The Ultimate Guide To SEO In 2018

This is the ultimate guide to SEO in 2018.

And just to set the record straight, let me say this:

I haven’t written this ultimate guide to SEO in 2018 to try and predict what search engine optimization tactics might work.

This ultimate guide to search engine optimization in 2018 is going to outline tried and tested SEO strategies that are working right now, and will be even more effective in 2018.

So if you’re looking to improve your knowledge on SEO, read this guide. You’re in for a treat.

Let’s begin.

SEO in 2018

In this ultimate guide to SEO in 2018 there are 7 chapters:

  1. RankBrain & User Experience
  2. Master the art of CTA
  3. How to Become the Content King
  4. Preparing for Google’s Mobile-first index
  5. Video Marketing for the Win
  6. Voice Search on the Rise
  7. Great Content & Powerful Links

RankBrain & User Experience

Last year Google made a revelation that stunned the SEO community. It announced what their third most important ranking factor was… RankBrain.

Paraphrasing what Google said; in the few months Google introduced RankBrain in their algorithm, it became the third most important ranking signal.

RankBrain is still in it’s infancy, and I can only imagine it having a greater effect on SEO in 2018.

But the question remains:

What is RankBrain? And how can SEOs make the most of it.

Google RankBrain: In Lamen’s terms

RankBrain is a machine learning based software (software that allows machines to teach themselves from data inputs) which is used to sort their search queries.

I know is sounds complex, but it’s not as complex as it seems.

RankBrain tracks how users interact with the search results, and ranks the search results appropriately.

For example, let’s say you made a search for “artichoke salad” in Google.

Searching for artichoke salad in Google

The 2nd result catches your eye. You click on it to find out more.

When the web page loads, you see amazing content that answers any questions you might have…great! You read every word, and you even leave a positive comment.

RankBrain is going to notice, and it will likely give the 2nd result a slight boost up the search reults.

On the other hand, let’s imagine you make the exact same search in Google. This time you decided to clcik on the 1st result.

The content on the page is HORRENDOUS. So you click the back button and leave the page immediatley. You then click the 2nd page result and find some useful information about artichoke salad.

RankBrain will likewise take notice. If many people do the exact same (bounce) from the web page, Google will knock it off the 1st position.

 

RankBrain is built to pay attention on two main things;

  1. Dwell time: The length of time someone spends on your web page.
  2. Click Through Rate: The percentage of people that click on your web page.

Let me talk you through each of these below.

RankBrain & Dwell Time

Dwell time is the amount of time a searcher on Google spends on your page.

RankBrain pays a lot of attention to Dwell Time.

This was confirmed by the head of Google Brain in Canada. He confirmed Google uses the dwell time on a page as a ranking signal.

He explains how RankBrain analyses when: “someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back”

A study conducted by SearchMetrics further supports this. The study concluded the average Dwell Time for the top 10 results was 3 minutes and 10 seconds.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that pages with longer Dwell Time appear higher in the search results. It makes perfect sense. The longer you spend on a web page, the clearer the indication of how much you liked the content.

If many searchers feel the same way, RankBrain will notice and Google will give the page a boost in rankings.

If you want to know how you can improve the Dwell Time of your website, watch this video.

RankBrain and Click Through Rate (CTA)

One of Google’s crazy engineers, Paul Haahr, caused an uproar in the SEO world when he put up this slide at an expo:

Paul Haahr slide that caused a stir in the SEO community in 2016

What the slides says:

RankBrain on occasion ranks pages higher up than they “should”.

If a page has received above average CTR, then the web page will receive a boost in the search results.

This makes perfect sense. If no one clicks on your page, do you really think it’s going to stay on page 1 for long? No. Heck no.

And if your site keeps getting clicked on till the cows come home, why would Google keep your site on page 2?

Talking of click through rate, guess what our next chapter is all about. Yes, you guessed it.

Master the art of CTR

If you want to excel at search engine optimization in 2018, you need to master the art of CTR.

Why? RankBrain.

Did you even read the previous chapter?

But seriously…

It’s also because of:

Car insurance quotes ads

And:

best pokemon characters

And most importantly of all:

iphone x release date

Studies show how organic CTR is down by 37% in comparison to 2015.

And should we be so surprised?

Google keeps overcrowding the organic search results with rich snippets, paid Ads, carousels and more.

It seems like Google is making it harder for people to click on our web pages. Unless you create an amazing title full of outrageous link bait, you’re going to have a tough time standing out.

Check this whiteboard Friday video for more info:

How to Become the Content King

Back in the old says of SEO, Google would analyse your web page to see the number of times a keyword was mentioned.

Basically, they paid lots of attention to the content on a web page. When the Google spider crawled your page, they would check if a keyword appeared in your:

  • URL
  • Title tag
  • H1 tag
  • Image ALT text
  • Description tag

Google still does this, but now they’ve taken to another level.

Instead of solely focusing on content, they also take into consideration the context.

Let me explain…

Google’s main job is to show the most relevant results for any given search query. Just because a page has the most keywords stuffed in the content, doesn’t mean it’s the most relevant search result.

The pages that ranks the best have content that cover a whole topic in-depth.

Having in-depth content on one single page establishes the page as an authority. People don’t have to go to any other place to find the information. It’s all there, all on one page.

This study conducted by Backlinko proved just how in-depth content that covers a topic, ranks higher in Google.

content topic authority

How to write amazing content that will make you the content king

Now you know how great content effects your rankings. You now need to know how to write in-depth content.

First things first, publish long pieces of content, at least 2,000 words. Writing long from content will ensure you cover a topic in detail.

The same studies by Backlinko also shows just how longer content outranks short content.

content total word count

Include LSI keywords in your content

Once you have written at least 2,00 words of great content, make sure to add some LSI keywords to it.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are words and phrases that are closely associated with the keyword you’re targeting.

For example, let’s imagine you’ve just published an article about the ketogenic diet.

LSI keywords would be words like:

  • Ketogenic diet for weight loss diet plan
  • What is a ketogenic diet
  • Ketogenic meal plan
  • Ketogenic weight loss
  • Printable keto food list
  • Ketogenic food list pdf

When Google see’s the LSI keywords on your page, they think “great!” This page covers the ketogenic diet very well.

How do you find LSI keywords I here you say? I’ve listed a few methods below:

My personal favourite is to us a tool called LSI Graph.

LSI graph

All you have to do is enter your target keyword and the tool will spit put LSI variations associated with your keyword:

searching for ketogenic diet on LSI Graph

Include as many as these as possible, so long as they make sense in your content.

The second way, and probably the easiest, is to use Google. Enter your keyword in the search bar and scroll down to the bottom of the page, under “searches related to…” section.

using Google to find LSI keywords on the ketogenic diet

All the words outlined in bold are LSI variations of your target keyword.

Lastly, you can use the Google Keyword Planner to find LSI keywords. Here’s how;

Put your keyword into the Google keyword Planner. Click “get ides”.

Using The Keyword Planner to find LSI Keywords

Take a look at the results. Some of these will be great to use as LSI keywords.

finding LSI Keywords on The Keyword Planner

Use some of these keywords in your content, to give it a boost in rankings.

Preparing for Google’s Mobile-first index

3 steps on how to get ready for Google’s mobile-first index

Make sure all content is visible on both desktop and mobile

Sometimes people decide to hide content on the mobile version of their page.

This is not a good idea.

The new mobile-first algorithm will not be a fan of content being hidden from the user.

Eventually when Google’s mobile-first index rolls out, Google will view the mobile version of your page the “true” version. All the content that is hidden will be ignored by Google.

To stop this from happening you want to make sure you display all of your content that appears on desktop, on your mobile version as well.

For example, if go to my blog and visit this post on an android, you get the same content on mobile as you would if you were on desktop.

 

how my site looks on mobile

From the screenshot, you can see how no content is hidden by unnecessary buttons or sections which are expandable.

Leave m. behind and make sure your site is mobile responsive

If you have a “M.” version of your site, you should look to switching it to a responsive design.

Me like Google recommend you make this change.

Make sure your site is a badass on mobile

There’re plenty of sites which work on mobile, but I would hardly call it ‘mobile-friendly’. These sites give me a headache to use.

I mentioned in Chapter 1 that RankBrain measures how users interact with your page.

If people are finding it difficult to use the mobile version of your page, then they’ll have no problem in clicking the back button and moving on to another site.

What’s the best way to find out if your site is mobile friendly?

I suggest you use one of Google’s own tools, Mobile-Friendly Test tool. All of you have to do is enter your URL, and the tool will tell you if your site is mobile friendly:

Mobile friendly test

Using the Mobile-Friendly Test tool will also give you recommendations on how to improve your mobile game.

mobile friendly test tool recommendations

Video Marketing for the Win

Video content is much more popular than text content. It’s so popular right now.

A study conducted by Cisco predicts how online video will make up 80% of all online traffic by 2021.

Yeah you heard that right, 80%!

But, it doesn’t stop there.

In fact, people want more video content, yes MORE!

The demand is unreal and if you want to make sure your brand gets noticed, you have to meet the demand by producing great video content.

If you’re not creating video content in 2018, you’ll find it much harder to attract traffic. Here’s how you can use video SEO to your advantage:

Start a YouTube channel

YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine after Google.

And as you can imagine people spend A LOT of time on YouTube watching videos. Just think about the last time you were on YouTube.

You, like everyone else, loves YouTube. That’s why the number of people who spend their time on YouTube as gone up by 60% in comparison to last year.

In order to stay ahead and grow your traffic, you should create and optimize content on YouTube.

It’s a platform you should be on.

Most of your competition don’t think about making videos on YouTube, so once you get started you should be able to rank pretty high (depending on your niche and assuming you know what you’re doing).

For example, take a look at Brian Dean’s channel over at Backlinko. He only has around 20 videos, but they bring in over 100k views per month.

backlinko views per month

And it’s safe to assume a high percentage of those viewers visit his site, turn to leads and eventually convert into paying customers.

Publishing optimized content on YouTube will also help you dominate more positions in Google search results.

Research shows 55% of all results in the search results include at least one video. And most of the videos are from YouTube (should we be surprised, Google owns YouTube!).

Here’s an example:

YouTube ads ranking in the search results

YouTube videos don’t only show up in the normal search results; they also started to show up in Google Image search:

YouTube-autoplay-in-google-image-search

Add video content to your blog posts

Since we’ve established people want to see more videos, why not do just that?

Instead of having a pure text based post, why not embed video content to spice things up a little.

Here’s an example:

Embed video content in your blog posts

Voice Search on the Rise?

Voice search has been the talk of the town recently, with many people thinking it’ll be the next big thing in SEO.

Personally, I don’t see it happening. But, I could be wrong.

Voice search is already on the rise and the platform seem to be growing pretty fast.

Here are some crazy facts about voice search:

  • 40% of adults now use voice search once per day
  • Google voice queries have increased more than 35-fold from 2008
  • 20% of queries on mobile are voice searches

Having said that, SEOs who want to stay ahead of the game should start optimizing some of their content for voice search.

How to Optimize for Voice Search in 2018

Voice search is still in it’s infancy.

But there are some things we know on how voice search works in 2018 and how SEOs can optimize for it.

1. Your content needs to be on the first page

Obviously, but just in case you didn’t know.

2. It makes it easier if your content appears in a Features Snippet

what is domain authority

I have noticed Google voice search shows text that is inside the Featured Snippet.

3. Make sure your posts include a question and answer in the content

The vast majority of searches are information based (“How do I grill chicken?” or “Who played Bane in The Dark Night Rises?).

Google tends to pick the web page were the content includes both the question and the answer.

For example:

When I search for “what is chiropractic”

I get this answer: “A chiropractor is a health care professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine.”

And when I visit the actual page, I can see that the content includes the question I asked, and the answer appeared in the voice search.

what is chiropractic

This is exactly what Google’s voice search algorithm wants to see.

Great Content & Powerful Links

I’ve just laid out 6 chapters on how you can get ahead of the curve in 2018.

But…

SEO is still about great content and amazing links.

If you don’t produce amazing content, you’ll struggle to find people who want to link out to you.

Likewise…

If you don’t acquire any authoritative links, you’ll struggle to rank on the first page.

And funnily enough, everything we just talked about (RankBrain, mobile-first indexing & Voice Search) won’t matter unless you’re ranking on page-one already.

Google themselves even made it clear that content was their #1 factor, whilst links was still their #2 factor:

Google's top 3 ranking factors

Long story short, content and backlinks will still, like always, be a crucial aspect to SEO in 2018.

Once you have sorted out your content and backlinks, you can then move on to creating a better user experience, making sure your site is mobile friendly and making your content compatible with voice search.

Well that’s it.

The Ultimate Guide to SEO In 2018 is complete.

Which one of the tips I mentioned are you going to put into practice first?

Leave a comment below to let me know.

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Tahir Miah
 

Tahir Miah is an entrepreneur, digital marketer and SEO enthusiast. He is the founder of Serpjump, a Bedford link building agency. Tahir currently advises companies on the best way to increase revenue and brand awareness through SEO, content marketing and link building. He can be found on @serpjump