Google uses about 200 various factors to rank a site.
It doesn’t matter how accurate this number is. The sheer magnitude of it is still intimidating. Especially for someone only starting to rank their site.
But here is the catch. Not all those factors are equally important. Some are indeed must haves, but others might not make much of a difference in your market. Many you don’t even have much direct influence on.
If you just launched your site and are trying to find out what aspects of SEO you should focus on first, here’s a treat for you. A list of the Five most important Google ranking factors a beginner should know.
CREATING QUALITY CONTENT
We’re sure you’ve heard this one before, but content is still the king of the SEO world this year. User experience is Google’s big priority; creating quality content that is easy for the user to find and understand is key.
There’s a lot that goes in to creating quality content, but the basic idea is that Google will recognize and reward content that helps users find the information they were looking for. Think of it like a farm—would you rather have a hundred tomatoes that are semi-ripe and hard as a rock, or would it be better to have a dozen vine-ripened, cheery red tomatoes? When it comes to content on your website, the pages should be the juiciest tomatoes ever.
Quality content means not falling for the most common SEO mistakes, such as keyword stuffing, scraping content, or writing thin content that has little or no value to users. Google’s overall priority is user experience, so if your content doesn’t deliver on this, it won’t rank well.
Careful, purposeful keyword usage is big for SEO in 2018.
A recent Google algorithm update called the Google Maccabee Update was aimed to improve user experience. It did this by penalizing keyword permutations, which are multiple phrases or long tail keywords that basically mean the same thing. An example of this would be creating a page about “how to thaw frozen pipes” and stuffing it with keyword permutations like:
- Thaw frozen pipes with hairdryer
- How to use heat on frozen pipes
- How to thaw frozen pipes that burst
- Start thawing frozen pipes
- Thaw frozen pipes outdoors
Unless the content is incredibly in-depth, these keyword permutations disrupt the natural flow of the text and can create a bad user experience. The key to a high keyword ranking in 2018 is creating helpful content.
Backlinks remain an important Google ranking factor, but over the years, Google has learned to weed out the bad links from the good. More links will still result in a higher score, but only if they’re from a number of diverse and authoritative domains.
The key to a strong link building campaign is to create content people crave, and then to promote that content relentlessly. When other industry authorities read and link to your content, Google will read your backlink’s matching anchor text and consider your content more relevant.
When your content earns a lot of these high-quality backlinks, you hit three important ranking signals: number of backlinks, link authority, and link diversity.
Note that one of the main roles of social signals is to win you more high-quality backlinks. SearchMetrics found that ranking position and social signals strongly correlated across all social media channels — though Facebook is still the platform with the highest concentration of user interactions.
There are many different ways to approach link building, but what they all boil down to is content marketing. Step one: Create high-quality content. Step two: Promote.Use this software to:
- Monitor how many links your content has and the quality of those links.
- Reach out to high-quality partners for backlinks.
- Eliminate spammy and low-quality links; disavow them if you can’t get them removed.
Does Google have a specific length requirement for getting your content indexed? Nope, that’s part of the mystery. Thankfully, thorough our data and data from other reputable SEO sources, we’ve got proof that the highest-ranking pages on Google DO tend to have longer content. In fact, the average content length for a web page in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words.
That being said, it doesn’t mean you should make every piece of content into a book–you should take cues from your target audience by monitoring your bounce rates and tracking leads.
When we tested it, the most successful blog posts in terms of conversions and organic traffic were between 695 and 929 words.
The data-driven approach to optimize content is to find the balance between content length and conversions, which will continue to be an important search engine ranking factor in 2018.
From a very young age, we’ve been using pictures and other visuals to gain information about the world around us. While that approach works for humans, pictures are still tough for search engines to make sense of. The SEO solution to adding photos without missing out on ranking opportunities is to make sure you are optimizing photos on your website.
Few basic methods :
- Reducing the file size for faster loading times (another ranking factor!).
- Choosing a descriptive file name that includes keywords you’re trying to rank for.
- Including a caption can help consumers find what they’re looking for more easily.
- Adding an alt tag helps search engines understand what the image is about.
- Giving a title to your image provides additional information for a better user experience.
Other Technical Factors
There are many other technical factors which might play a big role in your website’s rank. These factors include:
Encryption: Backlinko still finds a strong correlation between HTTPS websites and first page Google rankings, and SearchMetrics confirms that 45% of the top websites all use HTTPS encryption (up from 12% in 2015). Google confirmed back in 2014 that websites with a strong HTTPS encryption will rank better than their HTTP counterparts, and websites that have not switched to HTTPS are now marked as unsafe in Google Chrome.
H1 and H2 Headings: There are more landing pages with an H1 and H2 in the source code this year. SearchMetrics found a strong correlation between the use of at least one H2 and a higher rank.
Anchor text: Exact-match anchor text still has a strong influence on rankings, but you risk a Penguin penalty if your links appear unnatural or spammy. Make sure your backlink anchor text is diverse and organic.
Interstitials: In keeping with Google’s emphasis on mobile-first optimization, they’re cracking down on intrusive interstitial pop-ups. That means any page with an ad or CTA that covers the main content or whisks users to a new page upon clicking might suffer a penalty. Exceptions to this include login dialogs, small banners that are easy to dismiss, and legally-required interstitials (e.g. age verification).
How to optimize:
- Switch to HTTPS encryption.
- Make use of H2 headings, especially if the top URLS in your niche don’t.
- Ensure that your anchor text is diverse and semantically relevant.
- Remove all intrusive interstitials from your mobile website.