Top SEO Methods for 2018
For most business websites, owners and staff are constantly fighting the search engine visibility battle. As web content managers, there are always things we can be doing when we publish our content regularly to help that content be found.
I often take the time to spot check Google first page rankings for random keyword phrases. It’s very useful to spot trends, like how many secure sites make the top ten these days, that sort of thing.
Brian Dean (SEO evangelist from Backlinko) recently published a great video citing some tests and recent research on almost 8,000 first page web rankings to shed some light on common SEO threads. Below is a list of the top items found over and over which is actually a bit fascinating.
1. Specific words you use IN your page title
If you’ve been around SEO for long, you’ll recognize that descriptive titles are a no brainer even today. However, this study went further than just having a solid title. It uncovered repetitive words within titles of pages that outranked competition over and over again.
What are the “clickable” words that keep popping up in top search results?
I think the lesson here is that Google doesn’t make the rules blindly. They study their own data to find what attracts clicks over time (organic click through rate). This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone though given that Google measures and rewards click through rate (CTR) within the AdWords bid/placement process. The bottom line is that Google wants to encourage more of what seems to be working (driving clicks) both in PPC and organic search results.
What are some other phrases that seem to work in titles for promoting page rankings?
Here is a list that Brian claims he uses with great success:
- WORKS QUICKLY
- RIGHT NOW
2. Use the ‘searches related to’ at the bottom of Google for popular phrases
Perform any search on Google, and you may notice a number of related searches at the very bottom of the page. Discovering new ‘long tail’ phrases in this manner is something I’ve been doing for a while now. It seems so obvious to check this “Google suggested” grouping when searching for new phrases to target related to phrases you’ve already used!
3. Check other search engines for keyword ideas
This is another tip that will make you say “duh” but certainly one we may all forget about. Try some other search engine sources when looking for long tail keywords for new ideas. For instance, searching YouTube, Amazon, Bing and Wikipedia are all great ways to gather related ‘suggestions’ when typing a root keyword phrase.
The basic idea is that we optimize for search engines AND for humans…we should use these other sites as resources to pull a whole new set of ideas inside any keyword theme.
4. Reduce your bounce rate
First off, what is bounce rate? If analytics show an 80% bounce rate for my home page, it simply means that 8 out of 10 visitors to my home page leave without clicking links to other pages on my site. This could be intentional (think of a contact form), but for most pages it’s not a good thing…lower is better. If people leave after one page visit, your site is not engaging visitors.
So, does it make sense that ranking research findings suggest that pages with a low bounce rate tend to outrank those with a high bounce rate?
5. Use AdWords to optimize for CTR (click-through-rate)
AdWords (PPC or paid search) campaigns are generally rewarded with top placement overtime thanks to high CTR. This means that checking the top paid ads for any keyword phrase in Google can help with SEO. Just check the words used in the titles of the top ads to uncover some true gems. Use these words and titles within your own page when trying to increase the click through rate of your pages.
6. Build backlinks using ‘Link Roundups’
According to Google, backlinks are still a top ranking factor. Back to Brian Dean’s video, he suggests something called a weekly or monthly roundup. These are blog posts generally summaries by category that ‘link out’ to the best content available on a topic. Think of these pages as a mashup of all the best news on a topic.
Simply put, a website owner can search for these roundups using Google. You search for a roundup based on the topic you are writing about, then simply let the blog post author know about your content. Since the author wants the best resources for his post and he somehow ‘missed’ your post in his roundup, just email him with a link! There is no guarantee that he will include your post, but you won’t know if you don’t try :)
How do you find these roundup pages?
Just head to Google and run any of the following searches to get some great results:
- “YOUR KEYWORD” + “LINK ROUNDUP”
- “YOUR KEYWORD” + ROUNDUP
- “YOUR KEYWORD” + “BEST OF”
- “YOUR KEYWORD” + THIS WEEK
Okay, so how do we ‘reach out’ to these blog post authors for a link back from their roundup page? Simple….just fire off a message that you loved the post, and that your ‘case study’ or whatever you just published might be a great fit to be included. Add the link, and sign off with another positive comment like “keep up the good work”, then move on to the next one. Now, you’ll either hear NOTHING back, or you might just receive an email thanking you for the link. If your content is good, it should be a no brainer for them to include whether you get that email or not.
7. Resource page link building
Just like roundups, resource pages can also be found on industry specific websites. In fact, I used to have a long software resource page on this very website back when we built sites with tools like HTML editors (before the rise of the web based CMS that most of us use these days.)
Another difference to note…resource pages are generally more evergreen in nature and include the BEST all time content within a given industry or topic. So, make sure your article or case study is worth the touch point with that site’s author before reaching out!
Just like the roundup searches, these will be similar in nature:
- “YOUR KEYWORD” + “RESOURCE PAGE”
- “YOUR KEYWORD” + “RESOURCES”
- “YOUR KEYWORD” + “RECOMMENDED SITES”
- “YOUR KEYWORD” + “LINKS”
The exact email script that Brain uses in his video is below:
I was looking for some content on [Your Topic] today when I found your excellent resource page. Great stuff!
I really like that you [Something Unique About Their Resource Page or Website]. Actually, I recently published a piece of content on [Your Topic]. It might make a nice addition to your page.
Either way, keep up the awesome work! :)
[Your First Name]
8. Publish “in-depth” content
Okay, this one I can relate to because it’s one of the primary ways that I’ve managed to rank highly for several key terms on www.fieldgoalkicker.com (like ‘how to punt a spiral’ and ‘how to kick a football farther’, etc). In many of my articles, it’s all about content. It’s not just addressing a random list of items within a topic, but actually digging deep into the subject from multiple angles and righting well over 1,000 to 1,500 words (even when some say 300 might be enough.)
9. Pay attention to search features
What are search features? If you’ve noticed, more and more search results are filling up with special boxes, ads, question/answer toggles and any number of new displays that detract from the more traditional text based results. This means that users can get somewhat distracted. In fact, studies suggest that less than 50% of searches actually click on natural search results on these types of mixed feature results. So, avoid search results pages that are bloated with these items for better click through rates!
10. Take advantage of multi-media
Speaking of non-traditional text results, consider that converting your article to a video production can be well worth the time. Why? It will stand out and be more engaging. In fact, it can stand out above and beyond all the traditional text results on most any search page.
Of course, there is more to it than just video. Try to visualize and appropriately label EVERYTHING on your article page with charts, graphs, info-graphics, you name it. All of these visual elements can actually add to the time on the page (engagement) as well as return visits. One study showed that between two comparable text based articles, the one with just one image received 94% more clicks than its counterpart with no images at all. This suggests a real shocker in my opinion…people are visual and Google knows it.