As search engine updates are continually released, artificial intelligence (AI) has a greater impact on search rankings and new sites flood the Internet at a record pace, now is not the time to "guess and check" with your SEO strategy.
Millions, even billions of dollars, can be lost because of site penalties or even just a sharp drop in first page rankings. Today, we are going to look at the five pillars of a great SEO campaign. If these aren't part of your current strategy, you may want to update your strategy for 2018. Let's jump in.
Technical SEO is almost a lost art form, especially with the spike in do-it-yourself (DIY) website platforms that severely limit one's ability to customize the website on the coding level. If all your competitors are using the same platform as you, the issues that cannot be resolved will be the same for each site. That means you can outrank them if you are superior in the other areas.
If you are in a more competitive niche, chances are you will be up against sites that can be completely customized such as WordPress, making it harder for your site to surpass the competition. Finding the common technical issues is straightforward thanks to site audit tools like Screaming Frog, SEMrush and Website Auditor. Fixing them can get hairy, especially if you aren't familiar with coding so don't be afraid to consult a Web developer or SEO agency to address the issues that you do uncover.
For at least a couple of years now, site speed has been discussed. Even so, some website owners have yet to be made aware or don't seem to care that their load times are painfully slow. If you haven't checked before, go to gtmextrix.com and run your site through the tool. It is free to use, and it will help you see how your site is doing.
As with technical SEO, knowing you have a problem is only half the battle. If you don't know how to address the issues slowing your site down, consult with a professional. Google has already announced their plan to move to a mobile first index. If your site is slow on desktop, just imagine how it will perform on mobile. If you have been putting off site speed improvements, now is a great time to circle back to them.
Rankings are determined by a much-discussed and debated algorithm(s). Each factor Google tracks is weighted by importance and a sort of cumulative score is given to sites, determining which site will best answer the search. Moving forward, AI will build upon the current rating system and seek to "think" outside of just the numbers. This is the next natural evolution for Google and as a site owner, you need to be prepared.
Since it's inception, Google has sought to provide the best search results to users. Compared to other search engines, their algorithm has done a great job, but there is always room for improvement. Understanding how users interact with your website is one way to improve. If you go to a site and immediately click back to the search results to visit another site, that is a real-time signal to Google that you site may not be the best fit for that search.
Site speed, the visual appeal, (or lack thereof) trust signals, and the content itself can all impact the likelihood of someone staying on your site, becoming a lead, and ultimately doing business with you.
To be successful with SEO in the coming years, your strategy must include conversion rate optimization, an internal linking plan that lets users dig deeper into the topics you cover, and pre-planned "funnels" on your site, capturing and holding the attention of site visitors. If you aren't looking at SEO as a long-term marketing tactic that integrates with your overall marketing plan, you many want to reevaluate. Multi-channel marketing will help SEO efforts in the future as Google is able to better detect real brands over affiliate sites and lead generation sites.
Building on the last point, content optimization is important for SEO success. In the traditional sense, content that uses long tail keywords will continue to have greater visibility as it ranks for multiple terms. In the new sense, content also needs to be optimized from an engagement standpoint. You must ask yourself, what type of content will really resonate with your users.
How can you differentiate yourself from others in your industry? If you are going to use video, what will you do to make your video stand out in the sea of other videos? Quality content, real marketing ideas and being memorable are all things that you need to start thinking about now if you want to stay relevant in the near future.
Link building is not going away anytime soon. The most effective methods of building links have changed considerably, however, the more authority your site has, the easier you will rank for long-tail keywords, the more credible you will be to Google and the more organic traffic you will enjoy.
Real outreach link building will allow you to earn links from other real, credible sites. Guest posting, blogger outreach, resource page link building and brand mentions are the types of links that you should be securing. If you are doing directory submissions, Google stacking or the laundry list of other tactics along the same lines, you need to revise your strategy now.
Moving ahead into the coming years, SEO will continue to be a great means of generating quality leads for your business. To earn your rankings and attract those leads, you must be prepared to put in the hard work to create content that users consider to be great, websites that instill trust and capture their interest, and links from real, niche sites that Google can't help but credit you for having. If your current strategy is not hitting the five key points discussed above, I urge you to re-evaluate and update your strategy as 2018 approaches.