Whether you’re new to the online sphere or not, SEO is a topic that mystifies many business owners who operate and manage their own websites. What doesn’t help is the fact that SEO best practices tend to change with each and every Google algorithm update.
What was kosher a few months ago could end up getting you penalized now, depending on what you’re doing. So, with that, here are a few tips and tricks to keep you in Google’s good favor and help you rank highly on search engines:
Best SEO Practices for 2018
1 – Make Sure You have an SEO-Friendly URL
Make sure your URLs, meta descriptions, and SEO titles are all clear, succinct, and easy to read. The more readable it is, the easier it will be for the Google bots to crawl the content and index the page.
This also means ensuring that the titles or meta descriptions are not cut off. On most websites, a generic title and URL will be created for a page; however, sometimes it’s worth manually changing it to make it better for search engine robots.
2 – Make Sure the Page is Mobile-Friendly
In 2016, mobile browsing overtook desktop browsing for the first time with about 51 percent of internet users working on a mobile device; and that number is only expected to grow. Did you know 80 percent of internet users have a smartphone? So, what is mobile optimization? A mobile-friendly website was definitely important as far back as a few years ago, but going into 2018 and beyond, it’s absolutely essential. In fact, with the most recent mobile-first update, non-mobile-friendly sites can actually be punished.
3 – Is the Site Secure?
An SSL certificate is another website feature that was once an interesting add-on and is now becoming critical to a website’s ranking. The SSL certificate is essentially letting users know that the site is secure. You can tell if your site has one if there is a little lock symbol in the address bar or if the prefix to the website is https://.
Going forward, non-secure websites will simply start to drop off, so it’s vital that you make sure your site has one.
4 – Use Semantic Keywords
Back in the day, the internet was kind of like the Wild West, imagine it like a gold rush but instead of gold nuggets, we saw the over-use of keywords. Keywords were thrown into content just for the sake of ranking, and the result was often difficult-to-read, awkward, choppy content that added little value.
Today, Google bots crawl for keywords that are organic and natural. The technology has advanced to predict how humans speak, write, and think, which enables improved readability, and better, more targeted keywords.
5 – Keywords Should be Used Intelligently
Although we are focusing more on semantic searches, we must still use keywords intelligently. This means incorporating a primary keyword and a few secondary keywords to get the job done. Still wondering how to use keywords in your website?
Your primary keyword should be integrated into the title or H1 if possible, while secondary keywords can be scattered throughout.
Although beware, treat keywords like a potent seasoning, too much is often a bad thing.
6 – Pay Attention to Website Speed
According to some research, if your website takes over three seconds to load, it could cost you over 50 percent of your visitors. For large websites with huge images and massive chunks of content, this could be a problem. If your website takes too long to load, you will lose visitors, and your page will rank poorly. Google certainly checks this load time, and it’s your job to keep the waiting time to a minimum. Some ways you can do this include:
- Optimizing images to be the right size for web
- Change the website theme if necessary
- Remove old or outdated plugins
- Enable caching
SEO is something that should always be monitored and updated on your website. Since Google algorithms chance, it’s important that you are always on the cusp of what’s current.
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