9 Actionable SEO Techniques & Strategies for 2018
1. Make your site SUPER fast!
We are now in the day and age where, frankly, people have very little patience. Website users want to access a website and be able to view all the information on that website in a matter of seconds. A lot of research has been performed over the years, boiling down to this:
- The amount of people visiting a website, who have to wait longer than 1.65 seconds for a website to load will leave
- Once that sweet spot has been exceeded, the conversion rate decreases
- Less conversion means less visitors
- Less conversion means less potential customers
How do I make my website faster?
Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are lots of things you can do to make your website faster! Google’s PageSpeed Insights allows you to enter your website URL, and even individual page URL’s to it’s analysis tool. Once your website, or website page, has been analysed, PageSpeed Insights will display both a Mobile and Desktop score out of 100, based on your website’s URL. Google will suggest required optimisations, possible optimisations, and optimisations that are already in place in order to improve your website’s page speed.
It’s near on impossible to gain a 100/100 page score, due to many factors, such as, page caching, etc. However, the higher your score, and the more improvements you can make to it, the better your chances are at improving your website’s loading time and overall page speed. As well as telling you what could be improved to increase your website’s loading time.
Surprisingly enough, Google publicly announced that website loading times and page speeds actually effect, and get taken into account, when calculating your search engine ranking position.
So, making your website SUPER fast not only affects the conversion rate on your website, it is also a factor in determining your search ranking on Google. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) involves various factors, but we are confident that a super fast website should be your number one priority in 2018.
2. Rank Brain (increase CTR)
What is Rank Brain?
Google RankBrain is essentially an artificial intelligence system used in Google’s core search algorithm. RankBrain uses a set of mathematical processes to learn and calculate how people use search engines, why they search, and what they search for in order to apply logic to future searches. RankBrain updates itself constantly, rather than being pre-determined like it used to be.
An example of how this works is as follows. If you type in the word ‘Christmas Day’ into a Google search, we get the following…
Using AI, Google RankBrain is able to determine the current date, and produce a logical search result based on what we’ve searched for. If we were to fast forward into January 2018 and search using the same keywords, Google would recalculate it’s results based on the day of the search – clever right?
How does RankBrain affect SEO?
RankBrain is more of a ranking signal than an SEO masterpiece, however, it does have some effects on SEO, and can be especially useful if users don’t know 100% what they’re looking for, or simply can’t find the right words to use. Let’s imagine you own a weather website, and you want to focus your keywords around the term ‘hailstones’, RankBrain can turn ambiguous search terms into relevant keywords that point in your website’s direction. If someone searched for “that hard cold stuff that falls from the sky”, RankBrain would cleverly translate that into the most familiar result, being ‘hailstones’.
3. Ensure your site shows up for Featured Snippets and Quick Answers
When someone enters a question into a search engine, a featured snippet will show a small summary of the top ranked answer above any search results. The answer is extracted from a relevant webpage and will show the webpage’s title and URL to read further.
Why are Featured Snippets good for SEO?
- If your website displays in a featured snippet, it means Google has chosen your website over another to provide the best answer to a users’ questions
- A featured snippet displays above organic search results, meaning your website will be seen before any other results, even if another website is ranked #1 on Google
- A featured snippet is quick and easy to click, so by providing the most relevant and useful answer, your website is likely to gain more traffic from user who want to read further
How can my website show up as a Featured Snippet?
- Ensure your website targets the right keywords
- Create new website content that is relevant to a potential featured snippet
- Create a single webpage that displays a Q&A section, or FAQs
- Use basic optimisation techniques to ensure your website is found by Google
What are Quick Answers?
Similar to Featured Snippets, Quick Answers provide what they say on the tin; quick answers to users’ questions based on a search. Quick Answers provide, sometimes multiple amounts of, relevant information based on the question a user has asked, along with the webpage’s title and URL.
Optimising your website for Quick Answers
- Link to relevant websites
- Use nouns within your content where the context is natural
- Be featured within Wikipedia
- Have a topic on your website that is interesting to other users
- Ensure all content on your website is of a high quality and relevant to the theme
- Create ‘How to’ lists in relevant places, e.g. “How to make a pancake” with bullet or numbered lists
- Ensure your website is updated with basic SEO practices
4. Ensure your website is 100% Mobile Responsive
Having a mobile responsive website is user friendly, expected, and also counts as a ranking signal on mobile searches with Google. This means, if your website is not mobile friendly, it could have a serious effect on your SEO, as Google want to ensure mobile users are receiving relevant and optimised search results.
How can I make my website mobile friendly?
Thankfully, Google comes to the rescue once again. We have to give it to them, if Google make changes to their ranking system, they are extremely dedicated to ensuring their users have easy access to relevant information in order to ‘keep up’ with changing technologies. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is designed very similarly to PageSpeed Insights, in that you can enter your website’s (or any website’s) URL into the search bar, and the results will simply display whether the site is mobile-friendly or not, and how to improve it.
A large majority of users are now using their smart phones or tablets to browse the internet. If a user lands on a website that isn’t mobile-friendly, the chances of them staying on said website are very slim. As well as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, there are also other ways you can optimise your website to be mobile-friendly:
- If you’re using a website builder, such as, Wix or WordPress to build your website, select a responsive theme
- Optimise the layout of your website content
- Adapt the content that is shown on your website
- Create a mobile and desktop version of your website (this can be done through coding)
- Test your website using multiple browsers and mobile devices using a tool like Browser Stack
5. Use long tail keywords in your SEO strategy
Long tail keywords may seem like going against the grain a little in terms of SEO, because they notoriously don’t generate as much traffic as shorter keywords, however, they do have a purpose!
In order to be more specific about a product you’re trying to sell, or a service you offer, using long tail keywords is the answer. If you’re more specific, you’ll have less competition; this is a great opportunity especially if you’ve just started your SEO strategy for your new website. Let’s take a look at an example to break down what using long tail keywords really means.
6. Produce High-Quality In-Depth Content (the longer the better)
High quality, in-depth, and meaningful content attracts users – it’s a fact! If your website contains content just for the sake of it, it’s not going to mean anything to your website users. If they can related to the content, and it’s the right kind of content, they’re going to come back for more. Quality most certainly trumps quantity, but don’t be afraid to create a lot of content (as long as it’s meaningful). Admittedly, it can be tough thinking up new content for your website, and keeping it up-to-date, however, we have a few tips and tricks that you can follow.
Let’s say your website focuses on social media marketing, but you’re not sure what to write about. Google News is a great free tool where you can type in pretty much anything, and receive the latest news surrounding your search topic.
As well as using free tools to get some refreshing ideas, there are simple steps you can take to ensure the content you write is high-quality, and relevant to your website users:
- Market Research: Identify your audience and brainstorm ideas – even go as far as collecting research and data on your potential customers in order to ensure you have suitable content for various types, e.g. blog articles, infographics, FAQs, etc.
- Build a Campaign: With your keywords and key phrases identified, and your audience selected, you can begin to create your content campaign; decide whether you want to build the content yourself, or get a freelancer on-board when required
- Multiple Platforms: As well as having a website full of high-quality content, don’t be afraid to reach out into other platforms, such as, blogging, social media, etc. The more content you have in various places, the more backlinks you gain, leading users back to your website.
- Review & Update: Always ensure that your website content, blog articles, etc. are updated – if a user is looking for something specific, they could be put off if they see that the content they’re reading is outdated
7. Update and Re-publish old articles and posts
We’ve touched on this point slightly already, but it’s worth looking at in further detail to understand why updating your website content and articles, blog posts, etc. are so handy when it comes to SEO.
Google offers a free web service called Google Search Console which allows you to analyse your website’s data, and gives you an indication of how you can optimise your website in order to increase visibility and SEO. If you look at your click-through ratio (CTR) and find that a particular page on your website is performing badly, it’s a clear sign that your content needs updating. When you’re updating your content, always ensure that it contains relevant keywords to your website, whilst not bombarding your users with unnatural content.
- Poorly Written Content: We’ve likely all had times where we’ve rushed a piece of content in order to get it published, not realising spelling or grammatical errors. Check back on your old content thoroughly, have a good read through and make sure it packs a punch for your readers.
- Remove Content: Check up on your website’s analytics to see if your website or posts are bringing in little to no search traffic; don’t be afraid to remove content that isn’t relevant any more. If you have 10 pieces of content, where 4 out of 10 of the pieces are performing really well, focus on those first and get them updated.
- Outdated Information: Perhaps you wrote a really engaging piece of content 12 months ago – great, but that was 12 months ago; ask yourself, is it relevant any more? If your content was gaining a lot of search traffic, and no longer is, update it based on the latest facts and figures to bring back your users.
- Broken Links: There’s nothing more frustrating than reading an interesting piece of content with broken links. If you have provided links to other websites in your previous articles or posts, check back every so often to ensure the links are still valid – if they aren’t, update them or remove them
8. Switch to HTTPS://
Would you purchase something from a website if you knew it wasn’t secure, and nor were your personal details? I guess the answer would be definitely not. If a user is performing an online transaction, or filling in a confidential form, they are more than likely going to want to be reassured that their details are kept safe and private, as opposed to using a website that doesn’t have the HTTPS URL. As well as knowing that your website is safe, Google have confirmed that they now include HTTPS as a ranking signal, meaning if your website is secure (vs not secure), your website will be higher up the search engine ranks.
If you’re running an online business, it’s essential that you have an SSL licence to ensure your customers’ data is protected. Many web hosts, such as, GoDaddy and HostGator include a free private SSL when you purchase their business or eCommerce plans. It’s certainly worth keeping an eye out for when choosing a web host, as purchasing an SSL licence can be expensive. Scrimping on safety is not the way forward!
9. Increase your Social Media presence
There’s absolutely no doubt about it, social media marketing is huge, as is social media itself! Statista has confirmed: “Social network penetration worldwide is ever-increasing. In 2017, 71% of internet users were social network users”. So, 7/10 people using the internet are also social network users; that equals a large market to target. If your website or business has no social media presence, you’ll be losing out on a lot of potential traffic, and a decline in your SEO.
There are lots of tips and tricks available on the internet regarding social media marketing, with free tools available to analyse how will your social media presence is doing, such as, Facebook Audience Insights. We’ve compiled a small list of tips to get you started on your social media journey.
Social Media Tips:
- A single relevant post on social media can attract lots of users; if one person sees your post and shares it with 10 of their friends, and they share it with 10 of their friends, well, you can do the math
- Post and share relevant content for your users to view
- Gain followers on your social media platforms to optimise your SEO strategy
- Relevant social media posts and links count as back links
- Engage with your social media followers by creating offers, competitions, ask questions, etc.