Most business owners understand how important search engine optimization (or SEO) is to generating leads and sales from a website. Unfortunately, many are following old tips and best practices that no longer do them much good.
These include stuffing keywords on pages, buying junk links from overseas vendors, and using awkward phrases in marketing copy as a way to draw attention from search spiders. Not only are these techniques outdated, but they can actually work against you and keep customers away from your website, because Google will see them and consider your website to be a low-quality result.
If you worry that you might be following an approach to SEO that no longer works, here are a few things you should know going into 2019…
1. SEO is about More Than Keywords and Links
All the major search engines, including Google, used to rely on algorithms that were driven by keywords and links. These are still the backbone of search visibility, of course, but there are dozens of other major factors that contribute to your ranking for a given search term.
Amongst the biggest of these is the context and quality of your content, along with the kinds of websites that are referring links to you. In short, it’s all about being a thought leader and regular producer of original content than it is zeroing in on specific words or phrases.
2. The Technical Side of Your Website Matters
Searchers are less patient than they used to be. Typically, they will engage in a search result or move on within just a few seconds. For that reason, Google places a premium on websites that load quickly.
Other technical factors figure into your search visibility, too. The mobile functionality of your website, how recently it was updated, the presence of broken links, and whether or not you use secure connections are all important search signals. The point is that you can’t just rely on having a handful of pages and blog posts if you want to achieve a high Google rank.
3. Searchers are Individual and Local
While search results used to be fairly uniform from one user to another, Google now makes adjustments based on search history, location, device type, and other factors. That means two of your potential customers could see very different search listings based on their own circumstances.
For marketers, the goal is to identify the people who are most likely to respond to your content and then target them as often and precisely as possible. The days of trying to appeal to “everyone” are gone. You want your website to be shown to buyers who have an interest in what you sell, are in your geographic area, and are likely to hang around on your website.
4. SEO is about Getting Real Business Results
Usually, when we meet a business owner who hasn’t kept up with the latest practices in search engine optimization, we learn that they are getting advice from vendors who focus on gimmicks and quick-fixes instead of sustainable growth.