With 2018 literally just around the corner (by the way, how is it possible that 2017 is almost gone...?) it’s time to look ahead to the new year and make sure that your main online asset, your business website, is still up the task of turning visitors into loyal customers.
Of course, having a good looking website with all the bells and whistles is absolutely no use to you if no-one visits it. In fact, you want the exact opposite don’t you? You want heaps of ‘organic’ traffic; and it must also be the right traffic – after all, only people who are looking for the goods or services that you sell are likely to buy what you’re selling.
Is all this even possible? Yup, it is – with SEO or search engine optimisation.
No matter what business you’re in, in today’s everyone-always-online world, where digital has become the main marketing channel for just about every business, SEO has a lot to do with how well your business will do online.
So what then is SEO?
SEO refers to the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic coming to your website, and doing so through organic search results.
To achieve this, your website not only has to be detected by the search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing, from among all the other websites out there, but the search engines also have to rate the content on your website as being worthy of being ranked, because of its quality and usefulness to visitors.
In other words, without good SEO your content wouldn’t be found but without good content you won’t get ranked. However, get your SEO right and it becomes a very powerful business tool in today’s digital world.
9 actionable SEO tips for 2018
So, to set you up so you’re raring to go for digital success in 2018, here are 9 actionable SEO tips to help boost your search results.
- Make sure your headings are informative and user friendly: If your headings (H1, H2, H3 and so on) are merely stuffed with keywords or variations of keywords, update them so they are more engaging and user friendly. In other words, use keywords but make sure you use them in a way that seems natural and makes sense. Your audience (and the search engines) will appreciate them more.
- Keep your URLs short and sweet: Longer URLs, and especially those with all sorts of nonsensical (for the reader) symbols and letters rank much lower than shorter URLs where the words make sense to a reader, helping them to understand what they can expect to find on the page in question.
- Make sure your page titles are descriptive: If, like your headings, you’ve stuffed your page titles with keywords, then rework your page titles so you only include one keyword and you do so in a way that helps make the page title reader friendly.
- Make sure any images you use also tell a story: Optimizing all alternative text (for images) by using keywords in a sensible and meaningful way is a great way to complement the story your content is already telling. So work through all your images and add descriptive alt text.
- Keep your reader engaged: Online engagement is still one of the most important SEO tactics. Never make the mistake of thinking a good-looking website is enough to compensate for poor quality content. All your content has to be easy to read and interesting, otherwise visitors will simply leave. Bounce rates (people arriving and then departing quickly) are bad for SEO, but people that linger and browse are good for SEO. So, take a long hard look at your content – if it has been around for a while, it would probably do wonders to get a good writer to revamp it. Having new content alone will help increase SEO rankings, and if the content is also high-quality and interesting enough to captivate the reader, even better.
- Create an HTTPS version of your website: People have become very security conscious online. And Google has already said that it will promote secure websites. So, ensuring you get the security of your site sorted will go a long way to pleasing both Google and the ever-increasing security conscious online masses out there.
- Be social: With more and more people active on social media, you need to go where the people are. So get active on at least three social media platforms – we recommend Facebook (that’s a no brainer simply because of the size of the network) and then any of the other big ones, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn – and build a following who are prepared to actively share your content. This is another reason why you need to do everything you can to ensure all your content is high quality – otherwise no-one will be willing to share it.
- Don’t keep anyone waiting: The speed with which pages load is very important. People are impatient and are no longer even prepared to wait more than a few seconds. Google knows this too, so its algorithm gives site speed a high priority. Compress and optimise images and anything else you can to increase the speed of your website.
- Make sure your website is optimised for mobile: Having a responsive website is no longer optional. With more people now accessing the Internet via mobile devices than the number who don’t, your website simply has to provide a good experience for all users no matter what device they use to visit you. Not having a properly-displaying website on mobile devices will significantly affect your SEO in a negative way.
There you have it, 9 actionable SEO tips for you to implement in 2018. Ultimately, the goal of every business is to rank high on search results and to be able to drive lots of high-quality organic traffic to their website. The only way to make this a reality is with SEO.
If you keep your hand on your SEO – the search engine environment is constantly changing (in response to the needs of their users), so SEO is never a set-and-forget exercise but always a work in progress – then you’ll see the quality and quantity of organic traffic that will enable your business to thrive online.
Cathy Mellett is Director of Net Branding – www.netbranding.co.nz – an Auckland-based full-service digital marketing agency. For almost a decade, Net Branding’s core SEO services have been helping businesses throughout New Zealand maintain a visible and effective search presence that have resulted in significant increases in sales and profitability.