The Smart Way to SEO Success

Google’s algorithm updates may be incremental, but the effect on SEO over time has been anything but. And while the relentless pace of those updates may make SEO feel like a game of whack-a-mole, attention to the fundamentals can make all the difference to your SEO success.

Google’s algorithm updates may be incremental, but the effect on SEO over time has been anything but. And while the relentless pace of those updates — and the churn of the competitive landscape in your industry — may make SEO feel like a game of whack-a-mole, attention to the fundamentals can make all the difference to your SEO success.

Focus on SEO Fundamentals to Start

No surprise, the first things you should examine are the fundamentals. Your page titles and headers should be keyword rich, as should your copy. (Particularly the copy nearest the top of each page.) Meta descriptions should be informative and enticing, as they’re a key factor in encouraging clicks from the search results pages.

Alt tags — and accessibility more broadly — should also be a part of your pre-publication checklist for all content. There has been increased scrutiny on accessibility compliance over the past few years. This may require a shift in your approach to coding, design, and content. It’s not directly related to SEO success, but quite a bit of accessibility compliance best practices overlap with SEO best practices.

Technical performance counts, too. Search engines use page load speeds and other measures as factors in their rankings, knowing that how quickly a page loads contributes significantly to overall user experience.

Finally, be sure you understand your analytics data. Ask the questions that get you information you can turn into actionable insights. Get your analytics team to set up reports to include those data points on your dashboard.

Do Your Research

There’s keyword research, of course, which will tell you what language your prospects are using to find the information they want. Don’t forget that the same research can also paint a useful picture of what your prospects’ pain points are.

You should also be doing competitive research. Identify which of your competitors are having SEO success and understand what keywords and kinds of content they are producing to help them win.

Chart Your Own Path with Great Content

Once you’ve identified your most successful competition and their methods, it may make sense to zig where they’ve zagged. Carving out your own niche is often preferable to trying to unseat the incumbents. Just be sure the niche you create still serves the needs of your audience.

Then, it’s all about the quality of the content. It must be useful, actionable, and engaging. No one expects your B2B content to be as entertaining as the latest Netflix sensation, but it’s wise to remember that no matter how boring your industry, your prospects still go home at night to Netflix, Hulu, and other highly entertaining diversions.

The bar is lower for us as marketers, but only if our content helps our prospects succeed.

For SEO Success in 2018 – Be Relevant and Reputable

With SEO, the adage holds that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Searchers are still looking for answers, so these are key for SEO success in 2018. But what is a high-quality answer?

With SEO, the adage holds that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Searchers are still looking for answers and have become increasingly accustomed to and impatient to receive high-quality results. So high-quality answers are key for SEO success in 2018.

What is a high-quality answer? This is not a tricky question. It is a result that answers the searcher’s query and is from a reputable source.

This seems so simple, but it takes complex search algorithms to identify the best and highest-quality answer for each search from a veritable blizzard of information online. A page may be relevant and have information that addresses the query, but the question of quality must be addressed through other means than what is on the page itself.

In the past, SEO practitioners focused on “link building” to get other sites to in effect vouch for the page’s quality. To game the system, SEO tacticians engaged in link farming, selling of links and other abuses. Each of these practices has been discredited. Some SEOs have gone so far as to say that link-building and by extension links are not valuable signals for search.

This could not be further from the truth.

You Can’t Teach a Pig to Sing

Link-building is not an isolated SEO tactic that will magically transform a weak page on a poor-quality site into a page worthy of a number 1 ranking. This just doesn’t happen anymore. Once upon a time, it was possible to game the system and make magic happen. It is much harder today, hence the premature obituaries for links were written.

Today, for a page to rise to the top of the listings, it must be relevant, authoritative and trustworthy. The page must contain an adequate amount of high quality content to satisfy the relevancy requirement.

Many SEOs have latched on to content creation and curation as the solution that will propel pages to the top. In a vacuum, this might work. The SEO environment is not a vacuum so unless the page provides information that shows expertise on the topic, it will not by itself move up. The website must be viewed as a trustworthy, authoritative expert source. If your site and its pages do not meet these requirements, you will be passed over.

This does not absolve you from having a fast, technically sound site. This is simply that edge that can make a huge business difference.

Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

A few high-quality links will do wonders for your performance; whereas, numbers of poor-quality links bring little value. Quality links having staying power. Some high-quality links may still be shining authority on your site years after they were acquired, so they are worth the effort. It takes time and effort to cultivate quality links, just like building your business network. If you treat link-building as networking for your site, you will not go wrong.

How do you get quality links? You create content that shows your expertise. Do this often enough and you will become an authority in your domain.

It is my contention that all of us who are in business are experts within some domain. It is up to the site owner to determine what is the business’ domain of expertise and project and inject it into the site and its pages. Some of the ways might include creating solid content that the sources you want will use such as original research or analysis. You might consider creating a stunning infographic that clearly shows you as an expert in your field.

Once you create your work, don’t hide your light under the proverbial bushel, reach out to the sources you want to link to your site. As your network of links builds, you will be rewarded with more top placements for your site’s pages.