11 Ways To Improve SEO In 2018

The best methods to perform search engine optimization, important for keeping a business easily accessible to the right searches, are constantly changing. This leaves companies trying to discover and adapt to the new rules almost as quickly as the search engines change them.

As the new year gets into swing, businesses are taking the opportunity to review what trends or changes they can expect from search engines. Forbes Agency Council members, experienced on these constantly evolving algorithms and SEO approaches, have advice on how you can improve SEO performance.

1. Switch To HTTP/2

One of Google’s largest points of emphasis is page speed. An understanding of how networking impacts page speed is a must to be effective in search engine optimization. We’ve been using HTTP/1.1 since 1999. HTTP/2 is a large departure from HTTP/1.1, and I encourage you to read up on it. This will make a dramatic contribution to page speed. – Sean Allen, Twelve Three Media

2. Target Fewer Derivations Of Keywords

Keyword research and targeting will continue to change drastically in 2017 and beyond. RankBrain is starting to have an impact on rankings. It already understands abbreviations, acronyms, plurals, synonyms, and even answers. The implications for SEO is that fewer derivations of keywords need to be targeted. Marketers that understand that will have a keen edge in an ever-growing competitive landscape. – Aaron Henry, FOUNDRY512

3. Stick To The Basics

Google wants to be relevant and its goal is to provide the most relevant website to the search entered. Forget about the algorithms and follow consumer behavior. If we watch for trends, we’ll notice that consumers now are more drawn to short videos and images, so steer away from bulky text. Give the consumer what they want, and let the search engines do their job. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

4. Use Google As A Bellwether

Google is the standard for SEO and that won’t change anytime soon. Be sure to keep on top of any updates they come out with. The biggest thing to watch? Mobile-first content. Now that searching has moved to being primarily mobile focused, content that shows on your mobile will take precedent in search engine crawling and ranking. – Jon Simpson, Criterion B

5. Focus On UX

With RankBrain and machine learning, search engines have gotten much smarter at determining what makes a good search result. Age-old keyword ranking factors still exist, but SEO and UX need to merge as search engines start rewarding sites that deliver a great customer experience and fast load times. In the near future, over-optimized sites based on keywords will start losing out to great UX. – Dan Golden, Be Found Online

6. Clarify Your Intent

SEO is no longer about choosing certain keywords but is about clarifying intent. Brands need to ensure that their online content is based around intent and what users want to find when they search for your brand. Cross-channel marketing will become more important in 2017 as well and will affect the SEO viability of a company’s pages. – Joey Kercher, Air Fresh Marketing

7. Hire Ethical SEOs

The “good old days” of gaming Google by buying links and over-optimizing keywords is over and in its place is a super-smart machine learning algorithm called RankBrain. Like most forms of artificial intelligence, RankBrain is getting smarter as it identifies patterns and penalizes those unscrupulous actors that attempt to game Google. It’s time to hire only ethical SEOs with proven track records. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

8. Improve Your Site Speed And Limit Errors

In 2017, site speed will play an even larger role in SEO, but in different ways than before. Developing sites in AMP, moving to https:// and other technical changes can lead to server side issues like overly abundant redirects, 404s or orphaned pages, which slow down the speed of the entire site and kill usability. Making sure the site functions 100% after making such changes will be a top priority. – Loren Baker, Foundation Digital

9. Shift To Mobile First Indexing

In November 2016, Google began using mobile-first indexing for mobile content for all search rankings. SEO strategies will shift towards mobile devices and a change in the priorities of SEOs to measure the impact of algorithm updates on mobile first indexing. Also, the mobile UX and mobile search intent will become increasingly important. – Daniel B. Laws, Jr, DaBrian Marketing Group, LLC

10. Have Quality Backlinks

One of the biggest off-site ranking factors is backlinks — links that point to your site from other websites. In the past, it was all about quantity. However, Google has quickly caught on to this strategy and modified their algorithm so that it can now differentiate a reliable link from a questionable link. Brands need to make sure their backlinks come from high-quality sources. – Laura Cole, The Berry Company LLC

11. Move From Content Production To Content Library

Content frequency, recency and relevance were previously rewarded with a great ranking. This isn’t the case anymore. Search engine users and search engines are now trying to find the amazing content — a highly researched, multi-media, organized piece of content that provides great value. Companies need to stop producing and compete with the best library to attract and retain the best readers. – Douglas Karr, DK New Media