There are more than 200 Google ranking factors that we know. And many more that are hidden inside sneaky algorithms unknown to us. The question is, do you really need to know about all 200 ranking factors? It is humanly impossible for someone to keep a track of all 200 factors. And we can safely say that you don’t need to. However, there are some ranking factors that affect your SEO to a large extent and these are the factors that matter.
It is a bit more complicated than what meets the eye. Google keeps updating their algorithms to rank websites and pages in the search results. A highly relevant factor right now may not be that important next year. If you focus too much on that particular factor, you may lose your ranking.
What are Google Ranking factors and its importance?
Google ranking factors are the signals and properties that Google collects and evaluates to create a page rank for your web pages. Google changed the search engine business when it entered the market. The company always focused on ranking web pages, trying to place the best results first. This really helped with the credibility as users were sure of the best content on any given topic. Earlier, Google used a major ranking factor : Links. At present, there are more than 200. In this article, we will discuss the 10 most important Google ranking factors for your website in 2020.
Backlinks are the real MVP
We have established this time and again, Links were Google’s first ranking factor and it stays relevant even today. A backlink is a link placed by another website owner to your website/content. Google has always focused on the use of quality backlinks to determine the quality of your content.
Though, now the focus on the quality of the link is much higher than twenty years ago. Earlier, it was easy to have hundreds of spammy links on your website. No points for guessing, these links don’t work anymore. You will only benefit from the high quality links now. If there are many spammy links, you may also be penalized and severely affect your SEO.
Content Length and Quality
Google only believes in showing their users the content they wish to consume. More often than not, this means showing the most information rich and well-written content on a given topic. You must have a question though, how is the quality measured?
It is difficult to determine the quality of the content even if you are Google. However, Google will rank your content based on structure, grammar, information density, number of words, writing style, ease of understanding etc. It is often discussed on the internet, what is the optimum content length of a blog? It depends on a lot of factors like your niche, your audience, their interests etc. Though, it has been established that longer content (1500-2000+ words) fare better than shorter (600-800 words) pieces of content. You should not forget to use good grammar, structure and sub-parts not more than 300 words.
Site and Page Speed
Do you like a website that takes ages to load? Me neither, nor does Google’s search algorithm. Hence, having a website that loads faster and seamlessly is a more efficient factor for on-page SEO.
If your website takes a little more than 2 secs to load, you can expect an exponential increase in bounce rate. Bounce rate, in turn affects your SEO ranking. A smooth browsing experience is extremely important now more than ever. Today, users have more bandwidth and less patience so your website needs to give them that experience. Regular website audit is key for SEO improvements. There are various tools available in the market, we recommend using GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights.
Google always uses mobile-first indexing to crawl websites. It clearly means that Google uses the mobile version to evaluate a website. Now, if you have done everything to make a flawless desktop version of your website, your SEO could take a hit if it isn’t mobile optimized. As a good rule of thumb, always preview the web pages to make sure that they’re easily accessible across all types of devices.
Nowadays, most CMS’s have a built in feature to ensure this before you publish. Also, you can use a free testing tool like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test which provides similar options.
User Experience is a tough nut to crack. Before we proceed, let’s find out what good user experience means:
- The user gets the information they are looking to find.
- Easy website navigation.
- Quality informative content.
- No intrusion like ads, pop ups etc.
How to measure user experience? The most important characteristic is how long users stay on your website and the use (overuse) of interstitials. Anything a user experiences on your website may hamper your SEO. There must be a fine balance between user experience and SEO.
I am sure you must be surprised with the inclusion of this factor. It is surprising because Google never mentioned that they consider this particular ranking factor. However, the evidence suggests that a domain’s age plays a huge role in your website ranking.
This makes sense because short term domains often do not publish authentic content. We know that Google is always after organic link profiles. Now, this can be achieved over a period of time. If you have a new domain and push hundreds of links, that trick won’t go down well with Google’s search algorithm. This means that if you make consistent efforts, you will reap significant results year after year. It is a long term investment.
Internal Link Building
We have discussed the importance of internal links for crawling and indexing the content on your website. These crawlers use internal links to analyze and index the content.
The term “internal links” refers to a hyperlink which redirects to a page on the same domain. It is best to have a tight-knit internal linking structure to make it easier for the search engine to find what they are looking for.
If you think you can just post any random image on your website from your desktop without a description, it will backfire on your SEO. There’s an SEO component with image description. Each and every image on your website comes with an alt-text which is referred to as an alt-tag.
The alt-text will appear when the image fails to load. It helps search engines to understand and index the image. Good alt-text description has the power to lift your SEO game to the next level (yes, even to page 1 of Google).
The meta description is a tiny description that resides in the HTML code of your website. Though it isn’t visible on the website, it is displayed in search results. Meta description is not the most important ranking factor, however Google will sometimes use it to feature a snippet. Also, it provides more information about the webpage and encourages high click through rate. Hence, it is important to include meta description in your SEO checklist and spare some time to tailor this description for your ranking.
Structure of URL
This might be the simplest of all but often the most overlooked factor. Your URL structure has a profound impact on your search engine ranking. A cluttered URL with mixed characters doesn’t help search engines learn about your webpage. Alternatively, a URL with a simple, precise structure and targeted keyword can work wonders for your SEO.
Like we said, there are more than 200 known Google Ranking factors out there but we focus on these 10 for our internal audit. Now, would like to know about your preferred factors in the comments below. We know there is a ton of information available on SEO but we try to provide the most important updates in a simplistic manner. We value your feedback and it helps us grow, so please let us know how you liked our content.
Dhruvil is a Writer & Marketeer for Nimblechapps, joining December 2014, based out of Sydney, Australia. He has worked briefly as a Branding and Digital Marketing Manager before moving to Australia. At Nimblechapps, he worked on Social Media Marketing, Branding, Email Marketing and Blogging. Dhruvil studies Business at University of Western Sydney, and also handles Operations for the company in Australia.