What factors does Google take into consideration when ranking websites in their organic search? I am sure this question is asked by every webmaster who wants to be on the first page of Google. There are over 200 ranking signals that Google takes into consideration, including website layout, backlinks, mobile friendliness, and bounce rate.

Not all of the 200 ranking factors for SEO are taken into equal consideration. Our digital marketing team in Toronto has created a cheat sheet to help you identify the 7 most powerful Google ranking factors in the world of SEO:

1. Link Score

The number of links pointing to your website is important in Google’s eyes. However, today it’s not about quantity; it’s about the quality of the links. It is important to avoid spammy, low-quality links. It is also worth noting that the sources of the links should vary as links coming from the same domain carry little weight; Google will typically only count one of them when evaluating your link profile.

When taking quality into consideration, it is more complex. While we know that PageRank is still a major factor of Google’s algorithm, its public version is no longer available. Fortunately, there are reliable alternatives that are based on PageRank’s original formula, including SEO PowerSuite. It is also worth noting that receiving backlinks should come naturally, meaning it should not look contrived and done in exchange for payments.

2. Meta tagging and Keyword Usage

If there is one place that carries the most weight for keyword usage in a page or post, it is the title tag (h1 tag). If you would like to rank for a specific keyword, that keyword should most definitely be mentioned in the title tag. The meta description can also boost relevance, and it carries the second most weight. However, having a keyword in the title and description will not win you brownie points unless you have them sporadically added throughout the body, preferably in the h2, h3, h4 etc tags.

Placing keywords in the body should be done strategically. Someone reading your text should not feel as though you are writing for Google purposes, meaning you are trying to stuff as many keywords as possible without any care for grammar and readability. Search engine optimization analysts suggest maintaining a ratio of 1 keyword per 100 words.

3. Content Length

There is no ideal length for content. However, the more words you have on a page, the more opportunity you have to place your selected keywords. As Google puts it, “the amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page.”

Every piece of content you have should have a purpose. You should not have content published simply because you were told you needed more of it. If there is something out of place and users are rebuffed by it, Google will penalize you for having a high bounce rate.

4. Unique Content

Having similar content across various pages of your website or between different domain addresses can hurt your rankings. Avoid duplicating content by writing an original copy for each page/post you create. Think of it as your competitive advantage – you are telling Google why you are better than your competitors. If all content written by your competitors and you are the same, how shall Google determine who to rank first?

5. Content Updates

Google algorithm prefers content that gets updated on a regular basis. This does not mean that you have to edit your pages every day or every week. Our Digital Marketing analysts believe that for commercial pages, such as product descriptions, Google recognizes the fact that they are not as time sensitive as blog posts that cover news. However, it is important to create a strategy for updating certain types of content once every year or so. Using the tag in proper fashion prevents Google from considering pages with similar and duplicate content.

6. Mobile Friendliness

In November 2014, Google started labeling sites as “mobile-friendly” to denote which pages are optimized for phones. In February 2015, Google announced plans to roll out mobile ranking changes on April 21. Although many people forgot about it, it does not mean that it is not one of the major ranking factors in 2017. Google desires to provide the same experience to its users no matter what device they are using.

If you are not mobile-friendly, or if you want to ensure that you are, check the Google mobile-friendly tool, and Google’s mobile guidelines. It is never too late to benefit from this mobile-friendly algorithm; it is real-time based on how fast Google crawls your pages.

7. Page Upload Speed

With a mobile-first indexing approach from Google, page speed has become more crucial than ever. Websites with slow page speed will have a harder time ranking at top results. Google’s goal with these updates is to provide users with search results which include sites that provide the best user experience. It’s simple to test for website speed. Google provides a link where you can find your “speed score” for both desktops and mobiles here.

iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto based social media marketing agency, specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media management, digital marketing and online branding. Our team helps clients manage and grow their online presence and branding to increase qualified web traffic and online leads. Please Contact us today at this link for a free consultation.