Now that 2018 is winding down, we thought it would be a good time to review SEO tactics - what’s working, what’s not, and what we expect to see working in 2019. And like any good review, let’s start with a quick overview of the topic.
What is SEO?
In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. It begins with a complete understanding of your target audience - who are they, where are they, when are they searching, what are they searching, how are they searching? Then use this data to create a strategy to optimise your page(s) to improve your SERP ranking and appear more on relevant searches.
Why is it important?
Let’s take our digital marketing hats off for a second and step into our real life, out of the office. Let’s say you want to go to dinner and a movie tonight; how would you go about deciding when and where to go? You probably hop onto Google on your phone and search ‘cinema times’ knowing full well that Google is smart enough to use your location to pull up the timetable of your closest cinema. And what about that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try but can’t remember the name? Type in anything you know about it - ‘Indian restaurant on the corner of X and Y’ - and BAM Google’s smart enough to figure that out as well!
My point is that a majority of the time, you go to search engines to find information, not directly to the webpage. Meaning the majority of traffic that lands on your website has come from search engine results. Getting your website to pop up on the SERP (search engine results page) has instantly just gone to the top of your to-do list.
‘SEO has about 20x more traffic opportunity than PPC on both mobile and desktop.’
We’ve stated that Google is smart - but search engines still need our help. That’s where SEO steps in. By optimising your site with the right keywords and content and making sure that each page ties in with and supports your overall topic, you provide better information to search engines so they can properly index and display your content in the right search results.
SEO tactics that worked great in 2018
Update, upgrade, and republish your most popular blogs to get lasting and recurring value from your content.
Creating one general page that covers all areas of a topic, then creating more in-depth cluster pages that address a specific keyword and link to the pillar page.
They tend to be more specific, meaning someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service.
Quality over Quantity - Providing relevant content that your target audience will find useful is the key to getting them to recall your brand and to come back over and over.
SEO tactics that didn’t work great in 2018
Focusing on getting backlinks
This ties into quality over quantity. A good backlink will help SEO, but it’s not a magic bullet. If you create good content and promote it well, you will get good links along the way naturally. Never buy backlinks - not only is it unethical but it’s against the Google Webmaster guidelines.
Implementing keywords in your content is important but having your keyword in every sentence can hurt you. Implement keywords where they make sense and read well.
Focusing too narrowly on specific keywords
Coming back to pillar & cluster content, SEO and Google have evolved to recognise topics and how your whole site has authority within that topic. Broaden out and focus on several supporting keywords instead of one specific keyword.
Chasing ranking #1
You may rank number one but things like Google’s rich answer box, PPC ads, Google news, and social interactions can all still pop up before your organic listing. While it can’t hurt you to rank #1, you don’t want to waste too much time or money getting to #1.
‘Modern SEO is about topic optimisations and the relationship one page has within the whole website and its wider place with the topic online.’
What we expect to see in 2019
Continued growth in voice search and the use of machine learning and AI - SEO will need to diversify to find new opportunities to reach prospects squeezing the maximum value out of every piece of content.
Importance of security
We’ve already seen this with GDPR and it is only going to get more important that websites are secure. This means hosting on secure servers, encrypting sites, and keeping everything up-to-date. Google already gives ranking boosts to sites on a secure protocol (HTTPS vs. HTTP) and this emphasis on security will only grow as time passes.
Blockchain has the potential for marketers of all industries to be affected. From data collection to data security, to how consumers view digital display ads. This is something marketers should keep an eye on in 2019.
With the way technology is today, the digital world is always changing and we as marketers must evolve with it if we want to stay in the game. Who knows, maybe this time next year our list will look completely different!
What do you think? Are there SEO tactics that you believe are working, or not working? Let us know!
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