What 2018 Means for SEO and Content Writing
Writing for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has a history as long as search engines themselves. Like everything, the defining points of SEO have changed as the internet and business needs have grown. It now has different criteria that allow some websites to be set apart more than others by ranking higher in search engine hits.
History vs Today
In the late 90s and early 2000s, keyword stuffing was an effective way to boost a website to the top. Today, the same is considered keyword spamming and will actually get a site ranked lower, if not removed from search results. When search engines were newer, they also weren’t great at sorting out the differences between keyword phrases like “beach rentals,” “rent beaches,” and “beach renting.” In other words, similar keywords that mean the same thing. Smarter search engines now ignore such duplication.
Along the lines of keyword spamming, this also happened within everything from tags, domain names, and subdomain names. (Think: “beachy-beach-rentals.com/beachrentals.”) Ridiculous looking, but it worked. Cloaking was another previously successful concept that meant showing one set of content to searchers and another set to search engines. Today, thankfully, names like these have mostly died out.
New SEO Standards Emerge for 2018
In 2018, the idea of “queries over quantity” takes center stage. The major search engines, including Google and Bing, grew infinitely smarter over the past 10 years. Their focus is now on actually resolving the user’s query rather than simply matching and displaying keyword-based results. SEO writers need to come up with ways to address this. It means eliminating keyword spam and placing the most powerful keywords for the topic in the first paragraph of the page and in H1 and H2 headers.
Another vital ingredient SEO writers should pay attention to is user engagement. Google specifically can track not only the search results people click on but also how long they stay on the page without hitting the back button and going into another result. Users who click on one result and interact further with that page indicate their query was solved. Google wants these pages to be first at bat because longer engagements mean more revenue for everyone involved.
Remember, while websites are created for users, the mechanics of writing and designing for search rankings often take away from the user’s experience. Focus on topics and let Google do the work for the website, but make the content relevant. Searching sites like Quora and Reddit, or paying attention to Google auto-suggest and “related searches” will keep content writers up to date on what users are looking for and help tailor the website to the searches.