When it comes to what Google cares about when ranking your website, it’s all about the user. Everything they consider is centred around whether you’re providing a good user experience. In this article, I’ll shed some light on Google’s top ranking factors and how you can adapt them into your website strategy to get to that #1 spot.
Make it fast. Why? Because users don’t want to sit around waiting for your website to load. And Google doesn't want users getting frustrated with your website.
40% of people will leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. If your website has a high bounce rate because of a slow loading speed, Google won’t want to serve it to its users because they see it as poor quality.
Luckily they have created the PageSpeed Insights tool that scores the speed of your website and gives personalised recommendations on exactly how you can speed it up.
With everything you do on your website, and I mean everything, consider how it affects the user’s experience. Does it improve it? Does it add friction?
When adding a new banner to your homepage, writing a product title, deciding what fonts to use, choosing new images for your products, you must factor in the needs of your user’s into your decision making.
For example, although that image might look pretty cool on the website, it actually makes the text on top of it almost impossible to read, which is frustrating for the user. And although having all your product titles in capital letters might fit in with your edgy brand aesthetic, it takes users a few extra seconds to read what it actually says.
There are so many ways you can improve your website’s user experience, but the key things to remember are:
To get more tips, read our article on 10 Ways To Improve User Experience on Your Ecommerce Site.
Backlinks are one website linking to another. Why does Google care about them? Well, for a website to link to yours, they must think it’s a high quality resource that their users would find valuable.
It’s a vote of confidence, saying to Google “this website is high quality and users would be interested in its content.”
Google takes this very seriously and backlinks are actually one of their most important ranking factors.
The most important thing I would say when it comes to getting backlinks is: DO NOT BUY THEM.
It may seem like a quick and easy way to acquire a lengthy list of backlinks, but it will actually be much more detrimental to buy them than to have none at all. Bought backlinks are from spammy and usually inappropriate websites, which Google recognises and they will massively penalise anyone who is suspected of buying backlinks.
For simple free ways to gain quality backlinks, have a read of our guide for beginners: What are backlinks and how do I get them?
There’s 3 main reasons behind the phrase ‘content is king’:
So if climbing the search engine ranking is your goal, starting a blog with regular content should be at the top of your priority list. Pick interesting topics that your readers would genuinely care about, ensure they’re well written and post a mixture of short (around 500 words) and long (1000+ words) form content.
It’s important not to forget about the content on your other pages as well. Every page on your website should have at least 500 words, otherwise it is considered as a ‘thin’ page by Google (i.e not providing much value).
Whether it’s your home page, category page or product page, ensure there is at least 500 words of relevant, informative content.
This may seem like odd advice for gaining more traffic and climbing the search engine rankings, but it’s a proven strategy for new websites with low domain authorities. In the beginning, you won’t be able to compete on the high volume keywords with experienced websites whose content is already highly ranked in Google.
Go for the low hanging fruit and get to the top spots for low - medium volume keywords, then work your way up as you build your online authority.
This also allows you to go much more specific with the keywords you’re targeting, which will allow you to exactly pinpoint where users are in the sales funnel.
Google wants to serve its users content that is recent and relevant, so freshness of content is a big ranking factor. Even going back to old articles and updating them with some new information can make a big difference to how they rank in search results.
The same goes for content on your other pages, including product pages. If you want them to rank highly for their target keywords, don’t forget to update them with fresh information as the trends and needs of consumers change.
Running social media pages are useful for growing in Google for a few reasons:
You don’t have to be on every social media platform, just the ones where your customers are hanging out. The most important thing (other than high quality content) is consistency with social media. So whether it’s everyday or 3 times a week, make sure you’re consistent with your content.
The great thing about Google is they create these free tools to help grow your website. They aren’t against you, they want your business to succeed!
Google Analytics and Search Console are powerful tools, and they’re an absolute must for any business looking to improve their SEO.
Analytics is perfect for analysing traffic and seeing which pages are performing the best. It’s how you will see which of your SEO strategies is working. If social media is bringing in a steady flow of traffic to your website, you know to keep doing it.
With Search Console, it will tell you which keywords you’re showing for in search results and how many times your result is being clicked on.
Domain authority (DA) is a number given to each website which is scored out of 100. It’s something you will build up over time, and brand new websites start with 0.
Your domain authority will increase with time, content, traffic and high engagement with your website.
Domain authority is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. So say your website with a DA of 15 shares a blog post on ‘The Best Shampoos For Your Dog’ and a website with a DA of 80 shares a similar post on ‘Must Have Shampoos For Your Dog’, their post is likely to be ranked higher than yours.
But, with all these growth hacks you’ll be implementing after reading this article, your DA will soon be on the rise. Use this free domain authority checker tool to monitor your progress.
Want Google to notice you? Register for free with their My Business online service. It’s another way to say ‘Hey, legit business over here!’ and it will show a card with your business details when searched in Google.
It will also allow users to easily find your contact information, view photos of your business and leave reviews, which are all great for SEO and growing the search engine rankings.
Sign up and manage your My Business account here.
Not to overwhelm you any further, but Google updates ranking factors and their importance every so often with algorithm updates. They’re not often and major ones are released every year or so.
They also don’t make a huge difference to how Google ranks websites, as their goal never changes (serve the user the best and most relevant content).
There just might be little changes as technological advances are being made, such as placing more importance on optimisation on voice search.
Whenever there is going to be a new update, they will announce it first and explain how it will impact your website, so don’t worry you’ll never be left in the dark. It’s just useful to keep a tab on them to make sure you’ve still got the best chance of ranking highly.
An SSL certificate is a Secure Socket Layer that encrypts data on your website. It makes the experience on your website much safer for users, and anything that is better for users, Google loves.
Websites that are deemed ‘not secure’ (don’t have an SSL certificate) will be penalised by Google, and a safety warning will even be shown to users before accessing the website telling them not to continue.
Most hosting companies offer an SSL certificate and they’re pretty inexpensive but definitely a must for those looking to grow in search engine ranking.
Every meta description and title on every page of your website should be optimised. To do this, find the keywords you want to target and include them in the copy of your meta description and title.
Depending on how your website is built, you may be able to do this yourself or if you work with a marketing team they will be able to update it for you.
Meta data is important as it tells Google what your page is about and this allows them to rank it for the correct search queries.
Google really does want your business to flourish, which is why they create so many free tools and guides to help improve your online presence.The best way to make sure you’re adhering to their standards when it comes to search engine optimisation is reading their own materials on the subject.
For beginners, this Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide is really useful. They’ve got tons of guides on every topic around SEO, so anyone can learn and implement these strategies themselves.
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