Ranking highly in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) is one of the most important things that you can do to increase the amount of traffic heading to your website, but what you need to focus on in-order-to make that happen is constantly changing. Google continuously changes what its areas of focus are to makes sure that those using its search engine, will continue to get what they’re looking for. How it does that is by listing websites on the first page of the results that provide positive, accurate, and informative browsing experiences.
Google considers hundreds of ranking factors. With that said, it’s clear that a relatively small number of those factors will be the most relevant and should demand most of your focus. Focusing on 20% of Google ranking factors will result in 80% of your SEO success. So, take these ranking factors to heart while also taking into account that the relative importance of them will remain in constant flux.
Several years ago, Google began placing more importance on a website’s mobile optimization than on its desktop version. Today, this feature is one of the most important factors that Google looks at to determine which websites to rank highly. This has to do with more and more people browsing websites today from their phones than they are from their desktops or laptops. If your website is not mobile-friendly, making it so needs to be one of your first priorities.
Keyword stuffing used to be utilized by many who wanted their websites to rank highly on Google’s SERP. This is no longer the case, but Quality Content’s importance will be a key factor for Google. What you produce on your websites should offer real value to those visiting them. It needs to be thorough, useful and interesting. Google determines this through a variety of methods such as how long visitors remain on that page and if it intrigues them enough to view more of your website.
All other things being equal, more content is preferred over much less content. This is because it is generally viewed as being more detailed, offering greater value and being more engaging. Also, Google will rank websites that are one-stop shops for information, like Wikipedia. Google wants users to find all of their answers in one spot, and longer content is more capable to do that and not result in further research being done unnecessarily. With all that said, quality is always much more important than quantity, so do not expand on what is being written just so you can include filler and other relatively useless information.
Also, it has been shown, longer articles tend to be shared on social media platforms more often than shorter pieces. Any sort of sharing that any of your web pages receive can only help to increase how many visitors you receive and how highly you place on Google’s SERP. Don’t hesitate to include content going over 3,000 words. It'll make for a visitors longer dwell time.
Although, you will likely need to publish shorter articles from time to time. Just make sure that you continue to increase the percentage of your content that’s longer throughout as this is a factor that is not expected to decrease in importance.
Google released a freshness algorithm in 2011, and its importance has increased over the years to now being one of the most important Google ranking factors. Simply put, you need regularly up-to-date content on your website. This could involve rewriting and adding or removing entire sections of articles so that the information is up to date. But, this is not required if there simply is no more new information, but, if there is, start updating it today.
Another big ranking factor that Google will pay special attention to in is backlinks. This is mainly because it’s the most difficult aspect of Google rankings that can be gamed by website owners. You need as many quality websites linking back to your content as possible. Similar to having several professional references. The bottom line is that backlinks help Google view you as being high authority yourself.
However, with that said, quality matters more than quantity here as well. Google takes both of those factors into account and will flag a website if it has too many low-quality backlinks. Of course, you will likely have no direct control over this, but putting out quality content will help tremendously. Also, Google ignores multiple backlinks from the same website, so MLB.com linking to you is great, but MLB.com linking to you from more than one of it's web pages doesn’t provide any additional value.
Page speed has always played some kind of a role in a website’s Google ranking, but this is expected to be especially important in 2020. Slow page speed quickly results in visitors being dissatisfied, and, which Google picks up on because you didn't stay on the website. Generally speaking, aim for the fastest loading times you can get, but also, at a minimum, ensure that mobile devices can usually load your website in two or fewer seconds and your desktops in three or fewer. You want to decrease your bounce rate, which is going to be increased if users must wait for pages to load.
If you aren’t using HTTPS encryption, that needs to be one of your top priorities. This provides a level of security for users, and, as a result, is something that plays a role in Google ranking placement. If your website involves any trading of financial information, HTTPS is an absolute necessity.
You should be really careful of how you use interstitial ads on your website. If it's been deemed as intrusive, Google will Flag that page’s ability to rank highly in its SERP. These ads should not cause users to experience considerable difficulty navigating your website’s content, so only include interstitial ads if they’re necessary. Examples can be if you require a visitor to log in to access the content on that particular page or if you need to verify a visitor’s age before providing them with content. For interstitial ads that you use that are not necessary, please ensure that they can be easily closed.
What's common about all these factors? Ensuring that users have as positive and as rewarding an experience on your website as possible. Although all of these specific factors are important to focus on in, the most important thing that you should always have in mind is ensuring that users are getting a lot out of their experiences on your website. As long as you do that, a lot of the rest of these factors will naturally fall into place.