Google has a lot of ranking factors to determine how your site gets ranked on their search engine. Often it can get confusing as to what you need to do, and what the biggest myths are for search engine optimization (SEO).
That is why Northcutt’s list of over 261 ranking factors on Google proves to be an invaluable overview of what to focus on for your SEO efforts.
They ranked all of these ranking factors from concrete ranking factors to mythical factors. Instead of having to go through all 261 factors yourself, we wanted to give you a highlights tour of the most important Google ranking factors for your website.
Let’s start by discussing the different things you should do on your website page.
Positive On-Site Rankings
Keyword Title Tag– The first thing you need is a quality Title tag with your keywords. According to Moz, the ideal Title tag is between 60-70 characters
Keyword in URL- While keywords in the URL are not as important as they used to be, it still is a difference maker when comparing two similarly ranked sites.
Keywords in Alt Text – Every image on Google Image search has specific alt text tagging those images. Putting the keywords in the alt text is a good way for Google to know more about the image.
Word Formats- Do you use bold, italic, underline, or larger fonts to highlight keywords in your posts? If not, you could be losing out in terms of search traffic.
Internal Link Anchor Text- When not abused, this can be a great source of navigating through your website. Internal links also provide Google with a ranking of importance of your content to place on their search engine.
HTTPS (SSL) – Security is a big deal in today’s society. The recent Ashley Madison hack highlighted how important security is to users. Having an SSL certificate is a vital first step in protecting your visitors. Google recognizes this as well, which is why they include it as a ranking signal.
Fresh content – You probably heard ad nauseam how fresh content is important for your search engine rankings. This is part of the reason why blogging has become so popular over the past few years.
The ranking for fresh content or Query Deserves Freshness (often shortened to QDF) shows how often Google checks your search engines to determine if you have fresh content to index.
Quality Outbound Links – A lot of attention has been made over the years to received inbound links to your website. However, giving quality outbound links can help as well when done in moderation.
Mobile friendly- the new mobile friendly algorithm update earlier this year shows how important mobile websites are for search traffic.
Negative On-Page Rankings
Hidden text- One of the big no-no’s for Google is hidden text that webmasters use for additional search traffic. For example, writing in white font color with a white background is seen as a clear manipulation of Google search results.
Copyright Violation- Another thing to avoid is violating any copyright laws. This can run afoul of government law, and Google does not want to get caught in the middle, your site or parts of your site can get de-indexed for copyright violations.
Broken Internal Links- A tell-tale sign of low quality websites are broken internal links. That is because if you are not able to fix your internal links, the thinking is that you probably have other user interface issues.
Thin Content- Google runs their search engine on content. They need content to determine which sites provide the most value for searchers. Therefore, sites with thin content are ranked lower, because they do not provide enough information to rank them properly.
Too many ads- It is okay to have ads on your site to increase conversions. However, having too many ads on your site is not good for the consumer. It can be annoying, and annoying page layouts generally lead to higher bounce rates and lower time on site numbers.
Website Speed- The average site on the web should load in less than 4 seconds. Any longer than this, and your bounce rate increases. That is because consumers are not patient for sites to load. Your website speed helps Google see your servers are fast enough to show content to their users.
Disallow Robots- If you do not allow Google to index or crawl your site, then it is impossible to rank your website. Disallowing robots prevents Google from crawling your website.
Positive Off-Page SEO
Authoritative Inbound Links– One of the earliest studies done by Sergei Brin and Larry Page related to the idea of outbound links from relevant sites. In the initial name of the student project, Backrub, that became Google, they discussed how relevant backlinks can help increase the page rank of a site.
Keyword Anchor Text- Keyword anchor text is not as useful as it used to be, however, when not abused and used naturally in the content it can help search traffic.
Anchor texts are links to a third party website where the text is highlighted.
Safe Search- Whatever content you share on your website, it has to be safe for children. Guns, alcohol, pornography, and other items are a no-no according to Google
Social Signals – While not completely confirmed, there has been tests on social media activity and its relation to search engine rankings.
Negative Off-Page SEO
Excessive Cross-Site Linking– Owning multiple sites for the purpose of linking to each other for additional search traffic violates Google’s algorithms.
Paid Link Schemes- You cannot purchase links for search engine traffic. This idea is based on FTC guidelines for paid ads.
With so much to remember, start tackling a few of the items on this list at a time. Often by correcting one of the items, you then fix another one as well.
For example, by ensuring you have fresh content you can reduce the number of pages with thin content.
If you are still feeling a bit overwhelmed by this list and you could do with some help from and SEO Agency or social media agency let us know how we can help you?