Stop ignoring google search ranking
If you’ve been ignoring SEO, you need to stop. Research shows that 95% of web clicks from Google come through the first search results page. If your Google ranking pushes you off the first page, you’re missing a ton of traffic. See what I mean with this image from Backlinko below:
Before we dive into optimizing your search ranking, we need to cover how Google works.
Google’s search bots, or ‘spiders,’ crawl the web by visiting web pages. They add correctly optimized and crawlable pages to their index and catalog them. When users search, Google shows the best results based on their search terms out of the trillions of pages in Google’s index.
Let’s look in detail at the top ranking factors for Google in 2020.
Top 10 Current Ranking Factors for Google
#10 – Backlinks
A backlink is a hyperlink that comes from a page outside of your website. Google first launched its PageRank algorithm back in 1996, and more than two decades later backlinks remain one of the most important ranking signals in Google’s search algorithm. The more links you have from high-authority domains, the better your chances are to rank well for top keywords.
To go about getting quality backlinks, there are several strategies. Everything from cold outreach to leaning on robust, quality content can move the dial.
#9 – A Secure, Accessible Website
To rank well, your website needs to be easy for the Google spiders to crawl. Enabling SSL security on your website, building your site with a well-coded website builder, having a sitemap that lists all your pages, and including a robots.txt file that tells Google where it can and can’t look for information all help your SERP ranking.
Few things impact usability as dramatically as site speed. Almost half of your users expect your page to load within two seconds. You could have the highest quality content in the world, but if it won’t load it won’t rank.
Mobile-friendliness is another non-negotiable when it comes to usability. In 2016 Google introduced mobile-first indexing and it continues to expand. Your site’s mobile performance deeply impacts its rankings. (Check out our mobile-optimization tips in this blog if your site isn’t up to speed.)
#7 – Locality
SEO is going local in a big way, especially for small businesses. Ranking well in local searches matters more than ever amid the coronavirus pandemic. Schema markup code helps Google’s spiders better understand specific texts such as your address, phone number, reviews, and more. Here’s an example of how a business address looks in schema code:
#6 – Domain
Exact-match domains used to be the sure-fire way to boost organic search ranking. It’s not as foolproof as before, but domains still hold sway in search results. Having keywords exactly matched in your domain (i.e. a user searches for “cars” and pulls up www.cars.com) is still a way to optimize, but something that has started to matter more is domain seniority. A domain with an extended track record will likely hold top positions over a new exact-match domain.
#5 – Freshness
Freshness carries different weight depending on the keywords you’re optimizing for. For example, with news articles, freshness matters a lot because Google knows that users want to see the most recent news that’s been released. For something like product sales, freshness matters slightly less, and Google’s algorithm usually weighs reviews from a couple of months ago as still highly relevant. For evergreen searches like ‘how to grow tomatoes,’ freshness takes a serious back seat.
#4 – Keyword Targeting
When you’re trying to rank for specific keywords, you need to define them before you create your content. Identify 4-5 related keywords that you’d like to rank for and incorporate them whenever they naturally fit into your text, titles, and header tags. Be warned, Google’s bots are smart and they can recognize when you’ve stuff keywords unnaturally into your page. Getting caught keyword stuffing can actually hurt your SEO because Google penalizes it.
#3 – Content Volume
Research suggests that content over 2,000 words gets more top ten positions in Google SERPs. The rule isn’t set in stone, and you should never add fluff just to boost your word count (this isn’t high school) but if a topic needs depth, give it depth. Remember, Google is trying to serve the highest quality content to users, and a site that offers more usable information is going to rank higher.
#2 – RankBrain
Google uses artificial intelligence that looks at user signals to better rank web pages. Some signals it looks for are click-through rate, bounce rate, and dwell time. If users land on your site, don’t like it, and bounce – Google thinks that it isn’t relevant to their needs. If enough people do this, your site ranking will go down. Conversely, if people click through to your page and stick around, that tells Google that your content is relevant to that keyword. Make sure that you are targeting the right keyword for your content to use this ranking factor to your advantage.
#1 – Quality Content
To get a high Google search ranking and keep it, focus on producing quality content that’s compelling and easy to understand. Quality is what Google is looking for, so even if you find a way to trick the algorithm into ranking your site, you won’t keep that ranking if users bounce right after they land there.
If you’re struggling to make sense of your Google ranking, please reach out! Until then, keep being intentional to create high-quality, optimized content that will get you the clicks you deserve.