If you’re familiar with SEO marketing, then you’re well aware of the fact that there are a lot of factors that search engines consider to determine a website’s rank. In fact, there are roughly 200 factors that Google looks at when determining which website deserves to be on first page.
That’s a lot of factors.
Thankfully, they’re not all made equal. Google holds some factors in higher regard than the others—which means that a website that incorporates only 20% of the ranking elements can still be ranked higher than a website that incorporates 50%.
Which ones of those 200 should you incorporate, and which ones can you afford to skip? Take a look at some of our top picks:
1. Page Loading Speed
Ever since the internet was introduced and made accessible to the general public, speed has always been a priority. Even more so now, with our average attention span being one second shorter than a goldfish’s.
We, as a society, want immediate results.
The longer we have to wait for something—in this case, a page to load—the more dissatisfied we feel. Google’s aim has always been to improve the user experience, and the speed at which a website loads plays a huge role in dictating said experience. Therefore, it follows that page speed has been—and continues to be—one of Google’s main SEO ranking factors.
2. Content Length & Quality
Google’s algorithms may prioritize quality over quantity most of the time, but this doesn’t mean you can just disregard content quantity. The more pieces you publish, the better the chances are of Google seeing you as an active website.
What’s more, Google’s algorithm views longer pieces of content as comprehensive pieces of content. Writing quality aside, it’s highly likely that a 1,500-word blog post will be more in-depth and cover more ground than a 500-word blog post on the same topic.
Google is, therefore, more likely to favor the site with the 1,500-word post.
On the other side of the coin, don’t disregard quality either. If people don’t find your content particularly useful or relevant, they may click out early and never return—both of which are strikes against your website.
3. Strategic Keyword Use & Placements
Keyword usage and SEO marketing go hand-in-hand. Search engines use keywords to gauge the relevancy and legitimacy of a website. Too many keywords can be counted as keyword stuffing, but just the right amount of keywords placed in the right areas can give your website the advantage it needs.
For example, Google’s crawlers use the meta description to get an accurate summary of the page’s content. Seeing a keyword in the meta description—like “hairdresser, CA” or “best digital marketing agency”—tells the search engine what the website is all about. So you definitely want to place your main keyword in the meta tag.
You should also consider placing your keyword (and supporting keywords) in the page title, headline (H1 tag), your About page, and other similar areas.
4. Link Usage & Link Quality
Just like keywords, search engines use links as indicators of a website’s relevance and legitimacy. The more authoritative links you have on your website, the better your SERP rank will be. Links are especially useful in local SEO marketing strategies. If you’re targeting a specific service area, link building is an SEO technique you definitely want to look in to.
We’ve previously talked about some features of link building that Google focuses on. Quality, quantity, relevancy, authority, and diversity are just some factors that search engines consider when crawling through a website.
For instance, inbound link authority speaks of how valuable other people—and other domains—find your website. The quality and quantity of your links indicate the quality of your content. And the diversity of the links help prove that you’re not trying to cheat the algorithm by getting multiple support links from just one or two other domains.
5. Mobile Optimization
And last, but certainly not the least; mobile optimization. As far our current society is concerned, websites that are not optimized for mobile consumption are outdated and old-fashioned.
Ever since mobile device usage exceeded desktop usage in 2016, business owners and marketers have scrambled to make their pages easily accessible on smartphones and tablets.
There is a very real possibility of users backing out of your website simply because it won’t load properly on their handheld device, and this is a possibility that Google’s algorithm takes seriously.
It’s true; SEO requirements are constantly evolving. As a digital marketer or avid SEO marketing strategist, it can be fairly difficult to stay updated. But if you want your website to have a fighting chance, you need to know what’s what. After all, optimizing a website to drive quality traffic means better chances at generating convertible leads that end, eventually, in big sales.