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When it comes to Google ranking factors, there’s a whole host of myths that you need to be aware of. The big problem is really that most ranking factor lists are far too long, focusing on listing an enormous array of factors rather than simply those which really matter.
However, while some factors can easily be overlooked without too many problems, there are some that you should never ignore. With this in mind, here are nine Google ranking factors which you should always make your top priority.
Arguably, backlinks are the top ranking factor for the Google search engine. Not only do they feature highly in Google’s algorithm but there is also a strong relationship between organic traffic and backlinks. Yet, not just any backlink will do. Each backlink must be relevant and from an authority website. Higher quality backlinks will allow your site to rank more highly.
It stands to reason that Google is going to rank pages that come from an authoritative source more highly than those that don’t. Your site needs to display expertise, trustworthiness and authoritativeness in its specialist area and cultivate a strong reputation for those things. With this in mind, avoid publishing content that isn’t relevant to your industry. Keep your site tightly focused so you can build up a reputation within just one area.
The Google algorithm doesn’t rank all kinds of content for each query. If you enter a search about buying an item online, Google will show pages that are from e-commerce categories. If you enter a query about how to do something, Google will show blog posts as it knows that you need to learn something. You need, therefore, to be able to optimise your content for different queries. Make sure your content is properly aligned with its search intent to achieve maximum results.
Of course, Google needs to rank the results that are most useful for any given query, so it isn’t surprising that many content producers think they need to create long-length content. After all, surely they need to cover absolutely everything that the searcher could need to know? But it’s important to be aware that long content won’t always be better.
Rather, success is all about covering the things that matter most to the searcher. You can take your clues from pages that rank at the top of the search engine listings for your given topic in order to create the most useful content. Carrying out research into the questions that searchers need answers to then including those questions is the best course of action.
For over a decade, page speed has been one of the top-ranking factors and while it isn’t such an enormous problem as it was back in 2010, it’s still an issue if your page delivers a slow experience for users. You don’t need to beat your competitors by just a couple of milliseconds, but you do need to ensure your site isn’t so slow that it negatively impacts users’ experiences. Checking your page’s speed report in the Google Search Console will reveal which pages are loading too slowly on both mobile and desktop, then take action to remedy their speed. For more, read our article on Google's latest Page Experience update.
Visitors can enjoy enhanced security on your site with HTTPS which encrypts the data between the server and the browser. Since security is a bigger issue than ever these days, users want and need to know that your site is safe to use. If your users are using the Chrome browser to view a site that isn’t encrypted a “not secure” warning will be displayed. This will deter a significant number of visitors from viewing your content. Luckily, it’s easy to rectify this issue. Just make sure you’ve installed an SSL certificate which will make your website more secure.
Over the past few years, mobile searches have become increasingly common, and around two-thirds of all searches are now taking place on mobile devices. Google changed their ranking algorithms back in 2015 to include mobile-friendliness and in 2019, it added it to the ranking factors when carrying out desktop searches as well. The Google Search Console’s Mobile Usability report will let you know if any pages aren’t mobile-friendly so you can take swift action.
Content which offers visitors the most positive user experience will be ranked more highly by Google, and websites that benefit the users and that are optimised to improve users’ experiences will feature more highly in the search engine results.
You can make sure your site offers a user-friendly experience by making the content easy to read, useful and interesting, and the pages well-organised and responsively designed around the needs of the user without any unwanted and intrusive adverts. By removing any distractions, logically organising your content, doing relevant research and writing for readability, you can make sure that your site provides the optimal result for the keywords that you’re targeting.
Not all search queries require the same level of freshness in their content, but it’s still an important ranking factor to consider. In cases where freshness is vital for the keyword that you’re targeting you’ll need to ensure that your page is updated frequently or that you are consistently publishing new articles around your topic so you can keep up with the demand.
When freshness isn’t critical but is still important, you’ll need to ensure your page is regularly updated and refreshed whenever the rankings begin to drop. Meanwhile, if freshness isn’t that important for your targeted keywords, just focus your efforts on ensuring your guide is the very best to be found on your specific topic.
Although there are numerous Google ranking factors, the nine above are the ones you should focus on first when creating content. If you put in the effort to create engaging and interesting content that is relevant to searchers and that provides a great user experience, you’re sure to see your pages ranking more highly.
At Key Business Marketing, we offer a range of services, including content creation, SEO, PPC and social media management. Get in touch with us today to discuss your marketing needs and unlock your business' potential.