Year after year the state of SEO changes. Google’s most important search engine ranking factors change, as their algorithm is updated.

SEO is a complex beast that is consistently changing. Because of this, search engine optimization companies (like us) have to stay agile, and be ready to adjust. Theory crafting, consistent testing, and refinement are fundamental to our ability to deliver consistent results.

Staying up to date on the latest rankings factors and algorithm changes is one of the biggest challenges business owners and marketers face.

With so many factors effecting both on-page and off-page website optimization, it can be easy to miss a few important things, or simply have your priories out of order. With that said, here is our list of the most important factors influencing the SERPS in 2018.

1. Content is King

In 2018, long-form authoritative content is the bread and butter of great rankings.

Over everything, google wants to match users with useful informative content for any given keyword. Your website and blog content needs to be relevant, and provide real value to your websites users.

Content is one important ranking factor that has been steadily growing for the past few years. If you’re not investing in content marketing and compelling website copy, you need to start now!

Don’t worry, if you haven’t started investing in content marketing its never too late. Our Virginia Beach SEO experts can help you create fresh relevant content.

2. Powerful Backlinks

Arm in arm with high quality content is relevant backlinks. After your websites on-page SEO set up is complete, you are going to want to turn your full attention to building backlinks.

Interestingly enough, quality content is one of the best ways to build your websites backlink portfolio. Not investing time into fresh content and building backlinks is one of the biggest SEO mistakes many business owners make. Link building tactics include: blog shares, guest posting, influence marketing, and more.

Its not an accident that the top ranked sites on google for any given keyword have more links than the others. Backlinko conducted a study that confirms this.


Just don’t forget, quality over quantity. Its 2018 not 1998, spam comments, link stuffing, and other black hat SEO tactics are going to leave you penalized. Google’s search robots have become much smarter, and can determine a relevant link from a spam link.

3. Anchor Text

Customized anchor text is a great way to maximize the effects a link can give your website. Anchor text refers to the string of letters or numbers in which the link is embedded.

Ideally, you want your links anchor text to correspond to the content that its begin linked to. Anchor text also presents a great opportunity to use your target keywords.

Be weary of over optimization. You want your anchors to have your keywords, but you also want a diverse link profile. Remember Google ranking algorithm is smarter than ever before. Optimizing your anchor text profile to use a combination of keywords, naked URL links, and brand name with give you the best results.

Unfortunately, link many SEO rules, there is no perfect ratio of branded vs. unbranded links. You will have to do some competition analysis with a tool such as Ahrefs. Their keyword explorer tool and give you some insight on your competitions organic keyword profile.

4. Website User Experience

User experience is a huge ranking factor that can be pretty trick to optimize for. Here are just a few that every website needs to consider.

Loading Speed

With more choices than ever, online users are very picky. Data shows us that if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load close to 50% of users will leave the site or “bounce”. High bounce rate means poor user experience. You can use tool such as GTmetrix to measure your websites on-page performance.

Mobile Friendly Design

Google officially announced that mobile searches topped desktop searches in 2015. Initiatives like amp pages and mobile-first indexing make it clear that mobile use has to be a priority. The Mobile Friendly Test is a super easy way to see if your website measures up.

SSL Certificate / HTTPS

Not only dost google clearly describe having a secure website as a ranking signal, HTTPS also boosts your users trust. Data security is a great way to make users more willing to subscribe or take action on your website.


Click-Through Rate

CTR or click-through rate is a measurement of how many times your website is clicked vs how many times your link is seen. You can improve CTR by adjusting and testing different meta descriptions and page titles. These both work as call to actions for users that find you in the SERPS.

5. Social Signals

Branding and SEO go hand in hand. Brand awareness, discoverability, authority, and trustworthiness all need to be working together to achieve ROI.

Social signals are a great way to start building your brand trust and recognition. Social signals include: comments on a post, followers on a page, and growth over time.

Links from social media are a great way to show search engines that your brand and content are relevant. Don’t have time to grow your social media presence organically? Don’t worry, we have a dedicated team that specializes in social media marketing Virginia.


These are some of the leading factors for SEO rankings in 2018.

Keep in mind, this is just the tip of the ice burg. We could spend days digging into everything that makes up search engine optimization. However, you have to start somewhere. These are some of the more important factors that you should focus on if you have limited time to put into your SEO efforts.

Keep an eye out for more SEO tip, tricks, and knowledge to come in later posts. If you would like some help climbing the search engine results pages give our team a call, you wont be disappointed.