SEO trends change constantly. Whether you’re a small business owner, a non-profit manager, or a member of a team within a large business, it can be difficult to stay on top of best practices. Search engines are constantly updating the rules they use to prioritize search results for users. Website technologies constantly change, as well, but not always in ways that favor SEO. What is effective one year might kill your rankings next year.
How do you keep track of it all?
The Necessity of Staying on Top of SEO Trends
Though difficult to do, staying on top of SEO trends is essential if you care about your website’s search presence. As we like to tell clients: a website without effective SEO might as well be a billboard. Only people who know exactly where it is will be able to find it.
Like most elements of digital marketing, SEO is also part art and part science.
The science part of SEO:
- You need to be aware of the top ranking factors that are currently in play right now
- You need to use these ranking factors to improve your website’s search presence, from the code-level up
The art part of SEO:
- You have to remember that the end users of search engines are people
- You need to craft compelling content that will keep people coming back for more
Though we can’t teach you how to accomplish those four things in one post, what we can do is give you some tips for keeping on top of SEO trends, so that you aren’t left scratching your head as to why your competition is ranking better than you.
Tip #1: Find SEO Thought Leaders You Trust and Follow Their Lead
According to Forbes:
A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.
What we like about this definition is that it shows that recognition is key to who is considered a thought leader. You need to decide who you recognize as an SEO thought leader. You need to decide who you recognize as someone who can help you solve problems.
This can include:
- Reputable SEO websites
- Book authors (to a limited degree)
This can also be very hard to do with SEO, however. SEO trends change so rapidly that it’s easy to get bamboozled by someone who sounds like they know what they’re talking about. Books are typically not a good source of SEO knowledge, because as soon as they’re printed, they’re outdated. They can certainly get you started by introducing you to some best practices and basic concepts however.
To help you get started, here are some of our favorite SEO thought leaders:
Here are our two favorite introductory guides to SEO:
Tip #2: Use SEO Tools to Help You With Best Practices
Perhaps more than any other element of digital marketing, SEO is a highly technical field that can be difficult to break into. A little knowledge is also not enough to be effective at SEO. You need to be doing things the right way from the beginning or you will run into trouble later on. Or worse: you will completely waste your efforts or even harm your search presence.
Good tools can give you concrete recommendations as you build a website, optimize an existing website, or start a new content marketing campaign. The problem, of course, is that there are a range of tools out there. We can’t tell you which ones to avoid, because we don’t believe in negative marketing.
But we will say: be skeptical. If a tool promises to make you the top Google search result for only $19.99, it’s probably not really going to do that.
To help you get started, here are some of our favorite SEO tools:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Ubersuggest’s Free Keyword Suggestion Tool
- Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress
Tip #3: Hire an (Affordable) SEO Agency
If you are starting completely from scratch with no knowledge of SEO, it is probably worth your time and money to hire a reputable SEO consultant to help you build your first campaign.
SEO consultants can typically do several things for you:
- Find the best keywords for you to use in your website
- Help you track analytics over time to make sure your website is performing well
- Do an audit of an existing website to find areas for improvement
What you should look for in an agency:
- Someone you’ve been referred to by someone you trust
- Someone who is transparent about how they’re adding value to your business through SEO
- Someone who is willing to provide regular reports that show actual data regarding how your search presence is improving
We cannot over-emphasize point three. We get a lot of clients who have been paying a web developer thousands of dollars a month for miscellaneous SEO services, and who have never seen a single analytics report. If you aren’t seeing data, how do you know that your SEO consultant is improving your search presence?
Just Remember: With SEO There Really Is One Right Way
Unlike other elements of digital marketing, like content development or ad creation: SEO really is a simple set of rules that you need to adhere to. Again, how you leverage those rules to create compelling, optimized content is where the art of SEO comes in.
If you’re not following the basic rules, however, you’re stabbing in the dark.