You may or may not be aware that SEO Ranking factors, one of which is number of backlinks will make a huge difference to the success of your website. You may not be aware that these factors change very often. What worked for you last year may not be as effective this year. Hence, this is why you need to keep up to date with current trends in SEO.
Websites that are properly optimised for search enjoy more visibility and, consequently, more traffic. Don’t forget that more traffic will lead to more sales and more profit, so if you neglect SEO, you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot; your website will not enjoy enough visibility on the internet and you will end up losing potential traffic.
In this article, we will be sharing some of the essential SEO ranking factors that will help you dominate SERPs in 2019. By the end of this post, you will know enough to properly optimise your website and attract more traffic to your business.
To make for easier reading, we have created a table of content for you:
- Referring domains
- Organic click-through-rate
- Domain authority
- Mobile usability
- Dwell time
- Total number of backlinks
- Content quality
- On-page SEO
But first, a little background.
What does ranking in SEO mean?
Ranking in SEO refers to the current position of your website in search results. A # 1 ranking means that your web page is the very first result on SERPs when people search for a particular term. This does not include promoted results, answer boxes and snippets.
Appearing in the top 5 results is great because this accounts for more than half of clicks on search results page. Appearing on the first result page is also a great achievement because literally no one goes beyond the first page of search results.
Ranking high in Google SERP involves a lot of work and patience. There are certain things Google look for when ranking a web page. The search giant checks things like:
- The relevancy and authority of the content
- The quality and amount of content
- The reputation of the website
- Information on the site and its owners
Google will consider all these factors when ranking web pages.
It is important to point out, though, that there is no guarantee that your website will appear on the first page or #1 of search results. However, with the right techniques and enough effort, you stand a very good chance of making that happen.
Now, let us look at the essential SEO ranking factors for 2018.
Referring domains are the domains or websites that refer visitors to your site.
A referring domain is different from a backlink in that backlinks are URLS that direct visitors to your website while referring domains are websites that contain backlinks to your site. For example, if a site like www.123articlesdirectoryxyz.com (does not exist) has about 1000 backlinks to your website, www.123articlesdirectoryxyz.com is a referring domain. Note that an extremely high number of backlinks per referring domain will likely earn you a penalty from Google as this will be seen as the result of black SEO practice.
While it is definitely suspicious for one website to hold hundreds of backlinks to your website; if used properly, it can help with link building, which is essential for the visibility of your website.
Referring domains to your website can be found in the Acquisitions Report of your Google Analytics dashboard.
Creating an effective referring domain strategy for link building will help enhance your SEO efforts and deliver valuable results. Websites at the top of SERP have backlinks from a number of high-value, credible sources, and a proper referring domain strategy can help you achieve this.
An effective referring domain strategy will help you with the type of links that are likely to send viable traffic to you by using the content that already exists on your website.
While it might appear that its good to have a lot of backlinks to your website, it is better to have high-value referring domains with backlinks pointing to your site.
A good way to achieve this is by guest posting. Look for authority websites in your niche that accept guest posting, then submit high quality content that may entice people to click on the link to your website.
Organic click-through rate is the number of clicks your web page receives on search results, then divided by the number of views/impressions or times it was viewed on the search engine results pages. Because no page ranking is created equal, knowing your organic CTRs will help you determine how important each rank position is to your website. Knowing your organic CTRs will also help you estimate the amount of organic traffic to your website. When you have a good idea of how much traffic is driven to your website, you will be able to set realistic expectations for your website and know how to measure the success of your expectations.
However, before you can get to this point, you should first work at improving your website’s organic CTRs. Doing this will help improve your search page rankings, ensure better website visibility and drive reliable traffic to your website. At its core, improving your organic click-through rate simply means making the extra effort to attract clicks on SERPs.
Methodology you can adopt to improve your organic CTRs include:
- Using effective meta-titles – The titles of your content and webpages are the first thing a user will see in search results. A descriptive and engaging title will do a lot to attract the attention of a search user and compel him or her to click on your web page link. This is why it is a good idea to pay attention to the titles you use for your pages. As much as possible, use natural keywords in your title that reflect what your content is about. This makes it easier for search users to determine its relevance to their search.
- Writing effective meta-descriptions – Meta-descriptions are as important as meta-titles, but, with meta-descriptions, you have a higher word count to describe the content of the page you are promoting. The typical search user will quickly skim through the brief description below the title to see if the page actually offers the information they are looking for.. Subsequently, if you want to improve your organic CTRs, it is important that you properly optimise your meta-descriptions to contain the relevant search keywords and other important information relevant to your web page.
- Using long-tail keywords – Long-tail keywords are essential for SEO success. By researching long-tail keywords and implementing them in your website content, you can greatly increase the volume of organic searches related to your content you rank for. For example, a customer is more likely to buy when they search for “Adidas sneakers under $500” than when they simply search for sneakers. If you are a shoe retailer, you will get more qualified click-throughs because of the long-tail keywords included in your content.
- Implementing structured data – Structured data or schema markup is an important component of the content found on SERPs. Structured data helps Google understand the purpose of each page on your website and how they relate to a particular search query. It is essentially a structure of all the pages on your website and is necessary for Google to show up the right page in response to an individual search query.
Without structured data, you risk being invisible on the internet. Fortunately, creating and uploading the schema mark-up for your website is not difficult. In fact, if you have a WordPress website, there are dozens of plugins that can automate the process for you.
Very few people are aware that more than half of the websites that rank in the top 10 SERP position are three years old or older. Research suggests that very few websites younger than one year old achieve such an impressive ranking. This means that if you have had your site for a while, and it is properly optimised, you already have an advantage.
Domain authority (DA) is a critical factor which helps determine how well your site will rank in SERPs. In almost every instance, the age of your website plays a vital role in your domain authority, although there are smart ways to improve the domain authority of a young website. The DA score ranges from 1 to 100, with a higher score improving your chances of faring better in search results. It, therefore, follows that to enjoy improved visibility in search results; the domain authority of your website must be very high.
Before looking at how to improve your domain authority, you may want to first check your score. You can do this by using Open Site Explorer by Moz. Just type your URL in the search box, hit enter and you will get a report showing everything from page authority to domain authority and established links.
In some cases, exact-match domain names not associated with spammy websites can enjoy boost in page rank, but for established websites without exact-match domain names, implementing better on-page SEO, building quality backlinks, turning out high quality content and staying active on social media are some tactics to employ to increase the domain authority of a site.
Google implementing its mobile-first indexing in 2018 means that mobile versions of websites will be indexed differently from desktop versions. The less obvious but more important implication of this development is that Google will now analyse websites against ranking signals, of which mobile responsiveness is an important one to determine how a site will rank in mobile and desktop search results.
The implication of this is that if your website is not optimised for mobile, irrespective of how pertinent your content is, and how much your domain authority score is, or how well you meet other SEO benchmarks, it will not show up in results for relevant search on mobile devices. You might think its much adieu about nothing until you realise that mobile searches now far outweigh searches done on desktop computers. Not having a website optimised for mobile means you have to effectively remove yourself from the possibility of ranking in mobile SERPs. Even though this will not affect your ranking for desktop search, it will limit the size of your visibility and cause you to lose a countless number of potential visitors. Also, Google recommends that websites implement a responsive design pattern.
If there is doubt about the usability of your website on mobiles and tablets, your next step is to test your site for mobile responsiveness. Google’s mobile test tool will tell you if your website is responsive enough to display properly across devices. If it isn’t, you should immediately consider optimising your website for mobile so as not to lose out on organic traffic from mobile search.
Dwell time is one of the least used, yet most important, site metrics that help search engines determine the relevance of a website.
Dwell time is literally what it says on the tin. Its the amount of time a user spends on your site before returning to the search results. A longer dwell time means that the visitor found what they were looking for on your website, and this is good for your page ranking. A short dwell time, on the other hand, indicates that your website did not live up to the user’s expectations.
While the precise threshold that indicates a poor or excellent dwell time is not exactly known, it follows that to improve your page ranking; you should work at keeping organic traffic visitors on your site for longer. Sometimes its easier to say things than do them ; however, there are certain things you can do that will help keep visitors on your website for longer.
The first thing you can do is to produce better content. A visitor is more likely to remain on your site for a whole if you provide them with high quality, engaging content.
Since dwell time is a measure of the time between arriving from SERP and returning, it makes sense that providing your visitors with more things to occupy their time will help improve your dwell time. Creating a strong internal linking system to other engaging parts of your website can do the trick.
You can also adopt more effective engagement techniques that will keep users on your site for longer. This can be by providing related content, polls, engaging media and so on.
Improving and Increasing the time spent on your website will improve your website reputation and help you rank better on SERPs.
Total number of backlinks
Since the beginning of SEO, a lot of trends have come and gone, but backlinks remain one of the important signals necessary for Google page rankings.
The number of quality backlinks to your site will have a huge impact on your rankings. In fact, more links result in better ranking as long as these are not bought links or links gotten via schemes. Note that backlinks coming from the same source are not as effective as quality links coming from a multitude of authority websites, so when creating a backlink building technique, bear in mind that it is the source of the links that matter, not the amount. The best scenario is when an authority website includes a link to your site in one of their pieces of content related to your niche. This will tremendously improve your relevance and make Google see your website as an authority in that niche.
Of course, it makes sense to have a few links from low-quality websites too, but make sure that building links is an integral part of your SEO campaign.
There are several effective methods you can adopt to get a good number of quality backlinks, including guest blogging. However, if you site is suffering from an acute lack of backlinks, it may be a good idea to involve an SEO expert. There are a lot of things you may not be aware of, or might overlook, that an SEO expert will cover properly. Luckily, the internet is full of reliable agencies like Synapse SEO.
The phrase ‘content is king’ has been prevalent on the internet for a long time. Quality Content effects website visibility and is actually one of Google’s most important ranking factors.
The importance of high-quality content is aptly covered in Google’s rating guidelines where they say they aim to provide search users with only the most relevant and high-quality results, related to what they are searching for. Any content that does not meet this criterion is bound to affect your page rankings.
One of the best ways to optimise your content is to include relevant keywords. These are keywords people use when searching for the type of content your website offers. You need a good keyword research system to come up with relevant keywords for your website.
Additionally, long-tail keywords will significantly improve the relevance of your content in search results. Google appreciates long-form content and that is something not to ignore. Therefore, when creating content for your blog posts, endeavour to reach the 1000-word count. However, your long-form content should be relevant, rich and engaging.
On-page SEO are those activities you carry out directly on your content to improve relevancy and visibility. These behind-the-scenes activities are crucial to the success of your SEO efforts.
Some effective on-page SEO you can implement include:
- Optimising meta-titles and meta-descriptions
- Optimise header tags to help search engines read your content properly
- Optimise image tags to help search engines understand the purpose of your image files
- Have a rich internal linking system to direct visitors to other feature-rich sections of your website
- Where appropriate, use structured data to help Google understand the content on your site and how relevant it is to search users
There you have it, some of the most essential SEO ranking factors for 2018. However, understand that SEO is a dynamic field, this means you need to keep abreast of the trends in SEO to stay ahead of the competition.
Hope you have a better understanding of the SEO ranking factors for 2018, and now understand better ways to optimise your website for search in 2019. Before we go, check out an ecommerce checklist .