It might come as a surprise, but there at least 200 known Google ranking factors in their algorithm that can directly affect how your web pages are ranking. But once you realize where all these factors are coming from, it will make more sense. These can be anything from user-interaction signals such as; repeat traffic, number of comments, how long a visitor spends on your site, your bounce rate, etc., to site level factors such as your site trust, site usability, and mobile optimization.
You could go over all 200 and start making the changes you need. And if you start now, you’re going to need to set aside a considerable amount of time for this. Some elements aren’t very difficult that you or your web developer can start working on now. With that in mind, this article focuses on some of the most important factors you should start looking at.
Critical Technical On-Page Factors
Technical factors that affect your website and its ranking should be a first priority. Take into consideration that Google confirmed in 2014 that websites with strong HTTPS encryption are going to outrank pages that are unsecure HTTP websites. In fact, Google Chrome now marks sites that have not switched to HTTPS as unsafe. It is especially important that if a website does any type of business transactions, or gathers any user information at all, it should use HTTPS encryption.
Site visitors are starting to catch on to this, and it’s been made easier as Google Chrome will tell them that the page is secure next to the URL in the browser. Not using HTTPS encryption and still using HTTP? Get the security certificate and make the switch as one of the first things you do.
Your website should also have proper structure and use H1 and H2 headings in the source code. Data collection has shown that there is a strong correlation between higher rank and websites or landing pages that make use of at least one H2 heading.
Interstitials will cause you problems unless you are using them correctly. Pop-ups that end up covering the main content on a website, including ads or any call to action pop-up. It’s especially bad if these pop up, and then when clicked, take the user to another page. You can have interstitials, just make sure they aren’t interfering with the user’s ability to get the results they were looking for. There are exceptions, of course, such as logins, legally-required pop-ups such as age verification, and small banners which probably should be easy for the visitor to dismiss.
Comprehensive Content Contributes in Rankings
It cannot be stressed enough how important good and relevant content is when it comes to getting your website ranked. But it seems that a lot of website owners think that stuffing a lot of content on a lot of pages is going to get you ranked higher than another site with less pages and less content. This has been a misconception for a while now.
It’s a fact that websites that have less content, and fewer pages than another comparable site can have better rankings. And if you’re asking yourself how that’s possible, it’s pretty simple actually. A page that has more comprehensive, useful and relatable content is going to outrank another site based on the same niche. Take this to another level with extensive, exhaustively researched content that will naturally take more than 500 words, then you got yourself a better contender.
What this really means is giving the visitor content that gives a very detailed description, and answers every possible question about a subject. If a visitor to your website doesn’t find all the information they were looking for about a specific query, or product, then you need to go back and look at the value of your content again.
It’s important to reiterate that a website isn’t going to rank by stuffed pages upon pages of 500-word articles on it. It’s more about the quality, and the quantity doesn’t hurt either. And if you’re going to provide information for someone, then make sure to hit all the possible points and answer all their questions. You will need more than just a 500-word article in many cases.
A recent study showed that pages ranking on Google’s page 1 have an average of 1890 words.
User Experience is More Critical Than You Think
One of the things that most website owners are missing looking into is their website’s user experience. When looking at and testing user experience, you need to consider several factors. There are more people using their mobile devices to go online and find products or services.
Let’s face it, mobile devices have changed and driven a lot of changes when it comes to user experience. There are many websites still running online that are impossible to view on a mobile device. It’s important that your website is mobile friendly, meaning that not only it can be viewed easily but also comfortably usable. Design elements will play a big part in how friendly your website is to a mobile user. Having small buttons that make it difficult for a finger to tap on, text that is too small to read will contribute to a bad user experience.
Page speed is also a significant factor. There are a couple of main reasons for this, and it’s not simply because Google wants your page to load fast. They want your page to load fast for users who simply will not wait too long for your website to load. A visitor on a mobile site will not wait longer than 4-5 seconds for a page to load before they think that either the website is broken, or that the page doesn’t exist. And there can be many reasons for a slow loading website. Websites that have images with big file sizes, don’t have optimized code, or using full videos that need to buffer are the likely reasons your page isn’t loading fast enough. If your website is taking too long to load on a mobile device, have your web developer take a look and see where the problem is.
Is Backlinking Still a Viable Strategy?
Backlinking is still an important strategy, but if you’re not doing it right, or your SEO service provider has no idea what quality backlinking is, then you may even get penalized for certain backlinks, even if you don’t think you are doing anything wrong. Backlinking isn’t all about getting other sites to link back to you. Yes, that is the definition of the term, but there are other factors that you’ve got to look at when it comes to building links. Some SEO’s think that linking to authority sites help send trust signals back to Google. However, it’s good idea to keep your outbound links relevant to your main content. It’s also not a good idea to have too many outbound links as your websites can leak PageRank. In short, you don’t want to be simply a reference page. Link out only when you need to supplement your content with that link.
Some people might say that PageRank is no longer significant. Page Rank was not something that was done away with. Google just doesn’t supply website owners with that information anymore. And many developers probably recall that the PageRank toolbar was done away with and no longer updated. You can be certain that PageRank still exists, but it’s not something that you can easily utilize. When it comes to internal links, it’s important to point out that the number of internal links pointing to a page indicates its importance relative to other pages on your site. If you are simply linking pages to link them together, instead of linking pages based on relevance, then you could hurt your website’s’ ranking.
Backlinks from other sites (that you do not own) to your content are more valuable than internal links, and they should be links that are relevant or supplementing the content of the linking website. Getting sites to backlink to you is the most difficult part. But the big secret here comes down to having the best content you can create. To be successful in the backlinking game, you should develop exceptional content that other website owners will love to backlink to.
These are just a few things that make up some of the most important factors when it comes to ranking a website. They are arguably the most important. The bottom line comes down to the user experience. When you offer your visitor a good user experience, Google rewards your efforts.
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