With over 3.5 billion searches and a sustaining market share of 86.02% as of April 2020, Ranking on Google is the number one search engine out there.
With the technological advancements that Google has poured on its smart search algorithm, there are now over 200 ranking signals used to determine organic search page ranking on Google which could be domain-related factors, on-page factors, off-page factors, site-level factors, and numerous technical SEO (search engine optimization) factors.
There’s indeed a ton of them. But are they all necessary to be remembered? Not really, as the search engine regularly shifts which factors matter to it, with some factors losing their applicability. With new updates, some factors may even become replaced with newly introduced aspects/factors.
Based on our experience, here is the list of the most significant factors that will influence ranking on Google as of December 2020:
Upon entering a certain website, “HTTPS” is usually seen at the beginning of most URLs. HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol — a virtual process that sends information from a site to the visitor’s browser. HTTPS is the secure version of this protocol, and it ensures Google that the information its indexing is safe to the searcher. The “S,” on the latter part, stands for “secure.” What does that mean? It’s a manifestation that there’s an extra layer of security that protects information exchanged between users and the site.
In 2015, Google revealed that HTTPS could be the tie-breaking part of site rankings. If both sites who are currently competing to be on the top list of search results possess equal qualities like speed, title tags, content freshness, etc., the presence of HTTPS is examined. And If one of them does not have the HTTPS, then the one is ranked ahead of the other.
Surprisingly, the said revelation reflected on the research made by Brian Dean, SEMRush, Ahrefs, SimilarWeb, and MarketMuse, in which a correlation between HTTPS and higher search rankings was evident, a manifestation that it indeed serves as a tie-breaking point among websites.
Another confirmation from Niel Patel who also mentioned in his article that HTTPS and higher search ranking, when combined with other ranking on Google factors, the HTTPS does not become a major, but a tie-breaking factor.
Backlinks, also known as “inbound links”, “incoming links” or “one-way links” are all the hyperlinks that direct back to someone’s page from somewhere on the internet. That alone can make a difference with the rankings.
How do these affect the site’s standing? Inbound links from other websites is a plus point as Google recognizes the trust of other publishers to certain websites — enough to link to it from
their sites. For Google, credibility is important and the more trustworthy the source linking to them, the stronger the impact their inbound link has on the search engine results as it gives Google an indication that the page is socially verified as a useful page. Because of that, people’s perception of the page is relevant and credible enough to link to it on their site.
Backlinks are the backbone of Google’s search algorithm, and they’re arguably the foremost influential in terms of ranking on Google over your competitors. If it looks like a site has a troublesome time gaining a position over a rival site, quite likely it’s because they need more relevant or authoritative links pointing to their pages than you are doing.
Fortunately, this could be changed with some key link building techniques like commenting on related blogs, buying listings in high-quality Web directories (yes, this still works and works well), guest posting, sharing infographics, regularly posting in related forums, etc. As that site becomes known for being an authority within the niche, it may expect to receive some highly relevant sites linking back to its web content.
The influence of these backlinks comes almost entirely from outside domains as they don’t work when the publisher just post them to its other owned blog posts
For this reason, “link building” has turned into one of the means for earning backlinks from other publishers. Some publishers, who have the same distinguished authority, agree to trade backlinks from each other. Others even make content on this publisher’s website and link it back to themselves.
Google will typically only count links coming from an equivalent domain once. So albeit one domain links to you 5 times those links will carry less weight than if 5 different sites linked to you so the primary thing to specialize in is going to be getting links from a variety of various domains.
As social media platforms become one of the trends in the digital age, the site’s number of likes, shares, followers, etc is also recognized as leverage in ranking on Google. With that, the credibility of the site most likely increases sharing occurs with just one click and can be done several times.
However, social success does not happen overnight, and will never happen without exerting an immense effort as it requires a plan and social media strategy that can help in building connections. Hence, the publisher is asked to be active on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
One of the main reasons why certain sites appeal more to users than others is the quality of their content. It is believed that good and quality content is supported with facts, grammatically correct, entices the audience and well-written, etc. According to Thinker, 60% of consumers lose their interest in a brand that possesses a poorly written content.
Many websites are still experiencing “thin content syndrome” wherein their content is not substantial enough to feed users the answers that they are looking for.
For instance, the average article length of other competing sites ranges from 300 500 words. What does it imply? A company that is striving to get in the way of other high ranking company sites will offer a much informative, helpful, and in-depth of all the sites. In short, longer but precise content.
If you’re wondering why quality content is crucial for Google ranking it’s because most of users or customers are busy, they do not have the luxury of time to scroll down to the last search results that could go up to 5 or more pages just to look for the thing they wanted to know. Hence, there is only a little percentage of people who venture past the first result page.
Remember that better ranking in search engines only means more traffic to one’s website, providing the opportunity to sell products and services to a larger market.
It’s not enough to only serve your website visitors the data they’re trying to find. As more websites give visitors good answers, how that answer is structured becomes a serious tie- breaker when ranking content under more competitive keywords.
The good content structure includes a spread of headers and sub-headers to form a solution easier for an individual to digest and understand. It might also include bullet points, numbered lists, supporting images, and cited research — all of which help keep readers engaged together with your content.
The more engaged a reader is with your content, the longer they’ll stay on your website — increasing what is known as their “session duration,” another relevant Google ranking factor that comes as a result of creating good content.
It has come to Google’s attention that the sites’ compatibility on mobile devices should be further improved and developed as more queries come mostly from smartphones.
Since a lot of people do the searching through their smartphones as it gives them a sense of convenience, even when outside of their homes the search button could be clicked in an instant. According to Blue Corona’s report, 91% of mobile users conclude that the accessibility of content is a very crucial point for them that when they encounter difficulties, they tend to easily leave the site.
With continuous efforts of Google on improving their algorithms to make sure that search results always offer relevant sites as possible, here comes the mobile-first responsive design in which a website’s design and structure automatically change, depending on what device is used to visit them. May it be a desktop or a smartphone, the site easily adapts to a variety of screens without the hassle of making it into two versions.
If a business builds up its site, the structure is frequently founded on the presumption that guests will peruse it on a workstation. At that point, the site is adjusted to adjust to various gadgets, including cell phones and tablets. At the end of the day, the site is downsized; this methodology is broadly known as effortless corruption or work area first.
Unfortunately, numerous visual perspectives and highlights of a site are enhanced for work stations—however, adjust inadequately to cell phones. This is when fashioners adjust another methodology called dynamic improvement or a portable first system.
Thus, they at first plan a site for the littlest cell phones conceivable and afterward scale upwards to adjust to PCs.
Page Speed affects ranking on Google
Another SEO ranking factor that relates to user experience is the speed load of pages. In general, pages that load within three seconds are already considered fast enough for their users. Even Google acknowledges this characteristic, making it a part of ranking factors.
As mentioned above, people nowadays are always occupied, whether by office work, school work or house chores, etc. For them, sites that load slower the average time is an indication of bad user experience. As a result, most of them don’t like the idea of experiencing some slow webpage loads.
So what are the things that affect the load speed of a site? There are two possible causes, the font types and sizes, and uncompressed images.
Websites that contain heavy, complex types of visual elements on the page can cause the website to take longer to load, hence decrease your website’s page speed. Fortunately, the image file size can be cut down.
Keeping images no larger than 100KB is a good way to reduce page loading time. Since some of the images tend to look distorted when produced with that quality, increasing the image size by a little while maintaining its best quality is fine.
What are these keywords and what is their importance? According to Jacinta Santora, they are words or phrases that determine what people are browsing online and they are also used to describe what a topic is all about.
Targeting the right keywords to be used in one’s content pages comes with keyword research, the process of classifying the terms that users put on search engines for the purpose of remodeling or developing content creation and marketing.
The use of long-tail keywords, according to Jennifer Yesbeck, would be helpful if also imposed in addition to shorter generic keywords as people can now use voice search when searching for phrases and questions.
She added that understanding keyword search intent is also a key to boosting Google rankings. Search intent is the purpose of why someone browses the internet, looking for something about learning, purchasing, or navigation, etc.
Since the goal of Google is to serve users with greater convenience when it comes to searching, they have been granting websites with an upright ranking when their content matches keyword content.
With all the Google ranking factors that were disclosed, always remember that a good positioning in the search engine is not just all about the trend in tips, tricks, and buzzwords.
Try to understand the ultimate goal of Google which is to develop their algorithm for the sole purpose of serving users the information that is suitable and rightful to their liking.
What actually builds up the site’s popularity is the quality content that has pure relevance to the topics that users are looking for, providing a better user engagement experience, and bringing Google the assurance that the site is highly capable and worthy of being one of the best results that could be offered.