What you need to know to prepare for the new year
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is still a key tactic to attract visitors to your website. It’s also quickly changing. Search engines initially calculated rank based on keyword understanding. Search engines are a lot more sophisticated now. Complex algorithms are used to determine what shows up on the first page. As search engines get smarter, you need to as well. SEO must have a specific strategy in your content. But you must write for quality, not quantity. Relevant, well-written content that naturally uses keywords will rank much higher than an article that lacks substance and has a high keyword density.
To better understand what comes next in SEO, we’re sharing some trends for 2018 that you should be thinking about now.
Optimise for voice search
Now, anyone can use their voice to search. No typing required. Voice search offers great opportunity in SEO as 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults use it daily. There’s also the rise of digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. Instead of a typical search on a search engine that is a phrase, searches for digital assistants are likely to be questions.
This impacts search in several ways. First, it enhances the importance of long-tail keywords. As those asking questions or talking to a search are more likely to use longer phrases. It also means that content should be written in a more conversational tone.
Long-tail keywords are typically more conversational and specific. When choosing long-tail keywords, being specific is key. Add words to main phrases like “car rental” with terms that provide context like the city. Think someone who needs your service “car rental” and how they might phrase it in speaking rather than typing.
Voice search also brings rise to question and answer content. So take the opportunity and create content that has a question and answer. When researching keywords, consider the question they may ask their digital assistant. Using the example “car rental” a question could be: How much is daily car rental in Sydney? When someone asks a question in search, it’s pretty clear to search engines of their intent – they want an answer. If your content answers this question, you’ll be considered more relevant and have a higher search engine rank.
Enhance the user experience (UX)
Any brand that has a digital presence wants to ensure they provide an excellent UX. Because if they have a bad experience, they aren’t coming back! Research reveals that 88 percent of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. UX is also critical because search engines take that into account as well. Search engines are focused on UX and have continued to demand it be the best. After all, Google now puts more emphasis on mobile-friendliness of a site. So if you’re site isn’t mobile-friendly that’s the number one thing you need to evaluate.
If you do provide a great UX for your visitors and they stay on your site longer or share your content, search engines will reward this. Your site will have more authority and better ranking.
Besides mobile-friendly design, your site’s speed must be quick. Content should have high readability and its navigation should be clear and minimal.
Another segment of UX is accelerated mobile pages (AMPS). Google introduced AMP 2015 to ensure a smooth user experience to users. It is noted that AMPs web pages load in less than one second and utilize very few data compared to non–AMPs web pages.
As SEO evolves to include more personalized experiences, UX will be key to maintaining search traffic by creating an engaged audience. Optimising for these UX areas should help not only increase traffic but help with conversions, too. It’s a chance for real engagement.
Develop great content
Content has already been mentioned in the two previous categories, but it deserves its own section. To attract users and keep them interested, you must regularly create interesting content. You need to understand the main points and challenges of your target market and write to be the solution. SEO and content marketing are deeply intertwined. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Use their vernacular, not industry jargon.
Content marketing should make use of long-tail keywords you’ve found to be valuable. Write several different posts or resources with different angles but keep the long-tail keywords consistent. You might also create content on the same topic in different formats, like a blog and an infographic. The more quality content you create, the more likely your visitors will stay on your site.
Pictures and video will continue to grow. A majority of the content published online is visual. With video content accounting for 74 percent of all online traffic, there is no question about its value. Also, consider how imagery and video are consumed by audiences. It’s what they share on social media. It draws people into your brand story. The best way to leverage visual content for SEO is to ensure the meta tags of images have keywords. Forgetting meta tags on imagery is a typical oversight that’s quickly fixed. For video, transcriptions with specific keywords can boost its rank as result from the search.
Convert to HTTPS
HTTPS is a sign that your website is safe and secure. HTTP was found to have security issues and be vulnerable to hackers. Converting to HTTPS isn’t complex so this should be an upgrade to your site that’s relatively easy. HTTPS does contribute to your search engine rank. Google has stated that HTTPS will help some site rankings. Google’s search engine, Chrome, will also in the near future begin displaying non-HTTPS sites as not secure in bright red! This means it’s even more critical to switch your site over to HTTPS
Prepare for 2018
When thinking about SEO strategy for the next year, keep in mind these five trends that could impact rankings in 2018. These trends should inform your strategy and help your site’s content be considered credible and popular, which ultimately can lead to more conversions.