Dead Different: How SEO Best Practices Evolved In 2018
If you know anything about digital marketing, then you know SEO is important – but just how important is it?
Well…93% of all browsing sessions begin with a search engine, 91% of all internet searches occur on Google, and 96% of clicks go to the top 10 search results. For non-math geniuses, this means ~81% of all internet experiences start on the first page of Google search results.
If you want your website to be relevant on the internet, and to generate quality traffic that grows your business, then good SEO is a must. But having “good SEO” means many different things to many different people.
At TFC, we operate with the belief that good SEO is a two-parter. First, good SEO means ranking for keywords that your target market searches for, by offering relevant, high-quality content on your site. Second, having a high degree of content relevancy – meaning your content is exactly what the searcher was hoping to find – will convert that search traffic into revenue growth for your business. In essence, having good SEO means that your target market is able to find your website, and be enticed by your website, so that your website generates leads for your business. Without the second part, the first part doesn’t really matter.
Here’s the thing: Google changes its core algorithm (comprised of more than 200 individual algorithms) as often as once per day. So even if you are a master of SEO, there’s always something new to learn. In the old days of SEO, keywords and backlinks were all you needed to rank well. But as technology has evolved, so has the way people use search engines.
To continue serving the needs of today’s internet users, Google constantly updates the information it provides, as well as the manner in which it provides that information. This post outlines the major ways online search changed in 2018, and what the new search landscape means for people who want “good SEO” in 2019 and beyond.
Page Rank Based On Your Mobile Website
One of the biggest SEO changes of 2018 was Google’s modification of its core algorithm to mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing means that now, when Google indexes a site, it no longer bases its ranking on the desktop version of that site, but the mobile version, whenever possible.
51% of all searches in 2016 occurred on mobile devices, so this transition makes sense. If the majority of users who find your site from a search engine are entering the mobile version, then that’s the version that Google should base its rankings upon.
That’s why having an optimized mobile site that displays all of the same content and information as your desktop site – even if slightly modified for smaller screen size – is an SEO must.
Optimizing Seo Strategies For Voice Searches
If the current trend continues, 30% of all internet searches in the year 2020 will occur via voice search. With voice assistants like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri gaining in popularity, this is one of the changes in technology that Google has adapted to – as well as contributed to.
In the world of regular search, keywords with less than 100 searches a month comprise more than 90% of all searches. These are known as long-tail keywords. Most long-tail keywords have a conversational tone, because one- or two-word phrases get much more search volume, and therefore don’t qualify as “long-tail keywords”.
To provide relevant search results for these longer keywords, Google had to learn how to determine context in web content. Answering these long-tail questions is the basis for Google’s “featured snippet” previews that appear at the top of some result pages…
It’s also the basis for the answers that Voice Assistants provide to the same questions via voice search results. On desktop or mobile, a user may search for “organic apple pie recipes” while the same user may ask Alexa to “find the best recipe for organic apple pie filling.” See the difference?
The emphasis of SEO implementation has evolved from keyword stuffing to more technical SEO and now finally to providing rich and relevant content for the user, and letting Google do its thing to learn why your site is the best result for the user’s query.
Providing Instant Answers In Featured Content
Because most long-tail keywords are specific and conversational in tone, Google has learned how to provide tailored answers to these particular keywords. When enough users find a particular result helpful for several related keyword searches, Google begins providing the part of that page that contains those keywords in a featured snippet. Typically, the sentence or paragraph that contains the keyword and appears in the featured snippet specifically addresses the essential question in the keyword.
Voice Assistants read that sentence or paragraph as the result when that keyword is asked via voice search.
This behavior of the search engine is much more in line with traditional answer engines like Wolfram Alpha – the original creators of Siri – than with traditional search engines. But after all, the user is looking for the answer to a question when making an internet search; why not provide the answer if possible?
On websites, the FAQ section is the perfect place to optimize for long-tail keywords related to your product or service. That way, when users ask these questions, not only will you be able to potentially rank in featured snippets and voice searches, but you’ll get the attention of a searcher who may not know of your brand, but is now being helped because you answered their question.
For that reason, creating rich content for users rather than technical content for Google’s robots, is the way to go in 2018 and beyond when optimizing your site’s content.