How to Excel in the New Year: SEO Strategies for 2018

December 11, 2017

Small Business

Tips & Tricks


Search Engine Optimization

How To

SEO strategies are meant to help your business rise to the top of search engines. Essentially, if you excel at SEO and someone searches “Web Design Company in Boston,” you come up first.

We all know SEO is a tricky business; although it has become less deceptive in recent years than it used to be (like when people could hide keywords as white text on a white background to get a better score…), it’s still a bit technical. At the end of the day, it isn’t a real person checking out your website, reading your content, clicking your links, and then deciding, “Wow, this Joe character has a great, high-quality website!” It’s an algorithm. And this algorithm can only detect so much.

SEO strategies are not going to change too much in the upcoming year, but there are certainly some things you should be aware of, to ensure you don’t lose that #1 spot (or, to ensure you earn it).

So here are five ways to keep–or earn–a page 1 spot on search engines in 2018. For the record, a few of these are “new” for 2018, but some would’ve worked just as well in 2017; regardless, I think you deserve a full overview of SEO strategies, including some already-tried-and-true tactics.

1. Rank for Keywords:

Let’s start with the basics. Where should your keywords go?

Five places:

  • Title
  • Meta Description
  • URL
  • In the content itself–ideally sticking to 3-4 keywords
  • And, if you want to get really fancy, the canonical tag

That’s not the hard part; the hard part is–what are these keywords? Let’s take this example: you’re a new shoe store in Boston, and you’re not sure for which keywords you can rank. Where’s a great place to start?

Your competitors’ sites. Sneaky, I know; but if you type “Shoe Store, Boston,” into Google and click the first or second link, well… they must have good keywords, right?

Take a look at your competitors’ drop-down menus, or navigational menus: take the titles of pages or products–like “dressy shoes,” “men’s shoes,” “clearance shoes,” “women’s casual shoes”–and put them in an excel document. That’s a good beginner’s list of keywords. Add some of your own keywords: words you want to define your company by (“vintage shoes,” “wedding shoes”).

This is particularly important if you’re a new website; if you’re a new site, you need Google to say, “Hey, this website has the same keywords as DSW shoes, so it must be legitimate.”

Next, test these keywords. Try a tool like “keywords everywhere,” (which tells you how many keywords you’re competing against, and for what you can rank more easily), or pay for a Keywords Tool like SemRush. Check out two things: how many people search those keywords each month, and who you’ll be competing against. If 8,000 people search “vintage shoes,” a month, but Target, Walmart, DSW, and Nordstrom fill the front page–maybe you don’t want to worry about surpassing those names in search engines.

On the flip side, it won’t matter if you rank highest for “unique and special and beautiful vintage shoes,” if no one ever searches it.

So try your best to find a happy medium: what keywords are searched for relatively often, but also aren’t covered by too many high-domain sites? Those are your keywords. (Here, specificity is key–moving around the order of words, re-wording slightly, or adding specific details to the keyword title can make all the difference.)

One last thing: Find out which of your content attracts the most organic traffic… if it hasn’t been keyword optimized, optimize it. These pages have great content, and I bet you can boost them on search engine’s if you optimized them better.

2. Become Mobile-first:

This is going to become a lot more important in 2018. Although I’ve covered this in the web design strategies for 2018 post, I’ll recap here, because it has just as much to do with SEO as it does web design: in 2018, Google will be rolling out its Mobile-First Index, which means search listings will be based on mobile versions of content, even when someone is searching from a desktop–basically, this means that your mobile content will be seen first in search results, before your desktop content. Just make sure that you really know that your site is mobile-optimized; just because it looks, design-wise, the same as your desktop site, doesn’t mean it’s coded correctly for mobile (this is especially important if your site is a progressive web app or javascript).

Mobile optimization for local users is also critical to your SEO success. Local SEO is destined to become more popular in 2018, so to keep up, create mobile-optimized content to answers local’s immediate questions.

3. Have Great Domain Authority… Or Take Someone Else’s

Now, I know that sounds devious. But really, it’s mutually beneficial. Think of it this way: the Google SEO machine (or whatever it is) has an easier time figuring out how popular your website is if you already have a bunch of links leading back in your direction–it’s a vote of approval, showing that other companies and other people like your content enough to link to you. It shows you’re trustworthy. But it’s also good to externally link to sites with good domain authority–you’re showing your readers, and the web, that your information is good. It’s like writing a research paper in school: you’d probably get a lower grade if you linked to Wikipedia than you would if you linked to Business Insider, right?

4. Invest in Rank-Tracking Software

How are you going to know if any of this stuff works, if you don’t buy a tool like STAT search analytics? You’ll want to see how you rank before and after optimization so you can measure the benefits.

5. Offer a Helpful User Experience

In 2017, mobile web usage conquered desktop usage with 57% using mobile over desktop–undoubtedly, this will continue to grow. By ensuring your mobile site is fast, has easy navigation, and clear readability, you’re more likely to be ranked higher on search engines, which work in favor of the user by ranking the most helpful sites first. But even more important than ranking short-time at the top of search engines, you want to make sure the content on your mobile site is engaging enough to your audience that they keep returning to your site for future information. You’ll lose credibility if users leave your site quickly, because it implies the information wasn’t that helpful. As people continue to consume information from their mobile devices, it is imperative that your site have an engaging and identical user experience across all devices.

Check out our other “How to Excel the New Year: Web Design, SEO, and Inbound Marketing Strategies for 2018” posts.