Kick-start your SEO for the new year

What’s in?

Search engine optimisation is always evolving, so it’s a good idea to take a look at what’s new or which elements are becoming a priority for search engines. For 2018, I’d recommend looking into the following elements.

  1. Voice searchVoice search continues to rise as products such as Google Home and Amazon Echo gain popularity. According to  comscore, “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020”, so if you haven’t optimised for this already, now’s the time to ask your SEO agency, marketing freelancer, or in-house guru for the low-down on what needs to be done to rank for this type of search.
  2. Survival of the fastestCreating a fast loading website should always be at the top of your SEO list  – users won’t wait around, they will simply go elsewhere –  but it’s also becoming a major ranking factor (which you will discover in the next section). Take the Google page speed insight test to see how your website performs.
  3. SSL certificatesIf you collect any user data or carry out transactions on your website, you should implement an SSL certificate. While security certificates don’t have a direct impact on rankings, popular web browsers now warn users when they land on an ‘unsecured’ website, which could increase your bounce rate and decrease engagement and retention metrics.

What’s the focus?

This year, focus your efforts on the mobile experience, you can test this using Google’s free tool, For every element of SEO you implement this year, ask yourself “how will this help my mobile users get the best experience?”.

Mobile users expect fast loading times, reduced content, lots of visual cues, and no effort on their part to get what they want or where they want to be. Google expects your site to load in under three seconds, if it doesn’t, this will send a negative signal to the search giant and can impact rankings as well as losing potential customers and readers.

Where do I begin?

1. Audit

New year, new opportunity to take a look at how your website is performing. If you have engaged an agency or freelancer, you can ask them to perform the audit for you. If you’re going it alone, here’s a brief guide to what you should be looking at.

  1. Technical audit – you can do this manually using this comprehensive worksheet from Distilled, or you can use automated tools from sites like Moz.
  2. Keyword performance audit – take stock of your current keywords and see where you can add new ones, or, create a list if this is your first foray into SEO. Moz has a free tool to help with this.
  3. Content performance audit – see which content is performing well and which isn’t.
  4. Brand audit – did you add a new category this year? Any new features of your business? Note these down to enable them to be included or checked in the next stage.
  5. Competitor performance audit – you can use SEMRush’s competitor discovery tool for this.

2. Address issues

Start with the results of your keyword audit, did you identify new keywords? Do you need to lose some? Once you’ve tidied up the old list, you can move on to the next step.

Next, and sometimes the biggest job, is to give the site content a refresh. Using your new keyword list and the results of the content performance audit, you can freshen up high-performing pages (utilising the keyword list as you do so). If you have any big content pieces such as videos, ebooks, or infographics, check that they are being utilised to their full potential, if not, recycle them elsewhere on the site. You should also check that the messaging is still relevant and consistent throughout the site.

The final step is to address any technical issues identified in the audit. These should be pretty straightforward to fix now you’ve completed the above (if a little time-consuming), and you may choose to use a development agency to help with this, particularly if you are an SME with no technical department of your own.

3, Monitor and improve

SEO isn’t something you can implement and then leave for the rest of the year, but you shouldn’t be spending all day, every day working on it either. Working in-house using SEO tools or using an SEO agency, you should be monitoring your SEO efforts all year round looking for opportunities to improve search engine rankings, user engagement, and user retention/conversion.

Have no idea what any of this means or still don’t know what to do?

If you’re a small to medium business and need help with your SEO, just email me for a no-obligation chat about how you can get started.

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