Google is the most popular search engine. According to estimates, over 5.6 billion searches occur on Google daily. It completely overshadows other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo. As a result, Google presents an enormous opportunity for businesses to gain more clients, meet their business goals, and market their brands to the digital community.
Nowadays, we rely on Google to answer all of our questions, or find a relevant product or service. When we submit a query into Google's search bar, Google interprets it and displays several web pages that it finds most relevant to our search intent.
95% of users do not go beyond the first page of the results, and web pages displayed on the second, third, fourth, and remaining pages rarely get viewed. Hence, businesses want to rank higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) to gain more online traffic.
Google ranks websites based on multiple factors. According to estimates, Google has over 200 ranking factors. It analyzes the content and ranks websites based on these factors.
This article will discuss the most critical ranking factors that determine how Google will rank your website. For attaining a higher Google ranking, pay special attention to the following:
There is a reason why content is often proclaimed as ‘The King’ in Content Marketing and SEO. Unique, value-based, good quality, and relevant content that answers users' search queries improves the ranking of your website on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Regardless of the niche or its length, good quality content has certain characteristics that enable it to rank higher in SERPs. To make your content more valuable to Google, be mindful of the following:
- The content should be free of unnecessary fluff and fillers, which only increase its length and offer little value.
- Provide authentic, factual, research-based content that answers users' queries and provides necessary information. A subject-specialist can produce specific, targeted, and value-based content.
- Improve the readability of the content and make it more understandable by adding images, infographics, a table of contents, and jump links on your web page.
- Analyze the content of your high-ranking competitors and understand why it has an edge over other websites or blog articles.
To improve the relevance of your website, work on different sections of your site, such as the Home Page, About Us, and product and service pages. For these particular pages, make sure to produce self-explanatory and easy-to-understand content so Google will direct more relevant and targeted traffic to your website.
Up To Date and Fresh Content
- We are living in a fast-paced world. New research, technological innovations, changing geopolitical circumstances, and the uncertainty of financial markets are a few examples of how information and facts change daily. Google wants to bring the most updated, relevant, and authentic information to its users. This is why replacing outdated content with fresh and quality content on your web page is important.
The freshness of the content is a critical factor that will determine the ranking of your website. Google doesn't like showing outdated information to its users, so constantly back your blogs and articles with the latest research and facts.
- Do not confuse content freshness with the frequency with which you post your content. Posting low-quality and inauthentic content frequently on your website will not bring much value to you. Instead, focus on how factually correct and updated the content is. This will increase your ranking and traffic organically.
Placement of Keywords
For maximum optimization of your content, strategically place the keywords throughout the content. Keywords should not only be used in the body of the copy, but it is highly recommended to include them in the headings, title tags, H1 and H2 tags, meta tags, and meta description. Keywords are essential in driving targeted traffic to your website, as they enable the search engine to understand the topic of your content.
Some best practices for keywords placement are as follows:
- Place the highest-ranking and most relevant keyword in the Title or H1. E.g., the keyword ‘easy pizza recipe' can be used in the title as; Top 5 Chef-Recommended Easy Pizza Recipes.
- Strategically place keyword phrases in the first paragraph of the text. This will make the content more relevant to the user, and lay the impression that your content will answer his queries. E.g., the user looks up the phrase 'carpet cleaning hacks' in the search engine. If the first paragraph of your article contains the exact phrase, it will convey the message that the article will be a valuable read for him.
- By dividing your content into multiple engaging sub-headings (H2), you improve its readability and make it more understandable. SEO experts recommend including keywords in at least one of the sub-headings.
- You can also add one or two keywords in the alternative text to images. This enables the search engines to index the images and makes the image more relatable to the content.
- Keywords should be placed naturally throughout the body of the article or blog. Ideally, they should be placed in such a way that a keyword appears one or two times per 100 words. Google is sensitive about the keyword density, i.e., how often a keyword appears in the body's text. Increasing the keyword density, i.e., stuffing more keywords in the text, can result in the penalization of the content, and your webpage may be removed from the SERP.
By following best practices for keyword placement and management, you can organically increase the Click-through Rate (CTR) of your webpage. Top-ranking webpages on Google have a Click-through Rate of 39.6%.
Inbound links are those links that your website receives from other sites. They are also called backlinks because they direct a reader back to your website. A good inbound link comprises two characteristics:
- It comes from an authentic source and high-ranking website
- The anchor text relates to your website or the content being linked to
Inbound links play a significant role in improving the ranking of your website. When you receive more inbound links from authoritative sites, it validates the authenticity and quality of your website's content. As a result, Google will view your website as an authority on a specific subject or niche, and your search engine ranking will improve over time.
- For higher ranking, both the quality and quantity of the inbound links matter. If many websites are linking to your website naturally, Google will perceive this as the popularity of your website in the digital world. To get more inbound links, you can reach out to other website owners and agree on a mutually beneficial relationship that includes organically providing backlinks to each other's content.
While the quantity of inbound links matters, perhaps the more important factor is the quality of those links. If your website receives a handful of high-quality links from high-authority websites, its Google ranking will improve considerably. E.g., if you run an online clinic, getting an inbound link from WebMD.com will be much more helpful than a link from a news blog.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
- Compared to desktops, Mobile devices have become the primary gadget for most Google searches. Keeping in mind the increased use of mobile devices, it is crucial to tailor your website to make it responsive and mobile-friendly.
To accommodate the increasing use of mobile devices, Google has switched tactics for how it ranks websites. Previously, Google used to rank and index the desktop version of a landing page. However, since March 2021, Google has been using the mobile version of a website's landing page for indexing and ranking the content.
The following practices make your website more compatible with mobile devices:
- The screen size and resolution differ from one device to another. To accommodate all devices, it is essential to choose a responsive layout that adjusts itself according to the characteristics of the viewing device.
- To make your website more user-friendly, don't let pop-ups appear on the mobile version of your website. Pop-ups can be particularly annoying and distracting when viewing a web page through a mobile device. They obstruct the content, and sometimes the X mark to close the pop-up is hard to find on the mobile screen.
- Since mobile screens are usually more compact, you need to be conscious about how much information and different elements you want to display on a single page. To avoid clutter, don't try to fit in too many features on a single screen; instead, only display the critical functions. Choose a minimalist web design that makes navigation smooth and hassle-free.
- To determine the mobile-friendliness of your website, consistently test it on real mobile devices. Doing so will help you catch any issues with the resolution or visibility of the text.
Load Speed and Load Time of The Web Page
- In today's fast-paced world, most users want quick results. If your web page takes more than a couple seconds to load, it is a major turn-off for users, and they are likely to close your website and turn to another source of information. Therefore, it is important to optimize the load speed of your web page to drive and retain organic traffic.
Google, too, takes notice of the page load speed and gives a higher ranking to fast-loading pages. Google's recommended page load time is under two seconds. Hence, if you want your website to have top SERP rankings, increase your website's load speed.
- Up Until 2018, page speed was a desktop-only ranking factor. However, Google now ranks the mobile version of a web page based on its load speed. Therefore, slow speed and increased load time not only drop your search rankings on Google, but can also result in revenue loss and lost traffic.
Amazon, a popular, high-traffic, e-commerce website, will bear losses if the website's loading time is delayed by even a single second. For Amazon, the annual dip in the revenue stream is estimated at $1.6 billion. British newspaper, The Telegraph, reports that if a webpage takes four seconds to load, it reduces the viewership by 11%.
Quantification of User Satisfaction and Experience
When ranking websites, Google takes user experience into account. To quantify the user experience, Google uses a Machine Learning AI algorithm called Rank Brain. Rank Brain performs two main functions:
- Understand search queries.
- Quantify user satisfaction by analyzing whether users are satisfied with the results of a search query, or not.
To do the latter, Rank Brain takes into consideration the following signals:
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR): CTR is the ratio of the number of users who click on a link to the total number of users who viewed the link in the search results.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of users who visit your website but leave the webpage or bounce back without taking further action. These actions may include visiting different website sections, filling out a form, or purchasing a product or service. A higher bounce rate will lower your Google search rankings. Google correlates a higher Bounce Rate with irrelevant content and a mismatch between your content and the user's search intent.
- Dwell Time: It measures the time a person spends interacting with a website after clicking on it. The more time a user spends on your website, the higher its ranking goes. A lengthier dwell time indicates that your content answers the queries of the users and it is relevant to their search intent. This means your website is sticky and you will be rewarded by Google for that.
To achieve higher user satisfaction and better user experience, optimize the titles, descriptions, and content to make it more relatable and improve its value.