Semalt Speaks About 6 Ranking Factors Google Uses To Evaluate A Website
A lot has been spoken, debated, and claimed about the factors that Google uses to evaluate a website's SEO quality. And every time some factors are either missed out or given a higher weightage. It is now time to get into the depth of all the critical factors that Google uses to gauge a website's value online.
Here's a select list of Google's ranking factors, updated for 2020 and beyond. We at Semalt use these factors to improve the SEO performance of our clients, which is what has resulted in millions of sales conversions and boosts in business growth since we began years ago.
Google's Ranking Factors - A Select List
Although there are over 200 ranking factors that Google evaluates a website on, a handful of them together carries the majority weightage. Here we will talk about those critical ranking factors.
1. High-Quality and Relevant Backlinks
Just having a lot of backlinks from a bunch of websites is not enough anymore. While black hat techniques have never helped any website in the long run, gaining random backlinks is also not enough.
Google gives a lot of weightage to a website's link profile. And these links should be coming from relevant and popular sites, they should ideally be contextual (i.e. within a piece of content) and ideally tagged as do-follow, and there should be a healthy flow of fresh backlinks throughout. Only when these three subfactors come together will you be able to push your organic search rankings higher and maintain them in the long run.
Semalt uses a super-effective system for backlinks, which runs continuously depending upon the niche of our clients' business. It is a part of our FullSEO offering. Click here to learn more about it.
2. HTML Tags - On-Page Optimization
Elements like proper page title, meta title and description, subheading tags (H1, H2, H3…), author by-line, alt attribute tags, captions, and everything else that can be optimized on a website's page (frontend) can influence the assessment made by Google.
At Semalt, we believe these are the low-hanging fruits that you can pluck and boost your website's rating. Any type of content that you add on your website gives you the ability to optimize it - and that there is an opportunity to make your web pages friendly to both users and Google. Have a blog on your website? Why not optimize all the articles as well as the blog page with breadcrumbs and excerpts for each article?
We are talking about adding keywords across these on-page elements so that Google considers you as an authority in your field. In addition to text-based content, you should also look at adding and optimizing other rich media like images, PDFs, videos, and embedded content (Instagram posts, tweets, etc.).
Images are the next thing to focus on. This is because they can rank on Google Image search and give you visibility as well as traffic.
When you upload an image, there are certain elements that you can optimize. Here is the list of all the critical elements:
- Image title (i.e. file name)
- Image URL (usually the file name is converted into the slug)
- Alt text
Only the caption is the user-facing element here, everything else is in the backend, giving you some extra cushion to optimize them as you like. You should optimize them because they are the elements used by search engine spiders to detect the relevance and meaning of the images.
Also, note that the caption of an image can change every time you use it across articles or content pieces. For example, WordPress CMS has this system where you can update the caption every time you use it.
3. Technical Prowess of the Website
The faster your website loads the better your website is in the eyes of search engines. Google uses this metric (page load speed) along with others such as core web vitals, safe browsing, and mobile-friendliness to gauge the quality of your website. If your website loads slowly, it is bound to give a poor experience to the users. This affects Google and if it finds out it will choose to skip you in the search rankings.
For example, one of our clients recently moved from GoDaddy to a dedicated hosting plan by CynderHost. This has ensured zero downtime and has also sped up their website by 30%, improving rankings as well as session durations.
Carrying out a technical audit of your website is very important in this case. You can detect the issues with your website's backend and make necessary changes to boost your score.
4. Structured Data
Similar to HTML tags, another element that helps Google know your website better is through structured data. Also known as Schema mark-up, it is a system that allows you to set certain parameters on your website for better crawling.
Let's take the example of DIY Homedepot, one of our esteemed clients. It is in the electrical equipment business. Now for its website, we activated Organization Schema mark-up, which allowed its webpages to be crawled better. We could add a series of extra information such as an address, contact details, descriptions, user ratings, and URLs and provide them as special information for Google bots to crawl. This naturally helped us rank better on search with rich snippets that are often shown as additional information on the SERPs.
FIGURE 1 - A SCREENSHOT OF HOW STRUCTURED DATA LOOKS FOR RECIPE PAGES
Activating structured data not only improves the quality of your website but also boosts visibility on search (see the image above).
Google My Business Listing
Google loves it when you use and interact with its products. Which brings us to another important part of the organic ranking conundrum.
Semalt has found enough evidence that confirms that the world's largest search engine gives more precedence to websites and businesses that have a Google My Business listing. This makes sense because not only does a GMB listing help you improve visibility on search and on Google Maps but also creates user-generated content for your entity. Every time someone uses your service and leaves a review on your GMB page, it helps both you (visibility) and Google (user trust).
You can also connect your website to your GMB listing for increased optimization.
5. Authentic Content Structure
Another factor that is as important as HTML tags is the structure of your content.
Does your webpage or landing page have an arresting intro? Is it conversational and gives value to your readers? Is it good-quality content? Is it relevant to the keywords you are using and your business?
All sorts of checks are made by Google's bots to understand how relevant and optimized your content is. To improve your structure, make sure you include the right keywords, give inbound and outbound links, add images and other rich media, and write a sufficient amount of content.
A critical aspect of this factor is the length of the content. Are you posting 100-word snippets as articles? They won't help. Instead, you should try writing more, in-depth content that your users will love. Semalt provides a wide array of content services as part of our AutoSEO and FullSEO offerings. Get in touch with us today and take control of your content.
6. Mobile Optimization
Last on our critical Google ranking factors list is mobile optimization. We are sure you already know the importance of creating a responsive website, but Google has, over the years, started to give more weightage to mobile-friendly sites. Its move to mobile-first indexing is a solid indicator of that.
Semalt recommends all our clients to first build a mobile-friendly website. This often helps because more than 75% of the traffic across sectors is via mobile devices, which makes further sense as to why Google considers it as an important factor.
While most websites that are active today also have a mobile version, it is not usually enough. You also need to check the UI and UX parameters of your website's mobile version to see if it is helping users and generating sales.
Pro Tip: You can use Google's tool to check if your website is mobile-friendly. Click here.
FIGURE 2 - EXAMPLE OF A CLIENT'S WEBSITE'S MOBILE-FRIENDLINESS REPORT
Watch out for these ranking factors and focus on improving them to win at SEO. You don't have to do all of them at once; just start with the most important ones such as the tech and content audit, and drive it from there.
In case you are looking for assistance on this front, Semalt can help you correct your website in no time. Explore our wide range of services and get a customized package for you. You can consider our SEO offerings - AutoSEO and FullSEO - or go with our experience in e-commerce SEO, analytics, content, SSL, and API-related activities.
Whatever be your requirement, Semalt is here to help you. Our staff can speak in various languages and discuss your requirements in your native language. Get in touch with us today.