content and Outbound Links
SEO in 2018 is still all about on-site content. The easiest way to build up your content is through amazing blog posts. It’s all well and good publishing a post here and there, but if you really want to smash content marketing in 2018 it’s all about being consistent and smart about what you publish.
You already know that it’s important to publish long-form blog posts, with focus keywords, LSI keywords and optimised search snippets, but it’s also important to include outbound links in your content.
Studies show that outbound links have had a positive effect on search engine marketing for some time now, and it seems things are no different for SEO in 2018. In linking to highly relevant content from high authority websites within your blog posts, Google will automatically assume you are also a high quality source, just because you have associated yourself with high authority websites.
Outbound links may not be considered a highly important factor by Google, but they can certainly have a positive impact, so it’s just good sense to add them to your blog posts. Outgoing links that are relevant to your content and point to authoritative sites are considered by the Google algorithms. Research shows that they have been proven to have a positive impact on search rankings.
5. Consider Voice Search
The popularity of voice search is growing quickly, so it’s important that you don’t overlook it. Studies show that 20% of all searches via a mobile device are done using voice search. While that means 80% of users are still typing to search, optimising for voice search means you won’t miss out on the 20% that are searching via voice.
Optimising for voice search is still in its early stages. Early studies have shown that in including a question and an answer in your content, you can boost your search engine results for voice search. The majority of voice searches are questions. So in including a question in your content, you should rank well when that question is searched. When someone searches for a question via voice search, Google will give priority to the page that includes that question and includes the answer.
It’s pretty easy to pop a question and an answer into your blog post. In order to understand what questions people might be asking surrounding the topic of your post, search by starting to type a question into Google and see what comes up.
5 Quick and Easy SEO Tips
If you want to smash SEO in 2018 and take on content marketing like you’ve never taken it on before, here’s what you should be doing…
1. Publish content regularly – Google loves to see new content being published on your site as frequently as possible. You might have noticed in the past that your search engine rankings started to increase pretty quickly during a period when you were blogging lots, and that they have been declining ever since you stopped. Google likes to see a site that’s active. The more content you publish, the better an understanding of what you do Google will have. Aim to publish brilliantly written blog posts at least once a week. Where possible publish new content everyday to make Google super happy.
2. Use long form content – by now you know that you should be focusing on longer blog posts to achieve great results for SEO in 2018. Aim for 2,000 words per post. If this requires too much commitment when it comes to time or money, try publishing a couple of 2,000 word posts a month, mixed in with shorter posts.
3. Put importance on images – images are key to blog posts. Creating a visual experience alongside providing amazing written content is what makes a blog post really successful. Without sharp, relevant and on-brand images your blog post will be flat, making it difficult for the user to engage with it. Keep people on your page for as long as possible, by adding in aesthetically pleasing images, and optimising them using the Alt text option.
4. Make social sharing easy – make sure your blog posts use social share buttons to encourage people to share your content. If Google sees that your content is popular on social media, it will help boost your search engine results.
5. Check out content trends – you want to be sure that you are publishing content that people are looking for. The more your content is found, the longer people spend on your page. The more it is shared, the more it will climb the search engine results. Writing about topics that people are actively searching for is key. You can use tools like BuzzSumo and Google Keyword Planner to outline content trends.
SEO in 2018 doesn’t need to be complicated, but consistency is key. If you’d like to drive forward with blog marketing this year consider my blog content and blog management packages to supercharge your SEO.
For some knowing where to start with an on-site blog or even being confident that what you’re doing is right can be a sticking point. For others time constraints mean that your on-site blog doesn’t work as hard as it could be. With my blog management and blog content packages, I ensure all of the above is covered. I can publish content regularly on your on-site blog that’s designed specifically to increase your search engine rankings, using the latest search engine marketing methods for SEO in 2018.
Want to find out more? You can find my blog management package here, and my blog content package here. Or simply get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org