04- Apr2018
Posted By: DPadmin
20 Views

Seven ways to future-proof your SEO strategy for 2018

The web’s changing, and so is the ways people use it. Update your SEO strategy so you’re not behind the times.

Search engine optimisation is always changing. To stay ahead of your competitors you need to be able to shift your SEO strategy. You can expect to see mobile devices, artificial intelligence (AI) and voice search dominate the news.

But what practical steps should you take this year? In this article, I’ll take you through the key trends to be aware of in 2018, and what you can do to act on them.

 

1. Leverage Google RankBrain and user experience signals

AI was a big topic last year. This year is no different. Google’s pushing to use AI whenever it can and it’s no different in search. Its machine learning system RankBrain, is its third most important ranking factor after links and content.

RankBrain helps Google better understand search queries. It runs tests on Google’s algorithm to try improve the user experience for people using the search engine, measuring the success based on user experience signals like click through rate, bounce rate and time on site.

How to optimise for RankBrain:

  1. Reduce your bounce rate
  2. improve your click-through-rate, and
  3. keep people on your website longer.

 

2. Make sure your website load speed is lightning fast

Nothing is more frustrating than a slow website, and search engines know this. Page load speed has been a known ranking factor for some time.

Until now, this has only applied to the desktop version of you website. Google has announced that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches, too.

How fast is your website load? According to Pingdon, the average page speed is 3.2 seconds, while Google’s benchmark is 2 seconds.

How to improve your page speed:

  1. Reduce media file sizes
  2. compile and minify your code
  3. upgrade your hosting package
  4. work with developers to improve server response, and
  5. leverage browser caching.

 

3. Go mobile-First

In case you’ve been under a rock, mobile devices are taking over the world. It’s time to take your digital strategy mobile-first.

Jump into your analytics and check your device spilt to see what part of your website traffic is mobile. And even if it’s not a large part here’s why you need to go mobile-first:

  • Google has said that more than half of all its searches occur on mobile, and
  • this year it will begin switching to a mobile-first index. This means it will rank your website based on how it renders and appears on mobile devices.

 

How to prepare for mobile-first index:

  1. Make sure your website is mobile responsive
  2. make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content, and
  3. structured data is important for indexing and search features.

 

4. Prepare for voice search

A clear next step from mobile is voice search. Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Google Assistant and more are living in our pockets and homes. Voice search is becoming more prominent in daily life.

Comscore predicts that 50% of searches by 2020 will be through voice-technology. Are you prepared?

How to get ready for voice search:

  1. Focus on answering questions
  2. target long-tail keyword phrases
  3. structure your pages with the question in the heading and answer directly beneath it, and again:
  4. optimise your website for mobile.

 

5. Take your visitors security seriously with HTTPS

Two big names in the web industry – Google and Mozilla – have each taken measures to make the web more secure. Chrome and Safari now show ‘not secure’ on pages with forms when websites are not secured with an SSL certificate.

Not to mention that Google has been using HTTPS as a ranking factor for a few years now. And with this recent security push we can expect it will become more important in the future.

How to make your website secure:

  1. Get a SSL certificate installed on your server, and
  2. migrate by redirecting HTTP urls to HTTPS.

 

6. Create long form content, it wins every time

There’s been a big shift in the length of content required in the past year. A short blog post is no longer going to rank well for a competitive keyword.

To rank in search engines you need to be writing long-form content that covers several topics. Research from Backlinko and Search Engine Land has shown that the top five spots on average in Google are usual north of 1,500 words.

How to write long form content:

  1. Pick a short-medium tail keyword
  2. cover it comprehensively in 2,000 words or more, and
  3. break it up by sub-topics: aim for six to eight.

 

7. Focus on content and links: they’re not going away

They are here to stay. With all the new trends that come and go in the SEO world, the foundation will always be content and links.

Google has confirmed that content and links are its top ranking factors. Without great content you will never get high-quality links. And without high-quality links you won’t rank for competitive keywords.

Source: Seven ways to future-proof your SEO strategy for 2018

06- Mar2018
Posted By: DPadmin
47 Views

Why Building a Brand Is the Most Viable SEO Strategy

Google has always given brands preferential treatment.

They get better rankings with fewer links. They get “penalized” for improper conduct, only to resurface a few weeks later.

Small brands, on the other hand?

Never get the benefit of the doubt. Need to earn twice as many links. And never resurface. Ever.

And this is only accelerating. It’s only getting more pronounced.

So much so, that there’s virtually nothing else you should focus on in 2018, besides building a brand. Big brands will get showcased in the SERPs. And small companies will be left in the dust.

Here’s why.

SERPs Are Changing Dramatically

Google is known for tinkering. Thousands of times a year.

But it isn’t just the algorithm updates we should pay attention to. The cause and effect of layout adjustments also changes user behavior.

For example, featured snippets have been on the rise.

featured snippet

Moz found that they’ve risen from 5.5 percent to 16 percent in just two years. But they recently saw a 10 percent decrease in featured snippets in a matter of four days.

So, what happened?

The knowledge panels got a serious boost in visibility, for starters. Search terms like “Graphic Design,” that once had featured snippets, now have gone full knowledge panel:

knowledge graphs

And all those related searches above have it now, too. Even a generic search for “travel” will net you this:

travel knowledge graph

Moz also found a 30 percent increase in knowledge panels for SERPs without a featured snippet in the first place.

So what’s happening?

Google is trying to answer the query. With content from other people. Without requiring them to click to view the source.

Where searches for “travel” would once net travel-based blog posts or definitions on branded sites, Google now pulls data directly into the SERPs.

And most of that content is coming from huge brands and definition-based sources like Wikipedia.

That means the pool of helpful content is narrowed down to a few big players.

People don’t have to click on an organic listing to get information anymore. And currently, only one brand is being featured in a given knowledge panel.

Spoiler alert: It probably isn’t you.

Less and less people are clicking on actual search engine listings now. We’re currently at a 60/40 split.

Only 60 percent of searches on Google results in a click. That’s 40 percent generating zero clicks. And smarter people than me expect that to hit 50 percent soon.

And for smaller fish trying to swim past the reef, that’s bad news.

Google’s implementation of the Knowledge Graph is solving user problems without the need to click. And the majority of brands ranking in the knowledge panels are the big ones.

That means less traffic, fewer clicks, and more importantly: less organically-driven sales.

Brand Recognition Is Critical to Getting Clicks

Do me a favor real quick:

Perform a basic test right now on Google. Perform an obscure, long-tail search for an industry keyword and analyze the SERPs.

What do you see? What sticks out instantly?

Specific brands.

HubSpot. Search Engine Journal. Marketo.

bestmarketingblogger.com? Not so much.

Even if bestmarketingblogger.com is ranking #1, you’re probably going to skip right over it to a familiar site.

Just like you’d choose Coca-Cola over your local grocery store’s generic version.

Brand recognition is a powerful thing. Powerful enough for you to skip on Google’s top ranking post. Powerful enough to drive a more expensive sale.

We can’t help it. We’re creatures of habit.

We do what feels comfortable. What we know and what we can trust.

For example, a Nielsen study found that global consumers are far more likely to buy new products from brands that are familiar.

Sixty percent of consumers would rather buy new products from a familiar brand that they recall, rather than switching to a new one.

Take this “basketball shoes” sponsored search result for an example:

basketball shoes sponsored search

Which shoe would you buy? Probably Nike.

They’re a familiar brand that’s known for producing high-quality basketball shoes. Plus they’ve got Lebron and Kobe and Jordan.

Champion on the other hand? C’mon, son.

The Champion shoe could be cheaper. And you’re still more likely to click on Nike, first.

Trust is one of the most important factors in making a purchase decision. And it’s no different when it comes to organic search results.

You’re going to click on what you know and trust. And that all comes down to branding.

For example, with this SERP below, nearly every article is the same.

small business SEO SERP

“XX SEO tips for small businesses.” The content is virtually the same. Meaning clicks are going to come down to one thing:

Brand recognition.

Does Forbes instantly stand out in your mind as a popular source of information? They get the click. Even though it has nothing to do with their content quality (another spoiler: It’s not good).

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Research from Search Engine Land and Survey Monkey again proves this underlying trend. They surveyed over 400 consumers on one specific question:

What is most important in helping you decide which results to click on in a search engine search?

According to their data, nearly 70 percent of U.S. consumers said they look for a “known retailer” when deciding what search results to click on.

The stronger the brand recognition, the higher the odds of generating clicks. Which means the higher the odds of getting the sale.

SERP CTR Is Beginning to Outperform Rankings

Ranking number one doesn’t mean what it used to anymore.

Historical SERP click-through rate graphs are beginning to lie. You know, the ones that say ranking first on Google gets you 30+percent of clicks for an unbranded search.

The stats I referenced above prove that’s not the case anymore.

If nobody knows who you are, you aren’t generating 30+ percent of the organic clicks. The content might be amazing. But you’re a nobody. So nobody’s giving you a chance.

SERP CTR is becoming more important than traditional rankings, too.

And in fact, SERP CTR likely has an impact on rankings.

While links and content are the top two direct ranking factors, SERP CTR is creeping up as an indirect factor.

Check out this tweet from Rand Fishkin of Moz:

Rand Fishkin tweet

That’s evidence of Google analyzing search queries and clicks to see what content users preferred.

No click on the first position? That’s a signal to Google that it’s not performing like a top piece of content.

More clicks might, in fact, result in a rankings boost.

And WordStream’s own data just backed this up, finding that the more your pages beat the expected organic CTR for a query, the more likely they are to appear higher in organic listings.

But when you don’t have the luxury of brand awareness, people don’t see your content until they click. So they really don’t know how amazing it is.

And sadly, they probably never will:

The vast majority are clicking because of brand recognition, not content strength.

similar content better brand strength

It’s the same with digital advertising and purchase behavior too. Brand aware users are 2x more likely to purchase from you.

If HubSpot is two spots below you, you can bet that the lion’s share of “your” traffic is being stolen.

Those fancy headline hacks and meta description tweaks can improve your CTR, sure.

Going against the grain and producing clickbait-esque headlines might get you a 1-2 percent increase:

content marketing clickbait

But not enough to have a big impact.

Not enough to take your traffic and double it.

Small changes won’t net massive results.

If they did, we’d all be dominating the competition, and I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Simply A/B testing or changing a button color won’t do it either.

Large-scale changes are needed to produce better SEO results.

Branding is the only way to do it, and it’s the most viable SEO strategy on the market today.

Focusing on branding will help drive higher click-through rates in organic SERPs, which correlates with higher conversion rates.

A fantastic, cheap way to put this into practice is using cheap social ads to drive brand awareness.

Facebook has the cheapest CPM out of any advertising platform ever created.

You can get away with spending $1 per day, reaching up to 4,000 new users with brand awareness ads.

That’s roughly 120,000 new faces coming across your brand monthly for just $30.

There’s no cheaper way to build brand awareness than with social ads.

Use them to drive traffic to your latest content and build a brand reputation in the process.

brand awareness social media

Branding is an investment in your company’s future. Sure, the effects won’t be instant.

But when your organic traffic is declining, and brands are starting to overpower you, you’ll wish you’d invested in it sooner.

Conclusion

Google has given brands preferential treatment for years now.

And that preferential treatment only increases with each minor and major update.

It’s a vicious trap where the rich keep cruising, and the poor keep drowning.

Branding is our only hope for conducting better SEO in 2018.

The vast majority of consumers cite brand recognition as driving clicks and sales.

And that means those typical organic CTR graphs are a heaping pile of BS.

Brand recall drives more clicks and sales than positioning.

As Google SERPs shift more toward favoring big brands, it’s time for smaller brands to invest more of their SEO budget and strategy into building a memorable brand.

Source: Why Building a Brand Is the Most Viable SEO Strategy