It’s accurate to say that Google is the number one search engine, and it’s clear that in the world of search engines, Google has the final word when it comes to instituting ranking factors. The other search engines out there- Yahoo!, Bing, Safari- simply follow the big G.
Essentially, if your site ranks highly on Google, it will perform the same in other search engine results. But how do you ensure that your website actually ranks higher than your competition?
The rule is simple:
“Optimize your website for users FIRST, and Google will reward you with a higher ranking. Why? Because Google makes decisions based on user’s behavior within the search results, when they land on your page, and when they leave your web page.”
However, Google ranking factors do change from time to time so it’s important to stay on top of all the latest information. In this article, let’s look at the major factors that dramatically improve your search rankings right now.
But before we dive into this, it’s important to understand why Google rankings matter. First, whenever someone needs to find information online, they almost always start with Google. In fact, about 93% of online experiences begin with a search on Google. Online users go to the search engine to find everything from groceries to the best hair salons to information about diseases or look up the latest news on their favorite pop star.
People believe that Google can help them find the very best of what they are looking for. Therefore, it’s no wonder that Google now processes more than 40,000 searches per second, equaling out to roughly 4.7 billion searches per month.
You just can’t neglect online searchers as potential customers in the current digital age because some of them are actively seeking what you offer! If they can find you in Google search engine results, then this is the first step in establishing a relationship. Maybe they’ll even take action by calling you immediately if they’re in the vicinity.
Research by Chitika shows that the websites on the first page of Google organic results get 91.5% of the total website traffic for that search.
If you can get your website to the top, you will increase organic traffic, leads, and grow your sales. More traffic means more people will access your website and learn about your company, which then increases your chances of converting visitors into buyers. When enough of this action occurs, soon you will see an increase in your profit margins.
So, how do you get your content pages to that very top page of organic search results? Aside from using trusted SEO company best practices, you also need to stick to these Google ranking factors that have long-term effects on any website.
Here are some of the most important factors you should know:
1. The Architecture and Security of Your Website
A powerful Google ranking factor is a logical trait in site architecture. To a large extent, the structure of your website is what determines whether or not users will have a good experience.
And what’s Google without the end users? That’s why Google exists — to serve the users. If your site is designed for their use, there’s no reason why Google shouldn’t give some love back to yours.
Your website architecture matters to users and Google alike. And once your pages are well laid out, Google spiders (or crawlers) can easily fetch information from it and your users will easily be able to navigate through and consume your content.
Most marketers structure their pages according to the target keywords. Here’s an example:
When laying out your pages, your website needs to be divided into sub-directories and its URLs need to have clear strings about what the page content is about so that Google can easily understand it.
The URL you use on your web page needs to be crawlable by Google bots, meaning that it can easily index your fresh content pages and identify the parts that are the most relevant to the search query.
How Do You Enable This?
Have a robots.txt file on your website and a perfect sitemap.
To explain: If you have a website about home décor and living spaces, for example, and you have several categories covering the living room, bathroom, and kitchen, your sitemap will be made up of the main website domain followed by the category and the specific topic.
An example of a good URL demonstrating this is: www.homeandliving.com/livingroom/revamping-living-space
More importantly, Google cares about the web visitor’s security. With so many viruses making rounds on the internet, many people are very careful and afraid of getting hacked. Therefore, most people avoid all websites marked as insecure and Google now marks all websites that are not using the HTTPS protocol as insecure. It even warns users to NOT enter their sensitive information.
Especially if you’re capturing credit card information, you need to make sure that you have an Https protocol.
Site security is a big factor in the search engine ranking algorithm. Use Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPS) on your websites to increase the likeliness of people visiting them. You can get affordable SSL encryption solutions from NameCheap, GoDaddy, and other providers which can help improve your search rankings.
2. On-site Content Optimization
Google its values customers by sifting through the billions of web pages and deciding which is the most relevant and helpful information to be promoted on the web.
Therefore, the only way to ensure that your content page is deemed relevant is by optimizing for the right keyword and creating useful content that gets noticed by Google.
What would you search for if you were looking for your own product? For example, if you’re a surgeon in LA and you’re eager to see which position your website appears in Google, what would you search for?
I bet you’ll search for these terms:
- Best surgeon in LA
- LA top surgeons
- Los Angeles Surgeons
To get ranked for these keywords, you need to these phrases on your website in a natural way. This is the starting point of On-Page SEO.
In optimizing your pages for your target keywords, make sure they come across natural and not spammy in the content because the latter will land you in trouble with Google. Do keywords research before creating content for your pages because it’s very important to get the keywords right in your headline, and within the content of the page. Don’t just stuff the keywords on your page in a bid to get Google to reward you with a higher ranking because it might raise a red flag and they might penalize you for it.
Rather, provide useful information with the keywords used in places where they’re relevant, natural, and valuable.
Long gone are the days when Google just analyzes a page to determine how many times a keyword appeared and then make decisions on ranking purely on that. Now, Google looks at the relevance of the keywords, the authority of the page, inbound links pointing to the page (if any), and how well the content aligns with the user’s intent. When creating content for your website, design matters so format it accordingly. Delivering a good user experience should be primary and keywords inclusion should be secondary. Other than the main keywords, Google also looks for variations on those primary keywords or what most people refer to as LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords.
These are mostly keywords that are related to the target ones. To find related keywords, simply search for your main keyword in Google, then scroll down the page to find these variations. Here’s an example:
Optimizing your pages for these related keywords is a step towards ranking higher for not only your primary keyword, but for several keywords.
Content is truly king. Users are simply the queen. Impress her with authoritative content that’s well-researched, properly formatted with headings, subheadings, visuals, and appealing elements. When users are happy, Google will know because users spend more time on your site when they click-through from a search result. When that happens, you’ll get the reward of… higher organic ranking for your website and possible sales.
3. Inbound Links
Google values what others have to say about you, so it looks elsewhere on the internet for links pointing to your website.
These are mostly referred to as inbound links. It’s important to have many trusted inbound links directing users to your website to improve your Google search ranking.
To Google, quality links weigh more than the number of links. This article also points to some strategies for getting trusted backlinks.
In other words, Google rewards your site for getting around 5 links from trusted sites like Inc, Entrepreneur, Problogger, Moz, and MarketingProfs, especially your site is in the digital marketing industry — as compared to 20 links from new websites or PBN sites.
So how do you get high-quality inbound links?
To be honest, it’s kind of difficult. Link building is hard work. Not many businesses are able to do it effectively, which is why they outsource it.
There are many link building strategies that range from link reclamation to guest blogging as well as fixing broken links and link roundups.
Guest blogging is effective because it involves creating an original article for another website. The site owner or author gets to publish your article with a link back to your website which is basically free publicity.
When it comes to link building, there’s no one-size-fits-all. You need to use more than a strategy to get earn as many inbound links as possible.
Remember that links are also an integral part of your marketing just as SEO is. Ensure that the inbound links come from relevant websites that have the audience you’re interested in.
The best way to do this is to connect with websites and blogs that offer somewhat similar products and services like yours. For instance, a dental clinic website could benefit from having its inbound link come from an eCommerce site that sells medical products.
Outbound links are also important because it shows Google that you’re an authority in your niche and willing to promote other businesses that complement yours.
When you share useful links with your visitors, Google will happily reward you for it. Also, consider having links pointing to your old posts within your domain which will tie
the content of your website together — thus helping visitors get all the information they need and increase Google organic search ranking.
RankBrain is a ranking system based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Through the Google Search Console, Google can tell how people interact with your website by looking at the number of people who click on your page in the search results.
The more clicks your website gets in the organic listings, the higher the ranking because Google then considers the site to be useful, relevant, interesting, and well-designed.
Increasing your clicks in the organic results also lead to more traffic to your website. Because now it’s no longer about the paid results but the organic ones, considering 70% of links users click on are organic.
When people click to your website from a search result, what happens next? Do they spend a reasonable amount of time on your site? If the latter is true, you’ll get a higher ranking.
Another action that people are likely to do is call or come to your physical storefront after finding you on Google. Google has a way of monitoring this and uses the information to come up with the best websites to send to the top.
The rest of the indexed pages can drown in the results and subsequent page; Google doesn’t care!
So how do you ensure that RankBrain works for your site?
It all boils down to making the user happy.
You need high-quality content for this. Combine text, images, and videos to create engaging content that’s informative appealing, and holds the user’s attention. Create content that makes them want to stay longer on your website.
Remember that clear call-to-action messages drive conversions and people will start to trust you, as will Google.
Online reviews have also impacted SEO services rankings, therefore encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews online with their experience related to your business.
5. Mobile-friendliness Factor
88% of Google users conduct searches using their mobile phones and Google acknowledges that by ranking websites that are mobile optimized higher than those that are not.
There’s a concept known as Google’s mobile-first index that lists mobile-optimized sites before considering others. Therefore, one proven way to improve your search visibility is by ensuring that your website is optimized for mobile use.
Use a mobile-responsive theme if you’re a WordPress user and you won’t have any issues because website should automatically resize to the device’s size and the fonts automatically comply to be large enough to be read even on small screens.
Look at the placing of ads on a smartphone, making sure that they don’t block important content on mobile devices. A good website that can be viewed on a desktop as well as a phone is not only good for Google but also for your visitors.
6. Page Speed
This refers to how fast your website loads when a user clicks on it from Google search results.
Although this depends on many factors, as the website owner you need to ensure that you optimize your page loading time as users expect a page to load up completely in as little as 3 seconds.
More so, research shows that reducing your page loading time by 100 milliseconds will increase conversions by 1%.
Fast-loading websites create a better user experience and with Google monitoring this, it affects your page ranking.
There is even a new algorithm by Google that focuses on how fast the site loads on mobile.
To put it simply, the faster your website loads for users the higher it will be ranked.
Another good way to ensure that your website loads fast is by using the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for landing pages. This initiative between Google and Twitter involves using a light form of HTML to create pages that load fast.
What’s nice about it is that it will always load landing pages fast on mobile, tablet, and desktop. It works by loading the text and then the images load later when the user scrolls towards them.
Another way to improve speed is to compress images so they are in small file sizes (under 1 MB). This is both beneficial for the user and Google spider crawling your website to determine your page optimization.
7. Google My Business for Local SEO
With statistics show that as high as 4 in every 5 consumers search online for things they need locally, you know that local SEO should be one of your top priorities.
Therefore, you need to make it very easy for people in your area to find you on Google. And 3 in 4 local customers are more likely to visit stores in person.
With over 80% of ‘near me’ related searches coming from smartphones, the first thing you need to optimize your site for mobile users.
A good way to do this for local SEO optimization is to have business information on your website.
To be effective, every business website must have:
- Name of the business
- A physical address and phone number
- Reviews on directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and related sites.
- Opening hours
- Local search terms
Consider claiming your business on Google My Business and once you do that, list the same contact information you have on your website in the same manner, making sure it’s consistent across the web.
After a successful listing, your chances of showing up in the Google Map Pack for local searches related to your business are high.
To use this, create your local listing with all the information relevant to your business including the business category, relevant keywords, operation hours, and website link.
Photos and contact details are good to add in as well. Just remember to verify the listing so that everyone who sees it knows that it’s safe to visit.
With a Google My Business listing and utilizing other local search engine optimization strategies , your business will rank highly in local search results. You will increase traffic to your website and get people to visit your store in one fell swoop.
The metadata factor may not directly have a strong impact on search rankings, but it matters to search users because it tells them exactly what your page is about.
The metadata of a page is what people see when your page appears in the organic results, meant to give a glimpse of what the article on that page is all about. Therefore, it’s important that the metadata text is relevant, clear, and has your keyword naturally included.
Google considers the metadata as a great factor in ranking and there are 2 important aspects you need to focus on to rank highly, which are:
- Title tag
- Meta description
i). Title tag: The title tag is the blue clickable link that is seen on search engine results pages, like the headline for your website. Your title tag needs to be enticing to the reader so that people want to click on it.
It should also have the keyword in it for it to rank highly and be descriptive of the content of a page.
ii). Meta description: This is the text that appears below the clickable title tag in the SERPs. It’s supposed to summarize the content inside the page.
Your meta description may or may not be keyword-optimized but you should never forget to fill this out. Pages with appropriate meta descriptions rank higher than those that do not and having relevant keywords in your description helps with your ranking too.
A good meta description explains why the link is worth clicking on to find the information that the web searcher is seeking.
A meta description should be short (about 160 characters) otherwise, it’s likely to get truncated in the search results and confuse the reader.
Not many website owners take Image Alt tags seriously, but they should. Alt tags are useful because they help Google understand and interpret images because otherwise it’s hard for Google crawlers to decipher it. The use of Alt texts, aka, small tags of relevant and descriptive text that act as labels for images, will help Google read your web pages correctly in order to rank you higher in search engine results (just don’t overdo it).
9. Social Media Factor
Google says that social media presence does not directly affect its ranking of search results. However, it’s evident that the pages that rank higher generally have a huge social media following and viral presence.
So, what is Google not telling us?
Since a huge part of SEO is authoritativeness- a by-product of building a community- social media can’t be left out. If inbound SEO company marketing strategies improve search visibility, then social media is essential too. [source]
Nowadays, even social media pages show up in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), so an effective social media campaign just helps to boost your brand presence.
How do you ensure that you have a good social media presence? Start off by creating pages and/or accounts with your brand name on major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Remember to include information like your business address, working hours, website, and contact details. Depending on what kind of business you’re in, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are common platforms for most businesses. Come up with engaging content using pictures, images, and text to inform your followers of what it is you do, and the best part about it is signing up is free.
You can also advertise your social media pages to get more followers and advertise on the social media platforms to lead people back to your website. Just note that building a social media following takes time. Avoid buying followers and/or likes as this usually creates more harm than good. Just be social, positive, engaging, and passionate about your business and the followers will come in trickling. Encourage your followers to like, comment, and share your posts.
This increases traffic to your social media page and eventually your website which is good for RankBrain. Social media reviews are also important for Google ranking as it shows you’ve tried to build trust.
Then enjoy direct benefits like increased clients and improved search engine rankings.
With these 7 Google Ranking Factors, you will surely have a website that climbs the charts in the organic listings, thus driving traffic, leads, and sales.
What are you waiting for?
Get started today and optimize your website so Google notices and pushes your exciting and wonderful content to the first page of the search results.
And if you want to develop a winning SEO strategy that will catapult your website to the top of Google in a shorter amount of time, utilize the experts at our digital marketing agency to get started. Contact us today!