Surely, you’ve all heard it, the 200+ Search Engine Optimization ranking factor number that floats around in blogs, videos, and ‘how-to’ eBooks.
And while we’re not disputing that Google’s algorithm is highly sophisticated (and complicated), we also think it’s important to let you know that not all 200+ of their Search Engine Optimization ranking factors are heavily weighted.
This means that some factors are very important…and some are just something to be aware of. For example, keywords in high-level areas of your page (title tags, H1s) are much more important in ranking you for that keyword than, say, keyword density in H2s and H3s.
- Page Speed
- Domain Authority
- Title Tags
- H1 Tags
- Content Length & Depth
- Duplicate Content
- Canonical Tag
- Secure Website
- Mobile-Friendly Website
1. Page Speed
You know that page speed is important, especially with the connections most online consumers make between quality, security, and speed.
Ultimately, a slow website looks like a bad website, if your customers even wait for it to load (which they probably won’t).
2. Domain Authority
Domain authority describes the relevance for a specific subject area or industry, so, if you talk about tacos on your page, have a wealth of knowledge about tacos, and have trusted websites that also specialize in tacos linking to you, your DA will probably be higher.
3. Title Tags
Title tags tell users what your page will be about even before they get on it, as title tags can be seen from the search engine results page (SERPs).
This means your title tag has to be relevant to the page, include keywords, have your branded name if possible, and stay within the length limits (under 60 characters).
4. H1 Tags
H1 tags, or header 1 tags, are similar to the topmost title of an outline, so it is important that they are present and relevant to your page, content, and keywords.
Instead of having your homepage merely be labeled ‘Home’ as its H1, try having a service mentioned as well.
5. Content Length & Depth
Content length is always up for debate, but the numbers don’t lie! Often, the pages that come up first on the SERPs are pages with more content length and depth. So, if you search for ‘SEO ranking factors’ you will find a list of 200 before you find a list with only 6.
Consider using the Content Analyzer or Writing Helper on SEMRush as they are great tools to help you see what the competition’s length is for certain keywords, as well as what direction you should go (casual, technical, etc.).
A little research goes a long way, but at the very least, home pages should have no less than 400 words (and 700-1,000 is best).
6. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is a big red flag for Google, as it essentially looks like plagiarism or that you simply copied and pasted the same content onto multiple pages on your website. Even though Google wants to see in-depth content on each page, that doesn’t mean you can cheat and just write one page of great content and then use the same words on each page.
This is one of the reasons why content marketing is so important, and why having a good writer is valuable. Even if you are targeting similar words on different pages, you need to make sure the content is unique and helpful on both.
7. Canonical Tag
Sometimes you don’t have duplicate content, but the search engines still think you do if you don’t have a 301 redirect or canonical tag. This will tell Google that your page is the originator of the content, and that other variations of your URL are still the same page and the same site.
8. Secure Website
Speaking of the above example (www.calypso-agency.com vs. https://calypso-agency.com) make sure your website is secure (with that https) as otherwise users and search engines won’t trust you.
RankBrain was a major update that helped Google’s algorithm learn what people mean when they type in a query that could mean multiple things. This is a huge step for machine learning, but also makes your website’s content all the more important.
One of the biggest areas that shifted due to RankBrain is the ‘one keyword per page’ idea. Instead, use keywords that are semantically related on the same page, like:
Web Design Los Angeles, SEO & Web Design, UI/UX Design in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Website Development, and Web Development Los Angeles.
If these are all targeted on the same page – guess what, Google can probably figure out that your page is on web design and SEO in the Los Angeles area, not property development and design services in Los Angeles.
10. Mobile-Friendly Website
This one is huge, really huge, because of the aptly named Google update – Mobilegeddon. As it sounds, it was all about making sure your website is optimized for mobile users, and if it isn’t, well – you probably took a huge dive a couple of years back.