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 SEO 2018: 15 Rules for Dominating Online Search Results

Seems like yesterday that I was writing about SEO in 2017. Now, 2018 is near. Are the rules changing much? Sort of. But, the fundamentals are staying the same. You still can’t game the system. You can’t take shortcuts or cut corners. If you want to absolutely crush the SEO game in 2018, you need to put in the work.SEO 2018: 15 Rules for Dominating Online Search Results

The truth? Understanding search engine optimization takes time. With hundreds of rules to Google’s algorithm, it’s no wonder it’s so confusing. But, to stay ahead of the proverbial curve with SEO in 2018, you simply need to put in the time and the effort to deliver real value. Not try use shady tactics. No. Real value.

What exactly does that mean? Well, in order to properly convey the underlying rules to you, let’s start with a story. Let’s pretend you just opened up a new business and you walk into a bank. You sit down with the banker and explain your fantastic business model. You even show him a dazzling business plan.

The three Pillars of SEO

Before you get into the nitty gritty of the specific rules or strategies to use when doing SEO, you have to understand the three pillars. If we go way back to the very beginnings of Google’s search algorithms, we discover something called PageRank. If you’ll recall, PageRank was the original algorithm that Google’s search engine was built upon.

It scoured the web by moving around from link to link. It ultimately discovered the entire internet by spidering around on the so-called virtual web. The more links going to a specific page it found, the more importance or relevance it would attribute to that specific page. More links and more relevancy meant higher rank.

Now, things have definitely changed since those days. It isn’t just about links today. Sure, people will tell you it’s all about links. But, before getting into the technical details, you need to understand the three pillars that make SEO tick. You can consider these to be the fundamental driving principles. I’ve been teaching this since 2013, and although the rules have changed, the pillars have stayed the same.

1. Authority

Authority relates to the quality and volume of links created over time. The more authority a website has, the more link juice it can pass on. You can assess authority through tools like the MozBar or SEMRush. The Domain Authority (DA) and Domain Score (DS) are two ways that these companies quantify the amount of authority a domain has. However, no score will be real-time and any changes or improvements to your SEO could potentially take weeks or months to see its results.

2. Content

The content of a site is crucial when it comes to ranking in 2018. In fact, the importance of this has increased dramatically over time. Gone are the days of spinning content and using software to generate low-quality, content-farm-esque prose. Today, your content has to be excellent. It has to add value and engage the visitor. The more engagement, the more users will share that content, and in turn, the better it will rank. Invest heavily in your content and it will pay off in spades.

3. Indexed Age

The third and final pillar of SEO is the indexed age. Age does matter. While other factors can certainly trump age, in the very beginning, it’s important that you create a great track record with your domain’s content and the quality of the links pointing to that content. This happens over time. You can’t rush it. The indexed age simply refers to the original date that Google discovered the site or the content itself.

15 Rules for SEO in 2018

If you’re looking to dominate SEO in 2018, then there are loads of rules, but 15 stand out in particular. Be sure to pay homage to these rules if you’re looking to dominate the SERPs.

1. Assess your page speed and improve where necessary.

Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to determine the areas of improvement required for your domain. By considerably increasing your site’s page speed, you can vastly improve your potential visibility. You can also use tools like Pingdom, GTMetrix and Varvy. Here are the areas you should be looking to improve with any page speed enhancement:

2. Use a CDN for your domain and DNS when possible to quickly serve your content.

Utilizing content-deliver networks (CDNs) like Amazon’s Cloudfront is crucial to being able to quickly serve your content to users no matter where they’re located. CDNs spread your content across multiple servers all around the world by mirroring it, then serving that content from the closest server to the visitor.

You should also consider moving your DNS to a CloudFlare or similar configuration that will help with DNS propagation times. Often, DNS propagation can lag depending on who the registrar is and where their servers are located versus where the DNS request is coming from.

3. Build useful content that adds value.

Create great content. Always. And don’t try to take shortcuts when doing it. Google’s ability to sniff out great content is getting better and better with each passing month. Don’t try to game the system here. Actually go out of your way to make great content. When you do, it’ll reflect on your site and the traffic will increase. Great content will engage visitors and will invite them to share it. Overall, focus on these elements when building your content:

4. Ensure mobile responsiveness and usability across devices.

Mobile searches are far outpacing desktop searches today. Focus on mobile responsiveness and usability. According to Search Engine Land, mobile searches were at nearly 60 percent of all searches in 2016. Take the time to ensure your site is optimized for mobile devices and can be easily used across all platforms by implementing a CSS library like Bootstrap or building out your own.

5. Focus on enhancing the user experience.

Create a great user experience. That means, make your site easy to use. Make it easy to navigate. Make it easy to search for and discover the right type of content. Here are a few suggestions:

6. Supplement content with videos, audios or podcasts to increase engagements.

Site engagement is huge. Google is acutely concerned with the amount of time that users spend on your website. Thus, when you build useful and engaging content, people want to stick around longer. Now, you clearly need to leverage words and long-form content here. But, you should also supplement that content with videos, audios and podcasts as well. This will increase your average page times and session times.

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