Your website remains your shop window – the first impression most potential customers have of your firm.
If you want to be seen, SEO is vital. Make your site visible and you’ll get onto your prospects’ radar.
Here we look at a recent blog that shares 6 SEO factors you should consider in 2018.
Why SEO matters
Search engine optimisation – the art of ensuring your website is designed and written so as to appeal to search engines – is an essential ingredient in today’s marketing menu.
In fact, ‘search engine optimisation’ is a bit misleading. Because of course you’re not writing for Google and their peers – you’re writing for your audience.
But search engines assess websites using criteria that decide how user-friendly your site is. So writing content that works for search engines should be one and the same as writing content that works for your audience. Just one reason why high quality content is so important in the era of SEO.
What does SEO look like in 2018?
1. Mobile-first indexing
According to the blog, this represents ‘the biggest change in search for years’.
What is it? It means that Google will look at your mobile website – not your desktop one – when it assesses your site and decides on your rank. It’s expected to be rolled out fully this year.
What does this mean for you? If you have a separate mobile version of your website, or your mobile site is slow or not intuitive, this will count against you when it comes to SEO. Find out the design, style and writing standards you need to meet to make your site mobile-friendly.
2. Links and content
The blog reminds us that backlinks (links from other reputable sites to your own) remain important. The start of the year is a good time to revisit your strategy.
Are you asking for links everywhere you can? Identify whether there are suppliers, event organisers, publishers or other partners you can work with to provide links. Quality is the key here; links from a few well-regarded sites will improve your rank more than lots of less well-rated ones.
Of course, if you’re re asking people to link to your site, they have to believe there’s a benefit for their readers. This is far easier if you can demonstrate that you produce consistently high-quality material. Understanding how Google ranks your content helps here.
You can also look at the potential for providing content to other sites too; as the article says, ‘most will be receptive to an offer of a guest post/column, and some will even throw in a link as part of the bargain’.
Your main objective here should be making your content visible on a new platform. Think of this as an exercise in getting your relevant material in front of a new audience; any backlink is a bonus.
In terms of writing quality material, you can get good tips direct from Google’s digital content style guide. The Google guide encourages web content that makes the user journey easy and enjoyable – because of course content isn’t just about keywords, it’s about writing in a way that engages your audience.
3. Think local
If you are a locally-focused business, local search is an essential consideration.
Your site – and any external listings – all need to be consistent when it comes to your contact details; opening hours; address and other key details.
Reviews are increasingly important – and while referrals and reviews on social media play a growing role in B2B buying decisions, it’s equally important that these reviews appear on your own site too.
Read more about why local marketing can be as important to financial services marketers as it is to other sectors.
4. Voice search is changing the rules
Google Home and Amazon Alexa – among other voice recognition tools – are changing the way we look for information online.
The growth in voice-activated technology is fundamentally changing the way we ask questions – and will inevitably trickle down to written search.
You need to make sure your website answers questions in the way they’re now being asked.
As an example – you might type into Google ‘best Indian restaurant near me’. But you’re unlikely to talk like this. A voice search might ask ‘What’s the best Indian restaurant near me?’
Your website can optimise for voice search by making some tweaks to its structure. A ‘question and answer’ format is one solution that works well. Do this and you can stay a step ahead as search evolves.
5. Keep an eye on your competitors
It can be hard to track rank and get a picture of the keyphrases that are working for you.
But keeping an eye on your competitors’ sites and rankings can help. The blog suggests that you:
‘Start with a broad keyphrase list and look over their websites to see the types of phrases they are using in the title tag on key category and product pages or other content-based areas. This will give you a clue to their strategy – remember; for them to rank, the words must be on the pages in the first place!’
Importantly, as well as identifying their ranking strengths, you can also spot their weaknesses. If competitors have holes in their online presence, you can exploit these gaps to rank yourself.
6. User journeys
Search strategies are often viewed as ‘silos’. You approach your website differently to your YouTube channel, which is different again to your paid ads.
In fact, think of a few key phrases and how you can ‘own’ these across all your channels. Use them in your videos as liberally as you sprinkle them in your writing.
What are the other sites that rank for these phrases? Can you get links from them to your site, or have some of your content posted on them?
If your potential customers see you at every step of their journey, you’re on the way to becoming familiar and trusted.
The online landscape is ever-changing, but the importance of SEO is unlikely to diminish any time soon. As we’ve mentioned above, Google’s changes to focus on mobile website represent a big change in 2018.