Why You Might Hate SEO in 2018

Jen Saunders

Keyword research, optimizing content, ranking websites, rinse, repeat: this is the routine of your typical SEO service provider. This is also a conveyer belt method that will not cut it in 2018. Why? Consumers are smarter and they engage in thorough online research before making purchasing decisions. Gone are the days when people will buy from the first organic ranking (because it is the first organic ranking) or get sold by salesmen. When it comes down to how to do SEO, search marketing experts need to understand their buyers and rank content that strategically resonates with various buyer personas by touching on intimate pain points. This is why the rinse and repeat method will not work in 2018.  However, when businesses work with SEO experts whose skillsets entail growth-driven agile digital marketing strategies, 2018 will be a year of ample revenue growth and an increase in customer acquisition. If you are an old-timey SEO, you are going to hate your job in the new year to come, and here’s why.

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SEO in 2018: You Can’t Just Rank Content for the Hell of it Anymore

High-level SEO used to be regarded as a service businesses invested in so they could have great online visibility. Then it was up to the brand to invest in additional marketing services that involved CRO and other tactics to actually generate revenue from organic. When you work with the best SEO Experts in 2018, you will discover that this “pick your service plan” (which may or may not include conversion rate optimization) will be low-level bush league garbage. True SEO specialists will write content that will both rank AND convert readers into buyers all in the same offering. Now that Google recognizes content written for humans resolving their individual pains as a ranking factor, a winning modern strategy will involve high level blogs and web pages that rank by resonating with readers. This means old school SEOs need to actually “learn marketing”, understand basic business psychology, and be talented writers.

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You Won’t be Able to Rely on Keyword Research Tools Anymore

Keyword research tools rely on antiquated technology to produce relevant keywords, variations, and their appropriate search volume. While using these tools can be helpful in generating ideas, the valuable keywords are going to come from understanding your buyer’s pains, needs, and online behavior–something a keyword generator can’t do. If you are a self proclaimed SEO expert who tries to optimize content for the keywords with the largest search volume, you will likely never outrank the current organic holders, especially if they are the Nikes and Hondas of your industry. Even going after exact match lower hanging fruit won’t garner revenue alone; you may be able to rank for these but the keywords are not integrated with buyer pains and therefore consumers will view them as cold. In order to rank and convert using a stellar keyword strategy you will need to create longtail keywords that parle with emotional language that resonates with semantic search.

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You Can’t Simply Blog to the Wind Using High-Ranking Keywords in the Title

Just because you write a bunch of blogs with your desired ranking keyword in the H1-title and H2s doesn’t mean Google will favor your content. After all, this isn’t 2005. If you aren’t a naturally gifted writer, you are going to hate SEO in 2018 because in order to rank blog content, it has to be really damn good. This means it needs to truly offer the right value to specific readers, show satisfactory engagement analytics, and it needs to be one well-written piece to a much bigger puzzle. I am talking about the content pillar cluster model; when blogs are topic specific while ALL being relevant to the same subject, while ALL link to the pillar page (your primary product or service page). This strategic method of organically ranking content is successful and will dominate 2018 because it shows Google a depth of knowledge and authority in a structured format.

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Jen Saunders is the Director of SEO for WEBITMD bringing more than 15 years of search marketing experience. She spent 13 years in Europe earning her PhD while looking at lots of old neat stuff. Jen enjoys simple things, like trees, sunrises, and the delicate lull of a 16th century harpsichord. Jen enjoys meditating and studies Buddhism. She is a certified master scuba diver, dolls make her nervous, and she enjoys craft beer. Jen has two cats, Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers and Lord Joffrey Gaius Pitty-Paws. They are her heirs.