In the ever changing world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), I wanted to share some SEO tips to consider if you are thinking about your website rankings in 2018. Here are my top tips for the year ahead:
1. Optimising for voice search
Google reports that 20% of mobile queries are now voice searches. As it becomes the norm for our children to ask Siri and Alexa all varieties of questions, voice search is set to grow at an incredible speed in 2018. So think about providing answers to specific questions, with your business audience in mind.
Create a piece of content that directly answers a question e.g. “How do I share a post from one Facebook business page to another business page?” Make sure to include the question itself, and a direct answer to it. This is all about content and providing answers to questions that may attract a new audience.
2. Featured Snippets / Quick Answers
A featured snippet — also known as a “rich answer” or “direct answer” or “quick answer” — is a summary answer to a searcher’s question that Google shows in a special block at the top of the page. It usually comes with a link back to your site, which has great traffic-attracting potential.
To try and rank for this rich snippet box, you need to identify queries and the intent behind your user’s search queries when performing your keyword research. You can do this through ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ search terms. You should then aim to directly answer these within your content, simply and easily. A great way to do this is through a Q&A page on your website. You can provide the user with a quick answer, rather than scrolling through lengthy articles.
3. Longtail keywords
With the increase in voice searches, there will be more of a need to focus on on more long-tail search keywords and a natural language that matches the user’s conversational tone. Longtail keywords are basically a phrase rather than a single keyword. If I’m searching for “shoes” I’m just browsing. If I’m searching for “Where can I buy black patent shoes with a kitten heel, size 5” this is a longtail keyword phrase and I’m ready to make a purchase.
I always tell our clients it is better to attract fewer visitors to your website who are likely to convert into customers, than thousands of visitors who only spend a few seconds on the site.
Think about more specific keyword searches, related to you and your business to attract the right kind of visitors to your site. If you only want to work in a certain area or are offering events or training courses in a certain place, then geographic keywords are a must.
4. AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages
Speed is going to be an important factor in 2018. Accelerated Mobile Pages project (AMP) is a Google initiative to build a better, more user friendly mobile Web by introducing a new “standard” for building web content for mobile devices. Accelerated Mobile Pages load instantly and improve the end user experience. Ever since its launch in search results in February 2016, AMP has been in the SEO news. In simple terms, pages that load quickly are going to be a must-have in the future.
Mobile friendly sites have been big news for a while now (see my blog post from 2015) and of course this will continue to be the case for 2018. As more and more users access websites from their smart phones or tablets, the importance of mobile friendly websites has never been more important. Think mobile friendly and speed for your websites in 2018.
5. Blogs and backlinks
Content continues to be king on the Internet and you should aim to keep your website updated with fresh, interesting content. This is something we’ve always told our clients. If you share good content, people are likely to link to it.
If content is King then engagement is Queen! Encourage debate, ask questions and allow your audience to engage with your posts.
Blogs are a great way to keep adding new content to your website, but you should consider your keywords within the blog and also ensure your posts are a decent length. However, don’t become too preoccupied with the word count, instead focus on the needs of your reader. If you have a lot of content to share in one post that’s great, but sometimes you only need to share a short, sharp burst of information (again considering voice search and quick answers).
Furthermore, ensure you are making the most of your blogs, by considering which keywords you would like to be found for and ensuring you update the meta title and meta description PER blog post. Remember that the meta title should be between 50-70 characters and the meta description should be no longer than 156 characters (including spaces and punctuation). Having the keywords in the title and the first paragraph will also help your case with SEO.
If you generate good, interesting, relevant content, people will link back to your site and backlinks will continue to play a role in SEO in 2018. The best advice here is to grow your links organically.
6. End User Experience
The end user experience continues to be of upmost importance. Encourage your users to stay on your site for longer and reduce your bounce rate. The trick is once you capture an audience, to keep them on the site, so if you are attracting your audience through your blog, ensure you have links to other relevant pages to your website from your blog.
Remember to use Google Analytics to track your bounce rate and the time spent on your site. You can also use Google Analytics to work out which pages of your site are turning your clients off and where they are leaving your site.
7. Make the most of Google’s free tools
Talking of Google Analytics, we tell all of our client to ensure they are making the most of all of the free Google tools on offer. This isn’t new for 2018, but should absolutely form part of your SEO strategy.
Use Google Analytics to track the performance of your website and find out about visitor information: www.google.co.uk/analytics.
Use Google’s Webmaster Tools to verify your site with Google, submit your sitemap, check on any problems on the site: www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools.
Doe your website pass Google’s mobile friendly test? www.search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly.
Use Google’s free keyword tool when planning which keywords are important for your website.
Every local business should have a Google My Business listing, which leads me nicely onto:
8. Relevance of local search
Everybody who has worked with me will know the importance I place on local search, and as more and more websites are flooding the Internet and with the increase in mobile sites, I think this will be an area of growing importance in 2018. Think about the areas where your clients are based and where you want to work.
Also remember the importance of an up-to-date Google My Business listing. Reviews are really important and encourage your clients to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing and be sure to reply to these reviews. You can now add posts to Google My Business listings and as Google collects more and more data on each listing, I believe this is an area to watch in 2018. You can read my blog here. You can feature on the first page of local searches on Google with a Google My Business listing, without working on your website at all.
I wrote a blog at the start of 2017 with my predictions for that year and many of these points still stand, including the importance of secure sites. You can read this blog here.
If you have any questions or have anything to add to this post, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you believe there is there anything else that will rock the SEO world in 2018?