There’s a huge number of Google ranking factors, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. I’ll cover some basic factors here. If you want help creating a specific strategy to improve your Google ranking and SEO, we can help.
Content is King
Google’s main job is to get you information that is most helpful to you. That’s why only restaurants close by you come up when you search for “lunch”. It wouldn’t be helpful if they showed you a great place in a neighboring state.
Google knows more about you than you probably feel comfortable with. That said, it does a good job of knowing what your search. It does an even better job of knowing why your searching for something. If your page or post is high quality and answers a specific question for a specific user, Google is more likely to deliver that page to a user.
Keyword Ranking Factors
Keywords are what Google uses to index, or store, your page. They don’t have to be short either. Increasingly, long-tail keywords can help increase ranking. For example, if you sell dog food, you might have a hard time competing with big companies. But if you sell local dog food for corgies, you can probably rank pretty high for that keyword. You also probably have an amazing job.
Keyword in the Title Tag. The title meta tag is one of the strongest relevancy signals for a search engine. The tag itself is meant to give the accurate description of the page’s content. Search engines use this to display the main title of a search result.
Ideally, the keyword should be placed at the start of the title tag. Pages optimized this way will rank better than those with keyword closer to the title’s tag end.
Keyword in Meta Description Tag. The importance of the meta description tag today is often discussed in SEO circles. It is nonetheless still a relevancy signal. It is also crucial for gaining user clicks from search results pages. Including the keyword in it makes it more relevant to a search engine and a searcher.
Keyword in H1 Tag.H1 tag is a pretty big relevance factor, serving as a description of the page’s content. In spite of an ongoing discussion about its importance, it is still a good practice to include your keyword in a unique H1 tag on a page.
Using Keywords in the Body Copy. Up until recently, stuffing your page with keywords was a surefire way to increase its rankings for a particular keyword. That’s not the case anymore. Using the keyword in the copy still sends a relevancy signal of what the content is about. How you place it, however, has changed drastically.
Content Ranking Factors
Google prefers fresh pages, but this doesn’t mean that old pages will be disregarded, if you keep a page regularly updated with new content, Google could favor that page over a ‘fresh’ page.
Sitemaps. HUGE disclaimer: this is not for the user. Sitemaps are for Google and search engines ONLY. Needing a sitemap is 15 year old thinking.
Your site should be well designed and easy to navigate without the use of a map. An easy to use site is a pretty big Google ranking factor for your site.
URL Length. Google’s Matt Cutts recommended an ideal maximum URL length would be 5 words. He said that Google starts to discount the words after that. Obviously you want to get across what your page is about, but it doesn’t need to be lengthy.
That’s just good writing for the web: short and sweet. Have a URL that clearly tells the user what the article is about by using the main keywords.
Content Length. Searchers want to be educated and won’t satisfy with basic information. Google, therefore, looks for authoritative and informative content to rank first. It would make sense that the longer your content is, the greater the chance that you can cover more aspects of your topic.
Don’t be shy of writing long but highly useful content. Pro tip: always try to add value.
Canonical Tag. Sometimes you’ll have duplicate content on your page. Say the pages are all identical, except one page is found at /products/dog-food/ and another is /dog-food/. If you simply publish these pages, Google might think you’re keyword spamming and penalize you. How do you tell them to use one page over the other?
The way you tell Google these are the same page (and not to hurt your ranking) is to use the canonical tag on your site. This tag does one simple thing; it tells Google that one URL is the master page (canon). This clearly states that in spite of two pages having the same content, they are in fact one, and to index the canonical page.
User Experience Ranking Factors
We all hate it when a page is plastered with ads. Site ranking is penalized when users are bombarded with advertisements. Google reward site ranking when the main content of the page is immediately visible. This makes it easier for us – (the users) and Google to see what is on the page.
Mobile Optimised Site. Over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device. Plus, when it comes to local searches, more than half are performed on mobile devices! If two businesses are all equal, but one has a mobile-friendly site, they will always rank higher than their competitor.
Site Security or HTTPS. Google confirmed that it uses site security, HTTPS, as a ranking factor. If you look at the URL above, you’ll see https://newvistadigital.com.Having a site that uses HTTPS encrypts the user’s data, which makes it a better experience for the user, and it can also help your site gain rankings.
Having a site that uses HTTPS encrypts the user’s data, which makes it a better experience for the user, and it can also help your site gain rankings. Not only that, but it helps build trust in your brand.
Site Speed. 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load! Google rewards sites with higher rankings if your site is fast.
Image Optimization. Alt text is not a nice-to-have. Google reads and indexes this content. Other information it can send the search engine relevancy signals are their alt text, caption, and description.
Do you know which images you should use on your site? A site loaded with .PNG’s can icrease load time 200%, affecting your ranking. Not all images should be .JPG or .GIF or .SVG. Have a good content and image strategy in place to keep your site fast.
Bounce Rate. This is a rate at which people leave your site. If Google is seeing everyone bounce as soon as they hit your site, they will think you don’t have anything good to say and will rank you lower. To get a lower bounce rate, make sure the content on your site is relevant and answers the user’s questions.