You want to read Backlinko’s “The Definitive Guide To SEO In 2018.” Backlinko is an SEO consultancy founded by Brian Dean. The “Definitive Guide” is a cheerfully illustrated infographic – a lengthy infographic – broken up into several useful chapters:
- RankBrain & User Experience Signals
- Become a CTR Jedi
- Comprehensive, In-Depth Content Wins
- Get Ready for Google’s Mobile-first Index
- Go All-In With Video (Or Get Left Behind)
- Pay Attention to Voice Search
- Don’t Forget: Content and Links Are Key
- Quick Tips for SEO in 2018
Some of these section had advice that I knew; others were pretty much new to me, such as the voice search section. I’ll also admit to being very out-of-date on how Google’s ranking systems work; it changes often, and my last deep dive was circa 2014. Oops.
The advice in this document is excellent and well-explained. For example, on RankBrain:
Last year Google announced that RankBrain was their third most important ranking factor: “In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.”
And as Google refines its algorithm, RankBrain is going to become even MORE important in 2018. The question is: What is RankBrain, exactly? And how can you optimize for it?
RankBrain is a machine learning system that helps Google sort their search results. That might sound complicated, but it isn’t. RankBrain simply measures how users interact with the search results… and ranks them accordingly.
The document then goes into a very helpful example, digging into the concept of Dwell Time (that is, how long someone spends on the page). The “Definitive Guide” also provides some very useful metrics about targets for click-through rate (CTR), dwell time, length and depth of content, and more. For example, the document says,
One industry study found that organic CTR is down 37% since 2015. It’s no secret why: Google is crowding out the organic search results with Answer Boxes, Ads, Carousels, “People also ask” sections, and more. And to stand out, your result needs to scream “click on me!”…or else it’ll be ignored.
All of the advice is good, but of course, I’m not always going to follow it. For example, the “Definitive Guide” says:
How can you write the type of in-depth content that Google wants to see? First, publish content that’s at least 2,000 words. That way, you can cover everything a Google searcher needs to know about that topic. In fact, our ranking factors study found that longer content (like ultimate guides and long-form blog posts) outranked short articles in Google.
Well, this post isn’t even close to 2,000 words. Oops. Read the “Definitive Guide,” you’ll be glad you did.