“On a broad scale, I see SEO becoming a normalized marketing tactic, the same way TV, radio, and print is traditionally thought of as marketing tactics.”
– Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager, Bing
SEO Ranking Factors: Introduction
SEO Ranking Factors are a critical research foundation for any successful SEO startegy. First things first, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. For people who are new to the term, SEO is like a roadmap to your house. In this case, the house is your business website. A good SEO strategy helps people find the way to your house easier. SEO ranking factors help you in your quest to-
- Become Discoverable
- Bring Traffic/Visitors/People
- Increase Engagement/Time Spent
- Bring Business/Increase Revenues
- Improves Status
- Benefits your website’s Health and Metrics
I always give people who are not familiar with the term house analogy. If your house is located in a wilderness, does not have connectivity, and is in a poorly lit neighborhood, will people visit it?
I guess your answer is ‘NO’. To rectify that, you would search for a nice neighborhood, proper transportation, and decent local amenities. An SEO service helps your website with all these requirements.
In this era, making a website is not enough. It was enough probably ten or twelve years before when there were a few thousand odd websites. Now, in order to stand above your competitors, you would need a sound website and a robust SEO strategy. Most digital marketing experts closely follow Google Ranking Factors when drafting a SEO strategy.
There are many who say that SEO is a hoax, a sort of digital swindle. It has been invented by digital agencies to fool businesses. To those people, I would respectfully say, you cannot be further away from the truth. If you believe in Google, you need to believe in SEO Ranking factors.
Why is SEO Important for my Website?
I have already enumerated the benefits of SEO very briefly in the opening act. However, it is important that we discuss SEO’s direct impact on the SERPs (Search Engine Rankings Page).
The primary purpose of a good SEO Service is to help you rank on Google’s SERPs. The better your rank, the more chances of you increasing your business. If you were on the first page of Google’s search, you would generate more queries and revenues.
In other words, more people would-
- Click on your website link
- Come to your website
- Spend time checking out your products and services
- Submit a query form/Buy something from your website
- Pay money
- Come back again for a repeat purchase
A business or brand owner would want each of the above points without negotiations. That is why in this article, we will tell you about the secrets of SEO Ranking Factors. This can be done either, by a brand’s own SEO team, or by an SEO Agency hired by the brand. Unless your digital marketing team is paying attention to search ranking factors, you will never see constructive results.
Every brand regardless of their size or scale should invest in good SEO Services, period. SEO services even from most SEO agency are highly affordable and reasonable. If someone is charging you an arm and a leg for SEO services, please ask them to leave. They are just trying to manipulate you.
SEO Ranking Factors: The List
We have already established the benefits of a good SEO strategy for your brand. In this section, we look at some of the key ingredients of SEO that will help you rank on Google’s SERPs. Please bear in mind that SEO ranking factors are based on Google ranking factors. This is something that Google specifies to webmasters.
We will begin this section with the top three search ranking factors. We will then proceed to other ranking factors.
1. High-Quality Content:
When Bill Gates published a seminal essay in 1996 titled ‘Content Is King’, the world stood up and took notice. That title is even more relevant in 2019.
Without great quality content, your SEO is going to fall flat. Quality content is the foundation of every destination your brand will have on the internet. From website content to your blog article, to your social media, the content will lead them all.
Your content has to be-
- 100% original and non-plagiarised
- Long format content (better keyword opportunities).
- Content should always provide good and relevant information
- Content should always solve a problem
It is crucial that you invest in content writing. If you cannot do it yourself, you should hire a great content writer exclusively for your brand. Content is one of the most important SEO ranking factors, if not the most important one.
According to Google ranking factors, content stands right at top of the list of other ranking factors.
2. Keyword Research:
Just creating quality content is not enough. You need to create smart content. In other words, you need to create content on things people are searching for online.
In order to understand keywords and content, I have come up with a 4-Step guide-
1: Google analyses what people are searching for (questions, information, titles, etc.).
2: It creates a list of keywords people are searching for (focus, long tail, others).
3: Most of the times, Google scours the internet for publishers who are using those keywords and creating content.
4: Then it starts showing its users those publishers who are closest when it comes to the user’s search requests.
The key is to use tools and platforms like Moz, Ahrefs or Ubersuggest to find the keywords from your industry. The next strategy is to create long format articles using those keywords. Long format content. along with the right keywords is a key ingredient of performing well on search rankings.
3. Mobile Responsive Website:
According to some statistics, more than 70% of people who browse the internet do so on their cell phones. Google, for its part, follows a mobile-first index strategy. In this era, if your website is not mobile responsive, your search will decrease rapidly.
Websites are no longer just adapted to being mobile friendly. They need to be responsive, and as good as a desktop version, or even better. The better the mobile responsiveness, the better the credibility in Google’s eyes.
Google does a small test- it analyses the content on your desktop and matches it with your mobile site. If it finds the two to be identical, it submits a positive report. If it finds there is a content mismatch, your site is penalized.
In recent years, mobile responsiveness has emerged as one of the top three Google ranking factors. This is because almost 60% of all searches are now taking place on mobile devices.
4. HTTPS Secured Websites:
The web is not a safe place. Each day, thousands of cyber-crimes take place. Data and information are routinely stolen. Given the epidemic nature of the crises, Google’s browser Chrome started flagging and blacklisting HTTP URL sites in 2017.
The regular interpretation of this is that Google prefers websites that are safe and secure. In this reading, an HTTPS and SSL secured website is a hit on Google’s web search rankings.
If you are not convinced by this, I would ask you to do a simple exercise. Search for any top ranking keyword and look at the websites on the first page of the search results. I can assure you that there will not be any HTTP website on the search pages.
Some years back, people did not consider safety to be a top search ranking factor. However, in the last couple of years, safety and security has emerged as a critical SEO ranking factor.
5. Optimizing the Technical Structure of the Website:
This is where your website development team and your SEO services team need to work very closely. If you have one digital agency doing both these tasks, congratulations. If you have divided the two, good luck managing and coordinating.
Setting the right technical structure or foundation involves three main things-
- Optimizing the page loading speed of the website. It needs to be a ‘fast’ website.
- Optimizing the site architecture. This means fixing the URLs, tags, site maps and robots.
- Creating an Amazing User Interface or UI. If your design and content are not attractive enough, no one will stay on your website.
A solid design, the development team can help the SEO team extract the best out of a website’s performance. The optimization of the technical structure of the website is a crucial SEO ranking factor. Please do not forget that you need to optimize your site for Google’s crawlers and bots. Unless they find your site accessible, they are not going to show it to users.
6. White Hat Link Building:
No matter what anyone says, outside Google’s offices or within Google, link building is a critical component for SEO. However, link building through Private Blog Networks (PBNs) and Link Directories are ‘ILLEGAL’. It would be wise for you to stay away for any ‘Grey Hat’ or ‘Black Hat’ Link Building strategy.
Natural link building done through natural, organic approaches is still a key strategy applied by some of the top brands and agencies. A link should always provide a solution after a long article. It should point users towards a helpful source or solution.
For Google, if your website’s links are on any reputed website, it shows a recommendation. In other words, for Google, that is a thumbs-up for your website. It shows to Google that you are a credible, legal and informative source on the internet. Google then starts placing you higher on the SERPs.
There are many experts who believe that backlinks are the number one search ranking factor. There is also evidence to show that websites with a high number of links rank higher.
7. Guest Posting with No-Follow Links:
I might get a lot of flak from some industry experts, but this strategy has really helped me. Every industry has a minimum of 20 great content creation sites. They do not engage in link building. However, they are always interested in the content.
These are not just any sites. They have millions of visitors every month; have a DA, which crosses 80+. For them, great content is what matters. You can write to them sharing ideas for an article. Once you submit an article and it is approved, allow them to publish it with a no-follow link.
While a no-follow link will not aid your SEO in terms of link building, you will be benefitting in other ways.
- If the article is good, your website will get traffic from the other site’s huge readership base.
- You will start establishing your authority slowly and respectfully in great websites and among newer audiences.
- You will increase your digital footprint (most such sites put out your own Author Biography iwth a link).
8. Create Video Content in 2019:
A great way to help your website rank in 2019 is to create many videos. Every brand should have a YouTube channel in addition to being on all social media platforms. The keywords for the brand can always be included in the description section.
Video is the content of the future. This does not mean that the text has lost its relevance. However, one format of the content is monotonous and dull. For content to be engaging and attractive, video is a great approach.
If you type ‘Chicken Recipes’ on Google’s search, you will see various YouTube videos popping up right at the top of the search rankings. YouTube is Google’s own product is actively promoted by it. Having a video and photo team for your brand should now become as mainstream as having a Social Media Agency or SEO Agency.
9. Social Media Sharing:
Your website should be in constant interaction with all your social media pages. This means a frequent exchange of information, audience, and content. Sharing your website blog content on social with a link back to your website is one of the most important SEO ranking factors.
Displaying products on Facebook and Instagram with a link back to your website helps Google rank your site as an authority domain. By redirecting visitors from your social to the website, you will be sealing the status of your site as a good site.
Social Media brands like Facebook also start promoting the content of other organic audiences. This increases the organic nature of the content on the platform. The more people engage on social, like, comment and share, the more traction and visibility it gets.
10. Google My Business:
This is something that I am closely studying following the demise of Google Plus. Ever since Google Plus went under, industry insiders are going for various theories. For some experts, Google My Business is going to go the Facebook My Business way.
I am closely experimenting with Google My Business by following the hygiene and best practices. Google My Business is excellent when it comes to excelling at local listings. With 2 weeks’ worth of work, I was able to get a client to rank for on Page 1 for Digital Marketing Companies.
For brands who really want to up their local SEO game, Google My Business is a relatively undiscovered field. While many brands are not concentrating on this, you should aggressively pursue this. GMB has slowly become one of the most crucial SEO Ranking factors
SEO Ranking Factors: The Final Word
There is no absolute secret to acing the SERPs. It all depends on following what Google teaches us. The secret, if there is any, is to keep doing the SEO ‘hygiene’ in a disciplined and rigorous fashion.
Many experts will tell you that they have the secret SEO ranking factors sauce. They are just bluffing! There is no trick, none at all. There is, however, one thing that you can try. I have found that Google promotes websites that maintain a healthy eco-system on all its products.
Search ranking factors are the visual maps, which will guide you on your SEO journey. The key is to pay attention to the above mentioned SEO ranking factors.
There is no statistic to back my claim. However, if your website and content are healthy on Google, YouTube, Google My Business, you will see a difference. Again, this is something that I have seen for my clients. By following the best practices and creating good content, Google will start showing you to more audiences organically.
At the end of the day, SEO services are no mean feat. There is no ‘genie in a bottle’ formula to succeed. However, if you are able to follow the above-mentioned list, you will be following the right SEO Ranking Factors. Please bear in mind that Google ranking factors are critical if you wish to pursue long term SEO strategies.
If you would wish to contribute to the list, drop me a mail at [email protected]
If you need any help with regard to SEO Ranking Factors or any other digital marketing service, feel free to reach out.