Are you aiming to get your website on top of the results of search engines like Google? Then you must understand the factors used by Google in its search engine results page (SERP) rankings to create a strategy to bolster your search engine optimisation (SEO) ranking.
Did you know that almost all Internet users use only the first-page results in their searches? Based on a Moz study, 71-92% of first-page results on Google capture search traffic clicks. You need to get your website on the first page to get the chance to be visited by your prospective clients.
This complete SEO guide will discuss the various factors used by Google to rank content from organic searches.
Weren’t There, Like, 200 Of Them?
In 2009, Google hinted its algorithm uses more than 200 factors to determine its SERP rankings. Since then, the company introduced several innovations like mobile-first indexing, Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), and RankBrain. It also utilises latent semantic indexing (SLI) to find the most relevant content in its searches.
Google employs a smart search algorithm in its SERP rankings to optimise the users’ experience and prevent black hat SEO strategies. Learning about the search engine’s algorithmic factors can enable you to improve your content’s researchability. You need to devise an excellent SEO strategy to get the best results.
Website SEO Ranking Factors to Know
Getting your content atop Google’s search rankings can significantly increase your sales and business reputation. You need to consider all the factors used by the search engine to improve your rankings.
This complete SEO guide discusses these factors to help you in creating an effective content strategy.
1. Domain Factors
According to Google’s Matt Cutts, the domain age is an irrelevant factor in the search rankings. However, there are several strategies you can use to increase the relevance of your domain. Among them are the inclusion of essential keywords in your domain name and subdomains, and having an excellent reputation, i.e., you’re not listed as a spammer by Google.
Having a high-quality exact match domain (EMD) can also boost your SEO rankings. EMDs are domains exactly matching the keyword a business wants to be its anchor text. Using a Country Code Top Level Domain (TLD) extension in your address can also help boost your website’s ranking in your stated country.
However, having a country TLD can restrict your site’s global ranking.
2. Content factors
Many essential elements are affecting the relevance of your content in Google search ranking. Among them is the strategic use of keywords in your title tag, H tags, and description tag. To optimise your title tags, make sure they are specific to the topics of your pages, and avoid duplication of meta titles across your website.
You should optimise your images by adding a file name, alt text, description, and title. According to John Mueller, the use of alt text in photos is essential to make them a factor in boosting the ranking of your content. Google also claimed that using optimised images can result in increased traffic to your website.
Other content factors in SEO ranking include term-frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF), content length, recency, comprehensiveness, quality, and the use of LSI keywords.
3. Page-Level Factors
These factors are similar to the content components. In optimising your content, you should use the right density of keywords and improve the depth of your coverage on your topic. Based on a study, there is a strong relationship between Google rankings and the depth of topic coverage.
To improve the ranking of your pages, make sure they can be accessed quickly through Chrome and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Search engines like Bing and Google factor in page speed in their SEO rankings. Your page’s HTML code can also affect your website’s page loading speed.
Furthermore, refrain from posting identical content on your site to avoid turning off your visitors and improve your SEO visibility. Make sure to update your pages regularly as Google uses the freshness factor in its SEO rankings. Also, ensure your website is mobile-friendly to gain leverage in Google’s “Mobile-first Index.”
4. Site-Level Factors
The overall quality of your website plays an essential role in SEO ranking. According to Google, sites with no added value content or thin affiliate sites will be left out in its search rankings. To make your website relevant, make sure to post new and relevant content.
Other strategies to bolster your website include improving your Contact Us page, domain trust, and site architecture. You should also update your site regularly, avoid downtimes due to site maintenance or server issues, and renew your SSL certificate.
Also, optimise your Terms of Service and Privacy Pages to enhance your site’s E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Other site-level factors include duplicate content on-site, breadcrumb navigation, YouTube postings, user reviews/comments, and site reputation. Installing Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools can also influence your site’s ranking positively.
5. Backlink Factors
A study showed the number of domains referencing your content is among the essential factors in SEO ranking. Also playing crucial roles are your internal and external links, number of linking root domains, and the linking domain age.
Other elements affecting your ranking include the number of links from separate C-class IP addresses, keyword-rich anchor text, and links from .edu or .gov domains. Also of importance are the authority of the linking page and linking domain, links from competitors and reputable websites, and links from guest posts.
However, avoid links from harmful websites and too many 301 redirects as they may affect your rankings negatively. Also, make sure your links come from different sources to show Google they are natural links.
Other factors with positive effects on your pages include user-generated content (UGC) links, real-site links, and the word count of linking content.
6. User Interaction
Google utilises its RankBrain algorithm to measure the interactions by the users and the search results and rank them accordingly. The company claimed that pages with a higher click-through rate (CTR) might get more top SERP rankings for the particular search keyword. A SERP Co study, meanwhile, showed there is a link between Google rankings and bounce rate.
Other decisive factors in SEO ranking include direct and repeat traffic, Chrome bookmarks, and the number of comments. Google also gives importance to how long visitors stay on your page during their visits. The company called this dwell time activity as ‘long clicks vs. short clicks.’ According to Google, long clicks matter in SEO ranking.
However, some factors affect your rankings negatively, particularly pogo sticking and blocked sites. To ensure your website will not be blocked by users, improve the quality and relevance of your content.
7. Special Google Algorithm Rules
Google uses special rules to determine its search rankings. Among the factors that it gives more consideration are the freshness of the content, the user browsing and search history, and featured snippets. The search engine also gives preference to websites with a country-specific domain name extension and a local server IP.
Also, Google employs a higher content quality standard for ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) keywords. To rank your pages under this factor, post high quality and authoritative content. Other special algorithm rules include payday loans update, local and transactional searches, top stories box, and big brand preference. They also include Easter egg, shopping, and image results.
Meanwhile, Google gives low preferences to pages or content with valid Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints.
8. Brand Signals
Your brand’s reputation has an impact on Google’s search results. Among the things favoured by the search engine are brand name anchor texts, brand + keyword searches, and websites with Facebook pages and likes. Also, sites with profiles on social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn and with lots of followers are given preference.
Furthermore, Google prefers brands with unlinked mentions and featured on Top Stories, as well as those with physical locations and legit social media accounts.
9. On-Site Webspam Factors
Websites with a bad reputation on Google get low preference in search queries. The search engine avoids sites with low-quality content, have links to poor websites, and those with tricky redirects. If you’re caught with redirects, you may be de-indexed by the search engine.
Other on-site web spam factors include meta tag keyword stuffing, excess PageRank sculpting, auto-generated content, hiding affiliate links, and excessive ads. Also included are interstitial pop-ups, over-optimisation, doorway pages, and gibberish content.
10. Off-Site Webspam Factors
There are several off-site webspam factors that are a big no-no to Google. Among them are hacked sites, the sudden and abnormal surge of links, Penguin penalty hits, and a high percentage of low-quality links. Other factors include links from unrelated websites, widget links, weak directory links, ‘poison’ anchor text, and links from press releases and articles.
Other activities with adverse effects include the selling of links and the use of temporary link schemes. However, if Google penalises you, you can file a reconsideration request to remove your penalty.
In summary, the essential factors in Google rankings are on-page SEO, backlinks, quality of content, mobile-friendliness, domain authority, dwell time, referring domains, and organic CTR. By designing your SEO strategy based on these factors, you will experience an increase in your rankings in no time.