If you have been doing your homework on SEO, you may have heard that Google utilizes more than 200 factors to decide which sites show up on the top of the search results pages.
While this is true, not all these factors are equal.
Ideally, search engine optimization is a very dynamic field that keeps evolving day by day and so, it’s imperative to keep up with the changes the search giant makes to their algorithm.
In this post, we are going to explain the most primary Google ranking factors that you absolutely should know about in order to optimize better for higher rankings.
1. Content is Still King
When it comes to publishing content, it’s quality and length are the most important features to consider. Content that will rank you high needs to be in-depth, covering a huge spectrum of your niche.
It must ideally provide real value to the users and ideally incorporate engaging or interesting visual content in order to complement what you’ve written.
Bear in mind that quality beats quantity and so, it’s important to focus on quality and not the word count.
As for the length, there’s no clear rule of thumb as to the right word count. That is because it varies depending on the subject. However, according to analysis, longer and more comprehensive posts tend to get higher rankings on Google.
Backlinks have been and will continue to be one of the primary ranking factors on Google. The more high quality links you have from authoritative sites, the higher your chances of ranking high on the search engine.
It’s imperative to pay attention to your backlink profile, particularly with the recent Google Penguin update which filtered and cleaned websites with low-quality backlinks.
The search engine’s Freshness Algorithm has been a real game-changer for the past decade and has had a huge impact during that period. If you are a prominent publisher with a lot of old content, that doesn’t rank, updating it could have a significant impact.
The search engine, Google, is usually biased to new content as with many search results, it ensures that some of them are up to date results.
The freshness algorithm is updated much faster than other chief algorithms. By updating old content on your site, you are bound to see a substantial change as it will rank much faster.
4. Website Security
One of the better-known search engine ranking factors is website security. A site that’s SSL secured and serves links as HTTPS tends to be favored over any other non-secure website. And by favoring in this case, we mean that when all other things are equal, a site that’s HTTPS enabled will rank higher than one which isn’t.
If your site isn’t HTTPS yet, this is one of the primary tasks to handle.
5. Optimizing For Technical SEO
This is another very important ranking factor. If the search engine can’t access your site properly, you should not expect much when it comes to rankings. The manner in which Google works can be grouped into 3 primary stages:
- Crawling & Indexing
- In the discovery stage, the search engine finds all publicly available web pages.
- On the crawling stage, they extract the required information from the site and then place it into their index of websites.
- From there the ranking algorithm determines where exactly the site should be placed in the search results.
It is your responsibility to make sure that the search engine crawlers can find your site easily and that you assist them in completing this task as quickly as possible. This is best referred to as Technical SEO.
You can achieve this by:
- Optimizing robots.txt, which is a file that gives the bots instructions on the web pages they can crawl.
- Finding and fixing crawl errors.
- Optimizing the XML sitemap, which is a list of all web pages the search engine should be aware of.
6. Mobile Friendliness
This is another factor that’s well known to affect ranking on Google in this smartphone driven age. Mobile searches nowadays make up more than 60% of the total searches made on the search engine every month.
If your website is not optimized for mobile, it will not show up on the top search results and this instantly reduces your chances of getting any mobile traffic.
For over a decade, speed has been a well-known factor when it comes to ranking on Google. Having a fast loading site is good for users and nobody likes a loading or laggy experience. In fact, if your website loads for more than 5 seconds, most of your visitors will just go to another website.
To ensure that your site loading speeds are optimal:
- Utilize a caching plugin
- Optimize and compress your images
- Upgrade your site’s software to the latest version
- If you’re on WordPress, use the latest PHP version.
This list is not comprehensive, but it discusses the fundamental factors of ranking high on Google