How do I make my website appear in search engines? This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions we get at Chatterkick. Today, I am going to talk a little bit about what SEO means for 2018 and how, as business owners, you can take advantage of it.
There are three main trends I think are going to become even more of a factor in Search Engine Optimization in 2018.
The first is talk-to-text or voice activation search queries. What this really means is, you use your phone to find phone numbers, with Siri or you use Alexa, or a Google home device. The way we talk to those devices is very different from the way we text or the way we use text in a search query. Websites need to be able to have the copy on their site match what people are saying. Rather than titling a blog, "Chatterkick Offers Websites in Sioux City," use, "Who Offers Websites in Sioux City?" and answer with, "Chatterkick Does" to start the copy.
If you notice, Google often times will pull up what is called a Placement Zero. This is a little box in the top of the search engine that pulls other websites it indicates are relevant answers to the question. Placing your copy in the question-and-answer format is definitely something I recommend. Make sure your copy matches what people are talking, and asking questions, about.
The second trend I believe is going to be a huge factor in 2018 - and even beyond – is user interface. This is something we've seen as a focus for the last five or six years, maybe even longer. This means, you should make sure the user experience on your website is easy and really great. The user should be able to find what they need and interact and engage with the things that matter to them. This helps you, because the user is finding your information and content, and it helps them, because they are getting what they need - whether that's research, a phone number, or any variety of things.
User interface is important for a well-designed website, but also important for search engines. There are a lot of algorithms moving in the background of search engines. Google knows what sites people go to and bounce out of really, really quickly. If you can make your site sticky, meaning people click on your link, go to your site and spend a little time there, the algorithms tell Google, "This must be a great site, people are liking it and I am going to show it to more people when they are searching."
I think the most requested item when we're designing websites is, "I want a clean modern simple website." When we start talking to clients we realize that verbiage just means, "I need it to be well-placed and I need all the menu items to be easily accessible." Simple on a website is actually really difficult to do, because doing a simple website doesn't mean less information. People use the word simple all the time. What this really means is they want a good experience and a good user interface design. Watching for that experience and optimizing your site for it in 2018, is going to be important for both search engines and for attracting the right people to interact with your webpage.
The third trend that will be huge for business are technical components on websites - this is where people start getting really nervous and focused. When I say, technical components, I mean link building. This is really just a fancy way to say PR in 2018. It means getting high-quality links from sites within your industry, this includes links from a chamber of commerce site, an online newspaper or a featured news article. It is not paid link, so it is not an ad, but a quality link from another source that links back to your website. This has been a factor for search engines for a long time and will continue to be. It will now be harder to fake this type of link building. A lot of businesses in the past have tried to do spam things to make it happen. Just think of it as, "How can I get more public relations for my business and have those sites publish information or articles about me?" You need to make sure you tell news sources or your industry publications about your website, and make sure they're putting that information online. Engagement is a really good thing for your search engine optimization, and it will continue to be so.
Another important technical component is site load time. People are using mobile devices more and they will continue to be a prevalent way to search the internet. You need to make sure your website is fully-responsive (like having an elastic screen - big on a monitor and small on a mobile device). You need to make sure your site loads quickly and, in most cases, make sure image files aren't so large they can't be easily loaded on a phone.
One of the best ways to test the mobile experience is to act like a consumer. There are many businesses I've talked to that have not gone through the sales process as if they were a customer. To do this, type in whatever word you're trying to look for - let's say "Websites in Sioux City." Chatterkick comes up, I click on it, I go to the page where I think I will find that information and, if that journey isn't smooth, people are going to drop off. You're going to lose business. Potential customers will get frustrated because they can't find the information they're looking for. Act like your customer, pull your website up on your phone - make sure it includes your phone number, email address, chat function, or whatever it is in order to contact you, and make sure it is easily accessible.
Those are the top three trends I think will affect search engine optimization in 2018. There are a variety of other trends and SEO can be confusing and overwhelming. In all honesty, there is no turnkey solution to make your listing appear first on Google. There are a lot of factors that go into it, and in most cases, the search results are different every single time. For example, if I'm searching Sioux City and my colleague is searching in Baton Rouge, we are going to get different search results. That's just the way Google serves up those results.
Instead of trying to beat Google, and obsessing about being position one or two, the best way to advance in the search engine optimization game is pick a handful of keywords that are the most important to you. In most cases, I tell people to choose keywords closest to your sales cycle. For example, add locations, add specific websites, Wordpress websites and SquareSpace websites - those end descriptors are great. If someone is searching for an exact keyword, I can provide a solution to their problem or I can help them. Try to focus on long-tail keywords, or more specific keywords. Instead of "Marketing Company Sioux City," you want to get specific to be found for those results. The more you focus on advancing in those specific keywords, the less competition. It's easier to get higher up on the first search page and it will really help your overall strategy.
Thanks for listening (or reading) today and have a good rest of 2018.