Don’t you get tired of all these 200 point lists with Google factors?
Let’s be honest. If you’re not a multimillion-dollar company you can’t cover all ranking factors. It’s pointless to even try, you’ll waste your time.
If you focus only on 3 ranking factors, you will see an enormous effect. The 80/20 rule is valid 100% here. I’d even call it the 95/5 rule.
Many online business owners, bloggers, and marketers get obsessed with doing something for each of these 200 points so they can rank their site higher. But they end up seeing just a small boost in SEO after doing a ton of work or realize they’ve invested too much time in unimportant things and have left the factors that really matter behind.
If you have the best content, quality backlinks and users stay on your page and don’t need another source to find more information, there is nobody who can outrank you, even if they’re beating you on the rest 197 factors.
Even the experts at Moz confirmed a long time ago that the 200 point list is a myth, most of the factors are correlation instead of causal, and are often presented just so the final number can look impressive.
Now, what should you focus your SEO efforts on in 2019? Here are the ranking factors that really matter and can do wonders for your website and business.
If there’s one aspect of a website, brand and company that matters online today more than anything else it’s content. That also means content marketing gives the best ROI. It produces 3 times more leads than paid search and more than 70% of online users prefer to learn about a product from an article instead of an ad. In fact, more and more people are using ad blockers and your advertising campaigns might not even reach them.
Your content needs to give the user what they’re looking for. If they’re looking further after seeing your page, it means your content is missing something. Superior content is detailed content, and once optimized well (basic on-page SEO is usually enough), it can rank high and bring you tens of thousands of visitors some time from now.
Your content is the foundation of your online presence and is closely related to outperforming your competitors, getting new leads and increasing revenue.
Too many people hire social media managers, web designers to change the look of their site and brand, or else, but fail to understand that if there’s a budget for outsourcing, it should be invested in creating and distributing superior content.
Content marketing is changing and every next year it becomes more and more important. The very first thing you’d want to do differently in 2019 to make Google love you, to increase your traffic and engage people with your brand, and rank your site higher in the search results, is to create the best content you can.
The type of content you should create can vary. In 2019, blog posts won’t cut it anymore. To reach as many people as you can, give them great information but in different formats.
The second one of the 3 crucial SEO factors that will continue to play a key role in 2019 is the number and quality of your backlinks.
Relevant and authoritative backlinks can be earned in multiple ways as long as it’s naturally, and if you start doing that early on, you’re boosting the time it takes for SEO to work.
The types of backlinks you should be looking for include:
Finding opportunities for backlinks can happen with a tool like Ahrefs or Semrush. These help you analyze the links your competitors have built so you can replicate the process.
Investing in content creation is another thing that can earn you backlinks from authoritative sites. That’s yet another reason to focus more on that in 2019 and create longer, more informative and practical content than your competitors.
There’s another aspect of link building that helps you create the perfect site structure and rank higher – internal linking.
Some experts call internal links the sauce of link building. It’s true because making changes in site architecture through proper link building techniques can do wonders for your rankings and the results are often immediate.
For that, you need to rethink your internal link building strategy, start updating old content, reducing page depth so Google bots can crawl your pages faster, giving a boost from pages performing well to those that can’t earn quality backlinks, and more.
Internal links are also what can help your pillar content get indexed quickly. Don’t forget these help Google and tell search engines what the content is about and bring the spiders to other relevant pages, but they also exist to navigate users through your site and show them relevant content that they would otherwise fail to find.
User experience is another aspect that’s critical for SEO. In a nutshell, this is the combination of actions that aim to keep the user on your website and thus show Google you’re making your visitors happy. In return, people stay on your site longer and search engines send you more traffic.
In 2015, Google confirmed using an algorithm called RankBrain to provide the most relevant results to users. That’s when webmasters realized it’s more important to write for people rather than stuff their content with keywords with the hope that Google will rank them on top for these phrases.
When UX and SEO are done together, your site will grow and you’ll see a massive return on investment.
Here are some of the best practices:
Understanding how website architecture works will be beneficial to ranking higher in 2019 as it affects all the other SEO factors. When done right, you can create a site structure that drives traffic, lets users navigate easily through your site and allow spiders to crawl it fast and frequently.
If you’re launching a new site, make sure to plan your site hierarchy in advance. If your site already exists, you can rethink the structure and make changes to optimize it.
Google now penalizes websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices and instead works in favor of those that are responsive. If you want to take into consideration this one of the top ranking factors in 2019, make sure you consider the following for the mobile version of your website:
The age of your domain and how long ago the top pages were published also play a role in increasing your rankings. Google favors sites that have been around for a while and new ones need some time to show they are valuable and appear on the first page.
In fact, a study by Ahrefs concluded that the domains ranking at position #1 in the search results are 3 years old.
Follow the other best practices for SEO and know that the older your site gets, the more authoritative it will become and the more trustworthy it will look to search engines and people.
Last but not least, social media still matters for SEO. Social signals are all the shares and likes a web page has received. The higher the number, the better the overall social media visibility, which in turn shows Google that people like your content.
Maybe you’ve been neglecting social media so far or maybe you haven’t given all big social networking sites a chance. In 2019, test different platforms and follow the best practices for it to see if you can build a following, improve your online presence and get traffic.
SEO isn’t about reading long lists of factors and realizing how left behind you are or that you need a budget to rank your site higher. Instead, it’s about providing value on a regular basis with your content and making it interesting and easy to read, thus letting this earn you backlinks, trust and traffic.
Follow the advice above and create a better SEO strategy for 2019.
Guest blogging has two main benefits. First, you get free exposure in front of a new audience, which can lead to many positive consequences, such as new partners, new followers, subscribers, and of course new clients.
Second, you get a link or two to your website. Many people use guest blogging to get backlinks. Guess why? Because backlinks from guest blogging work incredibly well. But there is a downside, too. Guest blogging is a link-building method that requires lots of time, effort, and resources.
1) Spend time researching and finding blogs to reach out to.
2) Find the contact person and their contact details.
3) Reach out to them and propose to write a guest post for their site.
4) Discuss, back and forth, what post topic is okay before agreeing.
5) Write the article, which costs time, or pay your writer to write it, which costs money. If you’re like me, hire a native speaker to edit it.
6) Send them the article and wait.
You should always focus on sites that don’t just look good, but are worth it. So, what should you check for in a site before considering publishing a guest post? If you read my mini guide and follow the 9 steps in it, I promise you that you will focus only on the best blogs.
As you may have already guessed, DA (domain authority) measures the authority of the complete domain. PA (page authority) shows the authority that a certain page of your site has. DA uses 40 different metrics to measure this, including both the number of links to your site, and the number of root domains that link to your site. This particular metric is essentially the total number of other sites with links to yours.
DA is a metric from 1 to 100. When you’re just getting started with a new site it will be with DA 1 because it is still just a baby. The most authoritative sites in the world have the highest DA. Sites like HuffPost, Forbes, and NYTimes are sites that we know well, and such sites have the highest authority.
huffingtonpost.com – 98 DA
forbes.com – 96 DA
nytimes.com – 100 DA
DA is very important. I’ve seen in my experience how a new page ranks well just because it is from a website with high domain authority. This means that if you publish a guest post at a site with high DA, it will have good chances to rank higher in Google.
You want your backlinks to come from sites with high authority because this will help your authority and ranking as well.
You can install the MOZ bar on your browser, which will show you the DA of the site you’re browsing at the moment. Or you can check at Open Site Explorer.
First, because there are many sites with high authority that have no moderation and literately everybody can publish an article. This devalues the power of the backlink you will get. Even though it is easier to publish an article, with no moderation it is not worth the effort.
Second, there are sites with extremely high DA above 60, but they do not get any traffic and are heavily abused with spammy 350 words articles and guest posts for $10, and it is just a matter of time until they get penalized. Usually, people buy expired domains with high DA and then build a new site on it. Then they publish a bunch of crappy posts and sell links until the site gets penalized. Do not bother publishing posts at such sites.
Citation Flow uses the number of sites linked to a URL to predict its potential influence. Trust Flow uses the number of sites considered trustworthy that link to a URL to predict its potential trustworthiness, based on the idea that a confirmed trustworthy site will generally link to another trustworthy site.
A good ratio of TF to CF is 0.50. High ratios indicate very trustworthy sites, while sites with a much higher CF than TF are most likely to host many low-quality links.
Focus on sites with high TF and a good ratio between TF and CF. Sites with high CF but low TF are not worth the effort; skip them and go on.
Go to Alexa and check the site’s world ranking.
This website ranks at 374,417 in the world and 160,139 in the US. Everything with a World Alexa ranking below 600,000 is worth checking further. You can have a quick look on any website’s Alexa ranking if you use SEOquake. It’s a free nifty plugin that shows you data about the website you’re browsing at the moment.
Think about it: If your targeted audience is people from North America, should you publish a guest post at a blog whose traffic comes from South East Asia? Well, the link from this guest post will still be valuable, but if you do not publish many guest posts, you had better focus on what is best for you. As you can see on this photo, 47% of traffic comes from the US, which is a pretty good number if your target is people from the US.
You want blogs that rank well in search engines. But sometimes it’s difficult to guess their targeted keywords.
Check the title tag, h1, check alt tags, and the blog post titles. You can get some clarity about the keywords they’re trying to rank for. Then, just search in Google for these keywords and see if they appear on the search results.
Another option is to try different tools that show you what blogs rank for and how much traffic they get from search engines.
Check their backlink profile. Do they have any spammy backlinks? Or do the links to their sites come from reputable and authoritative sites? Do they have any top notch links and brand mentions from big sites?
Do they allow only author bio links? Do they put nofollow tags?
First, very carefully read their guest posting guidelines page. Then, think if you’re happy with what they allow. In most cases you can get a very good idea if you’re okay with their requirements or not just by reading the guidelines.
But sometimes site owners are unethical and they will publish your post with your link. After a few weeks or months, they will remove the links or will nofollow them. This happened to me a few times.
I published a guest post a few weeks ago. DA of the site is above 70, they get tons of traffic, I like the site and I put time and efforts in creating an article for them. Today I noticed that they removed the backlink.#GuestPost #unethical #FeelsBadMan
— Georgi Todorov (@GeorgiTodorovBG) February 1, 2018
That’s why I suggest you check older guest posts (from 6 months ago and older) to see if the site is playing smart and removing links or adding the nofollow tag later (sometimes it happens).
First, check how many Facebook shares, tweets, Linkedin shares, G+ shares, and any other social signals the latest blog posts are getting. You should share your guest post with your audience, but I think that the host should have their own audience as well.
Second, check if the website is getting comments. Who are the people that are commenting? Are they influencers? If they commented on your post, you have a pretty good chance to start a conversation with them and eventually build a relationship. At the image above you can see that I gave an example with my guest post at Jeff Bullas. Besides the fact that it has 1.5K social shares, it was also noticed by Dona Merril and Ryan Biddulph, both influential bloggers.
Sometimes, you will get positively surprised by blogs that are not huge but have their own true audience. For example, a few weeks ago I published a guest post at Growmap. I was happy to see that people are interested in what I am saying and they find it useful. As you can see up to 2 February 2018, the post has 41 comments. I think that Gail Gardner is doing well leading her tribe at GrowMap.
Find out if the website has social media pages, at least on the biggest social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Even this is not the most important thing for me. I prefer that the website has a decent following. This will bring some added value for you.
For instance, I am an author at SEMrush. They have a huge following – and every time they share my posts at their platform, they tag me. That’s how their followers sometimes end up engaging with me.
— SEMrush (@semrush) October 21, 2017
Also, every time someone reads any of my posts and shares it, my name automatically displays and I am mentioned in the tweet.
— Shane Barker (@shane_barker) October 12, 2017
These are the basic things I’m looking for when searching for guest posting opportunities. By using my tips, you will be sure to target only blogs that are worth the effort of creating a guest post for.
Do you have any more ideas? I’d like to update this post on a regular basis by adding more information. If you think that I’ve missed something, tweet me your idea @GeorgiTodorovBG.
P.S. Are you freelancing? Check my detailed Upwork guide.