Follow These SEO Ranking Factors For Higher Google Rankings
Oh, man, if you ever miss high school drama, just hop on one of the leading blogs in the SEO community. There’s more bickering, back-stabbing, and ridicule than one person could handle. All of the drama makes it even harder for online marketers and business owners to make sense of the available data and decide what to do to improve their site rankings.
The big thorny issue with SEO advice
There’s money to be made offering SEO services, and the competition is fierce. I mean, just think about it: the more your competitors look like experts in the field, the less money you’re making. Potential clients will give them a call before calling you, buy their books and courses, not yours, ultimately leaving your bank accounts empty while filling theirs up.
Having said that, it’s not that crazy seeing so many SEO experts attacking one another, spreading chaos among people like you and me who are looking for high-quality info on how to push our online businesses forward and generate the free web traffic we need.
The most disputed SEO ranking factors
Here’s a fun little story for you… More than ten years ago, during a press briefing, some journalists and bloggers found out that Google uses over 200 ranking factors. A few years later, a Google executive said that many of the ranking signals the company uses have up to 50 variations each. That lead SEO blogs to write about Google’s 10,000 ranking signals.
The full list of ranking factors is secret; Google would shoot themselves in the foot by making it public. After all it’s a business secret, what makes Google… well… Google. Which leave people like you and me wondering what’s on the list and what’s not and for many years we trusted SEO niche bloggers tell us about what we should do.
As analytics and SEO results tracking software improved, SEO experts started to see that things are actually a lot different than they initially thought. Thus, drama appeared.
In the midst of all this drama, there’s also good news. With so many experts thrown under the bus from time to time, you get to see long, complex articles debunking many of the myths surrounding SEO.
In their quest for high-paying clients, they started attacking one another, and that’s a good thing for us. You see, now we finally have a clearer, no BS, data backed answer to the old question
“What can we do to have our web pages rank better and send us more free quality traffic”?
First, let’s start with what doesn’t seem to be on the no-BS list of ranking factors that actually impact your website’s position, even though we’d expect them to be there:
For a very long time, content writers were asked to use the targeted keyword as often as possible, website owners aiming for a 3% keyword density on a web page’s content. Well, surprisingly, current data actually shows that there is no ideal keyword density and Google’s algorithm does not care if the targeted phrase is the most often used on a page.
A few years back, the word around Googletown was that the search engine ranks Public WhoIs websites better. Today, it looks like this was just another SEO myth. While the info might be useful for Google’s manual review staff on spam watch, there isn’t a clear and direct impact on ranking, so use Private WhoIs if that is what you want.
This one’s part-myth, part-truth. What we now know is that if you don’t have web pages loading slower than in 20-30 seconds, your load speed doesn’t actually matter in your ranking. If your pages need more than 20 seconds to load, you’ve already lost the visitor’s interest. That Google penalises you is the least of your problems. If your web pages load just fine, you have done a great job; there’s no need to invest money on getting them to load with half a second faster, it won’t have an impact on your website’s ranking.
Preserving SEO juice
Another thing a big part of the SEO community doesn’t believe to be true anymore is the impact of outbound links on a page’s ranking. We have always been told to be careful not to use too many “dofollow” links because we’ll waste the SEO juice. What we’ve learned this past year is that you can have as many outbound links on your page as you want (or you can fit). Google doesn’t care about their number when determining your ranking, so you’re not leaking PageRank.
Bulleted or numbered lists
Listicles took the internet by storm, but it now looks that their success was never directly related to a boost in ranking. They’re just easier to read and act upon, thus offering a better user experience, but using bulleted or numbered lists in your content won’t directly impact your web page’s ranking.
Contact page – WhoIs match
Not even the best looking and most complete contact page can give you a boost in ranking. Although having a contact page with info that matches your website’s WhoIs is a great trust-building element, something your visitors will appreciate, this will have no impact whatsoever on the ranking.
This one will be a shocker for many. What top SEO experts are saying now is that, in fact, it doesn’t matter how often you update your website, the only important aspect being how relevant those updates are. If your updates aren’t relevant, you shouldn’t be making them.
Links to your website from the author bio box underneath an article published on another website may in fact be perceived as manipulative in their nature and get your website flagged for spam.
Links from .gov or.edu TLDs
What we learned in the past year is that, in fact, the Top Level Domain (.com / .de / .au.com / .edu / .tv etc.) bears no significance in establishing a referring website’s importance. Google doesn’t care if the links to your website come from .com versus .edu or .gov domains like SEO specialists previously told us. It’s a good time to stop throwing money at backlinking experts promising you .edu and .gov links.
Now you might be thinking “well, what’s left?” and the short answer is the good stuff. With the debunked SEO myths and the absurd claims removed from the various versions of the Google ranking signals lists that have surfaced the web in the past years, we can now have a research-backed, expert-approved and recommended, list of those 50 SEO ranking factors that you should focus on.
This is not a complete list of ranking signals; there’s no way anyone will ever get that from Google. It a list put together by carefully going through the insights and research shared by those in the game. It’s going to do two things for any online business owner and any freelancer or blogger using a website to attract traffic, generate, and convert leads: save you time and positively impact your rankings.
The top 50 Google ranking factors online marketers and business owners should pay attention to in 2017
Google is constantly changing the way it evaluates and ranks website for each search enquiry people make, depending on where a person lives, what device they use, what type of information they want to see (images, local search, etc.) That’s why it’s important to use updated insights in deciding what changes you should make to keep or to get your website on the first page results:
#1 HTTPS encryption
Google wants to keep web users safe, so it’s offering better rankings to those who made the switch from HTTP to HTTPS. To show they’re dead serious about this, Google Chrome is now marking HTTP websites as unsafe, so you should invest in a SSL certificate if you haven’t done so already.
#2 Domain ownership
If the domain you just bought previously changed owners (WhoIs) more often than people change their socks, that might get Google to not take into account some of the links to your domain.
#3 Subdomain names
If you want to use a subdomain for a special section of your website or for a landing page, make sure you use the targeted keyword as the name of the subdomain you’ll use.
#4 Exact match domains
If you plan on creating a light, few pages long, PLR content website for an exact match domain, let me tell you straight up: that’s a bad idea. Google is happy to take your website with a domain name matching exactly a search enquiry to the first page, but only if it’s a high-quality website, otherwise these websites are vulnerable to getting the boot.
#5 Keyword in title tag
The title tag if the text you see written in the header of the tab containing an open web page. It can be the exact same as the displayed page title (blog post title, website name, etc.) or it can be different, but what you need to remember if that this is one of the two places where you really got to use your targeted keyword.
#6 Keyword in content
This is the second place where you really have to use your targeted keyword. Using it in the first paragraph will impact your ranking, because Google sees it as a relevancy signal.
#7 Keyword in page URL
Web pages containing the targeted keyword in the URL ranked better than those that didn’t.
#8 Keyword wording
Always keep in mind what would someone type in because a keyword that’s an exact match ranks better than one that’s not. This can be a bit tricky because we do search for things using wording like “hypnosis sessions Sydney” but using that exact phrase in a sentence sounds unnatural.
#9 Pesky ads
Google sees popups, interstitials, ads above the fold, and any ad formats that are preventing the user from reading the content as the signs of a low quality website and Google doesn’t want those website in the top positions on SERPs.
#10 Affiliate marketing
Google keeps a close eye on affiliate sites, so don’t do anything that might raise suspicions. That includes hiding your affiliate links, using computer-generated content, doing keyword stuffing, etc.
#11 Higher PR
Higher PageRank web pages rank better than their lower PR competitors, so you can also keep an eye on your PR to see how you’re doing.
A sitemap helps Google crawl the website and index it the right way, which leads to a better position in SERPs.
#13 Post tags
Don’t skip adding WordPress tags to your posts. By having more articles/pages using the same tags, you’ve improving your overall SEO because they create connections between different pieces of content.
#14 Content reading level
Google tracks the reading level of your content and it wants it to be available to everyone. You don’t have to over simplify everything, but do these 3 things: keep your paragraphs under 300 words, use relevant sub headlines, rewrite too long sentences.
#15 Multimedia files
Google favors pages featuring videos, infographics, images, galleries, interactive widgets that come to enrich the content of the page and improve the user’s experience.
#16 Keyword CTR
Once it is displayed on a search engine results page, what happens to your website determines if it will get a better ranking. If people organically click on your website when they search for a keyword you targetted, you will move up the list.
#17 Time spent on site
If people tend to stay on your website and not run away in seconds, that also sends a quality signal to Google, giving the website a boost in ranking.
#18 Plagiarised or stolen content
Google is actively punishing websites again which people have filed complaints for using copyrighted content that doesn’t belong to them.
#19 Server location and country queues
Because it wants to offer relevant results, it is believed that Google takes into account a site’s server location as well as local name extensions for local searches.
#20 Direct visits
Sites that get more direct traffic are ranking higher than those receiving less direct traffic because Google interprets this as a signal of the website’s quality.
#21 Duplicate content
Only rely on original content. If you have to use duplicate content or slightly modified content because of your website’s functionalities, make sure you’re correctly using the rel=canonical tag which processes PageRank juice the same way a 301 redirect would.
#22 H1 + H2 headings on page
H1 is called the second title tag and using it is important. It doesn’t have to contain the targeted keyword, but you should try to use it to help readers understand what the page is about. You should also use H2 headings. By using both on a page, you will both improve your page’s ranking and make the content easier to read for your visitors. A great number of landing pages are using H1 + H2 headings to sneak into better spots in SERPs.
#23 Broken links
Remember that Google organises the results in a way that makes it easier for people to discover what they’re looking for, and a page that looks abandoned won’t appear among the first results. Reasearch broken links detectors and make sure you check your website from time to time. Remove or fix all the broken links you find.
#24 Shorter URLs
Don’t go crazy when setting up the URL of a new page you want to optimise. It looks like Google is more favorable to shorter URLs.
#25 Scraped content
Don’t feed the content from another indexed page to the one you want to optimise. Google will never rank copied or syndicated content better than it ranked the original.
The PageRank of both the page and that of the domain referring your page counts, with the authority of the domain playing a more important role.
#27 Social value for links
When you’re getting a link to your web page on another that is heavily shared on social media, the value of the link you received is bigger than that on a page with no social shares.
#28 Link placement
The links that naturally integrate in a web page’s content are more valuable than those placed in odd places like at the end of an article. Always aim to get links that truly make sense in the context of the content on the referring page.
#29 Link exchange
Google doesn’t want you engaging in link exchanging, and it’s better to avoid doing this and focusing on using backlinking strategies to get the links you need.
#30 Same-site links
If you’re getting five links from a website, Google actually treats them as just one. Since the number of the links it’s irrelevant to Google, there’s no point in chasing more than one link/website back to your site.
#31 Surprise redirects
Don’t even think about redirecting people to another website or different topic page without them expecting for that to happen. Google sees this as deeply problematic and it can lead to having your site deindexed.
#32 Curse words
I know, I also get a bit worked up and drop a few bombs, but you’d better keep the curse words out of your content, other wise Google might keep your site from the results when users use the Safe Search.
#33 Optimised images
Google pays attention to any descriptions, alt text tags, titles, captions and file names the images uploaded to a web page use. Don’t forget to take at least a minute to fill in all required data when you’re adding a new image to your landing page, blog post, product description, etc.
#34 Anchor text variations
When exact-match anchor text links appear unnatural, you risk penalties. To be on the safe side, just use natural looking, different anchor text versions for linking to your website.
#35 Coding errors
If you didn’t care about your website to fix these errors, how could you have a high-quality website? That’s what Google thought when decided to penalise websites that aren’t functioning properly. Do yourself (and your customers) a favour and check your website for errors once in a while.
#36 Mobile friendly interfaces
Mobile search is increasingly important, that’s why Google wants websites to be responsive and offer a great experience to those visiting them from a smartphone or a tablet, too.
The site architecture can help or prevent Google for figuring out what’s on your website. Using a silo structure makes it easier for search engines to find what themes your content belongs to and where it fits.
What you file your new web page under matters, as well as what the URL contains before the new post/page slug. When a new page looks related to the category it is published under, that sends a relevancy signal that impacts its ranking.
#39 Web forum links
Google doesn’t trust forums, so you should stop using them as a way to link back to your website.
If your website is down or in maintenance mode too often, Google may decide that you should be deindexed.
#42 Exit themes
Google is likely to use the content on the pages you’re linking to in order to make sense what your content is about, so don’t link to things that have nothing to do with your niche.
#43 Multiple keywords
A page can rank for multiple keywords (even ones you didn’t thought about), and when that happens you get a boost for your targeted keyword.
#44 Useful content
Your content must strike a balance between being high-quality and being useful.
#45 Site owner links
When the site owner links to your page, that holds value. If there’s a random guy linking to your page from a comment, that doesn’t hold the same value, no matter the PageRank.
#46 Internal page PR
The PageRank of internal pages linking to another influences their impact. Use high PR pages to link to lower PR pages important for your business.
#47 Links from icky websites
Not every link you get is good for you, in fact those from websites using “spun” content, selling pills, hosting porn or online casinos or offering payday loans can do you a big disservice.
#48 Sponsored links
If there’s any indication that the link you’re getting might be paid for or obtained through a partnership, Google will not consider it to be very valuable.
#49 Image links
When you’re using them, remember that the alt tag plays the role of the anchor text for text-based hyperlinks.
#50 Visitors coming back
When your visitors come back for more, that sends Google a powerful message – this website’s so good I came back for more.
Phew, this was a long lists, wasn’t it? Let’s not let your effort of going through it go to waste. Roll up your sleeves and get to work, optimise your website to get more free search traffic and boost your income! To help you, I’ve prepared a little checklist you can use to make sure you’re not missing anything on your SEO to do list for 2017.
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