The difficult thing about figuring out Google’s ranking factors is that Google is constantly changing its search engine algorithm. To be fair, it has to keep changing it in order to keep searches relevant. That, and to prevent black hat SEO techniques—such as keyword stuffing, hidden links, and cloaking—from actually working.
However, that leaves us white hat SEO experts in a constant loop of learning all the new factors for Google rankings, understanding them, and then implementing them, over and over and over. This means essentially starting from scratch every time Google refreshes its algorithm.
Is it annoying? Not as much as you think.
Is it easy? Not exactly.
Is it worth it?
White hat SEO is the best way to ensure you’re staying 100% Google-compliant and not actually sacrificing quality content for your followers. Knowing you made it to on the first page of Google’s SERP without using any shady, underhanded techniques is one of the best feelings. And once you’ve gone through at least a dozen algorithm changes, you get used to it after a while.
But don’t worry—we know keeping up with Google can get a little crazy. So we’ll help you get started. For 2018, here are the top 5 factors that can greatly influence your website’s Google Rankings.
Nowadays, people don’t have the time—or the temperament—to wait thirty seconds for a page to fully load. You either show them everything you’ve got in ten seconds or less or else they’re hitting the back button.
Optimized for Mobile
At this point, people rely on their phones more than they do their laptops. Sure, there are some things you can only do on a PC—but simple Google searches are not one of them. More search engine queries are performed on a smartphone than a desktop now, and if your website doesn’t translate properly to smartphone screens, visitors won’t bother trying to decipher it.
Webpage Content Length
It’s the good old ‘quality vs quantity’ debate. In the case of Google rankings, quality always wins.
Keyword density may no longer be as high a ranking factor as it used to be, but Google does encourage using a wide variety of recognizable keyword variations and synonyms. For instance, stuffing a 500-word article with 10 mentions of “best camping tent” can get you penalized. However, Google is completely capable of recognizing synonymous terms, and therefore will still deem your page relevant if you scatter terms such as “tent,” “camp shelter,” and “camping gear” throughout your article.
Also remember that keyword density is still important. A 500-word article with ten mentions of the keywords can be considered keyword-stuffed, but a 1,500-word article with ten mentions of the keywords is perfectly fine. Most SEO experts agree that the highest ranking pages tend to have longer and more consistent content, anyway.
You can associate your website with a trustworthy website via a backlink, consequently earning some of that glowing recommendation for yourself. The more backlink you have to credible websites, the more credibility your page gets in exchange. However, an old black hat SEO technique before was paying for these backlinks to boost authority.
To correct this, Google launched Penguin in 2012 to trace these bad backlinks and penalize both sites—the site that paid for the link, and the site it was linking to.
The more links you have to reputable, credible sites that you acquired organically—aka you didn’t pay for it—raises your trustworthiness in Google’s rankings.
Google’s got these things called “spiderbots.” They’re basically virtual spiders that crawl through the websphere, land on websites, and then briefly scan the URL and website content to get an idea of what it’s about and the elements it contains. The data is then put away into servers and the website has been officially categorized.
It’s important that your website is 100% accessible to these spiders, and that it’s coded in such a way that the text is in a readable format, the images and videos are embedded correctly, and the proper metadata assigned to everything. If a spiderbot doesn’t understand your website, it doesn’t matter how many SEO techniques you implement; you won’t show up on searches.