SEO is an ever-changing landscape where long-practiced strategies become obsolete within months. As Google’s algorithms get more indecipherable and harder to predict with each update, having a safe backlink profile has never been more important. The short-term schemes that worked so well in the past are now riskier than ever and are a sure way to get your site penalized, so if you’re still banking on yesteryear’s SEO techniques to yield ranking results, this is probably the right time to familiarize yourself with the best SEO practices for 2018.
Mobile optimization is a must
With over 60% of web searches coming from mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly website is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. Google has also taken an active step to weed out websites that don’t adhere to these requirements by implementing a mobile-first index, so if your website isn’t properly optimized for mobile; it won’t show up in the mobile SERP’s at all.
The two main ranking factors for mobile SEO are speed and a responsive design. Slow websites are even slower on mobile devices and poorly designed pages lead to a higher bounce rate. The best practices for making sure your site conforms to these standards are:
- Avoid using large images that take too long to load
- keep the number of redirects to a minimum
- Links and buttons on your site should be spaced out enough to allow for easy clicking
- Use a universally supported language such as html 5
High-quality and longer content is the way to go
More than two decades after bill gates authored his now famous “Content is king “essay, never have these words rang truer than right now. While content was always an essential component of SEO, it often took a back seat to other factors that were deemed to be a bigger priority for Google’s algorithms.
Most SEO case studies have shown a direct correlation between content length and increased rankings, but it’s only one half of the equation. Dragging out mediocre content just to meet a minimum threshold isn’t enough; you have to strive for rich content that is consistently relevant to the topic and provides added value in each paragraph. At a time where every savvy marker is aware of the importance of high-quality content, length could serve as a differentiating metric that could help you leapfrog the competition.
The increased importance of multimedia marketing
The current trends in online media suggest that incorporating image, audio, and video in your content marketing strategy is becoming more and more necessary. While guest blogging is still viable and should probably still be one of your main approaches for the near future, it is important to keep in mind that an increased number of large outlets are reticent about giving marketers a platform for written content and that a good number of big media companies have already begun a slow strategic shift to video and audio content. These changes will inevitably permeate into SEO and not having a strategy in place could be a costly mistake.
This shift isn’t lost on Google, and their recent acquisitions of startups such as Anvato and EyeFluence can be seen as a clear indication that multimedia marketing will be prioritized down the line.
Building backlinks the right way
It comes as no surprise that backlinks are still relevant in 2018. While it isn’t as simple as it was back when improving your rankings was merely a function of how many backlinks your site has, this factor is still the most significant in determining your position in the SERPs. However, the old school methods of acquiring hundreds of spammy links are not just risky, they’re basically impossible now that Penguin runs in real time.
The safest approach to building links in 2018 is manual outreach. Look for blogs with good metrics and authority sites in your niche and offer to write a feature post for them in exchange for a backlink. If you manage to craft a long and engaging piece of content, most editors and bloggers would pounce on the chance to work with you. It’s a mutually beneficial deal, so as long as your content is top notch you won’t have trouble landing a guest post.
Improving user engagement
Attaining a high ranking in the SERPs is only half the battle, if your site doesn’t generate the same engagement as your competition, you run the risk of losing your position. Google has always been coy about the impact of user experience metrics on SEO, but in reality, many case studies have detected a positive link between CTR and improved rankings, with some going as far as considering it the most impactful factor, so optimizing your site for a better user experience should be in the forefront of your SEO strategy.
The first thing you will need to do is check your CTR rate on the Google Search Console. If some of your pages have a low CTR, you can remedy the issue by making sure that your metadata is properly optimized for your keyword and that the meta description is very descriptive and niche-relevant.
As Google slowly but surely moves away from easily-manipulated factors and metrics to rank sites, successful seo campaigns will require more know-how and an increased adaptability to swift trend changes. Keeping your ears to the ground and your eyes on what the experts and the competition are doing are imperative if you don’t want to be left in the dust.