SEO is still one of the most cost-effective inbound marketing strategies available and that’s not going to change anytime soon. So, this Halloween, we wanted to give you the lowdown on 2018’s ghoulish tricks and delicious treats of SEO, what you need to be doing and where you might be going wrong to make sure you’re maximising your efforts.
- Paid links – Google DOES NOT like paid links. Everyone knows this but it’s worth mentioning. No matter what way you get your link placed, if you’re paying for it or exchanging some sort of service to get it placed, Google will be able to tell. Not only can your competitors send spam reports, but Google has its own highly intelligent algorithm (not to mention their dedicated team of spam-fighters) so they can easily tell if a link has been paid for and your rank will receive the Jason Voorhees special and get slashed.
- Keyword spamming – Probably the most traditional and old-fashioned way of improving your SEO is now one of the worst things you can do. Back in the day, you could try and cram as many keywords into your page and your rank would improve. Some would even make the text colour match the background colour, so it wasn’t visible. Anyway, you can’t do this now. It led to a horrendous user experience where copy wouldn’t make sense and would be drenched with the word they searched for with no actual relevance. So, now Google will drag you down to the depths of hell for over-spamming your keyword. Instead, vary it up with longer-tail key phrases and more relevant content and links to improve your rank.
- Article Spinning – Stop regurgitating old content but writing it slightly differently to create a brand-new blog post. Just stop. Google and other search engines are far too clever for that; they will crawl your site and look for spun content. Obviously, you want to be as active on your blog page as much as you can but, remember, it’s quality over quantity. Don’t post content for the sake of it. Google will penalise you hard for this, as you’re not sharing anything new or adding any relevancy or authority.
- Start at home – This may seem really basic but it’s often overlooked – ensure your target keyword is on the homepage and above the fold, as well as making sure you have enough content around those keywords on the homepage. By using Google Search Console, you can find pages that have good Page Authority but don’t seem to be getting any clicks. You can then either redirect these pages to another similar page or link back to using keywords that are lingering on page two of Google.
- Let your pictures do the work – Don’t just focus on optimising the text content. Give importance and authority to the media files that are present in the web page as well. Even things as simple as optimising the images by reducing the image size and providing the alt tags will strengthen your SEO and is one of the easiest things you can do before any big campaign.
- Ignoring the UX – Did you know that 40% of your website’s visitors will abandon your website if it doesn’t load within three seconds? It’s the problem with modern society; absolutely no-one likes waiting. The majority of websites have unnecessarily long page load times that can be easily addressed on a server level. Any improvements you make to the core code will benefit every page on your website, increasing user engagement and conversions.
- Engagement through interactive content – Search engines are getting more and more intelligent all the time. They are looking at so much more than keyword density and back-links, they’re starting to look at how people actually interact with your page. Giving your readers more than text to read increases dwell time and encourages them to spend more time exploring the site to see what else you have to offer. It’s proven to be effective, as some experience a 30%click-through rate, 85% completion rate, and 45% lead conversion rate. Something that’s even more worthwhile is that your high-quality, super-engaging content will (hopefully) get picked up by other publications and outlets. It improves your SEO dramatically the minute a high authority publisher likes what they see.
- Think locally – Search engines favour local businesses because a high volume of local search terms are used every day. Think how often you Google opening times, cinema listings, local shops or where to get your Halloween costume from on your lunch break? If your website is not primed with local signals, don’t expect to show in search results.
- “Linkless” back-links – I attended Search Leeds earlier this year, and one of the most interesting topics was “linkless” back-links. When you’re outreaching to get your content published, NEVER be disheartened by a “linkless” mention. It can often be the mention by a high authority user or publication that sets the ball rolling for your content to go viral. If it’s a high-authority outlet, other high authority outlets will recognise this as good content and won’t want to miss out on this beautiful rich content that can improve their own rankings.
- The 100th outreach – Never stop outreaching. Some of the best and most viral content campaigns have often been sent to hundreds of people before one person picks it up. This ties into the point above, never give up. You never know when you’ll hit that tipping point and get your content out there.
- Comments and discussions – this may seem a little basic but it’s surprising how many SEOs forget. If you can find relevant discussions, even on your own content or your competitors. Get involved. This not only adds relevancy to your content or the topic in question, but it generates a hell of a lot of natural traffic. Google are also a HUGE fan of this due to the relevant and organic connection.
- Mobile optimisation and voice search – This has been a talking point for the past 12 months and there is no sign of it stopping. If you’re not optimising your content for mobile and for voice search, you will be left in the dark. Ensure page speeds are quick for mobile devices (see ignoring UX in the tricks) and ensure your content is readable for voice searching. It’s also worth remembering that both factors tie in heavily to localised content.
- Authority of the creator – Who is creating your content? Do you they know what they’re talking about? Will the outlets you’re targeting trust your author? All of these things are crucial to remember even before content is created. Make sure you know what you’re talking about but, more importantly, make sure you’re creating relevant content to the audience that you want to get it in front of. Keep up to date with SEO news and updates, algorithm changes – the more familiar you are and quick to get onboard new processes and trends within the industry, the higher your chance of being at the forefront and becoming an authority in the industry.
- Be sociable – Again, it seems fairly straightforward, but remaining active on social platforms is a great way to improve your SEO. Google recently added brand mentions into their algorithm and are becoming a huge part of new campaigns. Links are widely understood to be more valuable than mentions but Google loves it when lots of high-authority and reputable publishers say your name. This is why social media and online conversation is so crucial; not only will you be essentially creating more pages online, but you will be generating more mentions and actual talk of your brand and what you do, which will launch your ranking.
Have we missed any SEO tricks or treats that you’ve experienced? Let us know in the comments.