In the world of SEO and online marketing, it is imperative to understand how to make your site stand out and become known by more online users.  Knowing Google’s top ranking factors is the name of the game, and being able to adapt your content to fit their requirements will go a long way toward solidifying your position in the rankings.

While it might seem daunting and too “tech-speak”, there are many useful tricks and helpful tips to update and keep your website ranking at the top of the search results.  Just making a few small, simple adjustments to your website can really help the process of staying on top of SEO and ranking highly.  You don’t need to be an expert in the field to take your digital marketing efforts up a notch and have a positive impact.  But, you need to understand and commit to the discipline and due diligence.

Let’s take a look at how your content and links play a part in the Google SEO top ranking factors and what you can do to elevate your position in the search results.

The Importance of Quality Content

It’s been discussed time and time again that long-form content brings better results in Google rankings.  However, it is not just the length of the content, (1,000 words or more per article) but also the content relevance and quality and a clear message written about a particular subject.  The content must be original, not syndicated.  Although this might seem obvious, correct grammar and spelling also play an important part in the ranking.  The SERP (Search Engine Results Page) position is directly related to content quality and its relevant to the context of the user query and how well it addresses their query.  In general, shorter blogs of lesser substance are ranked lower than long-form quality content.

Avoid Duplicate Content

Duplicate content on any website does not rank well.  The change in algorithm to Google Hummingbird in 2013 allowed the search engine to understand content better and not just base the results on keywords.  Although keywords are important, they are not the whole picture as to how the results are displayed.  Flooding a post or webpage with keywords will not help your ranking.  It is best to stick with a few impactful keywords and let your quality, original content do the rest.

Stay Informed and Relevant

Google is constantly working, editing, and developing the way users search and find information online.  There are updates happening all the time that most of us don’t even notice or recognize.  Some of the updates have significantly changed the scope of search results, while others have had only a slight effect.

Stay informed and read more about the algorithm history and Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin, and other updates that have changed the face of the internet gradually over time.  With these ongoing adjustments, Google has been able to increase the accuracy of searches so that users can find quality information from a simple word or phrase and index hundreds of thousands of related sites, in a relevant order and format.

Google’s Top Ranking Factors

While it may seem overwhelming at first, take a look at the list of Google’s 200 ranking factors and you’ll see a few themes continually mentioned.  Spam-type practices are highly discouraged and often cause a much lower ranking to a site.  These include:

  • ad-heavy pages with low content value
  • too many links or having links that don’t work
  • pop-up ads
  • anything that appears to be low-quality or superficial information

With the high volume of websites created every day, there are many markers of a false or spam site, all of which play a part in the ranking system of Google search, including:

  • incorrect or poor coding
  • buying a domain name for less than one year
  • the quality of the site

The good news is, for those who have legitimate businesses with quality content, you will be rewarded for best use practices.  Content mills that generate duplicate and low-grade blog posts will show up much lower in the search index, a positive change that developed from the Hummingbird update.

To ensure that your content is seen as relevant by Google, here are some easy to implement tips and tricks that you can employ:

  • Use bullet points and numbered lists as well as a linked table of contents to help Google better understand what your content is all about.
  • Include at least one image, with a keyword in the ALT tag, related to your content.
  • Be aware that images and graphics are important, however, one relevant image is better than inserting too many that may slow the page loading speed and dilute the content.
  • If possible include a relevant video in your content. Remember that because Google owns YouTube, it is best to use YouTube when adding video content.

Think about Links – ‘High Quality Links’ is a Critical Google Ranking Factor

Just like your content, the quality of links that drive traffic to your website also plays a key role in ranking. It is important to have a large and diverse number of links as opposed to many links from one domain. According to a study by Backlinko, “the number of unique referring domains was the strongest correlation in our entire study.”

There are ways to obtain links that end up being on the “spammy” end of the spectrum, which will cause your site ranking to decrease.  For example, acquiring link references by posting in forums or links in blog comments is not a useful way to gain more traction.  Organically growing links by connecting to other like-minded businesses, guest blog posts, and quality directory site listings are the most effective way to increase links and ultimately your ranking.

Links from other authoritative sites will help to boost your own websites status.  Gaining visibility and presence from other legitimate and respectable sites shows Google that your site is relevant to your niche and deserves to feature higher in the rankings.

Increase Traffic and Boost Your Rankings 

The most productive way to increase traffic and boost your ranking is by using best practices in content writing and website design.  Quality content and links will take your site to the top of the results and help you to maintain that position.  Google’s top ranking factors are designed by humans and implemented by highly intelligent artificial intelligence algorithms that fluctuate and improve with continual development.  Always remember to focus on the quality of your content.  As we have all heard time and time again, ‘content is king’ and with the right content, you will soar in the search results, gain more traffic to your website and put your business on the right path to a successful future.