Are you ready to tackle search engine optimization (SEO) in 2018? SEO rapidly changes, but in the excitement of adapting to the next big thing, many digital marketers often miss the evolutionary component of our SEO practices. Most of the tips, tricks, and strategies you’ll need for digital marketing in 2018 have a strong foundation in our existing practices. Knowing where to go in 2018 is all about predicting and observing the next step in current best practices.
Here’s how to sharpen your SEO skills in preparation for the new year.
1. Design or Redesign with a Mobile-First Objective
Have you noticed how websites on desktop now look a lot more like sites on mobile? Pages like this aren’t even necessarily the best for desktop user experiences – but users access the internet on their mobile devices with increasing frequency.
While it may sound like “mobile-first” means putting smartphone users ahead of desktop users when it comes to design, it actually refers to the design process itself. In mobile-first design, the web designer lays out the site for the simplest supported device first, then works from there. Think about it like learning another language: it helps to have a firm view of the alphabet before you dive into the more advanced stuff.
2. Get Featured Snippets
Google featured snippets provide clear, essential, summarized pieces of information about search topics. If your information is featured in the snippet, users are more likely to click on the site. Here’s what came up in a search for “who is Joan of Arc?”
Featured snippets get you the coveted “position zero” in search results. You can help your content get there using these tips, which will also help you produce more informative and engaging content:
- Answer the question for which you’re trying to rank. The Joan of Arc result reads like an answer to question.
- If you want to rank for a “how to” search query, provide numbered instructions.
- For other queries, bullet points in the body of your text are helpful.
- Decide what type of snippet you’re going for – then decide how to present the information. The Joan of Arc example is a paragraph snippet, but other topics are best presented as lists (instructions or recipes) or tables.
Digital marketing and SEO expert Neil Patel provides useful tips for uncovering snippet ranking opportunities.
3. Consider RankBrain
When digital marketing experts try to explain Google’s RankBrain, they’re met with criticism from the industry. That’s because RankBrain is Google’s secret sauce – no one knows the full details of how it works. To keep up with RankBrain, you’ve got to avoid getting lost in the theories these “experts” present and take a look at what we do know about it:
- RankBrain analyzes user behavior to provide more accurate search results
- It is the true bridge between algorithm and high-functioning AI
- Dwell Time is an important RankBrain factor
The key point about RankBrain: In line with Google’s mission, it’s all about pleasing the user and delivering results. RankBrain may not be able to detect values like altruism, impact, and expertise in every niche by analyzing your post, but it does understand what content humans like – and readers in your niche can quickly determine these aspects of your content.
Keep RankBrain in mind, but focus on producing quality content.
4. Find Your Niche in Video
When you think of content, start thinking of video first. What does that mean for you in terms of SEO? It’s about more than the copy you write for your video descriptions (although that’s important, too).
It’s time to think about where voice recognition and video are going.
Voice recognition and voice search exist, so assume that Google searches not only your description and markup, but the audio itself. This can really help you tighten up your script, and LSI knows it’s essential for evergreen video content SEO because Google’s accuracy will only continue to evolve.
Lastly, don’t forget to do what we’ve done above with the Moz video: include video links in the body of your blog posts. This will also help with the aforementioned dwell time.
5. Provide Data
Due to the proliferation and exposure of fake news and manipulated paid advertising practices, our general audience is now well aware of the importance of validating sources. Each piece of content you produce contains the potential to bolster your authority with this now-aware audience – and the key to that is data.
If possible, collect original data. Case studies are awesome – and if you’re not a data scientist, that’s okay. A few facts, stats, or screenshots showing cause and effect are necessary, but your anecdotal evidence is important also.
For example, if you wanted to talk about how you improved engagement on your Facebook posts and how that contributed to ROI (return on investment), you could provide:
- Definition of ‘engagement’ on posts and number of engagements received
- Amount of times users clicked on your provided link in these high-engagement posts
- Conversion of those clicks
This would show that engaged users convert, but the story sells the data. Screenshots of comments, questions, or other user engagements would support the data along with a clear picture of why you chose to increase engagement (or the nature of the low conversion problem you’re trying to solve).
Link to others’ data and case studies to support your own findings. Make sure you credit them. If your piece is stellar, don’t forget to reach out to them to let them know you’ve included their data. It’s likely they’ll share it on social media since you’ve increased their authority.
You can also make use of available data from sites and services like Statista, a repository of vetted data.
Visual presentations of data usually hit the mark, so consider an image, infographic, or video when it comes to placing your data. Make sure to cite all of your data via footnotes (images and infographics) and video descriptions.
Lastly, don’t lose sight of the big picture. Storytelling is here to stay, and it’s the frame for these evolving best practices.
Ready to roll? Tell us all about your greatest SEO or digital marketing challenges in 2018 by leaving a comment. Let’s find solutions together.