SEO in 2018: Do I Really Need It?
The SEO Basics (Background)
Yes, it is true that the current state of SEO in 2018 is ever evolving and with every algorithm update, it becomes harder and harder to keep up. However, the foundation of Search Engine Optimization has stayed relatively the same over the years, and it is this foundation that all websites should be built upon. It is important to remember that Google’s ultimate goal is to answer the search of the person and produce the most relevant results possible to answer that search query. Otherwise, people will lose faith in Google’s results, and not use their product anymore. Search engine optimization tactics that work long term will always be in tandem with this ultimate goal when it comes to ranking highly on Google.
On-Page SEO: The Broad Strokes
On-Page SEO, in layman’s terms, can be described as the components of your website including:
- Word Count
- Keyword Densities
- Site Speed
- Meta Descriptions
- Heading Tags
- Schema Markup
- User-Friendly Website Design
The degree to which Google’s Artificial Intelligence aka “machine learning”, dubbed Rankbrain, weighs these (and other) factors when determining where to put your website in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for any given keyword, for example, “plumber Las Vegas”, is unknown. But good SEOs understand how to identify trends & can reverse engineer the competition’s strategy to make your website more relevant in Google’s eyes, thus more likely to show when someone types in a query for example “I need the best plumber in Las Vegas”. On-Page however, is only half of the puzzle. Off-page components are also necessary when trying to rank on page one of Google.
Off-Page SEO: Bringin’ the Juice
Off-Page SEO can be summarized as looking at the credibility of a website in Google’s eyes, through the links from other websites to your website (as well as the links in between your website pages). Think of it this way; each time someone links to your website, it is like someone raising their hand and endorsing that your website is what you say it is about and that it is credible. Now, not all websites are created equal: some are better and some are worse. You may be asking yourself; how do you know which ones are good and which ones are bad when Google doesn’t tell you directly? Luckily, companies like MOZ, Majestic, and others have created their own algorithms to measure different aspects of websites and assign them a score. Moz, in particular, has metrics called Domain Authority (DA) & Page Authority (PA) that are accessible through the Mozbar for free. Domain Authority (DA) is Moz’s prediction that your domain will rank. Page Authority (PA) is the prediction that a specific page will rank. These scores are represented as a score out of 100 and are logarithmic calculations, meaning that going from a score of 10 to 20 is much more difficult than going from 1 to 10.
Sticking with our voting example: this means that sites with higher DA & PA that link back to your website actually raise the “credibility” of your website thus likely increasing your DA &/or PA. SEOs call this “link juice” and it is a major contributing factor when Google looks at where to rank your website. So, which is better, fewer high DA links or lower DA links? The answer is: it depends. Remember this is an oversimplification and does not include components like anchor text ratios, link velocity, link types, social signals, etc. Also, off-page is only half the search engine optimization puzzle and all the links in the world cannot fix broken on-page components & a poorly designed website that does not convert traffic.
Search Engine Optimization + Your Company: Why It Matters in 2018
As Search Engine Optimization has become more complex, it has become almost impossible to stay on top of the changes. Marketing managers and company owners don’t have the time to be experts on SEO as well as experts on all other marketing strategy components. Some of the SEO tactics that you used a few years ago may have been nullified by an algorithm update, or even worse, are now subject to penalty. If you do a search for your target keyword, and look at the top ten results, I would bet my lunch money that the individual companies in the top positions have a trained & battle-hardened SEO behind the scenes formulating an on-page and off-page strategy and are chipping away with consistent effort to achieve the coveted Page 1 Position 1 ranking.
If you feel like you are late to the party, don’t get discouraged! Your competition may have a head start, but that does not mean you cannot catch them. You need experienced SEO professionals who can create & execute a plan to help you achieve your company’s goals in 2018 and beyond!
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