The Anatomy Of SEO Ranking Factors In 2018

If your website is not on the first page of Google, you’re losing sales every day. 97 percent of people never click past the first page of search results (when was the last time you did?). Business owners are eager to get their website to rank high on Google, ideally in the top 3 spots. To do this, you must understand Google’s ranking signals and optimise your website to get the best chance of attracting organic traffic.

Google has had a big shift from the days when SEO was simple to do. All you had to do is just get a lot of cheap backlinks to the website and you would rank in most cases. Even though link building is far from dead, Google has started to pay attention to how you acquire new backlinks, where they are coming from and the velocity of link acquisition.

Everyone in the SEO world wants to exactly know what goes into the latest Google’s ranking algorithm. Google is known for keeping its full list of ranking factors a top secret and trying to boost your ranking can be a tiring and confusing task. Things are not getting any easier with an ever-increasing number of ranking factors and new algorithm updates. In 2018, we can expect even more changes, including structured data, SERP features, and voice search. This will be good news for some people and bad news for the other.

Instead of getting confused by these upcoming changes, you can get ahead of the curve and rise up through the Google rankings. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most important SEO ranking factors of 2018!

Google’s Mobile-first Index

Last year Google has introduced a mobile-first index. This means that Google will always consider the mobile version of your website to be the main version (even if someone searches from a desktop computer). They’ve made this move because 60% or more of searches on Google are from a mobile device at this moment. Mobile-first index is not live yet but it’s coming very soon so it is very important for you to prepare right now. Let’s take a look at how you can prepare in a few simple steps.


Move from m. to Responsive Design

If you have a mobile “m.” version of your website, then it’s time to move to a responsive design.


Make Your Content Consistent On Mobile and Desktop

A big mistake that people are not making is that they are hiding content on the mobile version on their page (things like where the user has to click “More” button to read the full text on the page.

This is going to backfire on them when Google rolls out their new algorithm update. Once they do, it will consider the mobile version of your page as the main version, meaning, the content that is hidden on the page will be completely ignored by Google. Just make sure that there’s nothing hidden behind expandable sections and buttons on your mobile version of the website.


Fully Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Even though your website may load on a tablet or mobile phone, it doesn’t mean that it’s simple to use. In 2018, Google is going to closely look at how users interact with your website and if they have a hard time using your website on mobile devices, then they are going to go back to the search results. 2018 will be the year all businesses start prioritizing their website’s mobile experience, especially as we get closer and closer to the mobile-first index.

As of this moment, Google is still testing it, but when they roll out these changes, it will force everyone to adapt their content to a mobile audience.

The best way to check if your website is mobile friendly is by using the mobile-friendly test. Just type your URL into it and it’ll tell you if it is. Also, it will give you recommendations that you can use to make your website even more mobile-friendly.

mobile friendly
mobile friendly 2018

Get Ready for Voice Search


You probably didn’t know this, but 20% of all searches on mobile are voice searches! Also, 40% of people perform at least one voice search every day. Now that you know this info, it’s obvious that you need to optimize some of your content for voice search. Let’s take a look at a few tips on how you can take advantage of this.

When someone performs a voice search, it’ll always give back the information from a search result on the first page. You are also lucky if your content appears in a featured snippet on top of the search results like this:

featured snippet

Googles voice search tends to read out the text inside this snippet. These snippets are aimed at answering the user’s question right away. 99.58% of pages that are featured in the snippet already rank in top 10 so if you’re already ranking high for specific keywords, you have very good chances to get in the snippet. On the other hand, it’s not necessary to be ranked on the number one spot as 70% of snippets come from sites outside the first position. Some of the search queries usually don’t have snippets and they include shopping, local, and images and videos.

Another tip that you can use to be picked up by Google’s voice search is to have a question and an answer on the page. An example of this would be to have a question in the headline and then an answer in the first paragraph below it.

The majority of snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords and the more words that the keyword contains, the higher the chances there will be a snippet for that keyword. Start doing the basic keyword research and include question-type queries like what, how, and why. Your lowest hanging fruit is to see for which keywords you already rank high. This will be your best bet to get featured in the snippet.

When optimizing your page, always start with on-page SEO. There is no magic thing that you can put on your page to get it featured. Google simply prefers to feature an answer which was explained in one paragraph. The average length of a paragraph snippet is 45 words, so let that be your guideline. This doesn’t mean your article needs to be only one paragraph long. Google gives preference to long-form content that is broken into subsections with images in between. Just follow this format: ask the question in your article (like in the subheading), follow up the question with a one-paragraph answer and then expand further in the article.

Understanding Google RankBrain


RankBrain is the name o Google’s latest piece of technology. In a nutshell, it’s a machine-learning AI (artificial intelligence) system that helps Google sort through millions of pages it has indexed over the years and by doing so, it’ll better decide which pages will be the most relevant for search queries and it puts focus on long-tail queries. So, using long tail keywords in 2018 will help you increase the conversion rate and adapt to voice search as well!

Before the RankBrain, Google has used its basic algorithm to show users a result for their search query. When RankBrain rolls out, it’ll use an interpretation model that can apply factors like personalization, the location of the searcher, and the words of the keyword to try to determine the user’s true intent. Basically, RankBrain will tweak the algorithm on its own. For example, RankBrain will increase or decrease the importance of a ranking factor (like backlinks, content length, etc.) for each keyword. Then, it will look at how users interact with the new search results. If users like the new results better, it will implement the changes and if not, it’ll roll back to the old algorithm. To recap, RankBrain has two main jobs, understanding keywords and measuring how people interact with the results.


Depending on how you did SEO so far, RankBrain may be a minor or major change for you. With RankBrain active, you’ll need to determine the type of content that best serves users’ needs. For the latest news, RankBrain is going to put more emphasis on freshness than the backlinks that article have acquired. For a long article about the history of music, you’ll need to rely on content depth. Machine learning algorithm that is behind RankBrain is matching signals to query intent, so you have to do the same.

You probably know that creating a new page for each keyword that you want to rank is an outdated practice. Modern SEO combines all of the variations of the keyword into a single piece of content that uses natural language and keyword variations that reflect the way people search and speak. RankBrain just puts more emphasis into this and focuses on total keyword concepts with deep content rather than breaking individual pages to cover variants like car and cars.

rankbrain signals

RankBrain is observing how you interact with the search results. Specifically, it’s looking at bounce rate, dwell time, and organic click-through-rate (known as UX signals). As you can see, if people are constantly hitting back when they land on your website from search results, Google will probably lower your rank. On the other side, if people are spending time reading the page on your website then that means they got what they wanted. If Google notices that people quickly leave a page and click on a different search result, it will apply a negative effect to that page.

One of the most important factors is the dwell time. That is the amount of time a user spends on your website after clicking on your result and the longer someone spends on your page, the better. On the other hand, if someone bounces from your website after 3 seconds, that would have a negative impact on your rankings. To increase the dwell time, be sure to put your content above the fold. When the user lands on your page, they want the answer right now. We highly recommend removing anything that will push your content below the fold.

Short intros work the best. Usually, when people search for something in Google, they already know about that topic so there’s no point in having a massive intro. You should also know what the longer content has better dwell time. Having a larger word count will keep users engaged for longer but longer content also fully answers a user’s query. This will prevent people from hitting the back button to find something better. We recommend publishing content that’s at least 2,000 words.

rankbrain page

Here are a few other SEO factors that you should look at in 2018:

  • Page speed: since page speed has a huge impact on user experience, increasing your page’s loading speed will not only help your bottom line, but Google has already confirmed that it’s an important ranking signal. Ideally, you want your pages to load in two seconds or less.
  • Schema markup: this is a type of structured data that you can add to your website to make it easier for search engines to interpret content. Did you know that structured data can improve CTR by 30 percent? Just head over to and add schema markup to your website
  • Encryption: last year Google has confirmed that encryption is a strong ranking factor. Adding encryption to your website will make it more secure. You can see if a website is encrypted by the addition of an “s” at the end of the HTTP part of a URL. Google wants to make sure its users are protected from malicious intruders by making security a major ranking factor. Adding this is fast and inexpensive and it will help your website rankings.


SEO has come a long way since the 1990s. Google has narrowed their focus on providing the best results for users. With RankBrain, there’s a strong push for website owners to become more adaptable to constant changes. In 2018, Google will try to ensure that websites are mobile-friendly and full of conversational terms and words.

It takes a lot of time and effort to stay up to date on all the updates. Following these SEO tips in 2018 will ensure that your website is in the best position against the competition.