SEO Must-Haves for Your Website in 2018 – A Comprehensive List
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has come a long way since its inception in the early 1990s, and continues to evolve each year. Don’t let your website get lost in the shadows of its online competition, build a website that will outshine the rest.
Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of things your website must have to be optimized for search engines in 2018.
In 2018, Google is working to enhance its SERP (Search Engine Results Page) features and featured ads, and the information they display. They’re working to make SERPs more personalized and visually appealing for the user who’s making a search query.
Structured data is what will ensure your that website’s content is prominently displayed in relevant and timely SERPs, in Google Search and in other search engines too. Structured data requires you to format the HTML in the content on your website in a way that’s easier for search engines to recognize and interpret, so it appears to the appropriate user who’s making a search query in a search engine.
This sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Google has detailed sources for how to implement structured data. Moz has a great and detailed post on how to implement these tools on your website as well.
Did you know that the average mobile user will abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load? That’s right, only three seconds (Soasta)! And search engines don’t like websites that take too long to load either, even if they’re being accessed from a desktop.
Slow-loading sites will rank lower in search results because not as many people are clicking on them and engaging with their content. Be sure your website loads immediately in 2018, if you want your SEO ranking to increase.
There are several simple tools that you can use to scan your website so you can see how long it takes to load. This source offers a list of 15 free website speed test tools (including GT Metrix, WebPageTest, and Google PageSpeed Insights). These are great starting points and most of these tools will even offer suggestions on what you can update or fix on your website so that it loads faster.
Enhancements for Voice Search
Currently 40% of adults use voice search at least once per day, which is 35 times more than in 2008 (Branded 3, Location World). Implementing structured data (see above) will help your website appear in more voice-activated searches.
In addition, you’ll want to include text phrasing in your web content that people will really use when conducting voice searches. Search engines are becoming more sophisticated in recognizing what users’ intents are when they’re searching for things with their voices.
Including an FAQs section on a website you build, can ensure it appears more often in voice-activated searches. For instance, someone will ask a search engine something like “What is a paleo diet?” or “How do I build a website?”. They are less likely to say things like, “information about paleo diets,” or, “build a website.”
It’s no secret that smartphones and mobile devices are now used by a vast majority of the population. But building a website that’s optimized for mobile users is no longer an option in 2018 if you want to stay ahead of the competition in search rankings.
Google announced its mobile-first index back in 2016, but its effects won’t really be felt until 2018 and beyond. In 2018, they’re getting more serious about ranking sites that are mobile-friendly because over half of all searches are now conducted on mobile devices (Search Engine Land).
Your website will need to have a mobile-responsive design and load quickly on mobile devices to rank higher in search engines.
Relevant, Optimized, and Comprehensive Content
Google and other search engines are working with new forms of machine-learning and artificial intelligence to measure how searchers are interacting with their results pages and the content that appears on them, as well as the semantic terms they’re using to generate search results.
While you don’t necessarily need to be familiar with every facet of this technology, you’ll need to know that it constantly works to remember how internet users are interacting with the content on your website that’s appearing in search results. In addition, if you want your content to appear higher in search engines so that it gets more interactions, you’ll need to ensure that it’s relevant and comprehensive to your searchers.
Helpful Tip: If you include structured data on your website and content that’s optimized for voice searches (more information about this above), then publishing relevant and comprehensive content will be a lot easier to implement.
Here are some tips and things to keep in mind when developing different types of content for your website in 2018, especially if you want it to rank higher in search engines.
Tips for Written Content
- Constantly audit your written content to ensure it includes keywords your target audience is using in search queries, but don’t overstuff your content with unnecessary keywords and jargon.
- Make written content easy to read and scan, so mobile users can easily view it on their devices. Include things like bulleted lists and headers.
- Include plain language people will use to search for your content or website.
- Write content that helps solve problems and answers questions people are already searching for.
- Publish original research, surveys, and opinions whenever possible. Make the voice in your content unique.
- Long-form content usually ranks higher than shorter content because it contains more comprehensive information. But quality trumps quantity every time. If you’re answering questions that your target audience has and is searching for, then your content will end up ranking higher.
Tips for Visual and Video Content
- Know that 82% of all Internet traffic will be made up of online video content by 2021 (Cisco). So, if you want your website to rank well and be visible, you’ll need to include videos on it.
- Don’t forget to include transcriptions and captions for your videos, as search engines currently read text much easier and faster than images.
- Include optimized titles, file names, meta tags, and meta-descriptions for all your video and visual content if you want it to be readable by search engines.
- Ensure images are of high quality and aren’t overly pixelated, especially on e-commerce websites where a product’s image is critical.
Linkless Mentions Drive SEO Rankings
Backlinks to your website (where other sites link to a page on your website), once boosted your site’s authority in search engines. Now, search engines are looking for mentions of your site or brand across the Internet in general, to determine its authority. For instance, if another site just simply mentions your brand or website without including a URL link to content on your website, it will still tally this mention in its ranking algorithms. And the more mentions your website or brand receives, the higher it will rank in search engine results.
Comments and Visitor Engagement Drive SEO Rankings
Since search engines are becoming more concerned with how searchers are interacting with your content, it makes sense that your content will rank higher if users are commenting on it and directly engaging with it (i.e. viewing videos, scanning it, clicking on things). Include comment sections and social sharing buttons to increase engagement on your website in 2018. Include them in as many places across your website as possible—on product pages, blog posts, etc.
Be sure to keep this list nearby as you update or build your website. And remember that for your website to remain optimized for SEO in 2018 and beyond, it needs to focus on your users’ experience, and that it should always be relevant and easy for them to find.
Cisco. “The Zettabyte Era: Trends and Analysis,” https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/vni-hyperconnectivity-wp.html . Accessed 1/9/2018.
Everts, Tammy. “Google: 53% of Mobile Users Abandon Sites that Take Longer than 3 seconds to Load”: Soasta, https://www.soasta.com/blog/google-mobile-web-performance-study/ . Accessed 1/9/2018.
Google. “Introduction to Structured Data,” https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/intro-structured-data . Accessed 1/9/2018.
Google. “Mobile-First Indexing,” https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/11/mobile-first-indexing.html . Accessed 1/9/2018.
Jackson, Brian. “Top 15 Free Website Speed Test Tools of 2017,”: keycdn.com, https://www.keycdn.com/blog/website-speed-test-tools/#google . Accessed 1/17/2018.
Kenwright, Stephen. “Location World 2016”: Branded 3, https://www.branded3.com/blog/locationworld-2016/ . Accessed 1/9/2018.
Randolph, Bridget. “The Beginner’s Guide to Structured Data for SEO: How to Implement It”: Moz, https://moz.com/blog/structured-data-for-seo-2 . Accessed 1/9/2018.
Sterling, Greg. “Report: Nearly 60 Percent of Searches Now from Mobile Devices”: Search Engine Land, https://searchengineland.com/report-nearly-60-percent-searches-now-mobile-devices-255025 . Accessed 1/9/2018.
Feature image: Pixabay