Did you know that the first page of Google captures 71% of search traffic clicks? With more than 3.5 billion searches made every day on Google, a company that holds 87.96% of the search engine market share, there’s no denying that you should rank well in this almighty search engine. After all, the term “google” is now officially a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary!

So how do you become visible to your target audience? As an expert in the evolving landscape of SEO, Big Leap is keeping you in the know by providing 10 key Google ranking factors that will help you stay ahead of the game. So let’s dive in!

What Are the SEO Ranking Factors to Look Out For?

1. Domain Authority (DA)

A more established website with a higher domain authority will gain better and quicker traction on Google. Domain authority (DA) is usually a combination of quality content and off-page SEO elements, such as inbound links and social shares.

Start by checking your DA with Moz’s Link Explorer. If you find that your DA needs some extra love, here are a few ways you can get started:

  • Tweak your off-page SEO – Improve your link profile by removing any bad links from your profile (you can use tools such as SEMRush’s Backlink Audit Tool or Moz Link Explorer) and reaching out to influential blogs to see if they will link to your site.
  • Tweak your on-page SEO – Optimize your on-site SEO by adding internal links (this will help pass on authority to your pages) and utilize proper use of headings (H1s and H2s) throughout your content. The more readable your content, the better chances it has of ranking higher in Google. Don’t forget to optimize your images and videos to add relevant alt tags that concisely describe your content.

2. Secure and Accessible Website

What is a website without a good URL? Building a secure and accessible website involves a URL that Google bots can easily reach and crawl. To help out these bots, you can:

  • Create an HTTPS by enabling an SSL security certificate on your website.
  • Implement a robots.txt file that will tell Google which areas of your website should and should not be scanned.

3. Page Speed

Let’s be real, do you wait around for a site that takes more than a few seconds to load on your screen? Forty percent of users abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load. A slow site means a loss in traffic, as your potential customers are most likely jumping over to a competitor’s site. As Google takes into account the user’s experience, incorporate the following to help boost your page speed:

  • Use Gzip – This is a software application for file compression that reduces the size of your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files that are larger than 150 bytes.
  • Optimize your code – Remove unnecessary characters, commas, spaces, and unused code.
  • Minimize redirects – The more redirects you have, the slower your page/site. Page redirects involve more time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete. Therefore, clear out any plugins that you don’t need and scan your website for any redirects by using Google PageSpeed or Redirect Mapper Tool.

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4. Mobile and Voice Adaptability

Mobile:

In 2018, 52.5% of all worldwide website traffic was generated through mobile phones. As mobile technology has made our culture more connected than ever, it’s vital that your site stays current by being optimized for the right devices.

Check out Google’s mobile testing tool to see whether your web page is mobile friendly. If needed, implement a mobile-responsive site that automatically resizes to fit smartphone/mobile devices. Be sure to also design a user flow that creates accessibility and navigability, so your visitors will have a seamless experience exploring your site.

Voice:

As much as technology has changed the way we view content, it’s also changed the way we seek content. With features such as Siri and Google Assistant, voice search is becoming more prevalent than ever. This should be no surprise, since talking is faster and easier than typing on your screen or keyboard.

Voice search results typically load in 4.6 seconds, which is 52% faster than the load time of the average page. Therefore, take time to optimize your website for voice search by:

  • Aiming for featured snippets – Google Home and Assistant typically read out featured snippets when they answer voice search questions. Enhance your site content by using Answer the Public to find common questions relevant to your keywords. Use these questions as H2s in your content and answer them directly below in the body.
  • Perfecting your local SEO – As 39% of voice searchers look into business information, be sure that your Google My Business Page is up to date. If you’re a pet grooming business and someone asks, “Where is the nearest pet groomer?” you want to make sure that your shop pops up at the top position in the SERP. So take time to ensure that your address, contact information, and hours are up to date.

5. Content Marketing Strategy

Never underestimate the power of quality content! Creating useful and in-depth content plays an essential role in generating backlinks and using keywords to boost your rankings. You can craft an effective content strategy by:

  • Researching your target audience to gain a better understanding of who you should be talking to. This also helps with content ideation.
  • Creating evergreen content that provides long-term value to audiences and potential customers.

Developing a quality content marketing strategy is key in boosting brand visibility, keyword rankings, and organic traffic. Check out how Big Leap boosted Spoonful of Comfort’s rankings and traffic by mapping out an effective content strategy.

6. Link Structure

Google sees links as an important ranking factor. After all, what would the web and our sites be without links? There are three types of links you should aim to build and weave into your content:

Inbound links:
Also referred to as backlinks, inbound links is one of the strongest ranking components in Google’s search algorithm. When sites with strong domain authorities link back to yours, it helps prove to Google that your site is relevant and trustworthy.

You can use tools such as SEMRush to track your inbound links and remove any of your links from sites that carry a low domain authority. Build relationships with key influencers in your industry and submit guest blog posts to their sites.

Outbound links:
When crafting content, you want to make sure to link to relevant and authoritative sites which will help improve the integrity of your website and business. Link to blogs/sites that carry the same niche as yours.

Internal links:
Internal links improve the usability, page views, and the overall time that a user is on your site. Thus, be sure to incorporate links in your content wherever possible. If one authoritative page leads users to another page on your site, then your visitors will help pass on some of that authority to the second page, which will help these pages rank higher in Google.

7. Technical SEO

Making a site easily crawlable and understandable to search engines plays an important role in improving your Google ranking. To help optimize your technical SEO, start by implementing the following practices:

  • Use keyword phrases in page titles and make these titles compelling. Google looks at page titles first to decipher which content is relevant to which search. Be sure to keep it under 60 characters, so that the full title is displayed on the SERP.
  • Create a meta description that will entice readers to click and include your primary keyword. Keep it under 160 characters.
  • Use keywords in alt image tags to show Google that your images are relevant to your content.

8. User Experience

From page speed to relevancy, the user experience is everything, and Google knows this. It keeps close track of clickthrough rates, bounce rates, and dwell time to measure the value of your site/page, so be sure to optimize your titles, descriptions, and content.

9. Social Shares

Though Google has said that social social shares is not a direct ranking factor, studies have shown that there is a correlation between social signals and search engine ranking. And there’s no denying that high ranking pages have a large traction across social platforms.

That isn’t to say that social signals alone will drive traffic, but the combination of steady social shares and SEO best practices can produce significant results. Therefore, if you don’t already have social media platforms, be sure to build these out (Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, etc.) to enhance your online presence and create additional platforms to share your content on.

10. Business Information

If your business is trying to target specific locations, building out an online business information is key in helping people find you. Thus, to dominate local search, you should:

  • Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are up to date on online listings such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. Seek out reputable local directories by searching “[your city] directories” in Google to get your businesses listed.
  • Generate online reviews on important platforms such as Google My Business, where potential customers can see them while looking up your business.
  • Add a schema markup to your site that will provide Google with specific information on your business, such as the products you sell and the reviews you have collected. Google offers a Structured Data Testing Tool to help you check whether your markup is properly implemented.

Google Ranking Factors Reward Quality SEO

So there you have it! Ten essential Google ranking factors to give you that SEO edge. While you’re strategizing ways to incorporate these key tips, it’s important to keep in mind that Google’s search algorithm strives to provide users with high-quality results. So put in thought, time, and strategy to produce the right results and stand out from the pack. And if you need an extra hand, don’t be shy. Be sure to find SEO services you can trust.

Contact Our SEO Experts

Dedicated to providing long-term SEO results, Big Leap can help your business rank higher in Google and attract the right customers. With the understanding that SEO requires time and commitment, we thrive on building custom-tailored strategies to deliver significant results. So be sure to contact us today for a free multi-point website audit to see where you stand and how your business can improve.

Janet Lee
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