The Top 10 SEO Ranking Factors in 2018
When it comes to search engine optimisation and how to rank a website there are multitude of factors to consider, such as content, backlinks, on-site optimisation and the list does indeed go on. In fact its stated that Google uses over 200 separate seo ranking factors alone to decide where a website should rank it its serps. Now over the years these have grown significantly and some that were considered important such as meta keywords have be consigned to the not a ranking factor bin just like meta descriptions. Now thats not to say meta descriptions don’t have a use because they do, they are designed to entice users and customers to click through to your website.
However, over the years it has become much more clearer what search engine optimisation techniques work without a doubt to help rank your site. In this list we have covered what we think are the most important SEO ranking factors to consider when planning your next search engine optimisation campaign.
1. Great Original Content
Now this seems an obvious one and the reason we put this first was simple enough, without any decent content you will never show up for any search queries simply as that. What use is voice search if your content doesn’t show up for those queries? Google and other search engines have been refurbishing their search engine algorithms to make sure that each site or webpage on the search engine results pages will be relevant and the best. After all, that’s the purpose of a search engine.
Despite this fact, many still do not understand the idea of how powerful high-quality content affects search engine results. They scrimp on this aspect of their website, and just cross their fingers for other borderline useless and outdated search engine optimisation techniques — case in point: backlink spamming.
It seems that the quality of content can be a subjective matter, so how exactly can you satisfy the search engine algorithms? First, the length of your article matters.
The most prolific bloggers, writers, and content creators tend to write at least 500 words per article or page. If the topic is vast, they will write a thousand words or more. Most of them believe that content below 400 words or between 500 to 1,000 words tend to be “unpopular” with search engines.
Another objective factor is authority. Achieving that coveted authority status on the Internet can be a bit tricky. It involves getting cited, back-linked, and mentioned by other websites or webpages that talk about related or similar topics to the content you have covered.
Depth is another quality that your content must have. You do not need to have lengthy content to give depth to your content. You can just make sure that your content is not filled with fluff and crap and actually goes some way in providing useful and wanted information to your readers.
One of the biggest and most important seo ranking factors for a long time has been building backlinks or link earning as it now better known. And will remain as such until Google finds a better alternative if ever. Spamming backlinks backfires (just in case you were ever unaware!). It was effective years ago when search engine algorithms were at an immature state. You could rank well on search engines with thousands of low quality irrelevant backlinks from poor and low-quality websites back then even if your niche is the religion of Christianity. Those days have been over for a long time however, there seems to be a growing resurgence in the practice of spammy links. As such any attempts to game the system with low quality backlinks can now usually more than not result in your website being penalised, and if this happens you’ll certainly need a Google penalty recovery service to fix it.
Backlinks and quality of your content go hand in hand. Primarily, backlinks elevate your authority on the World Wide Web. A good site to study when it comes to backlinking is Wikipedia.
Due to being cited and visited so much by people, Wikipedia’s authority is one of the highest on the Internet. And due to its level of authority, being cited or linked by an article on Wikipedia can easily change your site’s standing on the search engine results page. As of now, having a link from Wikipedia is sought after by many SEO’s, however these have lost a lot of their power again due to resurging abuse.
In a nutshell, backlinking is a simple concept to understand and apply. Generating backlinks basically allows you to raise your websites level of authority on the Web. Getting a few high-quality backlinks is much better than getting thousands of low quality backlinks.
3. Voice Search
Number three on our most important seo ranking factors list is also one of biggest emerging trends we have seen over the last year, which has been the increasing use of voice search. Initially this first began with mobile phones such as Apple’s Siri and Google on android, but this has since grown exponentially as large companies have also built their own separate home integrated voice search assistants, such as the Google Home assistant and also Amazon’s Echo.
These devices have had a major impact on the growth of voice search and we only seeing getting stronger and stronger. For instance, according to Comscore it is estimated that by 2020 50% of all searches will done using voice search, and on top of that Global Web Index found that “1 in 5 online adults have used voice search on their mobile in the last month”.
This just goes to show its ever-increasing use and as such SEO’s should be prepared to tailor content accordingly, as more often than not what we type to search is vastly different form how we speak it. A prime example would be when typing in Google something along the lines of “best pizza New York” but more often than not when speaking a person may say “where sells the best pizza in New York” which is completely different from how it would be searched using type. And those who adapt to these changes usually stay on top, you’ve been warned!
4. Local SEO
This without a doubt has become one of the biggest seo ranking factors when ranking your website locally. Targeting customers locally using Local SEO techniques and taking advantage of Google My Business (GMB). Now using GMB has been proven to be an effective way to influence local search engine results. Aside from that, even if you do not have a local business, it is crucial to set and build up your website’s identity further by getting it included in the map pack.
Google Posts are available to all small businesses listed on the Google My Business platform. What does this mean? It means that you can add more content to rich snippets and your business profile page. You can post special offers, advertisements, and events.
Those posts will eventually appear together with your business in Google’s results page and even on Google Maps, not to mention that it can take a lot of space in the search engine’s mobile version, pushing your competitors further down the page. which is ideal if you really want to take all potential customers’ attention.
All your posts in Google Posts will have an expiration date. Each post will last for seven days, and you will be notified by its expiration on the sixth day. So, prepare for this additional task.
5. Schema Mark-up and Rich Snippets
Number 5 on our list of top seo ranking factors is of course, Rich snippets and Schema mark-up. As search engine algorithms have improved, search engines have become much better at understanding website content. The better a search engine understands what your content is about it can more accurately display your website for keywords truly relevant to your website and niche and when a users searches.
However, you do not need to wait for those algorithms to achieve godlike levels. You can help search engines analyze your website’s content by using schema mark-up.
Schema mark-ups are mostly additional HTML attributes that provide meta information to the elements in your webpages. Here is an example:
<div itemprop=”actor” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Person” >
<span itemprop=”name” >Brad Pitt</span>
The example above included schema mark-ups that described the text within the span element. In there, it was indicated that the information inside the div element was about an actor and the property type used in the mark-up was a person. On the other hand, its mark-up specified that the text inside the span element was a name. You can find out more about Schema Mark-up here.
Another use of schema mark-up to SEO is enabling search engines to provide rich snippets in SERPs. If you have not noticed lately, search engine results are providing more and more elements that contain convenient pieces of information about and within a website.
For example, if you type a question in a Google search box instead of a regular two to three-word keyword combination, the search engine result page will provide you with a rich snippet containing a similar or exact copy of the question and an answer from a website.
If your site deals with answering questions, it is a good idea to use schema related to item properties like Q&As. If you are the first one to have a unique question answered on the Web and use schema, then there is a high chance that your site and content will be in a rich snippet on the first search engine result page.
Here is own websites schema as an example in the images below
Top SEO Ranking Factors Continued…
If you’ve managed to stay with us for this long then well done, give yourself a pat on the back and prepare the next 5 in our list of the top 10 seo ranking factors.
6. Rank Brain
One of the most improtant things to consider with seo ranking factors is how rankbrain works. It is a type of artificial intelligence, or a machine-learning AI to be precise, created by Google to improve search algorithms. It primarily helps by understanding and interpreting human language through search queries. Currently, it is ranks third in terms of influencing search engine results pages and is responsible for almost one out of seven online searches.
What does it exactly do? Well, Rank Brain’s most distinguished function, and the only one Google has elaborated, is to understand what new and odd search queries mean and guess what the searcher actually wants to see based on multiple factors related to the searcher (e.g., location).
For example, try to guess what the SERPs will contain when you search using this keyword combination, “name of cat of swift,” in Google. Most of you might read this as something nonsensical. But a few will definitely make sense of this keyword combination.
If you do try searching it, the search engine results page will bring up links to pages that talk about Taylor Swift’s cats. For those who will be able to make sense of the keyword, this search result is considered 100% relevant. That is how Rank Brain works.
How can you take advantage of this? For starters, knowing Rank Brain’s existence will allow you to pick and focus your keywords better. Also, you will now have a better option of benefitting from odd keyword phrases that may be semantically related to your other chosen keywords.
7. Social Signals
Number seven on our seo ranking factors list is Social signals. The influence of social media platforms has grown and grown. And in case you are unfamiliar with the term “social signals”, it is composed of Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, and other social media actions that imply that a post or content is “great.”
How can you work on improving your social signals? The first step is to establish a business account on the social media platforms your target audience use. The second step is to gather a huge following. The third step is to utilize the advertising options in those said platforms (e.g. Facebook ads). The fourth step is to ensure you have social media buttons on your website.
And finally, the most important step of all is to generate content that people, especially your followers, would love to consume. This is the main driver of getting social signals. Make sure that your content is shareable and likable. There are other steps and techniques — like proper use of hash tags, using Google+, and collaborating with other businesses — but without high-quality content to build up your social following, other your attempts in trying to maximize social signals will just fail.
Now there is some confusion around SSL as being one of the algorithms seo ranking factors. With most people stating they so no major benefit from using an SSL. But a few years ago (in 2014 to be exact), Google announced that secure sites or websites that use SSL certifications would receive ranking boosts — even if they said that that the boost would not be largely significant which as stated people have already confirmed.
And we believe this is because of the many data breaches over the last few years that Google has therefore decided to introduce this as a measure to try and avoid such actions by having all websites secure. And it also acts as a trust signal to your users, that you take safeguarding their personal information serious! The safer and cleaner your website, the better you rank in SERPs. What is the quickest way to flaunt that your website is safe? Get an SSL certificate.
However, even if it does improve your sites’ SEO, switching to HTTPS with SSL can be a huge, and potentially costly, decision. For one, getting a decent SSL certificate from a known Certificate Authority (CA) like Symantec can add a whopping $1,500 to $2,000 on yearly expenses.
Of course, there are cheaper options and even a free one (we recommend Let’s Encrypt SSL). However, the migration to or addition of HTTPS itself can cause a multitude of concerns if not done right. One of them is getting your web pages flagged as duplicate content.
Of course, it can also have additional benefits aside from SEO ones. First, you can prevent popular browsers from shaming your site by adding a red mark on your site, blocking it initially, and/or prompting your visitors that your site is not secure, therefore putting them off even clicking through to your website.
Second, it offers additional security to you, your business, visitors, and customers. This is especially true if your site involves transfer of sensitive information between you and your visitors.
You can put this at the bottom of your to-do list. And even though it is recommended that you think hard about the pros and cons of getting SSL for search engine optmisation, it is still a fact that it can still provide you with an advantage.
9. Page Speed
And again we know this isn’t quite one of Google’s seo ranking factors however, to be frank, improving your page speed, especially the speed of the mobile version of your website is essential in this day and age and there is no excuse for a really slow loading website. According to recent tests, most top-ranking pages in search engine results page are not particularly fast — most of them even have subpar loading speed.
However, it does not mean that you should overlook this aspect. This is especially true if you have an e-commerce site. According to a Google/SOASTA research this year, as page load times go up, the bounce percentage (the tendency of visitors to leave a page) goes up, too. Here is a short rundown:
- A 1 second to 3 second increase leads to a 32% bounce rate increase.
- A 1 second to 5 second increase leads to a 90% bounce rate increase.
- A 1 second to 6 second increase leads to a 106% bounce rate increase.
- A 1 second to 10 second increase leads to a 123% bounce rate increase.
Also, take note that after Google started focusing on mobile site versions, which has been dominantly stressed when mobile-index was first launched, the load speed of mobile pages is now considerably factored in SERPs. And even if its effect is not even too apparent in this year’s results pages, it might change in 2019 and beyond.
So, instead of waiting for the 2019 version of top 10 SEO ranking factors, you might want to get a head start and proceed on improving your mobile and desktop sites’ load speed.
10. Trying New Things
All right, enough of the most important SEO ranking factors for today but as always, it is recommended for you to try new things. Experiment and innovate. Always remember that this type of article is just a guide to get you to conform to the latest techniques that work. Google and other search engines are very secretive about most of the things that exactly work in their search engine algorithms. So, be brave to take a guess and develop new tricks to get ahead of others.
At this point, there are three quarters left in 2018. To be perfectly honest, the previous nine rank factors have been there for quite some time, and it is possible that next year’s top factors will be still the same. It is safe to say that Google’s search engine is already in its mature state.
Search engine results pages do not show too spam these days and are always spot-on when it comes to displaying relevant information. The rankings are now more competitive, and the top ranking websites do not always have a solid footing. Just by correcting a lot fo the basic seo aspects such as on-site and internal linking can also have a profound effect.
But for now, make sure to you some of these main seo ranking factors checked. And if you do, you will most certainly have an edge over your competitors.