Is it time to update your best SEO practices in 2024? When it comes to SEO practices, six years seems like a lifetime. Just compare the evolution of SEO best practices from 2018 to 2004. If you haven’t updated your website’s SEO recently, remember that Google frequently makes significant, broad changes to its search algorithms and systems. In 2021, Google made more than 5,000 changes to Search. In 2023 alone, Google released four core updates.
Best SEO Practices 2018 VS. Best Practices in 2024
Google has said that moving forward in 2024, its reviews system would be “improved at a regular and ongoing pace,” so they would no longer announce future updates. While we can’t examine each change or predict the future, we can explore a few ways you can effectively update your SEO technique in 2024.
Read on to find out how you can significantly update your SEO practices this year.
1. New. Intent-Focused Content
Best SEO Practices 2018: Long-Form Educational Content
On average, long-form content attracts 77.2% more clicks than shorter articles, proving there is still demand for the lengthy blog posts. However, the formula for creating SEO-friendly content has switched its primary focus from long-form educational content to content based on search intent (or user intent)—the goal a user wants to achieve based on what they type into the search bar.
Best SEO Practices 2024: Intentional and Transactional Intent Searches
Google search technology has gotten better at understanding a user’s search intent and now ranks pages based on how closely they align with that intent–be it informational, navigational, transactional, or local. Transactional intent searches–those using words such as buy, purchase, or order– are highly valued because the user is closer to purchase. Similarly, local “near me” intent searches are also valuable because they signal a user plans to visit a store and perhaps make a purchase.
How can you optimize for search intent? The first step is determining the type of page the user is searching for. For example, if the main keyword is biotech, the search query “what are careers in biotech” shows a much different user intent than “how do I invest in biotech.” With user intent established, you can select more accurate keywords and properly align content with the user’s search intent.
2. New: Targeted Services Pages
Best SEO Practices 2018: Duplicate Content for Related Products and Services
Companies that sell many similar services or products have used a cut-and-paste approach, creating identical or nearly identical content on more than one web page. You might see this, for example, when a product has separate pages for a standard and a premium model of the same product line. While this technique may be fast and easy, it may confuse search engines. Further, Google may penalize duplicate content within your site or even on an external website.
Best SEO Practices 2024: Service-Based Case Studies and Example Content
To avoid duplicating content, ensure that content on each page is original and distinct. This process will help SEO and also boost experience and expertise ratings. There are many ways to accomplish this. For example, you can publish separate case studies or examples for each product or service page.
Yoast recommends these additional SEO techniques to avoid duplicate content:
- Redirecting duplicate content to the canonical URL.
- Adding a canonical link element to the duplicate page
- Adding an HTML link from the duplicate page to the canonical page
3. New: Unique Location Pages
Best SEO Practices 2018: Spammy Location Pages
Similar to product and service pages, location pages can get spammed and fall prey to duplicate content. These pages are sometimes considered “doorway pages.” Search Engine Land describes this type of page as one that “exists for the sole purpose of ranking [city #1] + [service A] multiplied by the number of cities and/or services the business is trying to rank for.” By using duplicate content and just swapping out some keywords, doorway pages can be written quickly, but they provide limited value to users and generally rank poorly.
Best SEO Practices 2024: Location-Based Case Studies
The problems related to location pages are similar to those of services pages, especially with duplicate content. Rule #1 is to only have location pages for the towns where you have locations or provide services. Rule #2 is to create original content for each location page designed to target that location’s audience, which may differ from town to town. One way to distinguish location pages is by providing examples or case studies of work performed in each town. You can also repurpose authoritative pieces in blog articles or include them in an “Our Work” section.
Two other proven local SEO techniques are submitting your business listing to Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly Google My Business, and getting directory citations. You can also consider creating a resources section on your website with a list of towns you serve, providing engaging content that is educational, answers questions, and targets user intent.
4. New: Improve Indexing with Concise URLs
Best SEO Practices 2018: Long, Spammy URLs
Gone are the days of long urls stuffed with keywords. Such URLs are hard to read, remember, copy, share on social media, and copy-and-paste into emails. They can also confuse the reader, resulting in diminished CTR (click-through rate), poor user experience, and lack of user intent. They are also likely to be truncated on Google search results pages.
Best SEO Practices 2024 – Concise, well-focused URLs
URLs in 2004 should be short and descriptive. Limit URL slugs to five words or less to create a more positive experience and shareability—both of which send positive signals to Google. Each URL should indicate the general content of the page, making it easier for users to navigate through the site, remember, and share the link. You can still use simple keywords but don’t stuff them.
5. New: Create Content for User Experience, Not Keyword Density
Best SEO Practices 2018: Keyword Density
Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword appears in your content compared to the total word count. It used to be crucial for SEO and a primary way for search engines to understand the relevance of content. However, its importance has diminished in favor of content quality and relevance.
Best SEO Practices 2024: Text to HTML Code Ratio
A page’s text to HTML ratio measures the amount of text on that page compared to the amount of HTML code needed to display it. A good ratio, roughly 25 to 70 percent, indicates that the website has substantial content, which is good for users and SEO. Ways to minimize HTML to improve the ratio include cleaning up code, optimizing images and media, using compression, and cutting out extraneous code that causes bloat and slows down page load time.
6. New: Generate Backlinks with a Thought Leadership Content Strategy
Best SEO Practices 2018: Backlinking via Outreach
Reaching out to other reputable websites, content creators, or other marketers to secure backlinks and increase exposure is effective, but laborious. Backlinks can even harm your website’s SEO and reputation if the backlinks originate from low-quality, irrelevant, or spammy websites.
Best SEO Practices 2024: Backlinking via Thought Leadership
A backlinking strategy focused on thought leadership doesn’t focus on SEO. Instead, content is created solely to share knowledge, expert opinions, and insights. While SEO is not the goal, a thought leadership content strategy can ultimately improve SEO by building authority and showcasing expertise. When you gain a reputation as a thought leader and become a go-to resource, you will naturally gain backlinks from reputable, industry-focused websites and get shared on relevant social media channels.
7. New: Prioritize Accessibility and Core Vitals to Boost User Experience
Best SEO Practices 2018: Greater Awareness of Accessibility for SEO
Google is all about improving user experience for everyone searching on the web, and part of its vision has always been promoting usability and accessibility for all. Even though accessibility has long been a measure of quality for search and impacts user experience, web designers and developers have not always given accessibility a high priority. With the rise of Google’s Core Web Vitals and the giant shift to user experience, accessibility has gained in prominence.
Best SEO Practices 2024: The Rise of Accessibility and Web Core Vitals
According to Google Search Central, the search engine’s Core Web Vitals measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page. Google recommends that “site owners achieve good Core Web Vitals for success with Search and to ensure a great user experience generally.” When a website lacks accessibility features, it becomes unusable by 1 in 4 adults in the United States with some sort of disability. While not currently a direct ranking factor, SEO experts say that designing for accessibility positively affects user experience and SEO—and many predict it will become a ranking factor sooner rather than later.
Will You Update Your Best SEO From 2018 for New Ones in 2024?
Google’s continuous changes in search make it hard for marketers to keep up and remain competitive in the digital marketplace. Leveraging all the SEO techniques discussed above, and others not mentioned here, requires a mental shift in how we think about SEO and user experience. If you need an expert to create and implement an SEO strategy for your company, contact Ladybugz Interactive, an award-winning Boston web design and digital marketing agency that knows how to update your website and SEO for success in 2024.