If you have a business, product, or website, you’ll have a hard time getting discovered if you don’t know how to optimize your site for search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is constantly changing and evolving as the way we search for things with new technology makes search results more relevant than ever. While having a good product or service is vital, Google ranking factors are one of the most important ways to get found on the web. Let’s explore what a Google ranking factor is, and how to use it in order to get found online.
What is a Google Ranking Factor?
Search engine providers like Google and Bing are forever tweaking their search algorithms to improve their search results, giving users only the best and most relevant pages that successfully answer a question or search query, such as “Best restaurants near me”. How does Google determine the best answer to a search query? There are several important ranking factors:
Google Ranking Factor: SERPs
Page authority is a metric originally created by SEOMoz to help measure the search engine result pages (SERP) of a particular webpage. If your website is a government page, an authority source, or one of the most popular pages of its kind (like Amazon, Netflix, or Reuters, you’re likely to have a very high page authority. This means lots of sites with lower page authorities will probably link to you as a reference.
Google Ranking Factor: Webpage Security
Google has a reputation to maintain, and that means it prides itself on not sending users to dangerous sites with potentially malicious code or viruses. Making sure your site has a current security certificate, or an SSL Certificate, will help protect your user’s data. A current SSL certificate will also signal to Google that your site isn’t rife with malware. Unsurprisingly, keeping up a safe page is incredibly important to bolstering your search results. Some web hosts charge around $70 annually for a security certificate, but many hosts offer free Wildcard SSL certificates with their hosting plan.
Google Ranking Factor: Quality Content
We have a saying in the world of marketing:”Content is king”, and it is. If you had the choice to read a few sparse sentences about a book or a product you’re looking to buy, or really rich reviews, engaging descriptions, or a beautifully-cultivated blog, which would you choose? Most people want interesting, useful content. If you’re just putting out fluff on your webpage or scalping content from existing sites, does your page have any real value? Not really. No one WANTS to read garbage, so don’t waste your time publishing it.
When you’re curating quality content, ask yourself a few questions:
1) Is this useful?
2) Is this important?
3) Is this entertaining?
4) Is this well-researched?
5) Is this attractively formatted?
If your content isn’t meeting any of these needs, scrap it. You’ll be doing yourself (and your audience) a favor. Your content should be serving a purpose beyond taking up room on the page. When possible, utilize useful images, graphics, or screen captures to help educate your audience.
Google Ranking Factor: Webpage Speed
All of these things contribute to poor website speed performance. Luckily, there are plenty of available hosting plans and tools to help fix your site speed.
Google Ranking Factor: UX Experience
UX, or User Experience, is key in ranking well. Google only wants to send their referrals to pages where their users will have a good experience. If your website is poorly designed, difficult to navigate or full of spammy advertisements or links, you can forget winding up on the first page of Google’s search engine rankings. A well-designed site is attractive, easy to navigate, and invites attention and engagement.
Make sure your site menu is easy to use and links to all of the major parts of your site. Another important ranking factor means ensuring your site has an XML sitemap so Google’s bots can crawl and index your site for search. When possible, utilize breadcrumbs in your site navigation so that users can find their way back to previous sections of your site with ease.
Google Ranking Factor: Mobile Friendly Pages
As the internet has progressed, mobile devices have surpassed PC usage in popularity. This means if your website isn’t optimized for mobile users, you may be driving traffic away from your site. Don’t lose traffic because of a bad mobile user UX. Make sure your website is reflexive on mobile devices and tablets. Mobile users will be more inclined to visit and stay on your site if it’s design is clean and easy to navigate on a touch screen device.
Google Ranking Factor: Backlinks
First of all, what is a backlink? A backlink is a link from another domain linking to your website, or a certain page on your website. A backlink can appear as a hyperlink, as alt text, or even as a linked image. When your site is linked without a nofollow tag, that domain sends your domain power and relevance on the web. SEOs sometimes refer to this as “link juice” as a internet colloquialism. A nofollow html tag on a hyperlink will weaken any clout sent by a backlink.
In the early days of SEO, backlinks played a much bigger role in SEO best practices. However, their usage was abused by poor quality link building campaigns. Webpages were flooded with paid spam links with no relevance to the website or page information. “Click here to play poker” or “payday loans now”… you know the type. Google cracked down on paid links, hard. They started penalizing domains with paid links that did not announce paid or affiliate links, and they started weighing the links for relevance. For instance, if you have a gardening site, a link for poker might look awfully suspicious or out of place. A link to a local garden supply store, however, would be relevant and potentially helpful for users.
Netting quality backlinks requires your website providing specific and useful help to your readers. If your content is designed to answer specific questions, building quality backlinks will be much easier.