The 6 Essential Google Ranking Factors for 2019
When Google visits your website it has a kind of checklist of over 200 things to consider (ranking factors), all of which affect where you end up in the search results - to a greater or lesser extent.
in Blogosphere by Paul
SEO is not the mystical black art some people make it out to be. The basics also happen to be the most important, and there are just SIX basics to get right..
1. On-Page Optimisation
It's the first thing you do, well, after keyword research that is. What you're doing with your search results efforts is building a house, and on-page optimisations are the foundations. The page address, the meta tags, the heading tags, the content, it all needs gearing to the keywords for that page.
A properly optimised page will jump the rankings regardless of anything else. And if you're an Adwords user it will do your quality score no end of good!
2. SSL Certificates For Everybody!
Google began favouring HTTPS websites back in 2014. They've been pushing for a 'secure internet' for years and now they even highlight non-secure websites in their Chrome browser by displaying 'Not Secure' at the top. So apart from it affecting your rankings it does NOT look good for visitors, we wrote about the other benefits of getting an SSL certificate here. So, what was once only used by e-commerce websites is now a vital requirement for everybody.
3. High Quality Content
This has been incredibly important ever since Google became a thing, and it just gets more and more important as time goes by. High quality means writing plenty of informative and original text because it increases the time spent on your pages and lowers the bounce rate (another ranking factor - bounce rate is the number of visitors who land on your page and quickly decide it's not for them and go elsewhere).
A phrase we often hear from website owners is "nobody is going to read all that c**p". But they do, they came in to your shop and they want to find out more, so as long as it's relevant and original, it's a winner. For example, as well as attaching a pdf spec sheet to your page, put the most important specs on your page, with a quick contact form.
4. Page Speed and Hosting
It's a fact that the slower your website loads the more visitors you lose. It's just a few seconds before they scoot off elsewhere. And if losing people before they've even seen your website isn't bad enough Google will penalise you for it. Fast loading pages make for a smooth browsing experience which Google knows is important so it's a key ranking factor. This is something else we wrote about in our article about why fast websites are important.
Minimising content and serving lower res imagery to mobiles is part of it, but fast reliable hosting is absolutely essential. Google doesn't like it when it it turns up and your website is down and of course you'll lose visitors including those all-important returning visitors. Without reliable hosting everything else has been a waste of time and money.
5. Mobile Usability
Back in the mid noughties a website that looked great on a mobile was rare and cost twice as much as a 'normal' website. Now it's all about "mobile first". We are well into the world of more people looking at your website on a mobile device than a laptop or desktop, Google knows it and in 2016 started rolling out their mobile first indexing.
The best way to be sure this wont affect your rankings is to use a responsive mobile first framework like Bootstrap.
6. Domain Authority and Backlinks
Backlinks have always been important but today it very much depends on where they come from. So once everything else is in place it's time to increase your own domain authority and traffic by securing highly relevant backlinks from high authority websites. Building a backlink strategy to properly optimised pages is Once you're happy all that other stuff is in place, you'll want to start thinking about securing some high quality backlinks to increase your domain authority.
Some other notes..
Sitemaps used to be essential but now they're more of a diagnostic tool, and they need close management on a dynamic website. A small business wouldn't normally submit a sitemap these days, Googlebot does all the work now, but if you were keen Google explains how to build and submit a sitemap here.
Duplicate content - I think I manage to work this SEO killer in to every conversation I have. Talking about the beautiful sunset? Yeah but what about duplicate content!? I think I'll save all that for an article about SEO killers!