SEO 2018: Top 5 Most Effective SEO Techniques

Its really difficult to keep up with all the different types of SEO tactics out there.

So you’re probably wondering:

“What SEO techniques will have the biggest impact?”

In this article:

I will show you the 5 most important ranking signals Google uses in 2018

and how you can optimise for them!

Lets begin!  🙂

Keywords are everything when it comes to SEO techniques in 2018, right?

Wrong:

Well, sort of. Keywords will always be important for SEO

But sometimes we can become so wrapped up in keywords that we lose sight of our ability to persuade search users to click on our content.

These days:

Google doesn’t just assess keywords when ranking a page.

User experience plays a huge role.

With click- through rates (CTR) being a particularly important one.

If the CTR of a page is a low, Google will end up pushing your SERP position lower and lower.

Because it indicates that your page isn’t worth clicking on.

Plus:

Your lower rankings will push your CTR even further down, and your organic traffic will decrease with it.

Don’t fret, though:

There is a solution to this dilemma, and it doesn’t necessarily involve reworking every single title on your website.

First, identify your under-performing titles

It can be tricky to identify your worst performing keywords by CTR:

Because Google doesn’t provide a Quality Score for this metric.

However:

There is a hack for this!

Simply download your query data from Google Search Console.

Then plot CTR versus Average Position for all queries which rank organically.

Then:

Plot an exponential trend line.

This is your average CTR.

Everything that lies above your trend line is golden, so just leave it alone.

Instead:

Focus on improving the titles of the queries that fall below your trend line.

Make your under-performing titles more emotive

via GIPHY

Now:

It might feel natural, when it comes to meta data, to try and cram in as many keywords as possible:

However:

Focusing on keywords can make for uninspiring, repetitive, and downright boring titles.

Ultimately:

You need to try to tap into the emotions of search users in each title you create.

To make them exciting and click-worthy.

FIVE STEPS TO CREATING CLICKABLE TITLES

1. Define the format of your page

Is the page:

A how-to, a quiz, an infographic, a juicy study jam-packed full of insights.

Or:

a free ebook, a list, or something else entirely?

Whatever it is:

Make it clear what the format of a page is, so that readers know exactly what to expect when they click.

2. Have an emotional hook

What emotion should your page inspire in readers?

Is it curiosity?

Excitement?

Surprise?

Throw in an emotional element or superlative, such as “10 Shocking Marketing Stats to Influence Your 2018 Strategy”.

3. Establish the content type

What will readers see when they click through to your page?

Will it be images, video, data-rich charts, or step-by-step instructions?

Make this clear in your title.

4. Make a promise

Your title should tell potential readers exactly what they’ll get out of clicking on your page.

Will they get an answer to a question?

Exclusive new data?

Exciting insights?

Actionable tips?

Make it clear!

5. Confirm the Topic

This is where your keywords come in.

Your chosen keywords for a page title should accurately reflect the topic of your page.

But they should also play in to all four other steps to ensure your title is clickable.

The latest SEO techniques in 2018 are focused on user engagement.

Why?

Because Google is turning increasingly to machine-learning elements in its core algorithm to assess user engagement and rank pages accordingly.

What does this mean for you?

Well, it could mean that even if your content is impeccably optimised for organic search.

You could find yourself slipping further and further down the SERPs, If, users aren’t engaging with your content.

We already discussed CTR as an important user engagement metric.

But what about dwell time?

If a user spends longer on a page, it indicates to Google that the page offers genuinely useful, high quality content.

A short amount of time on the page?

Suggests that the content isn’t providing the information the user searched for.

The bottom line?

These low-quality pages will make your rankings suffer.

How to identify low quality pages

Head over to Google analytics:

Pick a date range.

Behaviour>Site Content>All Pages

And segment a content report to view organic traffic only.

Next:

Run a Comparison Analysis.

This compares Page Views with Average Time on Page.

Any pages which show below average time on page (in red) are those which are performing poorly in terms of engagement.

You can then prioritise these pages when it comes to improving your content, design or user experience.

Does Google trust your site?

What does trust even mean regarding SEO?

To put it simply,

.

Google would love to trust that every single site out there is using white-hat SEO techniques to help their high-quality content be consumed by eager search users.

Trouble is, many don’t:

From link farming to keyword stuffing, there are a tonne of misguided SEO tactics out there which try to drive as much traffic as possible to sites that simply don’t provide useful, engaging content.

It is therefore necessary to prove to Google that you’re a trustworthy site which offers a safe and valuable re- source for Google’s users.

If you can, you’ll see better positions in the SERPs.

4 KEY STEPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR TRUSTRANK

1. Optimise on-page trust
  • Link out to authority sites (if their content is relevant to your own)
  • Have a privacy policy, terms of use, and affiliate disclosure on your site
  • Monitor bounce rate and time on page, and try to improve these metrics
  • Feature references and sources at the end of your articles
2. Build a trustworthy brand
  • Use a branded domain name
  • Flesh out your ‘About Us’ page with your brand ethos, history, and mission statement
  • Get active on social media, and stay active on social media
  • Get backlinks which use your brand name as anchor text
3. Have a trustworthy domain
  • Own your domain for two years or more
  • Keep your domain public
  • Ensure the contact details on your site reflect those in your domain registration, or that they are at least included in your site’s contact details
4. Build trusted links
  • Try to get links from pages with high TrustRank rather than high PageRank
  • Optimal links are from highly trusted “seed sites” like .govs, .edus, and major news sites
  • Gain backlinks from Google News approved sites for ultimate trustworthiness
  • Build links from sites that themselves have links from highly trusted seed sites to achieve a diluted amount of trust, for example:
    • .gov site, to your site = ideal
    • .gov site, to another site, to your site = okay
    • .gov site, to another site, to another site, to another site, to your site = not ideal

Are you familiar with Google’s RankBrain?

Do you know how it’s affecting your position in the SERPs?

If not, it’s time to learn.

RankBrain is the machine-learning technology that Google uses to establish search position.

It is the third most important ranking signal.

And since it learns more every day, its influence on the SERPs becomes more powerful every day.

What does RankBrain do?

RankBrain tweaks Google’s algorithms in the same way that its human programmers do.

However:

RankBrain automatically tests new algorithms to assess their success, then implements those changes permanently.

It can increase or decrease the importance of backlinks, content quality, domain authority, and many other ranking factors on a keyword by keyword basis.

It is therefore able to understand the intent of search queries far more efficiently than Google has ever done before.

The bottom line?

Google can therefore deliver search results which it deems most relevant to the user.

Not only that:

But it also monitors the performance of pages delivered in the SERPs

Then assess whether to deliver the same page for similar search queries in future.

It will look at user experience metrics like:

CTR, time on page, bounce rate, and pogo-sticking (clicking a result, quickly clicking back to the SERP, then clicking another result).

To figure out if a page fulfilled the user’s intent.

Using RankBrain to your advantage

So, how do you go about optimising for search results which are constantly evolving?

Well, since RankBrain puts so much emphasis on user experience, you need to focus on getting clicks and retaining users on your page.

For tips on CTR hacking by improving your title tags, you can refer to the beginning of this article.

Now:

Let’s talk about optimising on-page content to reduce bounce rates and pogo-sticking.

4 VITAL TIPS FOR IMPROVING USER DWELL TIME

Our 2018 SEO tips wouldn’t be complete without a mention of link building.

We know you’re probably aware of the value of backlinks,

But:

Do you know the best way to go about getting them?

3 SIMPLE STEPS FOR EARNING HIGH QUALITY LINKS

1. Create great content

Let’s consider content first.

Infographics are perfect for earning links because they’re eye-catching, easy to digest, and shareable.

Just ensure that you invest in great design, feature relevant, valuable content with no more than 10 key data points, and that you present your information logically.

Once you’ve produced your infographic, go ahead and post it on your site.

2. Reach out to targeted, reputable sites

Now:

It’s time to reach out for links.

Look for sites that are already publishing content that is relevant to your infographic.

Be sure to check through their site and assess their reputability and the value a link from them could offer you.

Then, shoot off an email outlining why you think your infographic would be valuable to their visitors.

3. Offer value to your targeted sites

Here’s where you need to get persuasive.

If another site simply embeds your infographic on their site, the included backlink, which is usually buried at the bottom of the page, will be devalued by Google.

You need a contextual link to your site; one which is included in the main content of the page.

How do you encourage sites to go to the effort of a contextual link?

Well, you can offer additional value by providing them with a guest post along with the infographic.

A guest post only needs to be 250 to 300 words, but it can provide added value and context to the infographic in question and it allows you to include a contextual link.

The site you’re targeting gets free, unique content as well as the use of the infographic, while you achieve a high-quality backlink.

Everyone’s a winner.

Hit me me up in the comments, and let me know how you get on with any of these tactics?

or any additional suggestions? 🙂

Matt Cayless is the Director of SEO at Bubblegum Search. He is an expert in Search Engine Optimisation having worked on campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands and has a passion for helping businesses grow online. When he’s not chasing the Google algorithm he can be found training for his next marathon. Follow him on Twitter 

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