“I’ve heard SEO is important, but I’ll get to it later.” If that’s going through your head, you need to give yourself a shake and make SEO a priority!
Imagine a potential customer searching for the exact products or services you offer online. But your website doesn’t show up in the search results. You just lost a sale. SEO is how you make sure your website is visible to potential customers when they’re searching for what you have to offer.
Can you imagine the thrill of seeing your website on the first page of Google for a relevant search term? It’s not just incredibly satisfying, but it’s also essential for your business. After all, according to a study by Poll the People, page one results get 95% of clicks to websites.
That means that even though page two is pretty good, only 5% of searchers will even bother to look there. So if you want to get your fair share of traffic, SEO is essential.
So, it’s no surprise that one of the most popular Google jokes ever is “What’s on page two of Google? Nobody knows, and nobody cares.”
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, you’re in the right place to learn about the top Google ranking factors and get your site on track for success.
In this article, we’ll chat about the top Google ranking factors and how they can impact your site and your business. We’ll also include a glossary of SEO terms to help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and vocabulary.
Let’s get started!
SEO Content That Humans Will Love and Google Will Reward
if you’re tired of hearing that content is king, you might want to cover your ears. It’s still the most important thing Google looks at when deciding how credible your website is.
That’s because Google uses a set of criteria called E-E-A-T to evaluate content. E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, and trustworthiness.
Google prefers websites with high-quality content that demonstrates these qualities. For example, if you’re writing about a medical topic, Google will want to see that you have the expertise to write about it accurately.
How Google grades for these metrics isn’t 100% clear, but there are a few things you can do to make sure your content is E-E-A-T compliant:
- Make sure your content is clear, unbiased, and informative.
- Avoid agenda-driven writing.
- Cite your sources and link to other authoritative websites.
- Be transparent about who you are and why you’re writing about the topic.
- Avoid using jargon and technical terms that your audience may not understand.
Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO practice that’s as old as the search engines themselves. It’s the act of using a keyword way too many times in your content in an attempt to rank higher in search results.
But Google and other search engines got wise to this nonsense a long time ago. Now, they can easily tell when content sounds organic and meaningful versus repetitive and hollow.
Remember, content is supposed to be written for people, not just search engine bots. And search engines are starting to focus on this more and more.
So be careful about using AI software like ChatGPT and Bard to write your content. It’s not always the best idea to use a machine to do something that a human can do better.
Search engines are looking for content that is informative, provides real and verifiable facts, and is relevant to the topic at hand. For example, if your content is about financial planning, and you mention related topics like retirement planning, investments, and estate planning, Google will see that as relevant and authoritative.
Page Speed: The Faster, the Better (Unless You’re a Snail)
Slow page loads are the WORST!
Especially when you’re in a hurry to find something important. Like, who has time to wait for a page to finish spinning? We’re all busy people!
Google knows this, and since they’re all about user experience, they’ve made page load time a top priority.
In fact, it’s one of the Core Web Vitals (CWV), which are a set of metrics that Google uses to measure the quality of a web page’s user experience.
So, if you want to keep your website visitors happy and keep Google on your side, make sure your pages load quickly. Here are some tips to help you speed up your website:
- Optimize images: Big images can slow down your website. Make sure to optimize them by compressing them and making them smaller.
- Choose a good web host: Your web host can make a big difference in how fast your website loads. Choose a reliable host with speedy servers.
- Reduce HTTP requests: Reducing the number of HTTP requests that your website makes can help speed up page loading times. This can be achieved by reducing the number of resources required to load each page, such as images, scripts, and stylesheets.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN): Content delivery networks (CDNs) can help distribute your website’s content across multiple servers, reducing load times. However, it is important to note that not all CDNs include alt text for images, which can impact accessibility and SEO. Therefore, it is important to carefully select a CDN that meets your specific needs.
- Enable caching: Caching is like keeping a copy of your favorite photos on your phone so you don’t have to download them every time you want to see them. It’s the same for websites: caching stores frequently accessed content on your device so it loads faster.
- Optimize your code: Optimize your code by reducing the number of lines, using efficient algorithms, and getting rid of any duplicate code.
- Use a lighter theme or template: Heavy themes with lots of bells and whistles can drag down your website’s load time. Go for a lightweight theme that’s all about speed and performance.
Use the Google tools in the CrUX report to check your site speed and other UX factors. It’s a great way to make sure your visitors are having the best possible experience.
User Experience: Because You Deserve Better
Good UX is like a good first date. If it’s bad, people aren’t going to come back for a second. And Google is just like your jealous ex – if they see that people are leaving your site in a hurry, they’re going to downrank you.
So, how do you know if your UX is up to snuff? You can check out the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). It’s like a report card for your site, showing you how well it’s performing on key metrics like load speed, interactivity, and visual stability.
Here’s a tip: don’t just focus on the overall score. Drill down into the individual metrics to see where you can make improvements. For example, if your load speed is slow, you might need to optimize your images or reduce the number of third-party scripts on your site.
Once you’ve identified some areas for improvement, make a plan to fix them. And don’t forget to keep an eye on the CrUX report regularly to see how your changes are impacting your UX. Here is a brief explanation of the three main measurements to be aware of:
1: Loading Speed
Core Web Vitals are essential for SEO, and loading speed is one of the most important ones. It measures how quickly the main content of a page loads. A slow website leads to a poor user experience, which can cause people to leave your site quickly and reduce engagement. This can hurt your SEO ranking. Google recommends that websites aim for a loading speed of 3 seconds or less.
Interactivity is how quickly people can interact with a website’s content. This includes things like clicking buttons, scrolling, and typing in forms. If interactivity is slow, people can get frustrated and have a bad experience. Google recommends that websites aim for an interactivity score of 100 milliseconds or less.
3: Visual Stability
Visual stability is how steady a website’s content looks as it loads. If images or videos move around as a page loads, it can be annoying and make the user experience worse. For example, have you ever clicked on the wrong thing because a page hadn’t finished loading yet? That’s not fun. Google recommends that websites aim for a visual stability score of 0.1 or less.
It’s a good idea to check your Core Web Vitals from time to time to make sure everything is running smoothly. By optimizing your website’s Core Web Vitals, you’re giving your visitors a better experience, and Google will reward you with higher search rankings. You win!
Google loves websites that are safe for people to visit. That’s why getting an SSL certificate should be at the top of your list if you have a business website, especially an e-commerce site where people buy things.
An SSL certificate is like a digital ID for your website. It encrypts data sent between your website and your visitors’ browsers, so no one can eavesdrop. Having an SSL certificate can really boost your SEO ranking because it shows search engines that your website is secure and trustworthy. This not only makes your visitors feel good, but it also helps your website show up higher in search results.
Build Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are like popularity for websites. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the more popular you are to search engines. And the more popular you are to search engines, the higher you rank in search results.
Think of it like this: When a popular website links to your website, it’s like they’re giving you their seal of approval. They’re saying, “Hey, this website is cool and informative. You should check it out.”
So, how do you get backlinks? Well, one way is to create amazing content that people want to share. When people read your content and find it helpful, they’re more likely to link back to your website.
Another way to get backlinks is to reach out to other websites in your industry and ask them to link to you. You can also guest blog on other websites or participate in industry forums and groups.
But be careful! Not all backlinks are created equal. If you get backlinks from low-quality or spammy websites, it can actually hurt your website’s ranking. So, focus on getting backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites.
So, there you have it. Backlinks are like popularity for websites. The more you have, the better. But make sure you’re getting them from the right places.
Mobile is king when it comes to search. Most people use their phones to search for things online, so it’s no surprise that Google loves mobile-friendly websites.
In fact, Google has a special way of indexing and ranking websites called mobile-first indexing. This means that Google looks at the mobile version of your website first to decide how to rank it in search results.
So, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic. But don’t worry, it’s easy to make your website mobile-friendly. Just make sure that your website is responsive, meaning that it resizes and reflows to look good on all devices.
You should also make sure that your website is easy to navigate on mobile devices. This means using large fonts, clear buttons, and simple menus. And finally, you should optimize your website for mobile users by making sure that your pages load quickly and that your images are optimized for mobile devices.
So, if you want to rank higher in search results, make sure your website is mobile-friendly! It’s the best way to show Google that you love your mobile users as much as they love you.
Onsite optimizations are the things you can do on your website to make it more search engine-friendly. This means sending signals to Google so it knows what your website is about and where to rank it in search results.
- Have a sitemap: This is a map of all the pages on your website, and it helps Google crawl and index your site more efficiently.
- Have an “About Us” page: This is where you tell Google and your visitors more about your company. It’s also a good place to include your licenses, awards, and certificates.
- Include a contact page: This makes it easy for people to reach you, and it’s also a good signal to Google that your website is legitimate.
- Respond to all reviews: This shows that you’re engaged with your customers and that you care about their feedback. You can even include reviews on your website to boost your credibility.
- Update your content regularly: This shows Google that your website is fresh and relevant.
- Make your website easy to navigate: This means having clear and concise menus and making it easy for people to find the information they’re looking for.
Create an XML Sitemap
A sitemap is like a roadmap for your website. It tells search engines where all your pages are located and how they’re connected. This helps search engines crawl and index your website more efficiently, which can boost your SEO ranking.
Sitemaps are especially important for large websites, which can be difficult for search engines to navigate without one. But even small websites can benefit from having a sitemap.
To create a sitemap, you can use a free online tool or generate one yourself using a text editor. Once you have your sitemap, you need to submit it to Google Search Console.
Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console is like giving Google a heads up about your new website or any changes you’ve made to your existing website. This helps Google crawl and index your website more quickly, so your pages can start ranking in search results sooner.
So, if you want to give your SEO a boost, create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console. It’s a simple task that can make a big difference.