10 Essential SEO Ranking Factors

Search Engine Optimisation can be a confusing concept to get to grips with, but as a marketer, you know that SEO is a must-have in your marketing toolbelt. Gaining even a basic understanding of the process, how it works and how you can implement it yourself can make all the difference. SEO requirements are continuing to change, if you’re familiar with SEO news you’ll already know that search never sits still for long. According to many sources, Google uses over two hundred different ranking factors to determine a site’s position on SERPs. With the nature of our industry, ticking every box and keeping up with every development would be impossible.

So, you might be wondering why Google are always updating their web preferences and ranking criteria, well in-part we’re responsible. These ranking factors are created to ultimately generate a better and smoother user experience, and more prominently websites are required to provide good user experiences in order to rank.

Page speed and mobile responsive

Page loading speeds have been cited as one of the most important SEO ranking considerations for some years now. Like us, Google wants to provide its users with good experiences online, that’s why they are reluctant to send users to websites that have long load times. An algorithm update in 2018 put mobile speediness in the spotlight and many websites that weren’t optimised for mobile were affected. Consider that several different website elements can impact or restrict loading times such as the use of images, video, and animation. There are a variety of tools to test how mobile-friendly your site is.

Pro tips: Always upload smaller files for images, you can use tools such as TinyPNG to compress your images without compromising your image quality, If you have a WordPress website, you can use a plugin called Smush to optimise all your images within your website.

Quality content

Content is king, the quality of content without a doubt, is a vital ranking factor. The content on your site must be original, unique and offer value and relevant information to the readers. Consider the length of your content too, long-form content tends to perform better in search results, this is because they are more explorative and offer wider insights into topics.

Google defines “Quality Content” as –

“- Each page on your site must serve a clear purpose. Is it to inform? Collect information? Provide directions or company details? It should be apparent at first glance, or your bounce rate will soar.”

“- The content must be original, well-written, and researched. We called this a ‘comprehensive’ piece of content.”

User experience & search intent

Google announced back in 2020 that they’ll be introducing a new ranking algorithm. This change will continue to shift towards a more user-first approach with the overall user experience (UX) being at the forefront. The new update dubbed the Google Page Experience is expected to begin rolling out this year, so if you haven’t already, you should consider your preparing now or risk falling in rankings. The proposed algo update comprises many existing ranking factors we’ve already covered such as; HTTPS, load times and mobile-friendliness.

The update is also likely to place emphasis on Core Web Vitals in which scores are assigned to different aspects of webpages looking at elements like load time, interactivity, and stability. Google has released a number of resources providing advice on why and how you should improve poor user experiences.

A secure and accessible website with HTTPS connection

Website security is another top Google ranking factor. You need to ensure that your website is HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), as this will ensure all data between your website and the user is encrypted, the older-style HTTP has a vulnerability in which hackers can intercept this traffic. This was confirmed by Google in 2014, also, you should look at gaining SSL certificates too. SSL certificates can be checked and verified by browsers to ensure their legitimacy.

It has been stated that moving to HTTPS does not have a drastic impact on your SEO but it is a way of improving your user experience and earning the trust of your visitors. Browsers will now display warning messages to users when visiting a site that does not have an HTTPS connection, so you’ll likely experience a large proportion of bounces if this affects you.

EAT

Google’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness is a framework designed to assess and evaluate content, webpages, and websites. Google in particular has always emphasised the importance of producing high-quality content and rewards those that do with better rankings. EAT plays a clear role in deciding which websites get visibility for particular terms and this framework should definitely be on your radar when evaluating your content and SEO strategy.

Title tags

The page title’s tag is still the most prominent on-page element in 2019 and it forms a crucial part of your SEO strategy. You may ask why the title tags are so important? This is not only the first thing that searchers will see in the SERPs, but it also helps the search engines to understand what your page is about.

Title tag provides the first impression many searchers have on your site. A properly optimised title tag can encourage visitors to click on your site and increase your site CTR. More CTR = More traffic to your site.

Headings

Are heading tags a ranking factor? Well, heading tags may not be the most vital ranking factors but heading tags are an important element of on-page SEO. It plays a main role in structuring content for both search engines and user experience (UX).

Heading tags are important for SEO as it tells the search engines as well as your site visitors what the content of your page is about. By utilising the heading tags such as H1, H2, H3…. on your page, you are helping your site rank better by making it easy for search engines to interpret your content and index it to rank accordingly.

Domain authority

Domain authority is a very important ranking factor, without a doubt. Search engines like Google will only want to display the best possible and most relevant search results in the SERPs to answer the searcher’s queries.

Domain authority is determined by a few factors:

– Domain age: Older domains generally rank better than new domains

– Domain status: For a domain to be qualified to rank, it must be clean and free of Google penalties.

– Domain reputation: A domain with good incoming links also represents the quality of your domain, the quality of the backlinks will have a high impact on the authority of your domain.

Backlinks and internal linking

Links from trusted websites are crucial to your SEO. Many SEOs believe backlinks are still one of the most critical ranking factors. Over recent years, Google has updated its algorithm frequently to adjust to how the backlinks are accounted for – quality over quantity. Links that can have an impact and support your site ranking come from high authority and trusted websites with a “follow attribute”. It is also known as a “Do-Follow Link”.

Internal linking is also important ranking factors. A well-planned internal linking structure can help in building topic relevance as well as assist both search engines and your site visitors to discover other relevant pages within your website. Other benefits of internal linking such as letting the link juice flow through to other pages on your site to boost up the URLs power.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO looks under the hood of your webpage, the more technical stuff, a basic understanding of coding will serve you well here. When all of your website elements are optimized correctly, together they’ll build your authority and trust, and in turn, your website’s visibility. You want to ensure that your site can be accessed, crawled and indexed easily by SE bots.

A website structure, URLs canonicalisation, redirection, speed optimisation, schema mark-up, robots.txt and XML sitemaps etc are the technical part of the search engine optimisation. These technical tasks must be done correctly in order to have a fast, healthy and better-ranking website.

How can we help?

By executing an effective SEO strategy your business will start to become established as a thought leader in the industry, not just in the eyes of the search engines but of your visitors too. SEO should always be a part of a wider marketing strategy to provide optimal results, if you’re looking to get started with a new plan or develop an existing one, get in touch with our team of experts today. 

Fraser Kerns

Fraser joined the Bright Design team as an SEO Executive. He’s responsible for identifying and implementing different strategies, techniques and tactics to achieve and exceed our client-partner’s objectives. Whether it be to increase traffic, lead generation or conversions, Fraser plays an important role in the marketing and delivery team.

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