SEO Checklist - Google Ranking Factors You Need to Know
What determines the position in Google? What influences positioning? These are the age-old questions of people who deal with website positioning. Even if you do not deal with positioning, it is worth knowing what it is and why some pages are higher than others.
Many Google ranking factors affect positioning, and from time to time, you can hear about changes or updates affecting the determination of Google ranking. According to Google, over 200 ranking factors influence search engine positions.
It is a fact that search engines keep updating their algorithms and what works best is a mystery; however, Google has provided some information about what you can do to get your site listed. With this shared information, our SEO experts worked many projects to understand better what factors influence the positioning. Our experience combined with the knowledge of Google algorithms has allowed us to bring many sites to the top positions on SERP. And today, we share with you the main Google ranking factors. Working on these factors, you can surely outperform your competitors in the ranking. But note that you should never try to trick search engines. As this will definitely backfire as soon as search engines find it out and sanction your website if not ban it from the results. Know that SEO is a work together with search engines to provide a better online experience to the users. So, let’s now have a look at the main Google ranking factors here!
Google Ranking Factors
As said earlier, there are many Google ranking factors, and it is almost impossible to list them all because they change at a dynamic pace. Along with the development of search engine algorithms, new functionalities are introduced that strongly affect ranking factors. So here, for your convenience, we have divided the main factors into two categories:
- On-Site Google Ranking Factors and
- Off-site Google Ranking Factors
On-Site Google Ranking Factors
1. Keywords in the page title
One of the most important elements in indexing is the title. This principle has been in force since the beginning of Google. The title allows you to define the content topic and match it with the relevant search results.
2. Keywords in content
The content that we add to our website (product descriptions, categories, news, blog entries) should contain appropriate key phrases so that the content stays relevant. With that, it is also important to use keyword variations, so you don't get into keyword stuffing.
3. H1 headings
H1 is an essential element. Compare it to the headline of a newspaper article. H1 should be used only once per page, and its content should be relevant to the topic of the page.
4. Headings h2, h3
Using these headers will help understand the structure and hierarchy of content not only for Google's algorithms but also for readers.
5. Keywords in the alt attribute
We use the alt attribute in images added to the page. Alt allows robots and users that block images to understand what the graphics show. In addition, you have a chance to find your photo in the Google Images search engine.
6. Content length and quality
The longer the content, the better for positioning. However, there must be a substantive value behind it. If the content quality is low, Google may ignore it. Research also shows that pages with content over 1,000 words have a greater chance of being in the TOP 10 of Google. It's crucial to find a balance between content length and quality.
7. The uniqueness of the content
For search engines, fresh and original content is very important. Avoid duplicating content (both external and internal) at all costs.
8. Internal links in the navigation
These links help the crawlers to establish the site hierarchy and the links between the individual pages of the site.
9. Internal links in the content
Internal links in content for Google are important for a simple reason - the more links to a given page from different places on the site, the higher the page is rated by Google robots. Compared to links in the navigation, links in content are much more time consuming - you have to add them one at a time.
10. Page loading speed
In order to increase the comfort of using the Internet, Google does everything to ensure that websites that operate as quickly as possible reach the TOP 10. This applies to both desktop and mobile websites.
11. Adaptation to mobile devices
All data shows that we search for information more often by phone than by PC. For this reason, Google has implemented the Mobile First algorithm, which evaluates the mobile website as the basic version. If the website has a poorly optimized mobile version, it will be intentionally underestimated on a mobile search engine. In the case of the desktop version, there may be a problem with obtaining stable positions in TOP10.
12. Content formatting
The different structure of the text will help the robots to read the content better. In addition to the headings above, it is worth using bolds, bullets, enumerations, subtitles and tables. Each text can also be enriched with multimedia materials - videos, photos, infographics, etc.
13. Content update
Once created, the content does not have to be forgotten. Older articles or blog entries can be updated and expanded with new content. Users like fresh content and Google want to deliver what readers want.
14. Publishing of videos
According to Cisco research, in 2021, videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic. Users are more and more willing to watch movies than read articles. It is the video that helps most in making purchasing decisions. So, it's no surprise that Google favours video sites.
15. Structured data
This is information in the form of a script added in the code of the page. They will allow the search engine to better understand what is on the page.
16. Robots.txt setting
Robots txt files tell Google which places on your website robots can reach and which to avoid. Its proper setting is crucial for SEO. If we accidentally prohibit Google from entering a page with internal links (and only on it), Google will also not access the deeper addresses that we care about.
17. Site Map
This is a map of all pages of the site that we want Google to visit. The sitemap is created in XML format and it allows you to better index your pages on Google. With its creation, you direct Google bots to move around your site.
A well-optimized site is a secure site. That is why it is so important to have an SSL certificate. Having HTTPS also inspires trust among users and makes your website credible.
Off-Site Google Ranking Factors
1. External linking
These are the links on other sites that point towards your website. You can take external links as the digital version of networking. Both the quantity and quality of the links are important — the more valuable the link, the better for positioning. But, mind that external links should be natural and lead to both the main domain address and individual subpages. The value of the links can be checked using tools such as the Ahrefs. With this, keep in mind that a link on a website with good reference has 100 times more value than from an unknown website whereas, a link on a website with a bad reputation in Google’s eyes will have a negative impact on your ranking. So, build relations only with serious websites and try to create relationships only with websites related to your industry or region.
2. Link profile
A valid link profile should be well mixed from social media platforms, blogs, forums and other kinds of websites. It must also contain the appropriate number of dofollow and nofollow links. The distribution of clean links and those placed on the anchor is also essential.
3. Authority and age of the domain
Domains with a long history have greater authority. The older the domain, the better. Nearly 60% of sites in the TOP10 of Google are more than three years old. Domain authority is also tested in terms of links leading to it.
4. Domain history
Before you take over a domain, check its history and avoid domains with a shameful history. Google has saved all the addresses of subpages that ever existed on the website, so you need to remember about them. Old URLs changed as a result of changing the page template should be redirected to new equivalents or display a 404 page with this HTTP response code on them. This is important even for addresses used several years ago.
Google has never officially disclosed all ranking factors, so you will find here the most important Google ranking factors tested by our specialists. If you take care of each of the elements listed here, your website will have a good chance of getting into the TOP 10 of Google. In case you are looking for some professional help, don't hesitate to contact our team of SEO experts for an SEO audit and a free strategy session.