There are literally hundreds of ranking factors in search, but as Google keeps bringing in new algorithms and enhancing its technology the lists keep changing. Chris Simmance of Optus Digital explains which factors remain a constant to get good ranking and why for the best part website owners shouldn’t waste their time on the others.
Search engine optimization is not what it used to be. No surprise there, just think of an industry that hasn’t changed over the years. The reason SEO isn’t the same however is because the rules and ethics keep changing and are pretty much rewritten every year. It’s not easy to keep up with this and Google like it that way. So, looking at your own website and the results you want to achieve, what gave you a positive return last year may not work at all in 2018.
You will always find changes that you “cannot ignore” if you want to rank higher, however the fundamental aspects remain the same. I’m talking about Google ranking factors that can make or break your website’s position in the SERPs.
There are literally hundreds of ranking factors documented or listed by the good and the great in search. Just a few years ago, many big names would spend hours and hours compiling lists which quickly became irrelevant. As Google introduced its next algorithm and enhanced its technology the lists changed and let’s face it, it’s not easy for a website to focus on every single one of these changes.
The fact is that most SEO success comes from focusing on the key Google ranking factors. These are the ones that apply to all sites, not just some types and these are the factors that still matter today.
This isn’t something new, content has been an important ranking factor for a long while now. More recently, however, there has been a shift away from content that’s focused on keywords to producing material that’s more relevant and uses everyday language. Google, it seems, is not evaluating content according to individual keywords. That’s a good thing but you need to know what that kind of content looks like if you’re going to change your style and approach. Algorithm updates like Google’s AI system RankBrain place a value on relevance and optimization. An in-depth examination of one particular subject, which is easy to understand and clearly written, will outperform material that’s packed with keywords. This includes multiple images, infographics, and embedded videos. According to Cisco video will represent 80% of online traffic, so include video in your content. Keep your content relevant and in a style that we use and appreciate as human beings. If you need help there are lots of content auditing software out there to help produce the finished article
These are still a very important ranking factor. In recent years however, Google has got wise to these and can identify and pull out bad links. Links need to be diverse and relevant and from domains that are authoritative. The relevance of content here is more important than the exact-match relevance of the domain to your market. Have blog posts or link building assets ready that are both relevant to where you are trying to get a link and are also optimized for search. This will help you rank for a larger variety of keywords, some that you may not have realized are relevant to your site or are things your potential customers or clients are interested in learning more about.
If your content is well written and useful it will generate links and Google will consider it more relevant. These links are ranking signals. So, put simply, create good quality content and promote it well.
There are technical factors which might influence your website’s ranking. These include dwell time (the amount of time a person spends on your site) and repeat visitors. More recently Google has been turning its attention towards mobile. Specifically page speed on mobile. Google has been promising to look at mobile search speed for years and now at last they’ve delivered and it’s finally here. Its recently announced speed update is a search engine algorithm that’s fixed on mobile page speed. Google says that will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. The intent of the search query is a very strong signal so a slow page may rand highly with good relevant content. Bottom line is, your site doesn’t load quickly on mobile devices you could be penalised, so take a look at it and if its slow to respond get it fixed.
When people share your content on social networks, it’s a signal to Google that it’s valuable. There is a definitive link between social shares and search engine ranking. Google continues to maintain that shares are not a ranking factor, at least not a direct one, But there most likely is correlation here. If you create good content, it will most likely be popular on social media, and people are probably going to like it and link it to — which does boost your rankings. Google has said that social media shares don’t count as individual links but there’s no getting away from the fact that the highest ranking pages do have a lot of shares.
The fact is that SEO is an ever-evolving industry. Google is pushing for rich content with good quality links, and a much improved mobile experience. Other ranking factors are important but these are the foundations to improving key elements of your website. When it comes to search engine ranking factors, authority matters and that’s usually a combination of great content and off-page SEO signals like inbound links and social shares. As the mobile-first index, page speed ranking factor, and other changes emerge this year SEO, which is more about quality than short-term gain is what helps you move up in the SERPs. Focus on this and don’t fall into the trap of trying to fix everything just because someone has produced yet another new list.
By Chris Simmance