Search engine optimization is a rather complex science. Forget for a second the mere fact that there are well over 200 factors that go into Google’s algorithm and focus a little on the point that most of these factors change every so often.

Quite frankly, keeping tabs on the ever-changing rules of the game is challenging enough let alone trying to make sure that your website does not get inadvertently penalized as those changes come into effect.

All these constant changes, however, are for the greater good. Search engines are forever looking for ways to improve the quality of the search results they offer their users. As such, some ranking factors shift shape while others fall off into oblivion. All the while, new ones keep popping up, and the penalties do not go away.

While it is advisable to keep tabs on all the algorithm changes to stay ahead of the game, the truth is that sometimes that’s just too tall an order for a small business owner with a decent website. Therefore, prudence dictates that you keep an eye on those factors that remain somewhat constant. Here is a short list of some of the most critical factors that remain constant in Google’s SEO algorithm.

Important SEO Factors for 2018

One thing that you need to realize is that most of the changes made by Google on its search engine algorithm tend to mimic the behavior of the users. These changes are made to take full advantage of the trends that are gaining momentum. Here are some tips that will keep you ahead of the SEO game.

Create Relevant Content

This whole SEO thing is all about making sure that the users have an enjoyable and informative experience when they use their favorite search engine. The algorithm changes over the years have made it almost impossible to convince Google that your website has great content when it doesn’t. There are a significant number of ways that Google uses to assess content quality. One of the most important ways is using ‘Latent Semantic Indexing’ (LSI).

To understand how LSI works, you need to understand that Google’s SEO algorithm is smart enough to work out the keywords as well as related terms that pretty much say the same thing within your content’s context.

In short, the search engines have a collection of all the words that are related contextually and can find them in your text. Therefore, using LSI keywords is one way to ensure that you are not stuffing those rigid one-word keywords over and over in your blog posts (doing this will get you penalized by Google).

One of Google’s most important ranking factors called RankBrain even goes further to analyze some of the best-performing search results as per their user satisfaction metrics to find similarities between them. The shared features include things like ‘specific terms used’ within the content. These terms then go on to become query-specific ranking signals for these keywords.

How to Use LSI to Your Advantage

The best way to ensure that your content is comprehensive and that it uses all the right terms is to do the same thing that RankBrain does: research the top-ranking pages within your niche and find the common features/words. Of course, doing this manually can be a little tedious. You can employ platforms such as TF-IDF tool or Website Auditor

Take ‘Voice Search’ Into Consideration

There was a time when all you had to do to rank your web pages was find a few popular keywords and include them in your content. That time is long gone! Nowadays there are new ways through which people run searches online as opposed to just typing in specific keywords. Voice search, for example, has become a leading factor when it comes to online search queries.

It is so popular in fact that Google reports that about 55% of teenagers and about 40% of adults use it on a daily basis.  Today, the ratio of voice search is growing a little faster than the usual type of search. This calls for a whole new way of keyword research and use. Which is something Google is pushing for as they begin to rank normal, conversational sentences higher than one-word keywords like they did in the old days.

How Can You Make This Work for You?

The best way to make this work for you is to use your normal, conversational tone when creating your content. Think of it as you being the one trying to find something online; create your content as if you were having a conversation with a friend. You can also use a program called Rank Tracker to find the most popular voice searches in your niche and try to infuse those terms into your content.

Create Content for Mobile Users

There is no escaping this; as things stand today, more than half of all searches on Google come from mobile devices. While you might think that creating mobile-friendly content is all about website programming, the truth is that there is a lot that goes into it from your content creation end as well. To make your content mobile-friendly, you need to:

  • Use shorter words
  • Use lots of images, italics, and subheadings to chunk your content
  • Use shorter paragraphs

Finally, you need to ensure that your web pages load as fast as possible. Studies show that 53% of your potential customers will leave your website if your pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. Therefore, your text needs to be more than just well-structured and chunked up, they need to be conveyed through a website that is optimized for speed.

There is a lot more to content marketing than just creating relevant, informative and entertaining content. To stay ahead of Google’s ever-changing SEO algorithms, you need to learn all the search related trends. Make sure that your ranking isn’t suffering just because Google made changes to its algorithm by keeping these basic factors in check.

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