SEO is essential if you want to rank in search engine results. With algorithms constantly changing, sometimes you need to go back to basic to learn how to rank in 2018.

This SEO ranking guide will arm you with the tools you need to increase your position in SERPs.

The aim of SEO is to rank. The earlier your website appears in the search engine result pages (SERPs), the more traffic you will get.

The more visitors that come to your site, the more conversions and brand awareness you’ll build.

Algorithms decide where pages rank by assessing their relevance to specific search terms. First, algorithms called crawlers index the data on the page. Then, other algorithms take over to assess the quality of the page itself.

During this process, these algorithms take many different factors into account. The quality of your content, how relevant it is to the search term, and the quality of backlinks leading to the page are some determining factors.

Although each search engine ranks in a slightly different way, there are certain SEO guidelines that are sure to improve your ranking position.

SEO should be at the core of every digital marketing strategy. Of course, there are a lot of bases to cover if you want to know how to rank in 2018.

When you’re just getting started, SEO is overwhelming. Every expert was a beginner at some point. 

Follow This SEO Ranking Guide (Updated for 2018):

1. Content Relevance and Quality are key to SEO Ranking

Many SEO marketers have made the mistake of modeling their content for search engines. That is a strategy that has worked for years but isn’t working anymore.

Keep up with 2018 SEO trends and write for humans.

Creating content for your audience to enjoy will earn you more clicks which will ultimately lead to ranking higher. It will also help to establish your reputation as a reliable source and quickly build up a loyal customer base.

What a lot of SEO marketers fail to realize about 2018’s search engine algorithms is: algorithms are now designed to see the same things humans would.

Algorithms are getting more and more sophisticated. They scan your content sections to understand keywords. If your topic shows your expertise and matches user intent, you’re more likely to rank.

Writing for humans means keeping the following SEO guidelines in mind when creating content:

  • Keep it unique. Avoid duplicating content that’s already out there. Ask yourself: what can I add to this ongoing conversation?
  • Do more research than competitor sites have done.
  • Consider all options: infographics, videos, podcasts, an interview, a step-by-step guide or even a new tool or template. 
  • Remember that longer content gets more links. If your page is supported by high-quality links, it will move up in the ranks. Although Google has stated that even a few sentences can rank, in general, you’re better off creating content that is at least 300 words or more.

For even more efficient content creation, take a look at the current SERPs for your keyword. If you want to rank within the top five positions, then you need to look at what these sites did to achieve them.

Word count might seem like something menial but it has a big impact on ranking. An SEO hack I like to use is taking the word counts of the top five articles, find the average, and aim to match it or exceed it.

That said, there’s no value in 5000 words if it’s not relevant to key terms and useful for the reader.

Read More: How to Know the Difference Between SEO and SEM

2. Technical SEO for Ranking

The technical aspects of SEO may sound daunting, but in reality, they are often easier than content creation (No writer’s block here!). That doesn’t mean you can take shortcuts.

If you want to rank it’s vital to lower your bounce rate, increase page views, and time spent on your site. These things can be aided by a fast and well-performing web page. Thus, you need technical SEO.

XML sitemaps

XML sitemaps are basically roadmaps of all the important pages on your website. When you submit your XML sitemap to Google Search Console, it makes it easy for Google to crawl your websites essential pages that should be indexed.

sitemaps
Example sitemap from Sitemaps.org (go there to learn more about sitemaps). | Sitemap.org

Having an XML sitemap is basic technical SEO. However, ensuring your sitemap meets certain criteria means Google can retrieve your most important pages quickly.

Here are three XML sitemap creation hacks:

  1. You should have different sitemaps for each media type on your website to make crawling more efficient. For example, videos, images, and blog posts should all have different sitemaps.
  2. Make sure your sitemap is under 50,000 URLs and its maximum size is 50MB
  3. Always encode XML sitemaps in UTF-8

Page Loading Speed Correlates to SEO Ranking

Page speed can make or break your site. If it’s too slow, no one is going to wait around to see your content. If it loads in a jiffy, viewers are likely to stay for longer and return. Page speed has a huge impact on overall user experience.

To check your pages loading speeds, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. This tool evaluates your web page speed and mobile page speed so you can see pages that are loading too slowly. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller recommends you keep your HTTP load speed less than 2 – 3 seconds

Along with using PageSpeeds Insights, you should also load your page as if you are a viewer. Take note of how it performs and what pages or requests take more time. Using both the tool and investigating will give you a good idea of what pages need to catch up.

Fixing slow pages is easier than it sounds. To speed up their performance you may need to reduce latency. One way to do this is to reorganize your pages so that attention-grabbing content like images and headers load first.

Mobile and Desktop Optimization

We create websites on computers. This means that mobile optimization isn’t always at the forefront of their design. Despite this, most people browse the Internet on mobile devices in 2018.

It is essential to optimize your site for both desktop and mobile. If you don’t, your site isn’t going to rank.

Google has provided a handy tool that lets you test out how your website works on mobile. If it isn’t performing well, you may need to reformat it. I can’t emphasize enough how important this step is. If your site isn’t mobile optimized you could be losing a huge chunk of your traffic.

Read More: 18 Technical SEO Tips for N00bs

3. Domain Authority, Referring Domains, Internal Links, and Backlinks 

The pages that rank higher on SERPs usually have a high domain authority. Sites are given a score ranging between 1 and 100.

Basically, the higher the score the more reliable the website is. Well established sites that get lots of traffic every day like Wikipedia will have a higher domain authority than new or struggling websites.

kwfinder
Each domain that ranks for this keyphrase has a “DA” number. That is domain authority. The higher the authority, the more likely you are to rank for a term. | Kwfinder.com

How is domain authority calculated? Domain authority ratings take backlinks into consideration. If lots of high-quality, reliable websites are linking to your page, your domain authority will increase.

In other words, domains that link to you affect your domain authority. If you have backlinks from domains with 100 DA scores, your own DA will rise.

However, if your website is repetitive, associated with spam, or has low-quality links, your domain authority will be dragged down. Along with your chances of ranking well.

Link Building Also has a Significant Part to Play in SEO Ranking

You should aim to link to valuable resources that your audience will find beneficial. This will enhance user experience.

Internal links within your content also make your site appear more solid and reliable. Your internal linking strategy should favor your most important content.

When linking internally it’s important to remember that links higher up the page hold more value than links further down. So you should try to link your most important content pages higher up in the HTML test.

Google also takes the relevance of your links and their anchor text into consideration. You should choose a word that reflects the basic idea of what the page linked to is about. So avoiding generic off-topic anchor text like “click here” or “this article” should be avoided.

Read More: How to use Keywords and Backlinks to Create a Solid Link-Building Strategy

4. How to Factor Video and Media into SEO Ranking

Video and images can work wonders for SEO ranking.

In most cases, video, images, and other forms of media shows search engines that you are a website with high-quality content. Providing a mixture of media that is relevant to searches will boost your ranking position. However, you can take this to the next level by optimizing file names, titles, ALT descriptions, and captions.

These factors offer another opportunity to show search engines how relevant your content is.

Make sure your titles, ALT descriptions, and captions are search engine optimized by using keywords. You should provide as much information as possible to help search engines match your content to relevant searches.

Here you should include the keywords that you used in SEO text to ensure the relevance of your media is made clear. This goes for images, graphics, and videos alike.

Read More: 6 Ways to use ALT Image Text as a Picture Description and Improve SEO

So there you have it, the basic elements you need to know if you want to use SEO for ranking.

But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With new technologies constantly evolving there’s always more to learn.

How are your SEO ranking strategies working in 2018?

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