How SEO works in 2018

Search engine technology has become far more advanced over recent years, especially recently with the introduction of Google’s RankBrain systemRankBrain uses machine learning to analyse common trends in the way people interact with search pages. It then uses this information to decide where a link appears on the Google search engine results page (SERP).

RankBrain was only announced last year, but Google says it’s now going to be the third most important factor in where links appear on Google searches.

Another key factor that Google considers in 2018 is your backlink profile. Your profile is the links from other websites that go from and, most importantly, point to your website and web pages.

Keywords are still highly important for SEO in 2018 but, with updates to Google’s algorithm and the introduction of RankBrain, keywords have to be used intelligently within content and must be relevant.

The design of a page is also highly important – specifically that a site is mobile friendly. If your site doesn’t adapt to different screen sizes, Google’s algorithm will punish it.

Google RankBrain SEO 2018
In summary, the most important aspects of SEO in 2018 are:

– RankBrain
– Backlink Profiles
– Content and Keywords
– Design
– Mobile Friendliness

How to get the most out of SEO in 2018

There are five key factors to consider in order to get the most out of your SEO. These are:

  1. Keyword Research
  2. Content
  3. Design
  4. Links and Relationships
  5. HTTPS

I’ve included some more information on actions you can take for each of these points below.

Google Search SEO

1. Keyword Research

Keyword research is a long-standing practice for SEO and it is still relevant in 2018. Today, however, instead of finding keywords to include in your articles – you find keywords to base your articles around.

To help you find the right keywords I find it useful to use online resources like Keyword Tool. This is particularly useful for searching your businesses’ key terms and then finding the words that will be most relevant but currently underserved. AdWords is also useful, but Google is making it much harder to access their Keyword Planner.

Once you have decided on your main keywords, it’s also a good idea to find some secondary keywords and use these in your text. This makes sure that what you produce ends up ranking on as many SERPs as possible.

Keyword Planner SEO
Actions for SEO:

  • Use a resource like Keyword Tool to find relevant search terms for your business
  • Use these keywords intelligently in your content
  • Consider secondary keywords to increase your chances of ranking on Google

2. Create Meaningful Content

Content is absolutely key in 2018. It fulfils the criteria required by basic SEO such as providing headings, links, keywords and character lists and also influences the new machine learning aspects of SEO like RankBrain.

One of the key things that recognised by this machine learning technology is how people interact with content. If what’s on your page is interesting then visitors will stay around for longer, interact with the page and stay on your site.

Google’s algorithm now also recognises the quality and readability of writing by analysing your sentence length, use of conjunctions and whether you break up text with bullet points.

Content for SEO
 
Actions for SEO

With every piece of written content you put online, make sure to fulfil these five criteria:

  1. The content is relevant to my visitors
  2. The content is up to date
  3. The content is well structured
  4. The content is well written
  5. The content contains key terms that my visitors will be searching for

3. Design

 

Like content, web design is now increasingly important as internet users have come to expect good design as standard. This doesn’t necessarily mean exciting colours or animations – it means web design that compliments what’s on the page and provides a pleasant experience for the reader.

Bad or confusing web design can lead to people leaving your website quickly. This raises your bounce rate – a factor recognised by Google in ranking you on their pages.

Good design means people are more likely to stay on your website for longer.

Mobile friendliness is now also a must, and Google can recognise sites that haven’t been created with different devices in mind. Make sure your site is mobile friendly and consider upgrading if not.

Design for SEO
 
Actions for SEO

  • Make sure your website has functional design
  • Make sure your website has modern design
  • Make sure your website is mobile friendly

4. Links and Relationships

 

Links to (and from) your website are viewed as highly positive by Google. Generally, the more important the site linking to your website, the more credit this gives your SEO. Also, the views provided by the flow of traffic from these links are important.

In 2018, building relationships with business and media partners to share links is essential and it’s a practice that’s often overlooked. Sharing articles with links on partner sites, having a mutually-beneficial link to each other’s site and making sure all your press releases have a link are all good ways of building this profile.

Links SEO Backlinking
 
Actions for SEO

  • Share links with business partners
  • Share links with media partners

5. HTTPS

 

Having HTTPS instead of HTTP before your site is an essential part of optimising your SEO in 2018. Google has been ranking secure HTTPS sites more highly since 2014 and this has now become the standard for all sites.

HTTPS provides a padlock symbol to highlight the security of your website in the browser and, in Chrome, non-HTTPS sites now carry a warning. As this is a symbol of trustworthiness, having HTTPS on your site can also lower your bounce rate and thus make your site seem more appealing to RankBrain.

Getting HTTPS can carry a fee, depending on your hosting provider, but many providers now supply a free SSL certificate through their own service or Let’s Encrypt.

HTTPS Security SEO 2018
Actions for SEO

  • Get an SSL Certificate and enable HTTPS for your website

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