Ranking in Google’s search results is key to getting your content in front of your target audience. However, keeping track of algorithm changes can be very challenging, and knowing which Google ranking factors really matter can be even harder.
How many ranking factors does Google have? Well, lots, but don’t let this overwhelm you – focusing on a few crucial ranking factors in Google can help you rank high organically within search engine results.
To help you, Bluetrain has created a Google ranking factors SEO checklist, including the five most important Google ranking factors, what they mean, and how you can implement changes to your website to rank high.
1. High-Quality Content
Original content that’s unique and provides valuable information is one of the most important Google search ranking factors. Even if your website is as optimized as it can be, your ranking won’t improve unless your website’s content meets Google’s standards. Before hitting the ‘publish’ button, be sure you’ve considered the following.
Google prefers new, original content over duplicated content. Having content that’s too similar to other webpages or simply duplicate content can hurt your ranking and even prevent your page from being indexed or ranked by Google. In addition to this, Google may slow down the crawling rate of your site if you duplicate content too often.
These reasons should be enough to convince you not to duplicate and to make sure your content is new, unique, and that it is relevant and useful to your audience.
Like most users, Google tends to prefer up-to-date content. This is especially important if your content covers fluctuating topics or trends.
It is good practice to keep your content updated so it provides the newest information on your chosen topic. For example, if your blog posts cover upcoming updates and releases of video games, you will want to regularly update those posts to keep users informed with the right information.
While there’s no exact word count you need to hit, your content should have at least 300 words per page. In fact, pages with a word count of 1,890 rank the highest on average.
A good way to approach content length is to write your posts with a good amount of depth on your chosen topic. Google likes content that goes into detail to answer a user’s query, so make sure your content is long enough to provide in-depth information about your topic.
Like a house needs a foundation to stand strong, your content needs good structure. Structure is what will help users, and Google, easily navigate through your content. You want to make sure that content on each of your website’s pages are as organized as possible.
A good way to do this is by using the right types of headings and subheadings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to organize your content. It is also a good idea to use HTML tags when creating bullet-point lists as this will make it clear to Google’s crawlers, who read code rather than words, that your content is well organized.
Practicing good content structure improves your site’s overall readability, which in turn improves your overall user experience, which then improves your ranking.
2. Search Intent
Search intent is the “why” behind a user performing a Google search and is one of the top Google ranking factors in 2022.
Search intent as a ranking signal is categorized generally into four types: Transactional, Informational, Navigational, and Commercial. Any search query can be assigned one or more of these search intent types, depending on what Google’s ranking algorithm thinks the user is trying to accomplish.
Consider what information users are looking for, what problem they’re trying to solve, and where they are in their buyer journey. Google wants to show the best content based on the user’s search intent. To have your content rank well, make sure your content is relevant to what a user is looking for based on their specific search term.
3. Page Speed
Page speed is how quickly your website loads. The Google page speed ranking factor has a big impact on user experience. After all, who wants to sit around waiting for text and images to load?
If your page loads quickly, this can improve your ranking because it helps users get helpful information fast. There are tools available online to help you determine your page speed, such as Google’s Page Speed Insight. Bluetrain can also help you along the way with tips so the website you build loads as quickly as possible!
4. Mobile Friendliness
It’s no surprise that in 2022, web users are mostly turning to their mobile devices for information. As such, Google launched mobile-first indexing in July of 2019, which introduced a new Googlebot. This new Googlebot crawls and indexes web pages separately, with a Googlebot Smartphone version working alongside the Googlebot Desktop version. Mobile-first indexing means new pages are first crawled by Googlebot Smartphone, and that a web page can be ranked differently for different keywords depending on whether a user is searching from a desktop or smartphone.
This, along with the fact that an overwhelming amount of people use their phone to browse the internet today, means it’s important for your website to be mobile friendly. Again, there are tools that can help you build a mobile-friendly website, such as Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
Internal links are the links within your own website, which should help users easily navigate it. However, it’s not just the users you want to guide. Google primarily follows links to navigate websites, and your internal linking structure is what Google will use to navigate your website’s content. If the journey isn’t clear, or full of obstacles, your website risks not ranking as high as it could.
Also, Google will more often visit pages that have a high volume of internal links directed at them. This is your opportunity to guide Google to the post/page you value the most.
In addition, an easy to navigate website is one that will improve your overall user experience, which should always be top-of-mind when designing a good SEO website.
External Links (also known as Backlinks)
Backlinks have always been crucial for higher rankings, and they still hold quite a bit of weight in 2022. What are backlinks, though?
Essentially, backlinks are when other websites link back to yours. These links are important Google page ranking factors because they show Google that other sources find your content to be valuable, and act as proof that your content should rank higher in search results. Backlinks also help your target audience find your content.
Although there are various factors to keep in mind when acquiring backlinks, such as quality and relevancy.
Quality: Your website will benefit much more if it acquires a backlink from a reputable website, or one with a high domain authority, as opposed to if it were to acquire one from a small, lesser-known website.
Relevancy: Keep in mind that the website linking back to yours needs to have content that is relevant to the content of your website. For example, if you are a small local contractor, getting a link from the Globe and Mail won’t be as effective as one from Lowes, since Lowes aligns with what your website is all about much more than the Globe and Mail does.
There are many Google SEO ranking factors, though the ones you should focus most of your attention on are high-quality content, links, search intent, page speed, and mobile friendliness. Pay close attention to these factors when building a new website or simply maintaining an existing one in 2022. Need help building a website that ranks? View our Website Development Services Page to learn more about Bluetrain’s services, or contact us for more information on how we can help you achieve your goals!