SEO requirements keep shifting from time to time as search engines strive to give users the best experience. Every year, Google seems to issue a new ranking factor – like in 2014, it was HTTPS, 2015, mobile usability, 2016, RankBrain, 2017, more HTTPS, 2018, mobile page speed and so on.
As a marketer who is keen on ranking your site on the first pages of search engines, it’s essential to keep up with these updates. To help point you in the right direction, here are eight important SEO ranking factors that marketers should take note of:
A secure and accessible site
Google bots have to be able to crawl to your site and access the content to understand what the pages are about. That’s why you need to ensure that your site is developed with a well-coded website builder. Additionally, you’ll need a robots.txt file that points Google to where to or where not to look for information as well as a sitemap to list all your pages.
Google always wants to improve its user’s experience, and if your site takes too long to load, it may not rank you highly. Again, following the July 2018 update on mobile page speed, Google can penalize sites that do not load fast on mobile devices.
Today, people access the internet using different devices, including their smartphones, computers, and even tablets. So, it’s imperative to ensure that your site is responsive to all these devices. Besides, Google’s mobile-first index is in use, so if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it may not be listed.
A study by Ahrefs revealed that only a few sites that are less than a year old rank higher on Google. About 60% of websites in the top 10 positions are three or more years old. So, if yours is still new, don’t fret – you will be there soon.
Some studies show that Google deems domains with keywords that users are searching for as valuable, relevant, and high quality. But if you already have a domain name, you don’t have to change – you can still rank it with other factors.
Content plays a critical role in search engine optimization. In fact, it has been and will continue to be one of the most crucial ranking factors. But recently, there has been a shift from keyword-focused content towards high quality and relevant content. A study by SearchMetrics revealed that less than 40% of top 20 landing pages have keywords in their H1, and 53% of results have keywords in their title tag. This clearly illustrates that Google assesses content based on its relevance as opposed to the inclusion of keywords. But that’s not to say that keywords aren’t relevant, because they are.
More links will still lead to a higher ranking. However, that’s only true if they are from different authoritative domains. The secret to an effective link building campaign is to come up with content that people yearn for and promote it relentlessly. When reputable sites read and link the content, it will signal Google that the content is more relevant.