28 SEO Tips That Work in 2018 (and Beyond)

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Written by: Tom Donohoe
Last updated: June 25, 2018

I bet you want to grow your organic traffic but your not sure where to start. Don’t worry I’ve got a bunch of SEO tips to share with you.

Want to know the best part?

You can easily implement most of them on your website today.

If you want to supercharge your SEO efforts, then read this guide.





General SEO Tips & Tricks

In this article, I cover tips that fall under on-page, technical, off-page and local SEO.

The following tips don’t fall into the above buckets. But they are crucial to your SEO success.

Let’s start with some general SEO tips that will help you improve your website’s from the get-go.





Set up webmaster tools and optimise your websites visibility

Webmaster tools are essential for anyone serious about SEO. They will give you insights into the health and performance of your website.

This information can help you to improve your rankings in search engines. Both Google and Bing provide their own webmaster toolkits. Here’s a screenshot from Google Search Console:

a screenshot showing Google Search Console's dashboard user interface

Set them both up on your website, and submit your sitemap. Routinely check your webmaster tools for any alerts or abnormalities in performance.

You can gain valuable insights on crawl errors, which you should fix when they appear. Audit the websites that are linking to yours and remove any spammy links. Find keywords that bring traffic to your website and discover new ones you may never have thought about.




Use analytics to gain valuable insights into organic traffic

Search engines continue to put more weight on user engagement and experience metrics.

Most SEO tools don’t help you how organic segments behave on your website. Installing an analytics package can reveal these insights for you.

I recommend Google Analytics, it’s free and the most widely adopted tool. Here’s a quick glance at the user interface:

a screenshot of Google Analytics user interface

But there are plenty of analytics tools on the market. Newer tools such as Heap are attempting to make tracking easier. Premium tools like Kissmetrics and Adobe Analytics will give you even deeper insights.

Regardless of the tool you choose. Track the organic traffic segment to understand if your pages are delighting users. Key metrics to watch include bounce rate, time on page and new vs returning users.




Level up your insights with a paid seo tool

Want to take your SEO to the next level? Then you should invest in a specialised SEO tool.

The market leaders are Moz, ahrefs, and SEMRush. They all have similar features evaluate which tool best suits your needs. Here’s ahrefs website dashboard:

a screenshot of ahrefs SEO tool dashboard

The most powerful feature of these tools, in my opinion, is the ability to do competitor research. You can understand what keywords your top competitors rank for. And even better where they are getting their backlinks from:

Having a paid SEO tool in your arsenal powers up your SEO campaign.




Stay informed by reading industry leading blogs

SEO is changing fast, and it’s important to keep up to date. The most effective way to do this is following the industry blogs that cover the latest news:

Search Engine Watch Homepage

Top blogs to follow are Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Webmasters Central Blog.

I try to visit these sites daily as part of my routine. I always glance the top news looking out for any word of algorithm changes.

You can also find some excellent ideas to test out by reading the guides on these sites.




Develop a long-term SEO Strategy

Unfortunately, SEO success doesn’t happen overnight; it takes several months or even years to dominate the search results.

To keep you on track you need to create a clear SEO strategy that gives you a roadmap to success. I use the PROPEL framework to create SEO strategies, which consists of 5 parts:

a diagram of PROPEL the seo strategy framework

Here’s a quick break down of the framework and what to include in your SEO strategy:

  1. Plan:
    1. Conduct an SEO audit of your current situation
    2. Set expectations of total relevant search volume
    3. Set the SEO budget
    4. Allocate SEO resources
  2. Research:
    1. Conduct competitor research
    2. Keyword research
  3. Objectives:
    1. Business objectives: What is the overall business looking to achieve in the next year?
    2. Audience objectives: With whom does your business want to communicate, and where?
    3. SEO objectives: to align SEO strategy with business and audience objectives?
    4. Determine a frequency to review if objectives are on track
  4. Prepare:
    1. Overarching Strategy
    2. Tactics and action items
    3. Activity calendar
  5. Execute:
    1. Implement on strategy
    2. Set up short and long term reporting on objectives
    3. Learn and optimise on data

You’ll want to compile all this information into a document that you can refer to. The document should be a reference point to keep you on track.




Competitor SEO Tips

In any marketing discipline, it’s best practice to analyse your competition.

And here’s the thing:

SEO is no different. In this section, I’ll share how to uncover your competitor’s SEO strategies and make them your own.





Research your competitors backlinks and replicate their best strategies

Backlinks are one of Google’s top 3 ranking factors, so you know that backlinks are essential to rank higher on Google.

And getting backlinks isn’t easy it takes time and effort. That’s why you should analyse where your competitors get their best backlinks from and replicate it.

If someone is willing to link to a competitor they are much more likely to link to you. To find your competitors backlinks, you should use an SEO tool, such as Moz.

Drop your competitors URL into Open Site Explorer, and you’ll be able to download a CSV with all your competitor’s backlinks. Here’s what it looks like in Moz Pro:

How to find competitor backlinks in Moz Pro

Repeat this until you’ve got the list of your top 5 competitors. Then reach out to these websites and see if they will link to yours.




Uncover your competitor top keywords and target them

Finding great keywords that work for your business can take time.

Here’s the bottom line:

You’re not the only one in your industry. And you can take works working for others and make it work for you.

Using a tool, such as Ahrefs, you’ll want to uncover your competitor’s top keywords. Then target them if you’re not already.

Put your competitors URL in Site Explorer. From there navigate to Organic Search then Organic Keywords:

How to Uncover your competitor top keywords and target them

Download a CSV of all your competitor’s keywords, and you’ll have data on how much website traffic they bring in.




Recreate your competitors best blog content

Content marketing is growing in popularity, and becoming crucial for most SEO strategies.

But writing content that will bring in website traffic can be harsh. Again it’s time to look at your competitors and recreate their best ideas (making them 10 x better).

In Ahrefs, put your competitor’s blog URL in Site Explorer and from the drop-down select ‘domain with all its subdomains.’

Ahrefs will present you a list of your competitors best blog content. And that posts top keyword:

How to find and recreate your competitors best blog content with ahrefs

Pick the content that is most relevant to your business and replicate it for your blog. It’s vital that you make it 10 x better than what they’ve created.




Technical SEO Tips

Technical SEO is crucial to ranking high on Google. Perhaps the most critical technique because if Google cannot crawl and index your website, your pages will never be ranked.

I often use an analogy to explain technical SEO as the roots of a tree holding it up, while on-page and off page SEO is the branches and leaves which make it pretty.

In this section, I’ll share with you technical SEO tips that are essential to maintaining high organic rankings.





Check that Google is correctly indexing your website

Publishing a page or blog article on your site doesn’t automatically mean Google will store it in their index. You should regularly check if your website’s content is being indexed.

First, do a quick search on Google with a search operator, site:yourwebsiteurl.com.au:

how to do a site: search in google

Does this match in a ballpark range with the content on your website? Check in your Google Analytics report:

google analytics landing pages report to check number of pages

If the numbers are close, then you could potentially have a problem where Google can’t index your website. Here’s a guide to follow if this is the case: The Top Reasons Why Google Isn’t Indexing Your Site.




Buy an SSL certificate and migrate your site to HTTPs

Security is a top priority for the big web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Back in 2014, Google confirmed HTTPs as a ranking signal.

And in 2018, both companies have been making it clearer to users if your website isn’t secure.

example of how google is changing chrome for non-secure websites

Don’t take the migration to HTTPs lightly. If you do it wrong, you can potentially lose a lot of website traffic. But don’t let this deter you it’s not difficult to do it properly. It requires some planning.

I suggest you read this detailed guide of all the steps you need to take in a successful HTTPs migration.




Boost your page speed

Page speed matters and its been a ranking signal in Google’s algorithm since 2010 and will soon be a ranking factor on mobile too. Fast sites provide an excellent user experience and often users aren’t willing to wait longer than 3 seconds for a site to load.

You might be wondering:

“How do I make my website fasters?”. First, go to Google Page Insights and test your website. It will give you insights into what you can do to improve your page speed.

my website's score from a google page speed insights test

But here’s a couple of common recommendations they will give to improve your page speed:

  1. Avoid landing page redirects
  2. Enable compression
  3. Optimise images
  4. Leverage browser caching
  5. Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  6. Minify CSS, HTML and JavaScript
  7. Prioritize visible content
  8. Reduce server response time

Check out Google’s fantastic page speed documentation that helps implement the best practices on your site.




Make your website mobile friendly

Mobile devices are taking over the world, that’s no secret. And search engines understand mobiles importance, especially Google who rolled out their mobile-first index in March 2018.

Here’s the deal:

If you don’t have mobile at the forefront of your SEO strategy, you’re going to get left in the dust. Here are the best practices for mobile-first SEO that you need to consider:

  1. Content should be precisely the same on mobile and desktop.
  2. Structured data should be on both mobile and desktop.
  3. Page titles and meta descriptions are on both mobile and desktop.

There’s not too much to worry about if you’re using a responsive design if you’re serving the same website to all user across devices. On the flip side, if you’re not showing the same content across all devices, you’ve got some work to do.




Mark your website up with structured data

Structured data is powerful in giving more context to search engines and enhancing the real estate you occupy in the search results.

Google is pushing website owners to use structured data more and have created an introduction to structured data that you should read. In the guide, it says:

Google Search also uses structured data to enable special search result features and enhancements.

For example, displaying reviews of your products or services:

using schema.org to get reviews in google search result

Most site owners don’t know about structured data or how to use it, so learning it will give you a competitive advantage to get more clicks in Google Search.

To help you further Google even created a tool that lets you test your structured data before pushing the code changes live on your website.




On Page SEO Tips

On-page SEO involves optimising a single web page to influence keyword rankings.

It’s probably the easiest to do but also the easiest to screw up if you do it wrong.

In this section, I’ll share my best on-page SEO tips for 2018 for you to put in place today.





Include your keyword in page title

Page titles are a ranking factor for search engines. They help describe the content on the page. Here’s what a page title looks like in HTML code:

<title>28 SEO Tips That Work in 2018 (and Beyond)</title>

If you built your website on WordPress, you could quickly adjust your page title by using the Yoast SEO Plugin. Here’s what it looks like in the backend:

Example of where to adjust page title in yoast SEO plugin

When you are writing your page titles you should try using the following template for an ideal page title:

<title>Your Target Keyword + Modifier | Brand Name</title>

You want to place your target keyword towards the beginning of your page title. Then add modifiers (e.g. “in 2018”, “Guide”) to help capture long tail keyword traffic. And finally your brand name.

Avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ which in other words means forcing multiple target keywords into the title for the sake of SEO. Keyword stuffing is against Google’s guidelines and will not benefit your website at all.




Write and optimise your meta descriptions for CTR

Meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor for search engines. But they will help increase your click-through rate, which can lead to better rankings (at the very least more website traffic). Here’s what meta descriptions looks like in HTML code:

<meta name="description" content="Looking for the SEO Tips that actually work in 2018? I've put together a comprehensive list of tips that I've used to grow my own website and other businesses.">

First, check if you have a meta description for every page on your website. You can audit this through Screaming Frog SEO Spider:

how to find missing meta descriptions in screaming frog

Next, look in Google Search Console for pages with low click-through rates and make a note of them. To find these opportunities, navigate to Search Traffic then Search Analytics and select Pages:

How to identify low ctr pages in google search console

Finally, review the poor performing meta descriptions and optimise them for click-through rate. Here are a few things to consider to write the perfect meta description:

  • Include your target keyword. Search engines will place it in bold when searched for by users.
  • Include a clear, unique selling proposition. For example, free same day shipping or free quotes.
  • Make it descriptive and concise. Don’t trick people into clicking through to your page.



Create unique page content that meets user intent

Too often people assume keywords are more important than page content. I wouldn’t blame you that’s what the crap on the internet tells you.

Here’s the thing:

The content on the page is what makes it worthy of ranking in search results. It’s what people want to see!

Excellent content boils down to two things:

  1. It meets the search intent of the user.
  2. It’s so helpful that people can’t help but link back to it or share it.

Once you’ve nailed those two points, then you can begin optimising the page for keywords and other on-page SEO ranking factors.

You might be wondering:

“How do I meet search intent?” I’m glad you asked. You have to ask yourself, ‘ Why are they searching?’.

There are four distinct reasons why people search:

  • Know Query (informational): the searcher is seeking information, such as how many people live in Australia?
  • Do Query (transactional): the searcher is seeking to achieve something, such as sign up for Facebook.
  • Website Query (navigational): the searcher is seeking a particular website, such as YouTube or Daily Telegraph.
  • Visit in person query (navigational): the searcher is seeking a location to visit, such as coffee shop or petrol station.

First, align the user intent of your target keyword with one of the above intent types. Then create content help the user achieve their desired outcome.




Boost SEO performance with Internal Linking

Internal links are a type of hyperlink that connects one page of a website to another page on the same website.

an example of internal linking on my website

Internal links are crucial for search engine rankings and need to be strategically planned. Google outline in their documentation that “The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page.”

Review your internal linking structure to make sure your most important pages are linked to frequently. A great way to do this is by using ‘topic clusters’ a framework Hubspot evangelise:

HubSpot topic cluster model

The idea involves creating a ‘pillar’ content asset that is the most important than creating content related to the pillar and linking back to it. If you repeat this process for key topics for your business, you’ll get surprising results.




Use image alt text to pass relevancy and improve accessibility

Google and Bing are becoming human-like quickly, but they still can’t understand images on your website without a little help. Perhaps more importantly many internet users have disabilities, and you want them to be able to understand your images too.

In both cases, you need to be using image alt text. Alt text is a description of what the image is in the HTML code:

<img alt=”seo checklist infographic that covers 32 steps to get your website on Google”>

It’s crucial that you don’t stuff in your target keywords that are against webmaster guidelines. You want to be descriptive of what the image is and contain your target keywords where they make sense.




Optimise content for featured snippets

Google search results are continually changing, and recently featured snippets have become prominent. You’ve probably seen them:

example of a featured snippet in google search

They take up the position above the #1 organic result, so they are hot property, and you should be optimising for them. Here’s a quick checklist to get into the featured snippets:

How to Rank in the Featured Snippet

  1. You need to be ranking on the first page
  2. The search query should appear as a h2 on your page.
  3. The ‘answer’ needs to be below the h2 ideally between 45-60 words.
  4. Add “Step 1:”, “Step 2:”, etc. to your headers to get the list into the snippet

If your pages are ranking on the first page and not in the featured snippet, revisit the page to optimise with the tips I mentioned above.




Off Page SEO Tips

Off-page SEO involves influences external factors that will increase organic search engine rankings.

Off-page is the hardest to implement because you have the least control over it. But when done correctly will move the needle on your rankings.

In this section, I’ll share my best off-page SEO tips for 2018 that you can work on.





Work on building relevant, high-quality backlinks

Backlinks are crucial for organic rankings and are one of the top ranking factors on Google.

Not any backlink will do, and several strategies for acquiring them are against search engine guidelines. Your safest bet is to focus only on backlinks that are relevant to your business and from high-quality websites.

Here’s a list of tactics to get backlinks:

  • Write a quality guest post on other relevant websites
  • Get press coverage in online news publications
  • Submit your business to directories
  • Create useful resources on your site people want to link to
  • Create unique visual graphics, such as infographics
  • Share unique data or research relevant to your industry

When building backlinks you want to diversify how you get them, so your backlink profile looks natural. It’s against Google’s guidelines to pay to receive backlinks so avoid that.




Local SEO Tips

Local SEO involves implementing tactics to rank local businesses in local search results and Google Maps.

It’s very similar to standard SEO strategy; however, there’s more focus on building citations, local links and more localising on page keyword strategy.

In this section, I’ll share my best local SEO tips for 2018 for you to try for your local business.





Localise your on-page SEO strategy

I’ve shared a couple of on-page SEO tips earlier in this guide, and you can apply them all as a local business. But it’s crucial that you put a local twist on them.

When people search for a local business, their behaviour is different. Often they use local keywords. For example, if you need a plumber, you might search “plumber in bondi.”

Example of a local seo search in google

To appear at the top localised search results, it will be essential to use location-based keywords. Try to put your city/region after your target keyword in page titles, meta descriptions, and heading tags.




Create and optimise a GMB profile

If you want to rank well in local search results and Google Maps you need a Google My Business profile. Your profile allows you to inform Google and potential customers your hours, website, phone number, and location.

example of a google my business profile

When setting up your Google My Business Profile, you should follow best practices:

  1. Complete the entire profile
  2. Pick a relevant category
  3. Put up as many photos as possible
  4. Add your business address and a local phone number to your listing
  5. Add your opening times/days (if appropriate)
  6. Get real reviews from customers

Pro tip: Google released a new feature ‘Google Posts’ recently, which lets you share showcase more to potential customers. Try to push out posts regularly to show Google your profile is active.




Get local reviews

A study by Moz found that reviews are ranking factor in local search. On top of that, people are more likely to trust a business with a lot of positive third-party reviews. There is no downside to actively acquiring reviews for your business.

local reviews in google search

The easiest way to start building reviews for your business is to ask your existing customers. From my experience, if customers have had a good experience, they are more than happy to leave a review.

Make it super easy by creating a landing page on your website explaining the step-by-step process for them to do it. Then you can direct customers there to scale your reviews.




Implement a consistent NAP

Search engines identify local businesses via mentions of your business name, address, and phone number. Unlike with traditional SEO, these mentions don’t require a link to be valuable to your rankings.

example of NAP on yellow pages directory

But the key is consistency. For search engines, like Google, to gather all these signals and associate them back to your website you need to be consistent.

List your business information correctly on your website and then stick to it across the internet. You want your NAP to be on your website, Google My Business, social media profiles, business directories, chamber of commerce and mentions in media.




Use schema.org for local businesses

Schema.org is a joint project by major search engines to make it easier to understand the content of websites.

It’s excellent for getting rich snippets in search results, such as reviews:

using schema.org to get reviews in google search result

But you can also use the http://schema.org/LocalBusiness markup to give more context to search engines that you’re a local business. The schema can help your website display better in the prominent knowledge graph card.

Google has a handy guide to help you get started structured data for local businesses.




Sponsor local organisations

As a local business, you must focus your link building strategy on getting links from other local websites. Acquiring the links can often be difficult. But one tactic that works well is sponsoring local organisations.

The best prospects to go after are a local organisation, events, sporting teams or charities.

To find opportunities, here are some examples search operators you can use:

  • inurl:sponsors “City name”
  • intitle:sponsors “City name”
  • intext:sponsors “City name”
  • inurl:supporters “City name”
  • intitle:supporters “City name”
  • intext:supporters “City name”
  • inurl:partners “City name”
  • intitle:partners “City name”
  • intext:partners “City name”

a google search for sponsorship opportunites showing 19,500 prospects

A quick search returns 19,500 prospects for sponsorship, but it would be better to narrow this down by adding modifiers. For example, adding in “soccer,” “charity” or “event” to get more tailored opportunities.

Once you have your list, use an SEO tool to evaluate which websites have substantial domain authority. Then reach out to see what options they have.




Join the local business chamber

As I just mentioned local links are essential, and another easy way to get one is joining your local business chamber.

Rarely have I found a city or region that doesn’t have a local business chamber that doesn’t have a website that shares members business information. There will be a membership fee, but it’s usually worth it for the networking opportunities anyway.




Try for coverage in local newspapers

Local newspapers often have very high domain authority making them an excellent link or brand mention target.

Build a relationship with a local journalist and share your companies exciting news with them. If you provide the information in a press release, that journalist can easily edit and publish you can pick up excellent links.

Some newspapers will have a local business directory, which you can get listed on directory pages.




Now it's your turn

Did you discover new SEO tips that you haven’t tried before?

If so, that’s great. Let me know which tips you will try put in place first in the comments.



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