You had to accept that no one knows exactly what ranking factors Google uses (except Google). Google’s exact search algorithm is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the modern age. But before you delve into these critical Google ranking factors, let’s first define some basic SEO concepts. Understanding SEO is all about optimizing your website pages so that they reach the top positions in search engine rankings. The goal is to be number 1 on the first page of a relevant Google SERP (search engine results page).
Searchers are very likely to follow links in the first few entries on the results page because they intuitively understand that these provide the best answers to their search query. Instead, less relevant pages will be listed on subsequent results pages.
How do Google ranking factors work?
First, Google indexes web pages and adds them to its catalog. To efficiently index trillions of pages on the Internet, Google uses an army of search bots – automated software that crawls and catalogs pages on the Internet. Google uses natural language processing to decipher the true meaning behind these keywords, assuming a “search intent.”
But because it learned from keywords in a bygone era, Google no longer bases relevance on keywords alone. That’s why Google developed a large set of ranking factors, resulting in an algorithm that considers user experience to score each page based on authority, quality, and usability.
The higher the score, the higher its position in the search results. Google claims to consider over 200 SEO factors, including a user’s location and past search history. The truth, however, is that only a tiny fraction of these matter when it comes to high search engine rankings. You will look at some of these crucial factors later in the article.
How to track your search engine rankings?
Engaging in SEO is a lot like engaging in a fitness routine. Long-term gains come from long-term efforts. All the hard work you put into improving your rankings on the Google SERPs only matters if you keep focused and stand your ground. There are forces at work that threaten your search gains.
Remember, your competitors want to outdo you! This means that if you decide to rest on their laurels, they will continue to create content to drive organic traffic their way. Google regularly updates its algorithm, and responding to only some changes could lower your page ranking.
SEO is not a destination.
It’s a journey. And who goes on a journey without regularly checking their speed and direction? That’s why ranking tracking is an essential part of the SEO process. Staying up to date with data and insights will help you maintain (or improve) your ranking. At the very least, you need feedback to know if your SEO efforts are working and if you’re seeing a return on your investment of time and money.
Two ways to track your rankings
1 – Use Google. The easiest and fastest way is to check your ranking on Google itself. Ensure you’re browsing incognito, so Google’s personalization feature doesn’t skew your results. Type in keywords your customers will likely use and see where your page ranks in the results. Look at pages that are taller than yours. What are they doing right? Follow their lead and adjust your strategy to make your content more relevant to Google. If you want to ensure your search doesn’t include local results.
2 – Try a set of SEO tools. Google Search Console is a free yet powerful SEO tool, but if you have the budget for something with more robust features, you can use industry-standard paid platforms like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Moz.
Using one of these tools, enter your domain name and check all the keywords your website ranks for. Most importantly, set a date range and see how your rankings change. You will also learn how many sites link to your web page and how that affects your rankings.
SEO tools can provide additional insights that help you formulate a solid SEO strategy. For example, you can check the search volume for your chosen keyword to see if there’s enough traffic to make it worth it. Also, look at Keyword Difficulty, which tells you how difficult it is to rank #1 for specific keywords. Using these metrics, you may discover some easy picks, such as high-volume keywords with very little competition.
Page Speed (which includes mobile!)
Page speed has been cited for years as an effective SEO ranking factor because Google wants to improve the experience of web users and favors fast-loading web pages. Since over half of online traffic comes from mobile devices, Google also ranks your page’s mobile load times.
Page speed can refer to one of two things: 1) how long it takes for a web page to display its contents fully, and 2) how long it takes for a web server to send the first few bits of data to a user’s browser.
Google will penalize pages with excessively long loading times. Also, slower page speed means that Google bots take longer to crawl your website, which affects your site’s indexing. How to Implement: Before you get into how to fix page load, set a baseline for page speed and find out which areas are slowing it down.
PageSpeed Insights by Google is a free tool that measures load times and provides speed improvement recommendations for desktop and mobile users. If your pages load slowly, many simple fixes can speed things up.
Optimize image size and format
The images on your site can be bandwidth intensive, affecting your page’s load time. It’s not enough to resize your website images in HTML because that only changes the look of the image rather than the actual file size.
- Plugin Dependencies: A site that requires plugins can slow down the page loading speed. Make sure you are not using unnecessary plug-ins.
- Tracking Scripts: While it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your website’s traffic stats, using only one tool is recommended. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, allow WP Stats to script your page or Google Analytics, but not both.
- CMS Software: Keeping up to date with software updates can help you improve your page speed.