Perform a Google search on one of your favourite topics or a look into a specific local business category, and you’ll immediately see several million to billions of results before your eyes. But you don’t necessarily go through every one of those. More often than not, you stay within the first page of search results – then modify your query if you still haven’t found the content you’re looking for.
You start to wonder what makes these websites stay on the first page and how can your business website reach that sweet spot? You’ll have to learn about Google ranking factors and adjust your website to rank better.
What does “Ranking” mean?
In games, “ranking up” usually means reaching higher levels than other players. It’s a similar concept in search engine optimisation (SEO): to be seen by your target audience, you need to appear up high on search engine results (or SERPs).
In short, “ranking” is your content’s place in SERPs.
Think of it this way. You’re searching for a new brand of milk in a grocery store. You’re looking for low-fat cow’s milk in a one-litre pack for less than A$2.00. You reach the dairy aisle, and you don’t want to waste time going through the numerous milk brands on the shelves. You walk towards the middle of the hall, but you find what you’re looking for near the very beginning. It’s a litre of milk for A$1.60. It belongs to the “bestseller” area of the aisle and has all the qualities you need in your preferred milk. You quickly add it to your cart.
That’s how ranking works for SEO.
How can your website rank higher?
If you’re wondering how your website can rank higher, this is where ranking factors come in.
Ranking factors are a set of criteria that search engines use to evaluate content when indexing web pages for a SERP.
Simply put, they make sure that high-quality content gets seen first.
How does a high ranking website benefit your business?
Ranking high on the biggest search engine to date is highly beneficial to your business because of three big reasons:
- You get more views which you can convert to customers, and later on, loyal fans of your products or services
- Users, both potential and current customers alike, will begin to see you as an expert in your industry and thus earn authority and trust (also known as E-A-T in SEO speak)
- People searching for a string of keywords on Google will see your business as authentic
This can be difficult with so many competitors in any industry. Regardless of whether your business is large or small, higher rankings give you an edge as well as better conversions.
These are the five biggest Google ranking factors:
It’s one thing to set up a website, but it’s another thing to maintain it and “rank it up”. Here are the five most significant ranking factors for Google to get you started.
1. High-Quality Content
What does “high-quality content” mean?
In essence, this refers to blogs, videos, podcasts or images that provide value to the person looking for and at your content.
Regardless of word count or video length, your content should be relevant to your readers for it to rank. High-quality content also gives you lower bounce rates, a ranking signal for Google’s algorithms.
Still considered to be one of the strongest ranking factors for the search engine, backlinks are hyperlinks on another website. When several websites link back to you, search engines will deem you worthy of ranking high up in SERPs.
3. Keyword Targeting
The role of keywords in SEO is as central as backlinks. Keywords are phrases that you usually add in your content so that people can find you via search engines and so that search engines can properly index you in SERPs.
There are two kinds of keywords: short tail and long tail. Short tail keywords are a string of keywords that are less than three words (e.g. women’s shoes), and long-tail keywords contain more than three words (e.g. Nike women’s shoes near me). Unless they’re branded keywords, the fewer words you have, the more broad your search results will be.
Businesses need to target a wide range of short and long-tail keywords per web page so that their content will be visible throughout search engines.
4. Mobile Responsiveness
In the first quarter of 2021, global mobile traffic went up 56%. That’s more than half the globe that’s using their smartphones to check for something online.
And 90% of those are searching for stuff via Google.
That’s why your website needs to be mobile responsive. When people can easily navigate your site on a small screen, it will be easier to stay there and convert from reader to buy.
How does this become a ranking factor? Early this year, Google announced that it would be employing mobile-first indexing practices. This means that the algorithm will look at the mobile version of your website and consider its content for ranking and indexing. As more people look at their phones, the search engine giant would naturally have their spiders crawl mobile-friendly websites.
So if your website isn’t geared for mobile view just yet, you might want to hire a team to write some codes.
5. Core Web Vitals
If you’ve been frustrated over slow-loading websites, you’re not alone. And surely you don’t want the same experiences for your customers.
This is what’s known as Core Web Vitals. It’s a significant ranking factor because it displays a top-quality user experience. There are three metrics to look at, and these are:
- The largest Contentful Paint (LCP), put, measures loading performance. If your images or videos load slowly (more than three seconds), think about how to optimise your webpage better.
- First Input Delay (FID) measures the time between a reader clicks, taps or presses any of your linked elements on your webpage. In short, this measures how fast your website interacts with the user. A good FID is anywhere less than 100 milliseconds. Any number above that means your website needs some improvement.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) checks if the web elements on a page shift whenever something above or beneath it is loading or adjusting. These are fonts, visuals, buttons and other types of content. In this case, Google spiders measure how stable your web page is. Naturally, the more shifts occur, the more you need to improve your website.
Core Web Vitals ensure that your website looks and functions intuitively, so a quick and well-designed website with fast-loading images and easy-to-read written content that doesn’t move around is imperative if you want to raise the SERPs.
There are many other Google ranking factors (legend says there are more than 200!) and ranking signals that you need to consider, but the top 5 factors are easy enough to tackle. If you find this still confusing, talk to us at Dygiq, and we’ll be your partner in turning your website into a lean, mean ranking machine.