Google – the 4 top ranking factors

Search is a complicated and an evolving art and science.

While there are over 200 unique signals or “clues” that Google uses to rank pages, they are actually part of very few main sections, of which the 4 most important sections are Content, Links, User Experience and On-Page Optimization.

Have these 4 factors correctly applied to your website and your search engine presence will boost up incessantly. Wondering how you can achieve it?

This post discusses these 4 factors and related points in detail.

Content

Content is certainly one of the most important factors in SEO as it helps Google to make connections in between the webpage relevance and the search query, relevance being one of the topmost ingredients in Google search.

But what really happens is since content relevance can’t be measured in numbers it often becomes the neglected child of content publishers and SEO companies.

What you need to remember is that just creating content for search engines isn’t the right content strategy. You should rather aim at creating great content for your users and search engines will automatically follow the footsteps.

However most websites try to manipulate search engine rankings by either neglecting content altogether or creating low quality content that is copied, stitched or simply scraped. This creates a new problem rather than solving the original one.

To fight such low quality content issues, Google launched a major algorithm upgrade in early 2011, Panda, which was designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it started providing better rankings for high-quality sites — sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

What Google is looking for is sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on. All our SEO Packages already include large scale high quality content development activities. The number of monthly content pieces we develop will vary from package to package.

Basically our SEO Packages will take care of regular high quality content creation for your website as we keep adding content for our client’s website on a monthly basis.

Content Quality:

Creating great content that performs well in Google search results

When we create content for our clients we keep a lot of things in mind. We always create "cornerstone content" which is evergreen, original and highly informative, something that other websites would love to link to.

To assess the “quality” of a page or an article we answer some key questions about that article/page. These are the kinds of questions that even Google’s expert engineers ask themselves as they write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality.

Think of it as their take at encoding what they think their users want. Here is what Google’s top search engineers would regard as a high-quality site when it comes to content:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail

Links

Links can be internal, external or backlinks. While internal links help in getting your website indexed, external links are simply links pointing to other websites.

Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. These links are called as backlinks. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”

Backlinks are regarded as the number one ranking factor by most SEOs, but that’s not so. In fact putting all your focus on unnatural link building could harm your website’s search engine presence because of Google’s Penguin algorithm update.

Penguin was a crucial and core update in Google’s algorithm which targeted link-spam. It was first launched in the year 2012.

Needless to say that backlinks are an important ranking factor, but they are part of the long term game. As it is the natural links that help build your sites importance in Google.

But most SEOs more often promote short-term link building option of non-earned unnatural backlinks via link spamming tactics. But none of these actually pay off, less so in the long run.

The safest most effective way of building natural links is to create great compelling content that is useful for your users.

User Experience

Web User Experience has a very wide meaning and forms an essential ingredient in Google’s ranking algorithm. It includes various aspects that connect your webpage or your website users with the experience they have while using it.

It includes aspects such as your page-speed, it’s layout, including very specific aspects like how easily users can find the content they were looking for and whether your site uses breadcrumbs or not.

Google takes into consideration all such and many more aspects when ranking a website. For example it launched a Page layout algorithm improvement in 2012 that looked at the layout of a webpage and the amount of content users sees on the page once they click on a result. This new algorithmic improvement impacted sites where there was only a small amount of visible content above-the-fold or relevant content was persistently being pushed down by large blocks of ads.

Another algorithm update related to user experience was the mobile-friendly update of 2015, which boosted the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Later in 2018, Google launched the Mobile-first indexing update which meant that Google started using the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for. Prior to this update crawling, indexing, and Google’s ranking systems typically used the desktop version of a page’s content.

Performance plays a major role in the success of any online venture and page speed is an essential element of website’s performance. To that end Google launched the site speed update in their search ranking algorithms. Since then it has been one of the main ranking signals and it shows just Google’s obsession with speed. According to Google site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.

Structured data, Meta Description and other on-page factors

On-page optimization includes certain specific on-page signals in a web page that can help enhance its search engine presence in Google. While we couldn’t cover all the signals in this post as this would require a complete post dedicated to the topic however we have covered some of the more important and prominent ones.

Please remember that all these and similar on-page factors are rather smaller signals which combine to become a bigger factor in your overall search engine rankings. When we work for our clients we take care of all these aspects and ensure that their websites are fully optimized. If you have any queries please feel free to email us at ceo@seowebup.com

While some of these on-page aspects are already covered in the above 3 factors, some other on-page factors include things like URL Structure, HTTPS, Meta Description, Structured data, Image names and ensuring that a web page is crawlable or not.

URLs often appear in search results. A well-structured URL offers users a quick hint about the page topic and how the page fits within the website. Though a good URL structure won’t guarantee immediate ranking improvement, an optimized URL structure will certainly help in making your page appear more relevant to a search query which in turn works as a ranking signal.

Google frequently prefers to display meta descriptions of pages in snippets — the short text preview display for each web result. The quality of your snippet can have a direct impact on the chances of your site being clicked (i.e. the amount of traffic Google sends your way). Therefore optimizing snippets is good way to improve your CTR or Click Through Rate in Google Search.

Back in 2011, Google announced schema.org, a new initiative from Google, Bing and Yahoo! to create and support a common set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages. Schema.org aims to be a one stop resource for webmasters looking to add markup to their pages to help search engines better understand their websites.

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