In an age of mobile browsing, voice searching and evolving user preferences, SEO standards and practices are ever-changing. Google is regularly updating their algorithms to improve search results, so what may have worked yesterday may not work today.
Recent adjustments have devalued non-authoritative information and added fact check tags to search results. And as Google sharpens their efforts to root out fake news and penalize keyword stuffing, it’s always a good idea do an SEO review to see how their most recent changes are affecting your site.
Here’s 7 SEO best practices for 2018-19:
1. Optimize your site for mobile.
Mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, and Google responded with mobile-first indexing. This means that the mobile version of your site is what Google uses to determine your rank in search listings, even if the search itself is done on a desktop. Bottom line—if your site isn’t responsive on mobile it won’t stand a chance.
2. Target more long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are used in 70% of all searches now, not to mention they bring higher-quality traffic to your site. This is also important with the rapidly increasing popularity of voice searching through devices such as Google Home or the Amazon Echo. People tend to use many more words when talking versus typing, so your long-tail keywords should address this by being more conversational.
3. Change from HTTP to HTTPS.
Having an SSL certificate in your URL is essential now. This lets users know their information is kept secret, and Google Chrome will even notify them if your website doesn’t. Failure to have an SSL certificate won’t only break trust with your users, but Google will also drop your SEO.
4. Focus on local SEO.
Did you know more than a third of searches have local intent? For retail and B2C businesses having a local SEO strategy will attract many more qualified leads. After all, users searching “near me” are far more likely to convert. Start building your local SEO strategy by adding yourself to Google My Business and creating a localized domain name. Getting local reviews is another great way to positively impact your local search rankings.
5. Incorporate video content when possible.
Not only do users crave interactive content, but Google’s search crawlers actually prioritize pages with video content, since it encourages more engagement. Google now even puts video results into image searches. While creating your own video content may seem daunting, it really doesn’t have to be. There are simple ways you can start such as capturing a short video on a mobile device, or even embedding a relevant YouTube video in a blog post.
6. Apply ALT tags to your images.
ALT tags allow search engines to interpret your images by providing them with a text description. An ALT tag also describes the image to the visitor if they are unable to see it, and really boosts SEO for image heavy pages. Best practice is to keep the tags short and descriptive to maximize impact. Keep in mind however, ALT tags shouldn’t be prioritized on a text-heavy page where titles and meta-descriptions are set up for SEO.
7. Create authoritative content.
Perhaps one of the biggest adjustments, Google and other search engines are shifting the focus from traditional keyword practices to indexing quality and authoritative content. Original content that takes on a thought leadership role will not only boost your SEO but make you a trusted source within your market. Search engines also use social signals to validate authoritative content, so be sure to share your content with targeted communities.
It's never too late to change your SEO strategy. We hope these 7 best practices will put you on track towards optimizing your SEO for this year and the next!