It’s 2018! And since I haven’t been writing about digital marketing stuff for the last few months, I decided to do it now that I have some spare time.
For the last few years in this field, I have seen every kind of SEO expert; from someone who’s a real pro who failed to adapt and got stuck to 2011, complete beginners who are now industry figures, and people who never really knew what they were doing since day 1 but somehow gets away with it.
Unless you have been cryogenically frozen and have just been revived yesterday, you should know that the SEO playing field has changed drastically over the last few years, and that strategies in 2011 would win you SEO competition prizes (Worked very well for me) back then, but definitely not today.
That’s kind of a long and unrelated intro, so let’s cut to the chase. Yay! It’s 2018! Here’s how you should be doing SEO:
Address your website’s technical issues first
Most people give less attention to their website’s technical health and always focus on the good and stuff; content, title tags, meta tags, dog tags (yeah, I made that up) and what not. There are a lot of technical issues that you need to address, but I wouldn’t dive very deep into it today since it deserves an entire article to fully explain. Let’s just mention some good points for now:
Doing a website crawl test is important because it gives you insights on how search engines may crawl your website. Comparing “site:” search results to the list of crawled pages can give you hints on which pages are underperforming and which may be penalized.
Check Google Search Console for dead links and soft 404s. Some pages you are linking to internally or externally may have been deleted and you might still be linking to them. If you have some relevant page to redirect it to, then do it. If you think these pages should be gone forever and you are 100% sure that no other page will link to it, then let it die. Google is a smart ass and will eventually stop bothering you about it.
Check for URL parameters and make sure that these are not indexed by Google, or at least put a canonical tag to the correct destination URL. If left for too long, these may eventually be flagged as internal duplicates and voila! You’ll earn yourself a SERP removal just by being a very lazy person. Have you ever imagined a website cannibalizing its own search engine rankings? That’s exactly what it is.
Sure, getting a ton of good high quality backlinks is good, but it isn’t the only thing that you should be focusing on. Which brings me to my next point,
Optimize for user experience, not for search engines
SEO is about ranking high on search engines, but not really. You want to rank because you want users to visit and actually engage on your website. Your website is your digital business location, so make it as presentable and user-friendly as possible. People on mobile phones visiting a non-responsive website would likely hit the back button and look for another business that doesn’t have a landing page for ants.
A website that has an interesting design paired with a cool and nifty navigation always wins over that website from the 90s with background GIFs. If I land to your website looking for something and see that it looks like I time travelled to 1998, you’re dead to me. This is what most people think too.
Manual linkbuilding isn’t generally bad if you’re not overdoing it. You can build some of your backlinks manually, but do not ever think of overdoing it just for the sake of getting link juice. Before I draw a lot of flak for this, I would suggest that you review what Google considers as a shady link scheme. Usually, this is the point when most SEOs cross that thin borderline, lose control, and go on a linkbuilding rampage just to find out that this is a self-destructing strategy if not done right.
Evaluate who your business’ target audience are and know where they can find you. Most of the time, I would suggest that you think local. Getting listed on a couple of local directories is good, but getting listed on web directories in Australia while you run your business in the US would be a huge waste of time. Here are some examples of good sites to get listed into:
Better Business Bureau
Google and Bing Local (duh?)
Since the beginning of time, CONTENT IS KING
People have been saying this for years, and I’ll say it again. CONTENT IS KING. If SEO had some sort of a tagline, this would be it. SEO trends change from time to time, but it always boils down to the quality of the content that you offer to your website’s visitors.
Grammar is important, but your content doesn’t have to be 100% error-free. I am no English expert too so I do make mistakes here and there. Don’t judge me.
The important thing is to create content that is of value to your target audience. If you’re offering marketing services, create an informative description of what you offer. If you’re promoting a vacation spot, add some bits of information as to why you are the best tourist destination. Let people know why they have to choose you and give a quick run-through of what you offer in a creative and sensible way. If you’re operating septic pumping company, do not ever upload photos or worse, videos of you in action. Definitely not a great idea. You get the point.
Focus on other marketing aspects, not just SEO
While SEO is a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy, it isn’t the only path that you have to take. There are other marketing aspects that you have to look into like your social media visibility, online reputation, and believe it or not, your offline marketing efforts. Sure, you can rank #1 for 1,000 keywords but if people don’t know you, they won’t trust you. Brand recognition is one of the key aspects of building online presence, and yet only a few actually put focus in it.
Don’t get me wrong, SEO is important but it isn’t the only thing that you should be focusing on. Each digital marketing strategy complements the others.
SEO isn’t just about getting high Google rankings. For people who actually know SEO, top rankings are pointless. Optimize for leads and sales, not for online bragging rights.
Manual linkbuilding isn’t necessarily bad, and it certainly isn’t 100% dead. Some people are just killing it.
Just like how you need to take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health, you should be giving your website a full holistic treatment. You have to improve it in all aspects, do not focus on specific parts.
Rafael is a digital marketing professional and blockchain advocate from the Philippines. He is the PR & marketing director at SuchApp, founder of Upranx Digital Marketing, and a man with multiple fun and entertaining hobbies.
I am a digital marketing strategist from the Philippines. I started with humble beginnings; as an SEO specialist working for a catering company. Fast forward to a couple of years later, I have now worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and working on my own business endeavors. I am a big advocate of blockchain technology, believing that it will shape the future of technology.