Best Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to SEO in 2018

Table Of Contents

Chapter 1: General SEO Tips (CTR & Session Duration)
Chapter 2: Diving Into CTR
Chapter 3: Rich Content Is Where It’s At!
Chapter 4: Coming Soon!

Let’s talk about SEO.

Google tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, and its search algorithms are no exception.

Google’s latest batch of search algorithms utilize a technology called ‘RankBrain’ as one of the ranking factors that sort search results. RankBrain is a machine learning system (artificial intelligence) that measures how users interact with the results displayed and ranks them accordingly.

RankBrain isn’t exactly new as it was announced in late 2015, but Google has been placing more and more trust in this system and RankBrain is becoming more and more important.

So, what does this mean for you?

Quite simply, the way that you can use RankBrain to your advantage is by increasing the number of people that click on your result when they see it and by increasing the amount of time a visitor stays on your page.

These metrics are called Click Through Rate (CTR) and Session Duration.

So, how do you increase CTR and Session Duration?


Chapter 1: General SEO Tips (CTR & Session Duration)


Let’s start by increasing your CTR.


Ultimately, you need to make your search result listing look better and more relevant than your competition’s. Instead of focusing on keywords, focus on emotional hooks, content types, and your subject in the <title> tag of your page.

The higher your CTR, the higher Google will consistently place you in its search results.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out this handy infographic that details how to create the best search result listing for the highest CTR possible.


Now, on to Session Duration.


Google favors websites that capture a visitor’s attention for longer. A study by SearchMetrics showed that the average session duration for a top 10 Google result was 3 minutes and 10 seconds.

There are a ton of changes you can make to keep your visitors on your site for longer, but I’ll go over just a few for now.


Make your content relatable and easy to digest.

You’ve already mastered your search result listing, but does your content actually convey that catchy title? Visitors should never be confused when they arrive at your website. If they’re clicking on an article about coffee in New York, they should be greeted with a well thought-out article about all things coffee in New York, not an advertisement for your coffee shop.

It’s okay to have long posts and a lot of content, if you make it easy to digest. You can do this by adding a table of contents, action buttons to navigate around the page quickly, and adding phrases that grab visitors attention and rope them back into reading your content.

Do yourself a favor. Take a break from reading this and go look at a post or a page on your website. If you were a random visitor from Google, how long would you stay on that page? Where would your attention be lost? Is there sufficient content for you to stay 3 minutes? Three minutes is a long time to keep a visitor’s attention!


Use benefit-driven subheadings.

Look at what I did earlier in this article. Instead of saying “Increasing CTR”, I wrote “Let’s start by increasing your CTR.” Which sub-heading is better? Which one speaks to you more?

Cut your paragraphs down to a maximum of three sentences. Attention spans are short, so keep your paragraphs short.


Chapter 2: Diving Into CTR


Now you have some of the basics covered, but there’s still more we need to talk about!

We briefly touched on Click Through Rate (CTR), but let’s go a little more in depth.

Google has slowly aggregated more and more data while providing more and more tools above the organic results like Answer Boxes, Carousels, Youube Videos, and more. Not to mention ads!

Results now look like this:

google search results ctr queen

And this:

google search results ctr video games

And worst of all (because it takes up a huge chunk of the screen), this:

google search results ctr home run

So, what does this mean for you?


This means that every single one of your posts or pages will have to be crafted with CTR in mind.

Let’s face it, we’re now competing directly with Google for organic results. Sounds impossible, but it can be done.

Your results need to stand out above ALL of the rest and immediately grab a visitor’s attention.


Here is one method to do just that.

Step 1: Find AdWords Ads targeting your keyword or related keywords.
Step 2: Find similar words and phrases in the top performing ads.
Step 3: Include those words and phrases in your title and description tags.

It’s that simple, but let me tell you why it works.

This method works because companies spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on AdWords and have run countless split tests to determine what ads perform best. You can use their data to help craft a title and description that will push CTR through the roof.

For some of you, this method may not work because there may not be any ads targeting your keywords or you may be in a very niche market.


Don’t fret. There are more methods for increasing CTR!

First, study this infographic that I mentioned earlier. It’s full of easy-to-follow, simple-to-implement tips for increasing your CTR.

Then, add power words to your title and description tags. Power words are words that elicit an emotion from the reader and demand their attention. Here’s just a small list of possible power words:

  • Simple
  • Easy
  • Dramatic
  • Proven
  • Huge
  • Amazing
  • Fast
  • Quick
  • Step-by-step
  • Instant
  • Powerful
  • and the list goes on…


If you want to create your own power words for your content, think about an emotion you want to elicit in visitors. Then, translate that emotion into an actual word.

Let’s take an example:

You own a Heating and Air company and have a post on “How to get cleaner air in your home”. You want your visitors to be disgusted with their current air filtration and moved to learn more via your post.

Use that “disgust” emotion and turn it into a power word with a title like this: “5 Simple Ways To Remove Disgusting Particles From Your Home’s Air”


Bonus CTR Tip:

Another interesting method for increasing your CTR is to pit different ads against each other using Google AdWords. This doesn’t require a huge ad budget either!

It’s simple:

  • First, you create several different headlines and descriptions using the information above. Don’t just use variations of words. Try different tones, emotions, hooks, etc.
  • Then, run A/B tests in AdWords with all of those different ads.
  • Finally, you find the winner! Look for which ad had the best CTR and use that title and description.


Chapter 3: Rich Content Is Where It’s At!

Google is a lot smarter now than when it first started doing business as back in 1997. While it still looks for keywords in places like your title, description, H1 tags, URL, and image alt text, that is no longer the most important way to get your page ranked.

Google is hungry for more information, more rich content.

In the interest of giving searchers a simple, thorough experience, Google has put a lot of emphasis on thorough and in-depth content.

Basically, if your visitors stay a long time on your site because the content is relevant, easy-to-digest, and abundant, you’re going to score big points in the ranking game.

Visitors on your site will be engaged for longer if you cover what they’re looking for in an interesting, thorough way. It’s pretty simple! If they want to learn about coffee in New York and your site is chock full of intriguing content about coffee in New York, why would they choose to go anywhere else? In your ideal world, they won’t – they’ll be happy to drink up what you’re offering!

The secret to great, in-depth content?

We’ve all heard that less is more. Don’t bore people to death by posting 50 mediocre photographs on social media – wow them with three Amazing Images! Don’t drown your salad in dressing – you want to savor the flavors of your veggies. Etc. Etc.

That is true in a lot of cases, but Google really rewards long form content. Instead of breaking up your 5 part series into 5 different posts, keep it all on one page that you update frequently.

If you want Google to keep your site ranked high, your content needs to be rich – at least 2,000 words rich, so that searchers know they’ve hit their subject nirvana when they land on your site. They’ll want to stick around because you’re offering everything they need, plus some unexpected extra goodies all in one place!

So, go ahead and write that long blog post about that fascinating coffee shop in Manhattan that’s serving up its brew India-style.

Long form, engaging content is in.

But, how do we keep that large amount of content relevant to our search results in Google’s eyes?

Simple, use LSI keywords.

What are LSI Keywords?

We’ve covered power words, but now it’s time to make use of LSI keywords, another part of the Google algorithm. LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, and you’ll sometimes hear LSI keywords referred to as semantic keywords.

What are semantic keywords?

It’s actually pretty simple! Semantic keywords are just words and phrases that are related to your page’s subject (and hopefully your main keywords)! If you’re using a search engine like Google, they’re the suggestions that pop up when you start typing a search because Google thinks those topics are related.

Let’s say you decide to go ahead and write a long article on your site called “Big Guide To Best Biscotti in the Borough” – like our example above. To begin with, you guess that you should include LSI keywords like:

  • Twice-baked
  • Crunchy
  • Nutty
  • Recipes

How do you know, for sure, which LSI keywords are best to include on your page so that Google takes notice? There are some easy tools out there to help you.

The first is LSI Graph. Simply start by entering your main keyword, like so:

And here’s what magically appears – a whole list of LSI keywords:

LSI Keyword List Semantic SEO 2018

Follow Google’s LSI recommendations!

Google has confirmed that by using more LSI keywords, your page has a better chance of ranking higher. So adding some to your content just makes sense, right?

Another tool you can use to figure out the best LSI keywords is pretty obvious: Google itself. Just enter your keyword, like so:

Biscotti Searches Google SEO

Then scroll to the “Searches related to” section at the bottom of the search results. See the words in bold? These are some LSI keywords:

LSI Keywords On Google Search Results

And, last but not least, enter your keywords at Google Keyword Planner. You’ll need a Google Adwords account to access this, but it’s easy to get one here. Once you’ve got an account, you can enter your keyword and generate a list of related keywords that looks like this:

Keyword Planner Google SEO 2018



Chapter 4: Coming Soon!


Stay tuned! This guide will be constantly updated. Subscribe to our newsletter to get immediate updates when we post new information.


Confused? Excited? What did you think of this article?

If you have any questions or would like help implementing some of these strategies, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by using the contact form at the bottom of this page.


Additional sources: