Google uses an impressive list of over 200 components to run their ranking algorithm.
While this provides an impressive search result for users, a human marketer can be daunted.
After all, there are only 24 hours in a day.
Luckily, “SEO” is not about getting every minute detail right; it is about setting priorities and sticking to them.
Below is a list of important factors listed by SEO experts SEO PowerSuite and Backlinko. Read on to find out how to rank in the top two pages of Google.
As the old saying goes, ‘content is king’. Nothing has changed about the importance of quality content and here are three key things that can set yours apart if done well:
Keyword use and title tags hold the strongest relevance, so make sure these are as close to the beginning of the piece as possible. Tie the meta description in to boost the relevance, but do not rely on it to carry the full load.
Sprinkle keywords in the body text, and don’t forget it use them in the header tag, also known as the title of the post. Avoid stuffing your content with keywords, however.
Unlike the old days when this increased your chances of ranking, stuffing keywords now gets you penalized for providing a negative user experience. Use a variety of keywords and their synonyms to rank higher and provide richer content.
The amount of content on a page is important to the overall perception of quality, which directly impacts the ranking. While there is no ideal length to aim for, Google expects a “satisfying” length of content and What this entails depends on the topic and purpose of the page. Learn from other pages that rank well for your keywords and note their length.
| “Remember that long copy does not always lead to user conversion.”
Some products or services may find that shorter copy is better for their purposes. Another thing to keep in mind is that Google penalized pages that are overstuffed with keywords, which gives the user a negative experience and therefore harms your ranking.
Certain terms and phrases used in your content can increase your ranking, as Google looks at logical results in terms of comprehension. For instance, if you search for “things to see in Chicago,” it would be logical that “architecture”, “deep dish pizza”, “Wrigley Field”, “Hancock Building” and so on would be mentioned in the content.
This demonstrates the complexity of the algorithm that Google uses to rank your page. It can tell quality content with meaningful and rich text from poor quality content.
The foundation of your site, as well as the content, is crucial for your search ranking.
First, page-loading speed must be within two seconds. Google has officially confirmed that the speed at which a page loads is a ranking factor. Make sure your page resources are compressed, including images, CSS files and, scripts.
Secondly, make sure all your pages are optimized for smartphones, or you risk dropping off the mobile search rankings completely. Over half of Google searches are performed on a mobile device, so to forget this audience is to fail.
As digital assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo Dot increase in popularity, your website should consider how to incorporate these new mediums to keep up. This requires a focus on long-tail keywords, which is what AI systems use to mine for relevant information.
Increasing your long-tail keyword use can adapt your website to voice search and increase your conversion rate.
Last but not least, do not forget to use a keyword or two for file names, which should always be descriptive. Include a caption in your photos, which does not affect SEO directly, but does create a more positive user experience. Alt tags, which are descriptions of the photos used by search engines, should also use keywords when possible.
The user experience, which in this case is defined as how relevant your content is to the user’s search terms, can be used for rankings. User experience is judged on a few factors, the most important of which is the click-through rate.
Click-through rate is the ratio of the number of times a page is clicked versus the number of times it was displayed during a search. This is where social media can influence SEO, albeit indirectly. Even though social media has nothing to do with search rankings, it does affect your online visibility and your website traffic.
Social media increases your brand recognition and gives you authority among your competitors. It provides a wider platform to distribute your content and a longer lifespan for that content to be relevant.
Finally, it can also boost your local SEO numbers.
Linking to trustworthy websites elevates your website’s status in the eyes of the search engines. Backlinks from credible sites demonstrate that your website has credibility and value to users. While it takes time to impact your overall rankings, they can and will improve as your credibility becomes more solid.
Bad backlinks, on the other hand, can sink your credibility. Back in the day when people were paying for links to increase their SEO ranking, Google took exception to this and created an algorithm just to penalize websites with these bad backlinks.
The age of your domain is of vital importance to SEO. The reality is that your domain will take longer to rank in the top 20 for your keywords if it is less than 5 years old.
You will need some very prominent backlinks, industry influencers and associations, and some great content to overcome the ageism that Google seems to subject domains to for rankings.
SEO is very complex, changes all the time and has so many dimensions; it would be impossible to list them all here. Of course, you do not have time to focus on every detail, but the good news is that you do not have to.
"Prioritize your efforts and focus on the areas that really matter, as we have outlined above. Keep an eye on your competitors and watch your rankings top them every time."