Everybody tries to make SEO seem really complicated. But, ranking number one on Google is actually pretty easy.
Now it’s easy to see, why it would seem complicated! Google themselves said that there are over 200 signals, 200 ranking factors that determine who shows up #1 and who doesn’t show up at all. But if you can just understand these 11, most important ranking factors for Google that I’m going to mention in this blog post, you can easily rank #1 on Google.
So, let’s start with the 4 most important ranking factors in which first 3 is top of all that Google has straight up identified and considered that these are the most important things for ranking well on Google.
Let’s start with the very first factor that determines the search engine ranking.
1. Applicability of Content
Let’s say, you are searching for something like, how much should I feed my pet schnauzer? And Google returns with results about feeding a chameleon. I’m pretty sure it would not help you in any way.
Google’s job is to help users find what they’re looking for. When it comes down to it, that’s all they’re doing. So, having content or writing articles that answer very specific search terms, something somebody actually looking for is very important.
You can’t just write like one tip for fishing and hoping that’s gonna rank. It’s got to be a response to somebody’s really specific search.
Here comes the second major factor for ranking on Google.
2. Quality Links
In this section, what I am going to tell you is, high-quality backlinks to your website is one of the most important signals to Google that your content is authoritative.
Recommended Reading: The ultimate [tip-to-toe] guide on backlinks – How to build quality backlinks
Still, I’ll recommend you not to spend a lot of your time seeking out those links using any sort of black hat link building techniques and even spending a lot of time on the white hat link building techniques. It’s probably not a good use of your time.
3. User Testing
Number of people actually tried this! They went and made a post that was just full of filler text, right. And then sporadically throughout the post, they put in certain words that would signal to Google that the post was about a certain topic.
They put those words in their H1, H2, and H3 headers throughout the article and then they went and got a whole bunch of links to their website, just to test it. What were they able to do in the short term?
They were able to rank #1 but Google knows that! And so Google does user testing on every one of the articles that they ranked when your article shows up in the search engine results page (SERP).
Before I break it down, let’s have a look at some of Google’s user testing metrics.
Google’s User Testing Metrics
- Time on page
- Click-through rate
- Returning visitors
- Session time, etc.
Come back to the point, if people click on your article because it has a good title and a good description that entices them to click on it. That’s a signal to Google! Once they clicked on it and if they stay on the page for a while that’s a good signal to Google.
If they click through to another article on your website that’s a positive signal to Google that your content was helpful and relevant to the user.
If instead they go to the article and they come right back out and they go to another article that signals to Google that your content didn’t help that particular user and may not be the type of content that should rank for that particular search. So, how do you get around this?
Well, a couple of things can be done to improve user testing scores.
How to improve user testing experience?
- Write long posts to keep people on the page.
- Write catchy headlines to encourage clicks.
- Internal links to encourage click-throughs.
These tips are going to help you to be able to get good user experience and hence a better score from Google.
The fourth really foundational ranking factor I have found is:
4. Domain Rank (Authority)
Now a lot of people will try to attribute a number to this like, I have a domain authority of 60. That’s not what I’m talking about here, I’m talking about the overall health of your domain.
If you have a domain that has been penalized in the past by user using really spammy techniques or you have a domain that is brand new, Google is not going to be able to attribute much trust and authority to your domain in the short term. It’s going to take some work to overcome this issue.
But over time as your domain get some history behind it, as you have more and more articles that are doing well with the user testing, as you get good high-quality links to other articles on your website. Then Google could trust your domain and hence you’ll be able to rank much higher, much faster. Even if you start a brand new website.
All right! So, the above-mentioned factors are by far the most important but they’re also the hardest at the same time to do anything about when you’re creating new content other than just write good content on the right topics.
The ones that I’m going to mention below are all very important as well and they’re a lot easier to do something about. It could make your content better and rank a lot higher. So, for every single one of these, I’m gonna give you a specific tip.
5. Content Age
I’ve talked about, how new content on a brand new website can often take a long time to rank but if the old content doesn’t rank as good as new content. How do you combat that?
The fact is that if you’re writing about something where age doesn’t matter, let’s say, you’re writing an article about the Pythagorean theorem. Everyone knows that this hasn’t changed since Pythagoras. If you have a 10-year-old article on that, it’s probably going to be just fine.
If you’re writing anything about news, technology, or any kind of stuff that’s constantly changing, let’s say, you’re talking about camera models or how to set up a wifi router? This is going to be totally outdated within just a few years.
Let’s say, you did write an article about wifi routers and how to set them up? What you could do to help that content to continue to rank well despite being older is couple of things. Go in and tweak that content, modify it, update it on a regular basis, at least once a year.
It’s even better when you’re writing new content that’s really time sensitive like, best hoverboards 2019. I recommend that at the end of 2019, go and update that article to best hoverboards for 2020.
The tip here is, don’t put the date in the permalink. If you write the headline best hoverboards for 2019, make sure you take off ‘for 2019’ from permalinks. You can update the headline just fine, but you don’t want to be changing your permalinks.
The next ranking factor is:
6. Social Signals
I personally don’t like talking about some social networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter and how it can be a huge waste of time to try to build up a giant following.
But if you do have some social community going on that you can leverage to help your blog. It actually does and really good signals and gets good traffic over to your blog posts really quickly which can help you rank much more quickly and better in the long run.
Here the question is, how do you do this without wasting a ton of time?
The tip I have for you is, don’t use Facebook, it’s probably not going to be effective at all in getting your message out to your audience in any sort of a timely manner. But, if you have a good podcast or if you have a YouTube channel, that’s great.
These are two of my favorite ways to build up a following around you and around your topic. And then as you create new posts, new content, you need to leverage that audience, you need to find a way to get them from where they are to that post on your website.
The next one is:
7. Page Load Speed
Now, this is sort of a pass/fail test. If you’re in the bottom like 25%, you’re probably not gonna do well for SEO. Page load speed is becoming a more and more important ranking factor to Google, as more people use their mobile devices and this one is really hard.
Go to another browser right now and open up Google page speed insights and go check 1-2 pages on your website. If your page load speed for mobile is above 60, you’re doing extremely well. Most WordPress websites can even get there.
8. Internal Links
Internal links are the links from one place on your website to another place on your website. In the user section above, I talked a little bit about how you can use internal links to get people to click through on your website more which will signal to Google that your content was helpful and relevant.
Moreover, having internal links on your website that people actually click will signal to Google that article being linked to, is also very helpful and authoritative. It will help the ranking of that particular article.
How do we get internal links to work for us?
Most people know to have them. But if nobody’s clicking on them, they are of no use, they don’t do us any good. Now, let’s say you have an article about DSLR cameras and in it, you want to link to another article you wrote, where you’re recommending your favorite Sony Camera.
In the article you might see something like, you may want reader to buy your favroite Sony Camera and the word of Sony Camera is a link to your article. There are two problems, two big things are missing.
First is, where is this going to take them? Is it an affiliate link to Amazon or is it a Wikipedia article? They have no idea.
And second is, what are they going to get when they click on that link?
So, if instead, you said something specific that is thorough and comprehensive, like you can write something, check out my own camera – buy now, if you want them to buy. If you want to let them know more about sony camera, you could write something like, Read more about Sony Camera. Hope you’re getting my point here.
Well, by saying that I wrote this other article, they know what they’re going to get, an article about and they know what’s another article on your website, there’s no question at all. They know what they’re going to get when they click that and so they’re much more likely to click on that.
You want to sell every single one of the links that you post in any of your articles to get people to click on them.
9. Images and Video
Having multimedia in your blog content actually itself is a ranking factor to Google. A little while back I came across a website that was all about, what’s the difference and it would compare two different things and then like all of their blog posts they would just have an image.
I’m talking like a classic painting image and they did that because they wanted to signal to Google that they have multimedia in their article but they didn’t want to go spend the money on stock photos for their website.
Now, this one thing is okay maybe that will help signal to Google you have multimedia. But it’s far better to have useful images and useful videos in your blog content mixed in with all of the written content as well.
You can check out top 100 best sleeve tattoo for men that is doing very well with just images and just a little amount of text.
The next one is just having:
10. Organizational Information
Google loves to know about what your site is? Who you are as the writer? Google wants to know that the content that you’ve written has some authority to it or not. And if they have no clue who it is that wrote it, if they have no clue what organization is behind it, it’s going to be a little bit suspect to Google.
Here’s what you need:
- About us page: You need to just describe like what is your purpose what’s this website about.
- Terms of Service: Create a terms & conditions page for your website.
With WordPress, you can easily create all pages. This stuff is gonna signal to Google that this site is at least legitimate.
Google’s eleventh most important ranking factor is:
11. Outbound Links to Quality Sites
Again Google wants to see signals that your content is accurate and authoritative. Occasionally, when it makes sense, having a link to an authority on the subject can actually increase the authoritative of your own website.
Let’s say, you’re writing something about taxes in the United States, you definitely should have a link to ‘iris.gov’ to whatever that thing is cited in the tax code, so that, it can signal to the readers and to Google that what you’ve written is accurate.
All of these 11 factors that Google are the ways of actually measuring. But what Google is trying to do is, use these metrics to measure the authority of your website and the helpfulness of your website.
What’s at the foundational core of writing good content and ranking well on Google is to have accurate and authoritative content, that’s extremely helpful to the user.
There are other hundreds of other ranking factors that Google uses in its algorithm to decide who fits where in the search engine results. These are things like have you set your canonical tags, have you know indexed your category pages to prevent duplicate content, have you put alt text in all of the images on your website. etc.
These are things that people tell you their SEO best practices but in my opinion, no other than these 11 factors have never held me back from ranking #1. In fact, over half of the articles, I write ranked number one on Google when given enough time.
There are few other ranking factors that I have found to be sort of pass/fail. These are things you should just do. If you don’t do them, it could totally hold you back. But doing them in a certain way doesn’t necessarily boost your ranking in any sort of incremental fashion, hope that made sense.
Here you go:
- Mobile Friendly: You need a WordPress theme that is designed to be able to handle mobile.
- Duplicate Content: In our creator studio, I tell our writers to never write a quote that’s longer than 3 sentences. You should never be copying plagiarizing content or images from other websites that you don’t have the rights to use yourself.
- SSL Certificate: Having an SSL certificate on your website today isn’t gonna really prevent you from ranking. But it won’t be long before this is just going to be a deal breaker.
- Broken Links: If you have links on your site the don’t go anywhere it’s a bad signal to Google. You need to fix your links.
- Malware: If you have malware on your site, Google is not going to send people to it.