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Get Your Brand on Top with SEO

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On average, Google processes 40 000 searches every second, which translate to 3.5 billion searches per day. Of those searches, search engine users are more likely to click on one of the top 5 suggestions that appear on the results page. In order for your brand to be among the top five results you need to ensure your SEO is strong enough to get you there.
SEO is not only about enhancing your visibility online but it’s also about improving user experience and usability of a website, which is vital to your target audience’s trust in your company or brand. Bottom line, employing good SEO practices plays a significant role in getting ahead of competition at the same time as building strong brand recall.

How it works: The 3 Phases of SEO

1. “Crawlers”, otherwise known as “SEO spiders” is a program used by search engines to gather any information that is on the internet. This system assesses your website’s content which allows the search engine to ascertain how useful or relevant data is. The web crawling process involves the spiders visiting website URLs and identifying all the hyperlinks on the site. These URLs are re-visited according to the policies in place for the search engine. The policies of the search engine are precautionary so that pages do not become spam.

2. The Second phase is called “indexing”, and this is when the crawler brings back all the information and then the algorithm makes a ‘copy’ of it so that it can be stored in the search engine’s data center.

3. The spiders then use the keywords to match the information on their index and the most useful and relevant information is provided within seconds. Despite this process being tedious and complex, these algorithms help users find exactly what they are looking for.

How do the crawlers rank your website?
Google is constantly reviewing and updating their search results through the crawler’s algorithms. The system has been created and set up by humans, but websites cannot be manually changed by them, which you can take comfort in knowing that your sites are fairly ranked.
Google’s algorithm takes in over 200 factors before ranking any website. Although these factors have not been disclosed to the public, here’s what we do know:
• Google looks at your website’s keyword usage
• Site structure, site speed, user friendliness and time spent on the site are elements that Google assess.
• The number of inbound links and the quality of those links will affect a page’s ranking.
• High quality content is key.

Combining and implementing these tips with current SEO trends is key to your business being a success this year.

SEO Trends in 2018
The SEO algorithm is constantly changing and what started off with just needing a few keywords and backlinks has now turned into an absolute necessity within every marketing strategy.

Google holds all the cards when it comes to SEO as they can change the system at any time, by staying up-to-date and looking out for any changes, your business can keep improving your strategies and stay on top of the game. So, let’s find out what 2018 trends to follow and apply to a marketing strategy in 2018.

1. Focus on Mobile

Having a website that looks amazing on a laptop or desktop but is not mobile friendly can land you in trouble. Previously, Google evaluated the relevance of content on a page based on the desktop site. However, in 2018 Google have launched their mobile-first index, meaning that websites will be ranked predominantly from their mobile site as majority of users access Google via mobile devices.
This means that every business needs a website that is responsive to mobile and not only desktop. You need to make sure that your business’s website is as impressive on mobile as it is on desktop, while putting your focus towards what crawlers base their rankings on.

2. Create SEO Strategies Specific to Voice Searches

Voice search is a speech recognition technology and allows a user to speak into a smart device to find out any information that they may need. Over time, Google picks up their accent, language and semantics. With this relatively new technology, people are opting for voice search rather than typing them out.
It is now imperative to re-look your SEO strategies and adapt them for voice-activated searches. These strategies need to encompass the following:
• Voice searches are more conversational and are usually longer than text searches. For example, one may type in to Google “best restaurants Johannesburg”, whereas voice search would most likely be “What are the best restaurants in Johannesburg.”
• Users are generally looking for local content when using voice search. Asking for something “near me” is one of the most popular queries.
• Users want immediate results and they have clear intent with what they are looking for.
• Voice search also provides users with a ‘personal assistant’ that creates a more accurate and individualized experience.

3. Provide Instant Answers

The technology of voice search needs to be able to speedily skim through content to find the answers that a user is looking for. Then, the most accurate match to the query will be shown. Pretty smart right!?
Producing content that provides clear-cut and accurate results will ensure that your business comes in on top.

4. The Optimization of Intention

Understanding the intent behind a user’s search query is what will set you apart. Unfortunately, there are terms that are extremely commercial and are therefore highly competitive, which is why it is so important to learn everything you can about your target audience.
There are 4 different types of user intent that needs to be incorporated into your SEO voice search strategy.
• Informational Intent
This is when users are searching purely for information purposes. For example, wanting to find out about the weather or wanting to know more about a certain topic. People will search for “how to…” or “the best way to…” means that they have an informational search intent.

• Navigational Intent
This intent is when users are trying to find a specific website. For example, they know that they want to go onto Google, so they search for that specific website. 

• Transactional Intent
Transactional intent is when users are browsing for a product or service. This search involves finding the best deal and have the intention to purchase that deal.

• Commercial Investigation Intent
Users would like to buy a product or service and are wanting to find out more information about it. They may even research comparisons between different products, for example, which brand of Phone is the best to buy.

• Keyword intent
If people are using any words that are relating to the price of a product, they are in the market to purchase. The words that are used will give you an indication of what the user’s intent is. If they use specific keywords, a name of a brand or product, they probably want to buy that product. The words people use in their search queries will give information about their user intent. If people use words like buy, deal, discount, they are definitely prone to buy something. Also, if people are searching for specific products, they probably want to buy it.
One of the most unique SEO trends to watch for in the second half of 2018 is the optimization of intent. Google will be switching up its search algorithm so that one of the biggest driving factors for rankings will depend on the intention of the keyword.

In other words, if a keyword has a clear intent for buying, such as, “cheap iPhone cases,” Google will place e-commerce sites higher in the search results -- even higher than major, authoritative media sites. This helps avoid searchers looking to buy something and finding a news story written about “cheap iPhone cases.” On the other hand, Google will prioritize those highly authoritative, major media sites for keywords that have a clear intent for information, such as, “the worst cheap iPhone cases in 2018.”

So, you’ll have to be slightly wiser with the keywords you choose to use within your SEO marketing strategy in order to optimize for searchers’ intent.

5. User Experience, User Experience, User Experience!

While this SEO trend isn’t new for 2018, it’s still worth mentioning because of its importance. Google will continue to focus on user experience to help determine which websites to show in search engine result pages.

It’s crucial to remain on top of your site’s speed, context, relevancy and quality of content, while also being aware of your visitors’ browsing habits, so you can make any necessary changes. For example, if your visitors abandon your site after 30 seconds or you have a high bounce rate, this will affect your SEO ranking. So, stay on top of those analytics reports!

SEO is an ever-changing system that is crucial to your online success. It’s imperative to stay current with the SEO trends well throughout your years of operation to ensure your website coincides with the requirements of Google. The good news is that, as long as you follow the SEO trends mentioned, you’re set for 2018 -- that is unless Google changes things again.

Written by: Leigh Novis, Digital Strategist

References:

https://curatti.com/authority-trust-relevance/
https://developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites/mobile-first-indexing
https://searchengineland.com/how-to-understand-searcher-intent-and-use-it-to-boost-seo-rankings-299501