You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that SEO is getting more complicated as the years roll by. SERP snippets, structured data, voice search, mobile-first indexing; it seems like if you’re anything other than an SEO expert, you might as well just give up the ranking game before you begin.
But whereas it is true that the mechanisms behind SEO are getting more and more complex, this is, as with all good design, actually making things much simpler on the surface. As search engines learn and get smarter, they refine their algorithms and begin acting more and more like a human brain.
For us, as marketers and the people that use them, that means they become much more intuitive to work with. Peculiar practices like keyword stuffing and backlink building are all but dead, and natural factors like user experience and relevance are now taking their place.
If one thing’s for sure, the ranking game is changing. So if you want to get ahead in SEO in 2018, here are three tactics to place at the core of your digital strategy.
1. Semantic keywords
Marketers have long known they need to be crafting content that includes keywords along with their related words, or LSIs (Latent Semantic Indexing). But what most don’t realise is that these types of words are not just synonyms or keywords that hold similar meanings.
LSIs are words that are semantically connected to your primary keyword. That means they have some sort of relationship with the target word or concept. For example, if you’re writing about the NHS, you would use target keywords like Sir Bruce Keogh and Jeremy Hunt to help search engines better differentiate and understand your content.
As secondary and other related keywords are becoming ever more critical as a ranking factor, digging out semantic keywords should be high on your list of SEO priorities if your content is going to make an impact in 2018,
2. Content Promotion
Influencer outreach and content promotion are today stages in the content cycle that are just as — maybe even more so — important than the content itself.
However, many marketers and businesses still think that once a piece of content is written and published, their job is done. But if you want your content to reach its audience and make a splash in 2018, there’s no debate: you need a clear strategy that shows how you’re going to do it and who’s going to help you.
That means knowing your niche and the thought leaders within it inside out, as well as providing value with every piece of content your produce. A place to start is by asking the question: What do I have to offer that is unique and of value to others?
3. On Page Optimisation
As the demand grows for faster and more seamless digital experiences, Google is cracking down hard on sites that fail to live up to a certain level of performance.
As has been shown over the past few years with increasing focus on HTTPS, safety is a big part of this. Secure websites will soon become standard, and many browsers such as Chrome and Firefox already show non-secure warnings if sites fail to comply.
However, the biggest change will be from a visual and UI perspective. Today, users expect nothing less than visually stunning experiences that allow them to complete their task quickly and effortlessly — on any device and at any speed.
Employ these three areas together — context-rich copy, a solid promotion strategy, and a swift and visually appealing user experience — and your business is sure to get the year off to a prosperous start and continue rising through the rankings throughout 2018.