As an adviser with a digital presence, you’re probably aware of the importance of SEO – search engine optimisation. But you might not feel like you’ve mastered it yet. That’s understandable; it can get pretty technical. For example, Google’s official SEO ‘starter guide’ is 32 pages long. That’s just the basics. Then there are the trends and supposed ‘solutions’ to the algorithm changes that come out up to several times per year. So if you’re an adviser or practice manager trying to juggle your client base and your marketing, chances are you’re not up to date. And that could be hurting your lead gen results.

That’s where we step in.

Here are a few of Advant’s picks for the SEO myths, updates and trends you need to know about.

Myth 1 – You need to use exact keywords in your SEO content
When you write a blog, news update or new page for your site, do you focus on making sure a certain keyword is included X number of times? It’s time to shift your focus. Exact keywords used to be a thing. But these days, it’s all about latent semantic indexing, and the other ways the search engines can tell what a piece of text is about without looking for exact words. So, long story short – it’s OK to include exact keywords, but only in a natural way. And it certainly shouldn’t be your focus.

Trend 1 – Taking time to optimise images
When you add a photo or illustration to your website, do you think about the file name? Or what the image is tagged as in the back end of your website? If not, you’re missing out on an opportunity to give search engines more of the info they need to rank your page/s highly. After all, the computer can’t read the image. They can only read associated text. So make sure next time you’re uploading an image, you take a second to revise the alt tag.

Myth 2 – It’s all about getting to number 1
In the past, many SEO agencies and independent contractors focused on getting their clients to number 1 in the search results for at least one keyword or phrase. It was a clear cut performance indicator. So over time, clients (like you) started focusing on being at the top of search results. But proving that this is a myth is as simple as examining your own search habits. Think about the last time you searched for something online. Did you click on the first result, and then repeat the search if you didn’t find what you were after? Or did you open the first page worth of results in new tabs, to view in quick succession? Looking at it this way, it’s easy to see why getting to the first page (or two) for multiple valuable keywords/phrases is a worthier goal than getting to number 1 for one word or phrase.

Trend 2 – Focusing on mobile
The stats show that 88% of Aussies own smart phones . We use them for everything from social media to banking to shopping. And while we’re still behind other countries in terms of actually buying on mobile, the mobile experience still forms a massive part of the sales funnel. That’s why, more than ever, your SEO approach has to be mobile focused.
If you haven’t done one recently (or ever), now’s the time to do an audit of how mobile friendly your website is. This checklist (that’s actually from four years ago – which shows you just how entrenched the trend is!) is a good start. Once you’ve identified some weaknesses and opportunities, you can plan to make improvements one by one.

Trend 3 – Fostering mentions without links
If you’ve been struggling to find ways to build organic, meaningful links to your website, you might be in luck. One prediction from Search Engine Land says that soon, all it’ll take to boost your rankings is a mention of your brand. Without a link. They say:
“Bing has confirmed that they track unlinked brand mentions and use them as a ranking signal — and a patent by Google (along with observations from many SEO experts) indicates that Google may be doing this as well (…) As AI begins to play a bigger part in rankings, it’s not unreasonable to expect ‘linkless’ mentions of this type to start playing a bigger role in search rankings.”

So what does this mean for you? Well, instead of focusing your energy on forms of online engagement that result in links, you can focus on engagement more broadly. Do whatever works better for you to get a breadth of positive brand mentions. For some advisers, this might mean social media stuff. For others, it might mean engaging with online discussions amongst other advisers. Others might focus on content marketing strategies that don’t guarantee links, but usually garner mentions in the form of citations; things like reports and white papers.