As per a study, the websites on the first page of search engines receive almost 95% of the web traffic while leaving only 5% for the remaining search pages.
With Google introducing regular algorithm changes, most of the marketers and business owners find it hard to identify what is the most important factor in SEO.
Backlink expert, Brian Dean identified 200 Ranking Factors that help websites rank on Google.
Apparently, it’s not possible to optimise for all of them.
But that doesn’t mean your website won’t rank at all.
While some ranking factors are certainly important, some might not make much of a difference.
From generating high-quality traffic, driving more sales to expand brand awareness – your rankings can get you all.
Though Google’s algorithm keeps updating, there are some SEO factors that remain important, constantly!
We have listed Google’s top 10 SEO factors that matter the most! Let’s take a look at them:
Security is Google’s top-most priority. HTTPS is the secured version of HyperText Transfer Protocol. Moreover, effective from July 24, 2018, Google has started marking all the HTTP websites as “Not Secure”.
This has been done to make websites more secure and ensure the privacy of website visitors.
Google Chrome has already started shaming websites which don’t have HTTPS set up.
All major websites have already switched to HTTPS version, including some of your major competitors.
So, if you want your website to rank- make sure it is secured with an SSL certificate.
#2 Site Speed
According to KissMetrics, 47% of shoppers expect a mobile web page to load within two seconds, 40% abandon the site if their wait exceeds three seconds, and each additional second of loading time results in a 7% reduction in conversions.
Slow loading websites is a sin in this digital age. Since everyone is surrounded by lightning fast websites, search engines also don’t support slow websites.
It is even more fierce if users are browsing on mobile phones. Radware did a research and found how users react to slow websites:
That’s the reason, main search engines like Google and Bing use website load time as a major ranking factor.
As per Google – “The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, according to a new analysis. Yet 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s a big problem.”
If your website is slow, check your page’s HTML code and fix it asap!
#3 Title Tags
Title tags are one of the strongest ranking factors for Google.
It is the description for your page.
Usually, search engines use it to exhibit the main title of the search results. Incorporating the keywords in the title tag can help boost your rankings.
As per Moz, title tags that start with keywords tend to perform and rank better than title tags with keywords in end of the tag.
See this image below from Backlinko which shows how keywords in the title can help your rankings:
Similarly, if you have keywords in your meta description that can help your rankings.
Smartphones and tablets dominate our lives. So much so that, nearly 60% of all online searches are now from a mobile device, with some sectors reaching 72%. (Source)
Earlier this year, Google officially announced mobile-first indexing. This indicates that from now onwards Google will primarily crawl the mobile version of websites as opposed to just crawling the desktop versions.
As per Google, “To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results”
With almost 85% of the websites meeting the Google criteria for being mobile-friendly, now is the time to make your website be mobile-friendly.
Backlinks are the currency for the digital world.
It takes an absolutely great content to earn backlinks.
Relevant backlinks coming from good domains are considered as a sign of credibility by Google.
The number of quality inbound links is one of the essential factors in determining your search engine’s rank.
Google explains “The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.”
Make sure to have a good mix of all kinds of links:
- Internal links
- Outbound links – both nofollow and dofollow
- Links from social media
- Links from renowned industry directories
You won’t be able to move the needle without content. And this can’t be just content, it has to be good-quality and optimised content. All your digital marketing efforts need content- be it SEO, backlinks, or even on-page optimisation.
Content is the fodder for your website rankings
Google endorse sites which can give value to readers and provide them with what they are looking for.
If your content matches the words and phrases people use when they’re looking for information – you have high chances of coming up in search results.
But, with so much content already available – it is nearly getting impossible to break through the noise. The key here is to stay relevant and be original.
Answer the questions which people are asking.
Long form content with the right user intent is a tried and tested format which cannot fail. Also, the new formats like videos, gifs, infographics, memes have a huge market.
However, be careful of the duplicate content. Google or other search engines don’t really like websites to have duplicate or thin content.
#7 Anchor Tags
Keyword-rich anchor text holds a strong position in Google ranking factors.
This is how an anchor text looks like:
While backlinks are expected to be semantically relevant to your page’s topic; it’s vital to consider here is that too similar anchor text can lead you to Penguin penalty.
To save yourself from the penalty, ensure that the anchor text of your backlinks is diverse and organic.
Make sure your anchor text is related to your niche and business. Moreover, it should be relevant to the subject. They shouldn’t be generic and not overly keyword heavy.
#8 Click Through Rate
CTR – Click-Through-Rate is the ratio of the number someone clicks on your link.
Google has implied that the SERP CTRs have a gigantic impact on the rankings. A study by the Search Metrics even found that CTR has the highest correlation with rankings.
For each of the listings, Google expects a CTR to be in a definite range.
While the CTR for someone ranking in the first position is around 50% for branded keywords, it drops to 33% for non-branded queries.
If the CTR goes above or below the defined range, Google can re-rank the result for that given listing in a very short time period.
#9 User Experience – RankBrain
Consider, RankBrain as the brain for Google. It is an AI developed specially to track how users interact with the search results.
It is an effort by Google to present more relevant and specific search results to users.
RankBrain tries to understand the intent of search and present results with the exact words that were searched for.
As per Google, “If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.”
The key here is content. You need a more holistic approach. Don’t get stuck with keyword stuffing. Instead, give value to your readers. Create content that helps and solve problems.
#10 Domain Age, URL and Authority
All three factors are important for your rankings. Though they are not the deal breaker but they can certainly push your results.
URL: A study by Moz shows that exact-match domains that are considered to be high-quality, valuable and relevant can see a boost in the rank due to it.
However, Google penalises exact-matching domains (domain with the targeted keyword in the URL).
Authority: Both page authority and domain authority matter. You can use the Moz Link Explorer to check the PA and DA for the site. Remember, higher the better.
Sites like Apple and Facebook have an unmatched DA.
Your site authority comes from a mix of rich, useful content, on-page and off-page SEO signals like social shares and backlinks.
#11 Social Signals
A study of 23 million shares by Cognitive SEO found a definitive link between search engine rankings and social shares. Sharing your company’s content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. can reflect a better rating and tell Google that the content of your website is popular.
However, social shares are not considered as a direct ranking factor by the Google. But yet, there is no denying that the web pages with the highest ranks in Google usually have massive social shares. Perhaps, that’s because the more content you share, the more it will be seen by the people and the more people will link to it.
It can be a bit overwhelming to consider which ranking factors should be given more importance. But, to be honest – focus on the main factors and work on the other factors simultaneously.
The competition is fierce and that’s why you need consistent efforts to rank one on Google or other search engines.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by these ranking factors and not sure how to implement them – you can reach out to eMarket Experts. They an industry-leader for digital marketing in Melbourne and they can help you rank and also stay on the top of the search game. Drop them a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.