Ok, so Google never publicly publish their ranking factors, but the ever-evolving algorithm should still be considered important. Especially as 85% of searches are conducted through this search engine and 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. Search engine optimisation is essential for both self-hosted blogs as well as intricately designed websites.
Google Ranking Factors have never been more important to your website. What Google has confirmed is that it uses around 200 ranking signals when defining search page rankings. There are many different factors such as your domain, on and off-page factors, site-level factors, and many different SEO factors that contribute to where your website ranks on Google’s search engine results pages.
So, with all these features to think about, how do you optimise your website for ranking highly on Google for 2019? Of course, there are the existing core factors but there are also some new considerations too.
When it comes to Google ranking factors, the most important ones are related to the URL, inbound links, meta tags, your keyword use, the structure of your content and how fast your page loads.
If you are launching a website in 2019, or relaunching your existing website, here are some of the top factors you should be looking at as updates for google in 2019.
1. Website Architecture
Getting this right is really important, just like getting your house in order. The basics need to be in place first before you start on anything else. Organise your website into subdirectories, with clear strings of text (or “slugs”) at the end of each URL, will make it so much easier for Google to index you. Google will understand who you are and what topics you want to be an authority on, which is essential to your ranking factor.
Your URL structure is really important, and it is best if it contains your keywords for the page too. What you don’t want is to have a string of numbers as the slug. This has no purpose and tells Google, nothing about the content, therefore ranking it low in search results even if the page is relevant.
When looking at your website structure, it is not only relevant for your search engine ranking. Once your website is actually visited, it helps readers navigate your site and reduces bounce rate too. This is great because it gives your website more authority. If visitors stay it indicates they have found what they are looking for and are intrigued to read more.
2. Domain Security
Do you have an SSL certificate? Do you know what this is? You need to make sure your domain is secure, now more than ever. Not only can this protect your domain, but it is also a factor considered by Google when indexing your site. 31% of all domains are now secure and these are the ones that will be trusted. The “https” at the beginning of URL is how Google identifies secure websites from non-secure ones.
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. This a process that transfers information from a website to the visitor’s browser. When this is followed by an S that means the site is the secure version of this protocol, and makes sure Google knows that the information it is indexing is safe for the searcher to visit.
To make sure your site is ranked by Google and other search engines as secure you need an SSL certificate. If you pay for a certificate, it is easy to install on your domain and your service provider can help you with this. This can be maintained by your hosting company who will remind you to renew to keep your site up to date and secure. If you wish to do this another way, as it can be done for free, you will probably need a professional to install this for you.
3. Important Backlinks
This is a crucial factor when it comes to Google page ranking in search results. When looking at key SEO factors link signals are 20% of the picture. Having links on other domains increases your own domain authority. Also called “inbound links” backlinks are hyperlinks that direct back to your page from anywhere else on the internet. This can be from other websites or on social media.
Inbound links from other websites indicate to Google that people trust your website and its content. And it also shows this trust is great enough to link to it from their own websites giving it a nod from them. Google likes this type of trust and of course, the more trustworthy the source of the link, the greater impact it has on your ranking.
Link building hence is an important process to gain backlinks from other publishers. There are a few different ways to do this. For example, some people agree to trade backlinks from each other or perhaps write a guest post for another website and link back to themselves. Remember paid links are frowned upon by Google, and a website with too many paid links and not enough relevant content to back this up will look forced and reduce in rank.
4. Keyword Intent
Keywords were once an easy thing to understand as exact match keywords were previously used. If what the person searched was the keyword in the page, then this increased the page ranking. However, now Google looks at the website with the most relevant intent behind that keyword, rather than the exact word itself.
Now when someone types in a search on Google, they more often than not ask a question or use a sentence that describes what they are looking for. Google then looks for the most relevant content that will answer that question and what Google thinks the user means. That shows the search results are more considered and filtered to answer what the search engine considers the best answers to the query.
So, within your content it is not enough to just have the keywords throughout the articles. Sometimes when this is the case, it can be of a lower quality to read because the keywords have been forced. You need to include content that explains and develops upon this keyword that will answer queries potential visitors are searching for. Basically, you need to surround your keywords with excellent content that offers value to your readers.
5. Topic Authority
The more content you publish on a certain topic, the higher each piece of content relating to that topic will rank in Google’s search results page. Topics show Google what your website is all about and over time your authority in this topic increases. The main thing to consider here is, do you know where you would like your website to sit?
If your website has posts and information about many different topics it can look spammy and without any topic authority. You need to know what your website is all about and make sure your content reflects this. You don’t want it to look like a site that appears to be doing anything to get noticed without the quality and fully researched content to back it up.
This is where you need to look at creating quality content that is relevant to your niche and being consistent with this topic. For example, if you are publishing a travel blog for example, most of your content should be about travel. But if you are writing or publishing other content on a regular basis, Google will be confused and reduce your page ranking for your chosen topic.
6. Content Structure
Good content structure includes many different things with a post or article. Varied headings and sub-headings are the first to consider making it easy to find what visitors are looking for when reading. You should also think about using bullet points, numbering lists, relevant images, and research backed content which offers a reason for people to continue reading.
When a reader is more engaged, they are more likely to stay longer browsing on your website, increasing their session duration time and reducing the bounce rate. Both of which are another ranking factor that Google considers which is aided by creating great consistent content.
It is also a good idea to be consistent with your pages, especially if you are writing a blog for example. Keeping the structure of your content similar for each page will help with the overall structure of the website. The great thing about this factor is that you can cover many factors by just doing one thing. Writing and sharing good content that is well structured and has a purpose will improve your Google ranking and keep your visitors coming back.
7. Page Speed
Page speed means how quickly your webpage loads when someone clicks on your link from a Google search result. Although there are other on-page factors that contribute to your page loading time, you’ll find that usually the faster the website loads, the higher it will rank on Google search results.
Websites with complex media and lots of it on the page can cause the website to take longer to load. This means in turn it will decrease your website’s page speed and decrease your page ranking. This can also be a turn off for the visitors who click on your link. They can be impatient and if your loading time is too long, they will move on. Sometimes this is hard to prevent, but one of the best things you can do is to reduce the file size of each image on the page.
In order to reduce the size of the images on your pages you should compress them before uploading them to your site. This way the images will have a shorter load time and increase your page speed. Other things that slow down your page may be different font types, advertising and videos which can all take a long time to load.
8. Meta Tags and Description
This easy to implement aspect of your content management system can be used in different ways to improve your search engine ranking. Using Meta tags help Google to identify the purpose of a page and what role each part of that page relates to the topic and target keyword. There are different places where you can implement these tags to help to improve your ranking.
Meta tags can be used in the title tag, image alt text and the meta description. The title tag is usually what is featured in your URL and what will show up on the actual search engine results. This is important as it is what Google displays so must be relevant to the searcher.
The image alt text or alt tag is a way to make the image understandable to the Google crawlers. They will know what the image is about, and it will show that it is relevant to the content around it.
Lastly there is Meta description, this is the text that appears underneath the URL on the search engine results. It shows those searching a little more about what the page contains. So you can see how important it is to make sure this description contains enough information to make those searchers click your link.
9. Content Update Dates
So, Google shows the dates the article was published or updated when it appears on the search engine page. This is a factor for both Google when deciding on the ranking but also the people who are searching, deciding if that content is up to date enough for them to trust. Make sure you are up to date, in the moment and appropriate for your readers.
Keeping up to date content on your website is crucial for trust from both search engines and your visitors. Even if the content that is shown in your results is old, having newer posts or even linking updates to the older posts will make a difference to your ranking.
Make sure you keep up your pages up to date, check your links, even in past posts they need to still work. Broken links are seen as a bad sign, and if your website has more than a few it may be seen as abandoned and that is not good for your rankings. If these links are broken, make new links or remove them altogether.
10. Social Media
Google does take into account the shares pages receive on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. They all affect page ranking and if you can do something free and easy to do this, then you should embrace social media.
The number of likes and relevance of the share are also important, making your pages influential and promoting the significance of the article. Such as who has shared this content, the audience it has reached and the if the article has gone viral.
When it comes to social media, you don’t have to be a part of each medium but choose the one that is best positioned to promote your content. Look at where your best clicks come from and concentrate on the best social media platform for your particular website and niche.
What else do you need to look at when it comes to Goole ranking factors?
You have seen the top ten updates for Google ranking factors in 2019, but what else do you need to consider
This is anything to do with your domain and how it appears including:
- The age of the Domain.
- How long the Domain has been registered by the same entity.
- What is displayed in the Who is information, and if this is public or private.
Page Level Factors
These are things you can change on your specific page which include:
- Keywords in the title tag, description and in the sub heading or secondary tag.
- The length of the content and the quality.
- Keyword density without being irrelevant.
- Duplicate content or similar content can reduce the ranking.
- Freshness of the website and pages contained.
- The reading level, is it of quality?
- The page category and how relevant this is to the overall website.
- Sources and references to the pages with content obtained or shared from elsewhere.
Site Level Factors
What are the factors that are considered as a specific website?
- Is there a contact us page or contact information?
- Are there a large number or pages or is this just a thin veil for affiliate sites? Make sure there are plenty of pages of quality content.
- Is there a sitemap? Google can index the website more thoroughly if this is in place.
- The presence of a terms and conditions page and privacy pages outlining in detail concerns and consequences. These make the site more trustworthy.
- Are you connected to YouTube? Being able to transfer content between mediums is good in the eyes of Google.
- Is the site using Google Analytics or webmaster tools to analyse the website? This is a good factor when it comes to knowledge according to Google.
This is how your visitors and interactors spend time and use your website.
- What is the organic click through rate for your site?
- How much direct traffic has your website received in the past?
- Do you get repeat traffic? This is both a good and bad factor depending on where the traffic is coming from and how often.
- Is there any user interaction? The number of comments a site receives can be a factor on how relevant and inclusive a website is.
- How long do people spend on your website? Do they read one article and move on or do they continue as your content is interesting and relevant to your visitor’s needs.
How the comments shares and interest on social media make a difference to your Google ranking. Here are some examples to include:
- Likes and tweets on Twitter can influence ranking.
- Facebook shares, likes and authority.
- Pinterest Pins and how many are shared and pinned to improve shared content.
- The authority of the Google plus account, how this I used and the interactions these get. Of course, Google will encourage the use of its own platforms.
Branding and Brand Signals
What does your brand say about you, is it strong and does to reflect what visitors want? Here are a few factors Google consider when looking at Brand Signals:
- Brand searches and the relevance of your brand to the search engine. How many people search for your particular brand?
- Non-hyperlinked brand recognitions make a difference, representing co-citations.
- The number of subscribers make an impact of your ranking. The more subscribers the more important your brand will appear to be.
- Do you have a listing with Google local? Having a bricks and mortar address relating to your website obviously induces trust for your brand and business.
It may seem quite overwhelming when you read all of the factors that contribute to your page ranking on Google but there are many things you can do yourself and lines you might already be thinking along before you look at the nitty gritty. No matter where you are in your website search engine optimisation, there are lots pf ways you can adapt and improve to suit you.
What will you do to adapt to the Google ranking factors updates for 2019?
As you can see there are lots of the same from previous years but there are also some ne features you should be aware of. Site security, privacy concerns and the overall development of your domain and website structure are ever more important coming into the next year.
Knowing how to keep yourself and your content fresh and secure are the best things you can take away from this article today. How will you update your website to keep the content updated for Google in 2019? Let us know what you have found helpful and feel free to offer any more tips to keep everyone informed and updated with these new factors