When customers search for you, where do they find you?
Online marketing is the key to modern-day businesses. As we know that Google is a search engine that plays an important role in finding new customers.
In addition to paid search ads, you should also focus on increasing your organic rankings on this popular search engine. You can increase your visibility by appearing prominently in paid and organic search engine results – and visibility is vital no matter what type of business you run if you want to drive revenue.
It’s impossible to control how search engines work, but you can do a lot to improve the chances of your website getting found in search results. A website’s ranking factors can be aligned with Google’s using SEO, which is about aligning your website with its various factors. My goal for this post is to:
- Distinguish between technical, on-page, and off-page ranking factors.
- Identify the top ten factors that affect your website’s ranking with Google.
- Include actionable suggestions for improving your ranking for each ranking factor.
To get our foundational knowledge established, let’s review some of the basics of ranking factors.
Ranking factors are what determine the ranking of websites?
The purpose of search engine optimization (SEO) is to optimize your website so that it ranks highly in organic search results. A search result that is organic refers to one that is not paid. PPC advertising (or pay-per-click) focuses on generating traffic through paid clicks.
You will see a difference in organic search results and paid search results in the image below:
You will be ranked on Google based on various metrics and characteristics that Google considers important-all of which are factors in your ranking. Even though we will never know all the ranking factors in Google, we can figure out many of them based on what Google has told us and through our own experiments and empirical research. Furthermore, we know that Google is using ranking factors and algorithms to discern characteristics such as quality, trustworthiness, and performance.
Ranking factors used by Google
Let’s go over the different kinds of search engine ranking factors, before we look at the top 5 that you should optimize your websites for. In real life, there are three major groups of factors that impact ranking: on-page, off-page and link-building.
- These are factors which are not directly related to your site, and are measured by Google elsewhere. They include links.
- A page’s on-page factors include its keywords and informational content.
- They measure the performance of your site as a whole, not just for individual pages.
The most important thing to remember about SEO is that there isn’t one ranking factor that will determine your success. SEO-friendly websites are the result of all your technical, on-page, and off-page efforts working together.
Having established the foundation for understanding Google ranking factors, next let’s look at the top 10 ranking factors, grouped by these categories.
Factors affecting Google rankings on technical grounds
The search engines crawl and index your website’s content in order to find relevant information. It is necessary to have a few core technical elements running properly in order for this to happen. All of these elements are essential to your website’s functionality and form the foundation on which it is built.
The page experience is about to be updated, are you ready? Core Web Vitals can be found here.
Technical SEO can seem intimidating to many marketers. It is crucial to have knowledge of the structure and content management system of websites to perform these ranking optimizations. It is therefore common for marketing and development teams to work together to fix technical SEO errors. When you have a working website, there isn’t a lot of SEO maintenance required once things are running smoothly. You can improve your ranking by using the following techniques:
1. Page speed and site performance
If you asked search engines what they thought, they would agree that a website that takes a long time to load is not good. A fast and seamless website load is a key component of technical SEO.
Taking too long for your pages to load may result in a spike in bounce rates, which will affect your ranking. It is essential for users to have a smooth browsing experience, which is why page speed is considered a ranking factor. When conducting an SEO audit, keep this in mind.
Test your website speed using many of the tools available on the market. Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix are excellent tools that you should check out. Simple and free, these tools provide valuable insights into site speed to enable easy optimizations.
Image source: GTmetrix
2. Accessibility on mobile devices
Crawling websites by Google is optimized for mobile use. In other words, the search engine evaluates a page predominantly based on its mobile version.
In addition to a perfectly optimized desktop site, if your mobile site is not optimized, you may lose ranking positions in search engines. Ensure that your website is accessible on multiple platforms, not just your desktop, by previewing it.
It is possible to accomplish this before publishing your content in most content management systems. Furthermore, you can use a free tool like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test with the same results.
3. Links to internal pages
Search engines crawl and index different pieces of content on your website based on what you’ve said earlier. For crawlers, internal links act as a signal that assists them in analyzing and properly indexing the information.
In the context of a website, an “internal link” refers to any link pointing to an internal page.
Image source: Moz
Your internal linking structure is more organized and tightly connected, which makes it easier for search engines (and users) to find what they’re looking for.
When creating a new page or piece of content, you should be aware of the pages you’re linking to.
In order to keep your internal links organized, you can create topic clusters. In general, you create content around one or more pillar topics, and then keep your interlinking centered within these clusters.
Think about the case where you are writing articles about sales prospecting.
You should write a comprehensive guide on sales prospecting that covers every aspect of the process. All of your subsequent articles should cover related subtopics (cold calling tips, email outreach templates, etc.) and link back to your main resource.
The reason this strategy works is that you keep your links tightly organized around a common theme.
Image source: HubSpot
In this way, the content is easily understood and indexed by search engines. The user experience is also enhanced when topics are clustered together. Having a single location means readers do not have to go to different sites to find what they’re looking for.
In conclusion, SEO is not possible without a well-structured, smoothly operating website.
Almost all websites undergo regular maintenance to ensure they are free of bugs or errors. To enhance your SEO, you should perform a technical SEO audit once in a while to detect 404 errors, redirect loops, and broken links.
Factors affecting Google rankings on a web page
These next ranking factors are specific to specific pages of your website, while the above factors deal with your website as a whole.
4. Keyword targeting
SEO strategies are based on keywords. When people search for something on a search engine, they use these search terms. It is crucial to conduct keyword research before starting to create your website content.
78% of marketers believe that keyword research is a highly effective way to drive new traffic according to a recent survey from Directive. In order to create effective content, you need to research what your audience searches for as well as answer their questions directly.
Image source: Directive
Identify at least four relevant keywords before setting up a page or writing an article. We’ll discuss other on-page elements next, including how to incorporate these keywords whenever they fit naturally into the text.
“Naturally” is the key word in the last paragraph (no pun intended).
Don’t write for search engines, but for your readers.
It is not easy for search engines to identify when marketers exploit keyword stuffing for SEO purposes. The practice of keyword stuffing can result in the penalty of your website.
Your content should not be compromised for SEO purposes. Our previous statements state that quality is a priority for Google, so you should produce content that is easy to understand and compelling for your audience.
5. Title and header tags
It is important to place the keywords you want to rank for on your page in specific places, like the title tag and the header tag. The tags allow search engines to identify the topic of a page and index it accordingly.
During search results, the title tag appears prominently (see below).
6. Meta description
Meta descriptions are short descriptions that reside within the HTML code of your web page. The search engine shows it in search results even though it doesn’t appear on the original page. Below you can see an image of the light gray text that appears in the meta description.
Google sometimes uses the meta description to populate a featured results snippet, even though it isn’t a major ranking factor. Moreover, it provides searchers with more information about the page, increasing click-through rates. This is why a meta description still needs to be included in your SEO checklist and ensure that it accurately summarizes the page’s content.
7. Image alt-text
It might come as no surprise to you that images have a SEO component, if you’ve ever taken a look at Google Images. Your website includes alt-text, commonly known as alt-tags, for each image.
It is intended to serve the following purposes:
- Screen readers provide a means of accessing your website for visually impaired browsers.
- An alt-text will appear in place of your image if it is unable to load.
- Images that have structured data are better indexed by search engines.
The right alt-text can help you rank higher on the first page of image search results by moving your images to the top.As far as SEO is concerned, there is no silver bullet. Climbing search result pages takes time, and this is an important thing to keep in mind. Your website won’t suddenly climb to the top spot if you optimize each ranking factor today. In order for your site to remain current and relevant, you need to put in ongoing effort to optimize it. You’re more likely to see organic growth if your website is well-designed and optimized for your target audience.