In the race to rank at the top of Google search results, you’ll come across a number of competitors and algorithm processes that you’ll have to crawl, climb, and jump over. When it comes to organic SEO, it’s a competition, and the competition is tough. With over 200 factors that determine your ranking in Google’s algorithms, there are many site requirements that Google relies on to put your business in its place.
The battle to get the top position on page one is long and daunting, however, here at Rice we have become well acquainted with Google’s algorithms and ranking factors. With a great SEO strategy plan and a little patience, you’ll soon be climbing up on Google’s SERPs.
How does Google rank websites?
When Google ranks your site, it looks for two things – authority and relevancy. Google will create a ranking for a website, based on the results of the algorithm and information gathered by search engine ‘spiders’. These websites are displayed on search result pages in an order reflecting their rank. Being at the top of the page communicates how appropriate the page is in regards to the search query. However, these formulas, known as algorithms, are constantly changing as the search engines strive to achieve improved results.
The algorithm may be designed by the guys down at Google, but the rankings given to websites are determined by the outcome of the algorithm, not by any given person. Unfortunately, there’s no manual intervention by any one of us to adjust the rankings specific websites are given by the algorithm. There’s no wizardry command that can magic SEO to guarantee you the number one spot for all of your selected keywords, but paying attention to the factors that the algorithm places value on and actively working to improve them, you will be certain to improve your website’s rankings on Google.
So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about the most important factors to ranking and how Google will position your website.
Google Loves Content
Content is one of the most important Google ranking factors and has been for a while – but in recent years, we’ve seen a shift away from keyword-focused content, towards more relevant content written in a natural and genuine tone.
So what exactly does relevant content look like? The short answer is: comprehensive. Whether the aim of your website is to inform or sell a product or service if your content is poorly written, the aim is lost – users simply won’t understand your message. You need to ask: is this page covering all of the details and information that a potential visitor would be interested in? Google does a pretty darn good job at analysing pages and determining whether they meet the searcher’s intent.
The pages on your website should be rich with informative content, including simple and easy to read sentences. You should utilise headings and images to break up areas and sections too!
Google loves optimisation
An optimised website will have basic meta data, meta title, meta description and onsite H1 and H2 tags on each page, these factors help determine how your site ranks. Google did announce in September 2009 that neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into Google’s ranking algorithms for web search. However, meta description tags are important in gaining users to click-through from SERPs and those clicks do influence rankings. These short paragraphs give you the opportunity to advertise content to searchers and give users the chance to decide whether the content is relevant and contains the information they’re seeking from their search query.
From our own experience, we have found that meta titles and descriptions still hold much importance when looking at ranking increases, making tweaks to the description can affect the position you hold for a keyword on Google, which shows that meta description is still relevant when optimising your web pages.
Google looks for high-quality Backlinks
Backlinks are links that are directed towards your website, which is also known as inbound links. The number of backlinks that your website has, gives an indication of the popularity or importance of your website. Backlinks are important for SEO because Google will give more credit to websites that have a good number of quality backlinks, and consider those websites more relevant than others in their results pages for a search query.
Backlinks remain an important Google ranking factor, but over the years Google has learned to differentiate the bad links from the good. The more links that your website has will result in a higher score, but only if they’re from high quality and authoritative domains. There are a number of tactics to gain high-quality links for your website, which include; link building, outreach, guest blogging and digital PR.
Google loves Technical SEO
There are also many technical SEO factors which play a big role in your website’s rankings too. Regular technical checks ensure that your website is compatible with Google’s guidelines, and can be indexed and ranked for keyphrase searches accordingly.
As your website grows over time, the structure of the site has to be able to cope. Ideally, pages should not be buried too deep within the site, which means planning a horizontal site. This allows search engines to regularly crawl, cache and index pages. Many other technical factors to consider include; canonicalisation, website cannibalisation, redirections, page speed and HTML markup.
So, what does Google look at when ranking website?
When asking the question, how does Google rank websites? The answer certainly isn’t a simple one. SEO is an industry that is constantly developing and evolving. In the past few years, we’ve seen Google push for rich content and high quality links to make your site visible on the search engine. We advise to keep an eye out on Google’s regular updates to make sure you’re always on top of the game.