Game On – How To Do SEO In 2018

If you’re doing your own SEO in 2018, it can get confusing. Changes and trends in SEO strategy change fast and change often. As I talked about last week, SEO tactics that worked great last year are now proving to be ineffective due to Google’s requirements for content and the ever-changing algorithm updates.

Strategies such as single keyword pages or keyworded content are not only ineffective –  Google is much better at sniffing out real content and content written for the sole purpose of better page rankings.

The shifting rules and attention to analytics require a considerable time investment and a willingness to update your skills.  This is why LinkedIn ranked SEO/SEM Marketing as one of the top 10 most required skills for 2018.

It’s simple – if you understand how to execute a successful SEO strategy, you’re golden.

If you’re not interested in becoming an SEO guru, it’s still a good practice to familiarize yourself with the trends that are working right now. Let’s look at some tips to up your SEO game on in 2018.

Keyword Research Still Matters

Keywords are still the main player in 2018. They are the backbone of successful seo strategy and that is unlikely to ever change.

I always think of keyword research as reverse engineering. To determine what keywords are relevant to your site, it’s about backtracking from the site to Google page. What are your customers going to type in the box to get to you? What combination of keywords will customers type more frequently to arrive at your site? The most commonly typed keywords are your target keywords.

Once you decide on target keywords you can research how they will rank on Google. Google’s keyword tools are essential for keyword research and finding other options.

Remember – the most competitive keywords aren’t always the best option. Every other business in your field is bidding on those and there’s only one first page in Google. The odds are stacked against you.

This goes for general terms, too. If you’re a dog breeder, “puppies” is worthless as a search term. Who types “puppies” in a Google search? Some person at work who wants to goof off and look at cute puppy pics. This is far from anything that resembles a potential customer.

Keyword Target Tips!

Use Long Tail Keywords – A string of relevant terms for your business will mimic the types of searches potential customers are doing. For example, if you’re a salon owner, instead of “hair extensions” a string such as “pastel colors tape in long hair extensions” will draw in more customers.

Use A Location – Hair extensions Calgary or hair extensions Detroit 8 Mile are examples of using location or neighborhood to target keywords.

Add A “Carrot” – Use words that customers love. “Free”, “sale”, “discount” are some examples. If you run a sale on your hair extensions, you can use a keyword string such as “hair extensions sale Calgary” or “hair extensions discount” and you’re likely to get some interested customers.

Keep Doing On Page SEO

If you’ve been writing on the Internet, this should come as second nature. If you’re writing about hair extensions, you’re going to be breaking up sections to discuss the different types. So it’s easy to make sure focus keywords are covered.

Remember, you only need to mention a focus keyword 4 or 5 times in a blog to rank properly. Thankfully, keyword stuffing is now quickly penalized by Google and that’s a good thing. Besides, nothing is more boring than reading an article and realizing it’s just content for ranking only or click bait.

A well researched, well-written article will inevitably hit the target number of focus keywords. You can also use keywords as part of your page title, URL, headings or in your meta description. If you use WordPress, Yoast SEO is a must to evaluate your page.

With all the things to worry about with SEO, on page keyword content is one of the easiest boxes to check. Write with passion and the keywords will follow.

Tag Your Images

This is so easy to do – if you’re not doing it, you’re missing out!

From now on, any image that accompanies your content should have a relevant file name and alt text. For example, if you’re writing about clip in hair extensions, you can rename your image file “90002018.jpg” to something more relevant such as “clip in extensions” or “clip in hair”. By renaming the file name and alt text, you’re providing another opportunity for a search engine to identify your content.

seo in 2018

WordPress makes it easy to update alt text. You can change the attribute in the image details in the media library, or directly in the post editor. You can check out this tutorial for more information, also.

The Great Backlink Quest

Backlinks are the gold stars of SEO strategy. A shout out from a popular website and before you know it, customers are piling in to scope out your stuff. It’s magical.

Why are backlinks important? Because search engines evaluate your backlinks for relevance and categorization. If your site is consistently getting backlinks from legitimate sites, this increases your site’s ranking potential, also.

Like keyword searches, applying reverse engineering can give you some perspective on how to build backlinks. Ask yourself, what makes you want to share content from another subject matter expert? For me, it’s clear, concise content or the holy grail of content marketing, the infographic. In 2018, a nifty infographic on a subject like SEO is likely to get you backlinks. This goes for videos as well. Information that is condensed in a graphic or video is much more likely to be viewed by readers, so these are tools to build SEO currency.

As I mentioned in my last article, you can forget link farms and other spammy nonsense. Build dynamic content, work on your brand and you’ll find it easier to establish backlinks on sites that matter.

Your New Persona? Data Junkie

I love Google Analytics!… said no one, ever.

Folks, the one thing that hasn’t changed in 2018? Analytics.

You can check every box when it comes to keyword and backlinking, but if you don’t have a way to quantify how many eyes are on your site, all your hard work is meaningless.

Since it’s the Internet, there are endless ways to measure traffic, click through rates, time on page and search rankings. There are also endless resources on how to use Google Analytics to measure your results.

It’s important to see what’s working and what isn’t. For example, are your backlinks drawing customers that you are targeting? Are they drawing enough traffic? These answers will help you decide what kinds of partners you’ll work with in the future.

Google Analytics offers a variety of ways to measure traffic. This makes it possible to customize how you choose to measure your metrics and understand where your hard work is making a difference.

Summary

SEO in 2018 requires different strategies but there are things that haven’t changed; it’s still hard work and Google still makes the rules.

This is a reflection of how much smarter search engines have become. Also, web users have more options now – they want better content that provides answers and solutions.

This is why creating engaging content is a necessity. A high page ranking is important, but users will continue to visit your site if it consistently offers meaningful content.

Optimizing SEO is important, but the reason always comes back to better user experience. When users find your site, make sure they want to stick around.

Do you need assistance with your website’s SEO? Contact us for a hassle-free consultation. We’ll review your business needs and recommend a flexible, affordable package for you!

Cynda Pike is a content creator for Virtual Gurus. Silver hair, black eyebrows. I love makeup, computers and medieval art.

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