In today’s blog, we will cover the top 10 factors in the Google Ranking Factors list that will drastically improve your SEO ranking. Let’s take a look:
Optimized User Experience
Never forget the first priority of every business: Customers! You want to make it easy for people to navigate through your website. The more user-friendly your website is, the more visitors will spend time on your website and possibly make a purchase if they find a perfect deal.
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User experience is one of the main Google ranking factors. Google’s SEO Starter Guide clearly mentions:
‘You should build a website to benefit your users, and any optimization should be geared toward making the user experience better.’
So, you have heard from Google itself how optimization of user experience can immensely affect any kind of website. Google will only recommend those sites to users that it finds user-friendly.
Here is what you can focus on to ensure a user-friendly experience:
- Having a website designed for users’ needs
- Maintaining a well-organized website
- Using easy-to-read, interesting, relevant, and useful content
- Deploying a responsive design
- Avoiding annoying ads
Additionally, there are three SEO parameters you should be aware of:
- Bounce rate: The percentage of users who exit your website without quality interaction on any page or content
- Click-through rate: The ratio of users who clicked on or entered your website
- Dwell time: The time users spend navigating your website
The above three factors play a crucial role in determining how Google ranks your page. These can be monitored on Google Analytics. However, the Google algorithm for SEO seems quite debatable and, at most times, arbitrary. Nobody knows how Google actually measures user-friendliness. You would do best to dwell less on trying to chase these metrics and design your website around what your users would appreciate the best.
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Optimized Mobile Experience
As the usage of mobiles has become integral and widespread, improving a website’s mobile experience will definitely tick the box as a Google ranking factor. Hand-held devices are popular and more likely to be used for location-based searches, e.g., searches for local businesses or services. According to Statista, 52.2 percent of web traffic in 2018 came from mobile devices. While your website may otherwise be very user-optimized, unless it is designed to work well on mobile phones or other hand-held devices, you will be losing out on an important chunk of your web traffic.
While designing your mobile website, you need to think about how many times you were on one and found it difficult to click on buttons or elements that were too close together, how the content size was wider than your screen size, or how the fonts were too small to read. Considering all these little things can hugely improve the user experience on your mobile website.
You can ensure an optimized mobile experience if you pay heed to the following while designing your website:
- Easy-to-read fonts
- Easy navigation and easily accessible menus
- A responsive design that adjusts the size of your website according to the screen or device
- No hiding of essential content by graphics or ads
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It is not about how fast your website is by a few milliseconds than your competitors’ but about making sure that it is fast enough not to impact your users negatively. It is a problem only if you deliver an awfully slow experience to your users. According to Google, websites should display content in under 3 seconds, which is, unfortunately, hardly met by most websites.
The smaller your files, the faster your page will be able to load. So, you must practice file compressions. Heavy-resolution images and videos can slow down your page speed drastically. It is smarter to sacrifice file quality to crank up the speed and ensure that your pages load fast enough for your users.
Of course, enhancing page speed requires more than just compressed files or images. There are numerous other factors, such as web hosting, server response, getting rid of unnecessary code, etc. While some may have a minor impact on the loading speed, every step toward improving your page speed can make a difference in the user experience and make it a Google ranking factor for you.
On-page SEO ranking factors give a lot of emphasis on the quality and relevance of the content. Google analyzes the keyword results based on usage, relevance, and quality to gauge whether a website is relevant to be placed higher on Google ranking. A website with unique content that is highly informative can attract your target audience, and it might even stand a chance of being shared or recommended.
While we are on the subject of content optimization, let’s quickly explore the 5 Cs of content:
It is the dominant style of content that shows up on Google searches, such as web pages, videos, ads, carousel, graph panels, etc. For example, if you search for an unboxing video, the dominant style of content would be videos. If you search for a way to go from one place to another or are looking for a particular area, you will be provided with relevant maps or a travel box for the same. It is best to create content based on what Google is most likely to show on its search results.
The content type can be blog posts, product pages, landing pages, or category pages. ‘Buy jeans’ will give you results with e-commerce pages. ‘Buy Wrangler jeans’ will show you the product pages. It is essential to keep the content type in mind to improve your SEO ranking.
This typically refers to the content that contains information such as tutorials, listicles, news articles, reviews, opinion pieces, etc. If you search for ‘Artificial Intelligence in 2050,’ you will get results that are opinion pieces or are in the form of listicles.
This is the primary selling point of content. For example, if your content is aimed mainly at beginners or your business caters to certain areas, then you have to specify it because certain search results will get more preference based on what the user has specified.
Your content should cover everything that a user wants to know. That doesn’t mean that your content should be lengthy. Just because your content is lengthy doesn’t mean that it is quality content. If you look through the top-ranked websites from search results, you will almost always see a pattern of what is included within the content that made it so relevant and useful for them to be higher on Google rankings.
The purpose of a user’s online search is called the search intent. We have discussed above how different kinds of content may show up dominantly on Google search results based on a user’s query. The ranking will be set differently as per the query.
If your content is aligned with a user’s search intent, your web page will have a better chance of climbing higher on Google rankings. Analyzing the top-ranking content for a query can best help you understand the standards and optimize your content accordingly.
These are links from other credible websites that are used to direct traffic to your website. If your content is share-worthy, you will most definitely receive backlinks, and search engines will be able to confirm your content’s credibility and reach.
Quality backlinks are still one of the most important Google ranking factors. However, not all backlinks have value. You have to work out a way to generate backlinks that have more credibility and support the quality of the content.
The above image is based on a report on the backlink growth study by Ahrefs that demonstrates how new unique backlinks within a period of three months correlate with ranking positions on SERPs.
Google has seen prioritizing websites that include video content more and more. If you want to do anything more to land on Google’s crucial first page of search results, videos could be your booster. Here is how videos can become a Google ranking factor:
- Click-through rate: A sizeable increase in organic traffic from search engine results page (SERP)
- Bounce rate: Websites with video content have seen to have lower bounce rates with visitors spending twice the amount of time than otherwise.
- Backlinks: Including videos on your website improves its quality, leading to higher chances of receiving backlinks.
While quality videos will boost your chances on SERPs, low quality of content could fast become detrimental. Users’ dwell time will reduce, which will in turn affect your ranking. So, you have to be very careful about the quality of the content you put up. You can ensure this by:
- Placing videos on your website where it makes sense
- Giving your videos some context with the written and visual content
- Making your videos informative
- Being consistent
- Entering the right information for your videos on the backend to give your SEO ranking a boost
YouTube uses the following details to gauge the quality of your video and create your ranking:
- The title tag
- Keywords in the description
- Length of the video
- Audience retention
- Number of subscribers after watching
- Comments, likes, and dislikes
Google, of course, wants to rank pages from credible sources. While topical authority sounds like gaining credibility from backlinks, it involves a lot more than that.
For example, you are asked to look at three different web pages, A, B, and C, that have content about different kinds of faucets, and A and B have more backlinks, more referring domains, and higher URL rating. Ideally, A and B should rank conclusively higher than C. However, C contains information that is specifically about the kinds of faucets while A and B expand their content to include everything about plumbing. In this scenario, if a user were to search for different kinds of faucets, C would have a higher ranking on SERP. A and B have generic content, while C has the content that is specifically about the topic that the user searched for. This means that C has a topical authority over A and B.
In cases where you want to include related content on your web page without straying from the search intent, you can use interlinking to help navigate to a different topic. This will not only help you maintain topical authority but also let you branch out to related topics without cluttering your web page content.
Google’s search quality rater guidelines have something called the E‑A-T. This stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and they are exactly what it is. A website should contain expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Even if E-A-T is not a direct Google ranking factor, if you can successfully incorporate and demonstrate it in your content strategy, you will positively have better placement on Google rankings.
It is highly recommended that you stick to one domain name and optimize it rather than changing domains. This is because the majority of the websites in Google search rankings have been reported to have domains that are three years or older. This clearly suggests that SEO rankings are for those who are in the game for a long haul. Your domain age will be a significant Google ranking factor to decide your authority and trustworthiness.
Every credible website should have certain security essentials to prevent user-data violations. This is where HTTPS comes in. HTTPS encrypts data between a browser and a server to improve security for visitors, and it is a light-weight Google ranking factor.
Only websites with SSL (Security Sockets Layer) certification are recommended by browsers since they are more secure. Two-third of the websites were flagged as unsafe by Google in 2017 because they lacked SSL certification. To make your site more secure, you must, therefore, install an SSL certificate.
Let’s take a quick look at what Google ranking factors you should pay attention to.
- You have to make your site as user-friendly as possible by removing distracting ads, appropriately organizing your content, increasing readability, and making the content informative. Keep in mind the best possible results for the target keyword.
- Every page of your website should be a good experience on any mobile phone.
- You must not keep the user waiting with slow loading and should optimize your pages in any way you can to improve your page speed.
- Content is everything. Quality will get you retainable traffic to your website. Research and find clues from top-ranking websites on how to design and strategize your content.
- You have to consider aligning your content with what users are searching for.
- With quality content, you are sure to get credible backlinks.
- It is advisable to integrate informative videos into your website, where appropriate, to attract more visitors.
- It is a must to keep the content highly specific. Build your expertise in one area and branch out later, or practice interlinking. Avoid producing generic content.
- It is better to maintain your domain name for a longer time and focus more on the content and optimization.
- You must secure your website with HTTPS certification.
In this blog, we have not listed every Google ranking factor under the sun and, instead, focused on the 10 ranking factors in SEO that we think deserve your attention the most. Gauging your SEO ranking may otherwise involve a lot of unknown elements. However, you can optimize and strategize your website around the Google ranking factors that are less anecdotal and more demonstrated by real data.
More than relying on trending Google ranking factors list or tips and tricks, it is all about how you can positively transform the user experience and, at the same time, prove to Google that you have the best answer to a user’s query.
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