Monday, May 21, 2018
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) in 2018 is as exciting as ever, and with over 200 ranking factors in Google's algorithm it is more complex than ever. Let's take a look at what you should be doing, and what still matters!
Keep in mind that white hat SEO rules are simple... make the website for humans focusing on optimal user experience. Do not try black hat SEO techniques that attempt to game Google or you may face a real risk of getting manual site penalty, deranked or completely pulled off the SERPs.
So what should we do for SEO in 2018. That is what matters:
- SERPs - make sure you have compelling title tags and meta descriptions! In December of 2017 Google announced that the meta description can now be longer then 160, we recommend 300 characters. Make sure that you title and description use the most relevant keywords your page content is about and that it is aligned with what you are hoping to rank for. Make it human readable of course, this means no keyword stuffing or using irrelevant keywords.
- Backlinks - of course links back to your website still matter! But don't buy them. Instead try to earn them. If you have some good content that might be of relevance and use to visitors of another website, then email that website and ask if they would be interested in linking to you. Another strategy is submitting content on other websites with a link or two back to your website - guest blogging. And lastly, submitting your website listings on high ranking directories. And don't forget to create Google My Business and Bing Business listings.
- Site speed matters a lot! Run your website's pages in this tool and try to achieve as high of a mark as possible. You may not be able to absolutely do everything, and that's ok, but just try to do as much as you can.. Google does take page speed into account. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
- Structured data to enhance content. Visit this link, learn about different ways you can add some structured data on your website, you may not be able to use all but for sure you can use LocalBusiness, Breadcrumbs, Reviews, etc.. https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/intro-structured-data You can use this tool to test your structured data markup to ensure it's valid https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/u/0/ We would recommend LD+JSON format because it's independent of your website structure and theme. Keep in mind that voice search is a real thing now! and usage of structure data plays an integral role in optimizing your content for voice search.
- Keywords still matter! Not just doing keyword research (using Google AdWords keyword planner tool https://adwords.google.com/intl/en_ca/home/tools/keyword-planner/) to figure out your main and secondary keywords. But once you identify them, you need to make sure you work them into your website content and making it flow well and be human readable. Google is really good at understanding text now, so don't think you can just throw a few keywords and call it a day. It has to be appropriate, relevant, and flow grammatically. Remember, we are doing this for the user!
- Mobile continues to matter! Google is even giving extra points now if your website is mobile friendly, and especially if it's done in Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). This may not apply to all websites, or even make sense to do it but check it out, and if it's feasible, you should do it because it'll only benefit your website visitors and your ranking in Google.
- Google Search Console - paying attention to index coverage issues, manual actions, security issues is crucial. This is Google's way of letting your website know if it seem problems. You should always try to address any issue here, as it directly impacts your ranking in Google.
- Content is king, as always! After all that is what brings visitors to your website. Having well researched, well written and structure content is key. And just because someone already wrote something doesn't mean you can't make it even better. This gives you a chance to showcase your expertise, add keywords, link, promote on social media, etc. It's what drives everything else.
- Social media not just for social pulse but for promoting your content! Google may not take into account if your website has social presence but it doesn't mean you should have it. Build and engaging your audience on there, then bring them back to your website. For some website it matters even more as they not just capture and convert sales that way but earn reviews, respond to negative ones, and do their marketing.
- On page SEO - periodically run your website through a broken link checker tool (http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/) and fix those. Also make sure to examine your website content and structure and try to interlinking related content. Always make sure you have proper headings structure... one H1, then H2 then H3, etc. Providing image alt tags, minding the file size and dimensions of images, making the site easy to navigate, paying attention to user experience overall! Legibility of the text, making sure you aren't killing your users eyes with small text or bad contrast, too many pop-ups, etc. A nice clean website will rank better.
- Reviews - try to encourage your visitors and customers to leave reviews online, whatever applies to your business or industry. It helps you stand out, validates your business to potential clients. Google does look at the reviews too!
- Secure website with HTTPS - this has become more important then ever! And it's an easy way to earn some points with Google. Tip: Be sure to add both HTTP and HTTPS variants as Google Webmaster properties and link your Google Analytcs with your Google Webmaster main property.
Update: Starting in July of 2018, Google Chrome will mark all non-secure (HTTP) sites as “not secure,” according to a blog post published today by Chrome security product manager Emily Schechter. Chrome currently displays a neutral information icon, but starting with version 68, the browser will warn users with an extra notification in the address bar. Chrome currently marks HTTPS-encrypted sites with a green lock icon and “Secure” sign.
Of course this isn't an exhaustive list, but if you can tackle the above you will generally rank pretty well in Google. Happy SEOing