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Updated 06 Dec 2020

Changes in SEO that you need to know for 2018

As a business owner, you’ve probably been pitched or sold the idea of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Here’s the latest on it.

Rhyse Crompton, 05 March 2018  Share  0 comments  Print

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You’re likely to have heard the different sales offerings presented by marketing agencies who are trying to sell you their ‘groundbreaking SEO services':

“We’ll get you onto the first page of Google.”

But the truth regarding SEO is that the tenets behind the practice have all but been eliminated by Google. As a website indexing corporation, their job has been to index all websites and pages to ensure that a page is showing for a particular search. The way that they do this means that the old fashioned ‘crib notes’ that help marketers ‘rank higher on Google’ have become somewhat irrelevant. 

Related: How the customer (marketing) landscape is shifting

More links will not help your site rank better

No, links will not magically help your site’s indexing with regards to Google searches. A few years ago, SEO specialists would often index a website on a list of directories that would provide links to their clients’ websites. Unfortunately, these directories had no bearing on a user’s search. The only reason for a website’s presence on the directory is for the link. 

Google no longer deems it beneficial for a website if they have multiple links on alternative directories and websitesunlessthe website in question links relative, well-regarded content to the business’s site.

For example, a local bakery has an article posted on a popular women’s lifestyle magazine’s website as part of its partner content/ affiliate marketing campaign. Many people are interested, not only in the women’s lifestyle magazine website, but also the article itself. Because thousands of readers are interested in the content (which itself is about baking), and there is an affiliation between the content on the article and the bakery’s website, the link provided is of high-value and has a positive impact on the ranking of the bakery’s website; much more of an impact than the five or six inconsequential links on a number of dodgy directories.

‘Good content’ does not equate to that of ‘more content’

Many marketing agencies will sell the idea of constantly updating the content on a website in order to rank higher on Google’s search index. I, personally, have come across businesses that have clearly paid huge sums of money for irrelevant copy on blogs and service pages on websites. 

Yes, a lot of information can make or break a content campaign, but always ensure that the content is relevant to the page on which it is displayed. This is the same for video content too. 

Keep in mind that video content is still largely indexed by YouTube (and therefore Google) as per video descriptions and video brief, so make sure that when you are posting videos that you complete these requirements after uploading.

Keywords aren’t an exact science

Search -Engine -Optimisation -mobile

What does this mean? Well, up until very recently, keywords (sometimes including keyword tails of up to four, five or even six words) were needed to be placed in an exact sequence in order to be recognised by Google.

Remember the bakery business above? In order to rank for ‘bakeries Johannesburg’, the website would have been required to contain that exact keyword-tail within the copy. 

However, with the rise of Google’s RankBrain algorithm, Google can identify an association between thousands of different long-tail keywords.

This means that if there is an association between your bakery and content that includes the likes of ‘bakery’, ‘bakery in Gauteng’, and ‘bakery deliveries’, your site will most likely be recognised by Google as a ‘bakery in Johannesburg’ without requiring those exact keyword matches in your copy.

Related: How content marketing adds real value to your customers’ lives

What does this mean for search in the year 2018? It means that the focus of your online content should be one of user-experience.

Try to afford the user detailed and informative content that will assist them in their search for information. Don’t waste time by consistently devising a way of putting together the most effective long-tail keyword. In fact, because more people are searching for information online through voice search via their mobile devices, Google’s search algorithm is making more of an effort to distinguish what people are looking for through natural language processing.

Don’t stuff your pages with…stuff 

Let me clear that up for you; don’t stuff your pages full of content. 

People think that in order to optimise their website’s landing page they need to add as much content as possible. This can mean a cluttered and busy page, full of nondescript copy that would take more than five minutes for the user to go through.

Unlike this article, whereby the user expects to read their fair share of copy, a landing page (such as a website’s home page) should be beneficial to the user’s thirst for knowledge based on their immediate needs and wants. This means that:

  1. Your home page should break down the ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ regarding your business and the presence of the website.
  2. It must be able to do this quickly and to-the-point, albeit in a way that captures the attention of the user.
  3. The home page must indicate clearly and articulately where the user may find more information on a particular topic within the website through clearly defined links.

Alternative pages that are linked to your home page through an intelligently thought-out sitemap will hold the key to your SEO success. Furthermore, a cramped home page will undoubtedly affect your website’s bounce-rate (the speed at which new and existing users exit your website) which will negatively affect your search engine rankings.

As a professional in whichever industry you may be plying your trade, keep in mind that Google is doing its utmost to ensure that their search algorithm is directing the user to the most user-friendly sites possible. This is something to keep in mind going forward.

Create a website (either yourself, internally within your business, or with a marketing agency) for the user, and Google will bring the users to you. No trickery or SEO cheat-sheets are needed here any longer.

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About the author

Rhyse Crompton

Rhyse Crompton is a director of Optimal Impact, a digital conversion optimisation start-up based in Johannesburg. With a number of content marketing, SEO, CRO, social media marketing, and PPC marketing tricks up his sleeves, he is determined to take his business to the top of the digital marketing plateau. Alongside his business partner, Slindo Ngubane, the duo are passionate about assisting businesses of all sizes to improve their digital presence.

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