Over the last few years, a lot of things have changed in SEO. Because of these changes, both search engines and the searchers now have more expectations from your website than before. So, what do they expect from you now?

1. They expect good relevant content (no escaping quality content!)

2. They expect a faster loading site (your website takes more than 7 seconds to load? Talk to your developer now!)

3. They also expect great user experience and a decent design.

It’s often hard to live up to these expectations! All these things that you did in the past to rank your site, it may not work as well now.

What has changed?

Every time Google release a new algorithm, we notice significant changes to the way Google display it’s search results. We are now seeing more and more importance on context instead of plain keywords. It may sometimes seem that pages that aren’t optimised for Google are ranking higher than the sites that are optimised. In a lot of cases, known brands with higher authority are getting the top positions, although the particular page isn’t optimised for the exact keyword. For example, for any travel related searches, you’ll often come across a page from TripAdvisor, even though that page isn’t particularly optimised for your search term. Although you will find that page may answer the questions you have (i.e. how to spend a weekend in Paris). So Google tried to make sure that your intent was fulfilled from that particular page!

You can either get frustrated or do something about it. You may be thinking whether you still need a SEO strategy since Google has taken this new approach. Well, SEO is getting harder, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need an SEO strategy anymore. In fact, you need an SEO strategy even more than before.

Keyword strategy

To start with, you can stop doing your keyword research like you did in 2010. When you are doing a new keyword research, try to find out your searcher’s intent. I’m not discouraging you from using keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, but don’t just rely on it solely. After your initial research, try to use the web, news and youtube to get more ideas, you’ll be surprised what you come across. Run those new ideas into your tool and then carry out a new keyword research. Now the most important part, instead of creating pages based on individual keywords, try grouping the keywords based on the context (your searcher’s intent!). Don’t worry too much about consolidating pages that are about the same keyword, it will only give you more authority. Now create your landing pages and plan your on-going content strategy.

Content is still the king

A lot of times, it is hard to create content that is relevant and add some value to the reader. You can start with a content calendar and plan ahead for the next couple of months, with slots in between for content related to current events (this will vary based on the industry you are in, of course!). Remember to add visual elements to your content, as nobody likes to read only text-based content, no matter how good they are. As a rule of thumb, do what works for your brand. Look at your Google Analytics report and social media to find out what type of content works best for you (You can also use tools like Buzzsumo), what works and what doesn’t. Then do more of what has worked in the past.

Do you still need to build links?

Here’s my two cents – you can stop obsessing about getting do-follow links with anchor texts as they aren’t as important as they were once before. Also, stop sending link requests to people via emails, those will just annoy them. Build relationship instead. Think outside the box. Make a list of companies that you’d like to get links from (be realistic here) and try building the relationship with them via social media. Follow them, retweet their tweets, interact with them. The rest will follow. Build relationships with journalists and online bloggers too. If your budget allows, focus on traditional PR on the side as all the major newspapers and magazines have online editions now. A link from BBC or guardian will provide a lot more authority than 1000 low quality links.

In a nutshell, have a killer keyword strategy, keep producing great content and make sure people can enjoy your content on all devices and have a great user experience. If your site has speed issues, fix it. If it isn’t mobile friendly, get it optimised. Don’t pay for links, forget about paid links with anchor text. Build relationship instead. Focus on traditional PR along with the digital strategy, do them side by side. Build a great brand.