SEO Best Practices in 2018 – No Predictions – No Conjecture – These work in January and will work in December – 5 Ways to increase your online footprint.
SEO Best Practices in 2018
This is the 1st of a 5 part series on SEO best practices in 2018, and how Web It 101 can bring life to your online presence. These are called Google Best Practices. And it’s what Web It does for clients, day in and day out. Are these all new to you? Then shame on you for not following the Google Best Practices! Here at Web It, we do it “by the book”. No overstated promises. No shady black hat backlink buying. No outsourcing overseas. Just hard work and results.
SEO Best Practices in 2018 – Part 1 of 5
Every year, we go into a bit of detail on some of the best ways to increase your presence in organic Search Engine Return Pages (SERP).
In 2018 we look at…
- Website Performance
- On Page SEO Tips
- Structured Data
- Voice Search / Long-Tail
- Website Freshness
SEO Best Practices in 2018 – Part 1 – Website Performance
If you’ve investigated SEO as it relates to Google you’d hear about Panda and Penguin updates as well as “Rank Brain”.
Simply put, Rank Brain is a is a machine learning system (AI) that helps Google sort their search results on a user query. Google does this by measuring how users react to prior searches to yours, ranks them accordingly.
So let’s say User A searches for a Cat Veterinarian
Of the first 5 listings, they click on listing 1 and see nothing but hours and bios, on a page that is not formatting correctly on mobile, so they click back quickly to the SERP and click on the 4th listing. and see that they treat the symptoms your cat is suffering from, have a handy map, click-to-call number, and it all works perfect on your device.
Google Tracks these interactions and sees the “bounce rate” on the #1 listing increase and the “dwell time” on number 4 increase. This leads User B at a later date to see that #4 has moved up and #1 has moved down. You spent quality time on the site, and Google records this interaction.
Google Rank Brain focuses on three things:
- The percentage of people that “bounce” back to the SERP (Bounce Rate)
- The percentage of people that click on your result (Click Through Rate)
- How long someone spends on your page (Dwell Time)
Put in the most simple terms, your website should first and foremost be fast loading, user-friendly, mobile-friendly, and have content that answers the user query, with easy ways to contact (maps, click-to-call, etc).
SEO Best Practices in 2018 – Part 1 – Website Performance
Additionally, you must be cognizant of smartphones over 3G/4G, where websites can load much slower than broadband in the home on a laptop/pad/combo. Over the 2017 Christmas shopping season, smartphones were one of the biggest drivers of online purchase growth, responsible for 44.6% of site visits and nearly 30% of revenue generated. Site traffic from phones increased 21% over last year, while revenue generated from phones increased 41% — a growth record.
Website performance metrics also play the biggest role in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) positions, because these performance metrics indicate how well visitors can engage and consume your website content.
And Rank Brain tracks all this.
In general, these website performance metrics include factors such as:
- Mobile Responsiveness
- Site Speed
- Dwell Time (time spent on page)
- Clean Code – Optimized Images
- Content Delivery Speed (from server)
- Hosting/Server configurations
Every user study confirms that the most important of these metrics is the fact that your website must be “mobile-friendly” per Google.
The sad reality is that many DIY website builders and even some “web design” people will tell you your site works on mobile, but what they really mean is it “displays” on mobile. These type of websites fail miserably in user-friendliness and generally fail the various Google Test Sites, so you have penalties in the SERP regardless of what you were told. If Google doesn’t pass you with flying colors, it just doesn’t count.
5 SEO Best Practices in 2018 – Website Performance – The Big 3 Factors
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to website design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of re-sizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from large desktop computer monitors to mobile phones, pads, phablets and watches). By utilizing responsive design, you eliminate Google penalties and your website users now see the came content and images, irregardless of the device used. Additionally, clean code (not poorly coded templates) will arrange the text and images properly when resized to a smaller device. You can test your website for mobile HERE.
With a Responsive Webpage, your “load time”, especially on mobile devices, decreases. Responsive pages load much quicker. That’s important because web users are an impatient lot, and studies have shown that if a site takes too long to load, it won’t appear as favorably in search engine results. Google even maintains a site where they score your website speed, so it’s no surprise that it factors heavily in SEO. And in late 2017, Google announced that effective July of 2018, website loading speed is a ranking factor.
Also, a fast website keeps the attention of site visitors and encourages them to browse the content; a page that loads slowly will often drive users away and toward your competitors, especially on a mobile device. By keeping the site’s responsive HTML5/CSS3 code clean and up-to-date, developing a stable site menu architecture, and maintaining excellent file and resource management practices, you can help guarantee quick-loading webpages for your site’s visitors. You can test your sites speed and user friendliness on Google HERE.
So is your content up-to-date and engaging? Is it authoritative and trustworthy? Does the URL match the page title? Are the keywords in the meta-description accurate? Are keywords in the snippet? Are they in the page content and the SEO title? All this plays a central role in dwell time and CTR. (more on this in Part 2 – On Page SEO).
It all starts with an engaging, user-friendly mobile responsive site coded to Google Best Practices
Again…you need to have a mobile responsive website. Combined with a fast server and proper coding. It’s the foundation for your internet presence. What else can be said? If your website is not built on a responsive platform, that becomes a #1 SEO mistake and no other SEO factors will work nearly as well. You can test your business website HERE to see if Google considers it “Mobile-Friendly”.
Lastly, it’s important to address the growing number of Do-It-Yourself website builders. Apart from the fact there provide little-to-no SEO tools (they hard code the SEO for their company, not yours), the real problem lies in that coding you don’t see. DIY website builders make everything simple for you. Great right?
Well, not exactly. By hiding the code it may make the design simple but it confuses Google. Why is this important? Well, for one, it’s common for thousands of websites to disappear from searches for weeks and months at a time.
The fact is that Google loves to see websites that are well coded and clearly structured. It’s how it makes sense of your sites information. Your website could be the best looking site in the world…..ever. But when the coding behind it is poor then it may not exist well in Google terms.
Website Performance and User Experience is more important than ever in 2018
If you have one take-away from this, a custom-coded website written in HTML5/CSS3 will run rings around any DIY builder including WordPress.
Taken together; mobile friendliness, site speed and dwell time (more on that later) make up “Website Performance” and that “performance” is very big factor in SEO. So much so, it’s #1 on our list of the 5 SEO Best Practices in 2018. Don’t believe us? Why else would Google take the time to set-up and maintain websites for business owners to measure performance and mobile friendliness?