If you ask anyone how Google ranks websites in the digital marketing world, you may as well be asking them about the theory of quantum relativity. It’s a subject of heavy debate and very few fixed rules. The Google algorithm uses a combination of various factors, some of which are proven, some controversial and still others which are purely the speculation of SEO experts. These experts have evaluated more than 200 factors to judge how Google ranks websites.
The ways Google ranks websites
Although there are hundreds known factors known to Google for ranking your website, some of the most important factors that will boost your website rankings in 2018 are:
With nearly 60% of total searches coming from smartphones, it is imperative that your website is mobile friendly. This means that your website has to have a higher page speed and be optimized for smartphones to rank in mobile searches.
Google likes site structure and layouts of websites that are user-friendly. The visitor should be able to navigate with ease and find what they are looking for. If not, they are likely to leave the site. Shorter duration of time spent by visitors on your website indicates the website is not engaging enough to retain the visitor.
Your website needs to strike the right balance between both on-site and off-site optimization. Onsite SEO is done to assure that your website pages, content, titles and tags are optimized for the targeted keywords. Offsite SEO needs long-term effort and is given more weight by Google crawlers. It involves linking of other sites to your website.
However, links that are not genuine or are generated from a link farm are considered as black-hat SEO tactics and are frowned upon by Google. The ideal way to win with search engine algorithms is by having blogs, linking with influencers in your business niche or market, creating press releases and more.
All of this will drive traffic to your website, thus boosting your rankings. Google ranks websites based on many factors, but user experience through fast websites is a huge factor.
There are different types of links that Google look at. There are outbound links, contextual links, and backlinks. Outbound links are links from your website that link to other websites. Contextual links are those embedded in the content and are more important than links found elsewhere on the website or on an empty page.
The third and most powerful links are the ones that are coming from other websites, especially if these are coming from authority and relevant sites. Google algorithm ranks on the basis of links by calculating ‘link score’. This score is a total sum of the quality of incoming links and the number of links on that site.
Google prefers to see well laid out Contact Us, Privacy, and Terms of Service pages.
Contact Us page tells Google that the site is legitimate whereas Privacy and Terms of Service pages inform the crawler that the website is trustworthy and has merit on the internet.
Another important page is the sitemap which gives the visitor more visibility and makes it easier for search engines to index the pages. Google also uses SSL certificates and https as a factor for ranking.
The phrase “Content is King” has almost become an adage in the world of digital marketing. But, it has to be quality content. There is a huge shift by Google giving higher ratings to quality content than pages filled with keywords.
Quality content is one that is comprehensive, easy to read, simple and quickly conveys the information regarding your product or service to the visitor. Quality content needs to be rich with information, broken into small paragraphs and has images and headings that break up the page into different sections. Care should be taken to avoid duplicate content. The content must have images that are optimized and a title that is strong, relevant and concise.
Keywords, if used correctly, are of great benefit. If a particular page has a mix of several different keyword variations, it is a positive signal to Google reflecting the quality of information on the site. However, a page stuffed with a keyword for the sole purpose of SEO is caught easily by the crawlers.
It is recommended that the keyword appears in the first paragraph of the page. Also, an exact keyword match of the searcher is more relevant than words appearing in different order. For example: consider a search for “home remedy for allergies.” In this case, a page optimized or “home remedy for allergies” will rank higher than another that is optimized for “allergies and their home remedy.”
To understand how Google ranks websites, you have to dig deep into social media. Social media indicates the popularity of your website. User reviews and feedback play an important role in the reputation of your site and Google picks up on that.
White hat SEO campaigns include guest posts, Facebook likes, Facebook shares, tweets and most importantly Pinterest Pins. All of these give Google crawlers a positive ranking signal.
YouTube videos are ranked higher by Google, perhaps due to the simple fact that Google owns YouTube. Besides, there is an increasing demand for audio-visual learning methods by visitors and thus YouTube SEO is an upcoming trend for digital marketers.
The Google Algorithm is Complex and Ever-Evolving
The Google spider is multidimensional, complex and undergoes regular updates. It’s only natural to assume that working on all parameters to assure your website is crawled is difficult.
However, the factors listed above are pivotal for your website. Prioritize them and keep working on them and you will gradually see an increase in your website ranking. Make regular changes and updates to analyze the results. This will help you better understand and gauge how Google ranks websites.