Search engine algorithms are one of the closest guarded secrets in the world today. There’s a good reason for that. If the full algorithms were available to the public, then many individuals and businesses would game the system and rank their websites much higher than they truly should. That would render search results pretty much useless.
Nevertheless, search engines are so widely used that it’s virtually impossible to keep hidden all the elements the search algorithm looks at. In addition, Google will sometimes publish a blog post that mentions a new signal they have added to their search algorithm.
It’s by picking up these clues, as well as studying the patterns of search results, that search engine optimization (SEO) professionals like Digital Logic have eventually developed a fairly reliable checklist of search engine ranking factors. The following is a look at the top factors affecting search results.
1. Keyword in Meta Title
Always include your target keywords in the meta title of your web page. The meta title (also knowns as the title tag) is the text at the top of the browser window that appears when you open the page. It’s also the narration you see in search engine results. Within the page’s HTML code, the title tag is the wording between <title> tags.
To increase your chances of a high search results ranking, use your targeted keywords in each page’s title tag. That doesn’t mean having the exact same title for every page. Get creative and find ways to work in the keywords while still ensuring the title remains relevant to the content of the page itself.
2. Inbound Links Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable and readable text of a link. It’s the most concise assessment someone else can make over what your page is about. Studying the way other websites describe a link to you (i.e. the anchor text they use) gives search engines a good idea of how people perceive the target page’s content.
Also, the more the sites that link to yours, the more relevant and authoritative search engines consider your web page to be thus ranking it higher. The content of the anchor text is therefore vital. When you get in touch with other sites to promote your web page, include the anchor text you’d prefer. They are not under obligation to use the text you propose but there’s no harm in trying. The anchor text should contain your target keywords.
3. Link Popularity of Your Website
Think of each inbound link as a vote. The more inbound links to your site, the more Google and Bing will consider your content interesting and useful. Your web pages will, therefore, rank higher than a website with fewer links all other factors held constant. Nevertheless, not all inbound links are created equal. The quality of each link is important.
For example, an inbound link from BBC.com would carry far greater weight than a link from a random, outdated WordPress blog. You must take link quality into consideration when planning your link building strategy.
4. Age of Website
The older your website, the better. Part of the reason is that it’s pretty difficult to fake a website’s age. In addition, search engines believe that if your site has been online for such a long time, it’s probably more credible than a new site with similar content.
The importance of age is why you shouldn’t procrastinate. Even if you don’t have all the money you wished you had to launch your site, just registering the domain alone is an investment that will pay off in the long run. When you eventually do raise the finances needed to build and launch an elaborate site a year or two later, you’ll have an edge over competitors who didn’t register their domains when you did.
5. Keyword Use in Page Content
Body text is the meat of your web page. It’s where you explain to visitors what your page is about. Search engines will determine how high up a web page should rank in search results based on the occurrence of relevant search phrases and keywords within the content of the page body.
Nevertheless, flooding the page with the keyword would be counterproductive and is considered a form of search engine spamming (Google penalizes websites for such keyword stuffing). Keyword use should be measured, coherent, intelligent, and reasonable.
Don’t insert keywords in complete disregard of the page’s readability. Remember that the very reason for SEO is to draw visitors to your site who you hope to eventually convert. It will be self-defeating if visitors landed on a page filled with hard-to-decipher content.
6. Page Load Speed
Google is always keen on improving the experience its users have. That means ensuring that the search results Google Search lists are of websites that provide a quality experience. Fast-loading web pages will do just that.
Today’s internet users are astonishingly impatient. 2 in 5 will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. For many years now, Google has used page speed as a search ranking signal. But starting in mid-2018, the speed signal was expanded to cover both the desktop and mobile version of a website.
If your mobile website isn’t loading quickly, it will be penalized in the results ranking. Google has a free mobile testing tool that you could use to see how your site performs.
7. Mobile Compatibility
Speed is not the only mobile-specific ranking factor search engines look at. Mobile-friendliness is just as valuable a factor in SEO. In 2016, the number of internet users on mobile surpassed desktop and laptop users for the first time. That gap is only bound to grow given the portability, convenience, and increasing capacity of smartphones. The RAM and processor speed of today’s average smartphone isn’t much different from that of the average laptop.
This global shift to mobile internet use is why Google Search now follows a mobile-first principle. That means unlike in the past where the optimization of the desktop version of your website determined its search results ranking, now it’s how well your site is optimized for mobile devices that are considered first.
Knowing these factors and taking the appropriate action to ensure your website complies with them is only the beginning of your SEO efforts. Search engines regularly add new signals while downgrading or eliminating others. For your website to not fall down the rankings following changes to search algorithms, always have your ear to the ground.
Ashwini is passionate about Business, Entrepreneurship, E-commerce, and Digital Marketing. She is working with Acquire as a digital marketing executive. She is a free soul and adventurous scholar who spends her free time with herself, loved once, with her music, traveling, and reading.