Search engine bots are the toughest negotiators you’ll ever come across. Most of its actions are shrouded in mystery so you’re left with the task of trying to figure out how to please Google bots whilst delivering excellent content to your visitors and customers alike.
The rules are constantly changing but the fundamentals such as keywords and high-quality content remain relevant today. The question becomes, what should you stick with? Which strategies should you drop or devote more resources to? Where do social media and SEO intersect?
10 essential SEO strategies you need in 2018
Page speed is still a critical SEO factor
Remember when it took 3-5 minutes for a website to load and you thought the internet was fast? Today, that won’t work as the average user is impatient and won’t stay beyond 8-10 seconds. A slow webpage discourages people from visiting your site and ultimately buying your service or product.
A research by Strange Loop revealed that websites could lose 7% in conversions from a 1 second delay. Customers believe that a slow loading site is unserious and therefore not trustworthy. Page speed is vital to Google and the end user. Another research from eConsultancy shows that 40% of visitors left a site that took longer than 3 seconds to load.
Improve your meta description
Meta description is important for on-page SEO because it’s the description a user views when searching for something. A few tips include
Add a call-to-action
Keep it short, between 130-160 characters
Include a hook and make sure it's actionable
It should contain keywords and match the content
Every meta description should be unique to the content its’ describing
Title tags and headline tags
Search engines read and categorise your title with your title tag. Begin with your keyword for maximum impact. Headline tags include fonts like H1, H2 and others. The H1 tag is for your title as that’s what the search engine will be looking for. Use variations throughout the content to spice it up and ensure its natural, appealing to the reader, not Google.
Link to authoritative websites
If you want your blog to grow, you must link out to other blogs. Some content marketers posit that linking to authority websites lead them to other blogs but link building is an essential part of SEO.
Rand Fishkin and Brian Clark, founders and Moz and Copyblogger respectively agree that link building makes your site more valuable and is critical to growth. Link to websites that offer real value and ensure you notify the influencer so they link back to you or share your post with their subscriber, which is a great way to gain new followers.
Optimise your images
Images are a great addition to every content. It’s a visual representation that tells a story on its’ own merit. When you upload an image, add the keywords in the alt text tag because search engines don’t read the name of the image. Remember to resize the image so its high-quality without being too large. Large images make your website load slowly and you don’t want that to happen.
Social media is essential for any SEO strategy
Depending on the target age group and your type of website, you should have several social media accounts on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You can add a share button beside each post so readers can immediately share your content on their social media.
Twitter card is a great way to promote your products. It allows you to control both texts and images people see when they share your content on social media. Tweets containing links appear in an enriched format with more content visible and integrated as part of the tweet.
Dominate search engine with backlinks and content
Long content always performs better than shorter content. If you’re writing a guest post on another blog, use short content usually 500-1,000 words long. If you’re writing on your own blog, long-form content ranging from 2,000 words and above is required.
A study of 1 million blog posts found that people read 300-word content in less than 30seconds and left without converting or taking the call to action. Consequently, long posts reaching up to 2000 words and with a nice spread of keywords performed better. People spent more time on site, which improved search rankings.
When designing, create content for smaller screens
Responsive design is crucial to your web design. First, you need to understand user preferences and behaviour. A few tips include
- Use mobile friendly content such as videos, animated gifs and infographics
- Your headlines should be enticing but short
- Content should engage readers from the first sentence, ensuring they keep scrolling until the end.
Add LSI keywords to your content
When you’ve created that amazing 2,000 word content, don’t forget to add LSI keywords. These are phrases and words people associate with your niche or page topic. For example, related words and phrases for “SEO” include
Web page optimization
Website optimization techniques
Google translates your LSI keywords as content that covers the topic thoroughly. A good tool is the LSI graph. It’s free, simply enter your target keywords and it generates LSI keywords associated with your search term.
Incorporate video into your digital strategy
Video has exploded. Cisco predicts that video will take up 80% of online traffic by 2021. The world has an insatiable need for video content. It’s easy to assimilate, digest and remember. A Hubspot study revealed that 43% of online users want more video content. A few tips to guide you include:
- Tap into YouTube, it’s the second largest search engine after Google. A good chunk of your YouTube viewers will click the link leading to your website, leading to more traffic and sales.
- Embed video content into your blog posts so people can view them directly from your site, ensuring more dwell time and increasing your search ranking.
A few things to remember before you go
- Always write for humans, if you please your readers, you please Google too
- Encourage influencers to link to your high-quality content
- Track what’s working and what’s not with web analytics
- Remove anything that slows down site speed
- Use excellent tools for keyword research. Options include SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner and Moz
- Target the right keywords
- Always create natural, high-quality content that solves a problem and offers value to your readers.