This blog covers the top Google ranking factors that will drastically improve your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking:
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What is Google Ranking Factor?
Google ranking factor helps evaluate web pages and determines what order of results should be returned for a search query. To implement a good SEO strategy, you need to understand the Google ranking factors. They help provide a better experience to users and drive more leads and conversions.
Types of Ranking Factors on Google
There are three main types of Google ranking factors:
Technical Google Ranking Factors:
These are things that affect your website’s overall performance. They can be measured on the website.
On-Page Google Ranking Factors:
These are related to the content and the keywords on your website.
Off-page Google Ranking Factors:
These are measured by Google from other sources instead of your website.
The next section of the blog describes these factors one by one.
Technical Google Ranking Factors
There are technical aspects of your website that need to be working well for the SEO processes to happen. These aspects are the back end of a website, which enables the website to function properly.
The technical part of SEO can seem a little intimidating to some people but using a few SEO tools can help you a lot. But you need to know website structure and content management systems to make the best use of the technical Google ranking factors.
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1. 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 great deal.
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, the optimization of user experience can immensely affect any kind of website. Google will only recommend those sites to users that it finds user-friendly.
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Here is what you can focus on to ensure a user-friendly experience:
- Having a website designed for user needs
- Maintaining a well-organized website
- Using easy-to-read, interesting, relevant, and useful content
- Deploying a responsive design
- Avoiding unnecessary 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 with any page or content is called bounce rate.
- Click-through Rate: The ratio of users who clicked on or entered your website. CTR is an important metric to evaluate your SEO efforts.
- Dwell Time: The time users spend navigating your website
The above-mentioned 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. It will do its best to dwell less on trying to chase these metrics and design your website around what your users will appreciate the best.
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2. 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. Handheld devices are popular and more likely to be used for location-based searches such as 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 and other handheld devices, you will lose 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.
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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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3. Page Speed
It is not about how faster your website is by a few milliseconds than your competitors’ websites; it is rather about making sure that your website is fast enough to not 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 three 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 of these factors 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.
4. Topical Authority
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 the search engine results page (SERP). A and B have generic content, while C has content that is specifically about the topic that the user has 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. It stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. A website should contain expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Even if the E-A-T is not a direct Google ranking factor, if you can successfully incorporate and demonstrate it in your Content Marketing strategy, you will positively have better placement on Google rankings.
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5. Domain Age
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 the long haul. Your domain age will be a significant Google ranking factor to decide the trustworthiness of your website.
6. HTTPS Certification (SSL)
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 lightweight Google ranking factor.
Only websites with secure sockets layer (SSL) certification are recommended by browsers since such websites are more secure. Two-thirds of the websites were flagged as unsafe by Google in 2017 because they lacked SSL certification. To make your site more secure, you must install an SSL certificate.
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On-page Google Ranking Factors
On-page Google ranking factors are page specific. The following are some on-page Google ranking factors:
1. Content Optimization
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 in the Google rankings. A website with unique content that is highly informative can attract your target audience, and it may even stand a chance of being shared or recommended.
While we are on the subject of content optimization, let us quickly explore the five 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 will 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 a travel box or relevant maps 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 product pages. It is essential to keep the content type in mind in order to improve your SEO ranking.
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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 you have specified.
Your content should cover everything that a user wants to know. That does not mean that your content should be lengthy. Just because your content is lengthy does not 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 in the content that made it so relevant and useful for the websites to be higher in Google rankings.
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2. Video Content
Google has been seen prioritizing websites that include video content more and more. If you want to try something new to land on the crucial first page of Google search results, videos can be a great booster. Here is how videos can become a Google ranking factor:
- Click-through Rate: A sizable increase in organic traffic from SERP.
- Bounce Rate: Websites with video content have been seen to have lower bounce rate 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 can become a deterrent very quickly. 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 written and pictorial 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(s) and create your ranking:
- Title tag
- Keywords in the description
- Length of the video
- Audience retention
- Number of subscribers after watching
- Comments, likes, and dislikes
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3. Search Intent
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.
Off-page Google Ranking Factors
Off-page Google ranking factors are related to units outside of your website. These can be influencers, social media, or other websites. There is one extremely important off-page Google ranking factor and that is:
1. Credible Backlinks
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.
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Let us 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 is being searched by the users.
- With quality content, you are sure to get credible backlinks.
- It is advisable to integrate informative videos in 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 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 but instead have 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 substantiated by real data.
Due to high competition and an increase in the number of Job opportunities. Nowadays, there is significant growth in the number of professionals choosing SEO Careers. Learning about these ranking factors will help you gain in-depth insights into SEO.
More than relying on a 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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