There are over 200 known ranking factors that contribute to Google’s overall algorithm. Some are more important than others…
Let’s take a look at the top 5.
1. Links Are Still Killing It!
This is the big one. There is still nothing more important in SEO than links…
However, not all links are created equally, and there are specific things that Google looks for when examining a link profile. Three of the main ones are:
How many backlinks does a website have? Are they all from the same domain? How long have they been live? Is the website still gaining links or were they all obtained in a short space of time?
A larger quantity of links will still make your website fly. Although you need to be more selective of your backlinks now a day.
What kind of anchor text do the links have? Are they KW optimized? Or are they over optimized? Are they machine generated?
The definition of anchor texts and the part they play have changed over the years but they still carry heavy weight.
If links are a gun this is the ammunition. Be careful to not use the same over and over again. That might leave a footprint and put you in jail (or get you penalized).
What kind of website is the link on? Is the website an authority on the subject? Do other authority websites link to it, or are they mainly low-quality sites?
If links are a gun this would be the gunman. You want someone who knows how to aim and have done it before.
Getting a link from an authority website is not easy but something everyone should aim for. Having some quality content might help you on your way which leads us to the seconds ranking factor…
2. Content Is Still King!
The days of being able to rank spun, machine-generated content are long behind us. Google demands grammatically perfect, well researched, and highly engaging content at the top of its SERPS.
While links are the most important ranking factor, without good HQ content your website will not rank.
Links and content are entirely codependent.
Without links, no one will ever see your content (regardless of how awesome it is).
Without good content, the effectiveness of your backlinks will be vastly reduced.
While there are a huge amount of factors Google grades content on, two main things, in particular, are relevance and length.
Google has gotten pretty darn good at actually determining what content is about. It has started to try and understand the actual meaning behind words, instead of matching keywords to search queries. To please Google you need to write well-researched articles that are on topic – without filler content.
The word count of an article seriously impacts the amount of Google love it will receive. Google wants in-depth articles that cover topics in their entirety.
The longer your article is, the better it will rank.
There is one caveat to this statement – don’t waffle. To get the maximum amount of benefit you need to make your article as long as possible, BUT without losing relevancy / typing words just for the sake of it.
3. Page Speed – The Survival Of The Fittest
With the web being consumed more frequently on mobile devices each year, it’s no surprise that Google wants websites to be as lightweight and fast as possible.
Google does not come out and announce confirmed ranking factors very often, but they just won’t stop talking about page speed.
To rank in the top spots, your website needs to be fine tuned and running at warp speed. Google even provides a free tool for you to check your website against its recommended guidelines and tells you how to fix it. Fixing your page speed score is one of the easiest things you can do to get yourself a little extra Google love.
4. CTR Is What Separates You From The Rest
There is a growing amount of evidence that the click-through rate (CTR) from the SERPS to your website is an influential ranking factor. It’s a fact that the websites at the top of the SERPS generally seem to have the best CTR’s (but this could be an unrelated correlation).
Optimize your title tags and meta descriptions and you could see a noticeable increase in rankings. And even if your rank doesn’t improve, increasing CTR is an easy way to get more traffic from the same spot in the SERPS.
5. Mobile Friendliness (Obviously)
A natural partner to the Page Speed ranking factor is mobile friendliness. It’s important for the same reasons as Page Speed and is also a Google confirmed ranking factor. In fact, Google has created an entirely separate index for mobile websites – and if your website is not mobile-friendly, it’s not going to be ranking anywhere at all.
Bonus: Optimizing your site for mobile not only increases your position in the SERPS but it will also increase your websites ROI with mobile visitors being able to navigate it easier, and potentially deciding to spend more time browsing it.