Search Engine Optimization has been a rapidly evolving field. From the early days of merely stuffing keywords onto a page to the more recent trend of having a large number of high authority links, the techniques have adjusted to match our current technology. With 2018 fast approaching, the SEO landscape is once again poised to make a noticeable shift. Here are five techniques that will be crucial to outranking your competition.
1. Use Structured Data to Stand out Among Other Websites
It used to be that the only ways to drive clicks from search engine rank placements were either to rank high or have a very targeted title tag to convince users to click through to your website. Now, Rich Snippets do even more to draw the eye towards your site, giving you a better chance to win clicks.
Rich Snippets are META data tied to your site which can be highlighted text, author profile pictures from Google+ or images found on your website. There’s a whole host of code markups that search engines use to categorize the pages on your site, and many can be found on Schema.org.
2. Optimize PageSpeed for Faster Loading
If your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, chance are it will never outrank strong competition in SERPs. Your visitors will try to find relevant information on your page, be annoyed at waiting, and leave the page. A high bounce rate due to slow page loading can have a negative impact on your rankings.
To combat this and provide a better user experience, Google has their own PageSpeed tools to help you analyze and optimize your website’s code. By starting there and taking the proper steps, you can decrease the load times and retain more visitors.
3. Lockdown Your Branding for Linkless Backlinks
Backlinks have always been a key element of SEO, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Google and other search engines need some metric to track just how credible your website is, and linking to it is a sure vote of confidence. But it’s even possible to earn clout on the web without a URL pointing to your website.
The more high-quality websites are talking about and mentioning your brand and website; the more search engines will take that into account. With SEOs having found how to game the system with links for years, search engines have had to determine who the real influencers are and how people are talking about them. By tying your brand and website together effectively, you can be recognized by more than just your website URL.
4. Quantify Objectively High-Quality Content
For years, Google and SEO experts have said quality content was the best way to influence higher search results. While that’s been a correct assessment, it’s been exceedingly subjective what that meant. Hiring a professional writer or creating a lengthy, exhaustive guide for your niche has had mixed results. The truth of the matter lies with what other websites are doing and how you can improve on their efforts.
A quick scan of what your competitions’ websites are aimed at can give you a big clue into what both your visitors and Google are looking to see from your site. Educating your potential customers on the confusing aspects of your niche can also help, similar to what is found on Brilliance’s website. They have an extensive library of educational resources to assist new customers in understanding the process of selecting the right jewelry. Sometimes it might be tempting or exciting to reinvent the wheel, but simply taking your website from where it is to where it needs to be content wise can make a big difference.
5. Tap into The Expanding Mobile User Base
Voice search is convenient, quick, and highly responsive. Users on mobile devices are typically looking for an answer or problem solved quickly. By optimizing your website for mobile devices, you can outrank your competitors who may not have taken the same steps and are lagging behind.
Google is expected to launch their mobile-first index sometime in 2018, so taking steps to prepare for that is crucial. Catering to a new crowd can yield desirable benefits to your business.
As the SEO landscape changes, so too will the techniques required to navigate it successfully. By keeping up to date with these trends as they develop, your business and website will better be able to capitalize on them in 2018.
Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for start-ups. Using his journalism training, Nick writes for publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. He concentrates on teaching small and medium-sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives.