Semalt Expert Lists Ranking Factors Google Uses To Evaluate A Website
- Domain Factors
- Backlink Factors
- User Interaction
- Brand Signals
- On-Site Webspam Factors
- Special Rules for Google
- About Semalt
Improving your SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is one of the most important things you can do to increase traffic, engagement, and conversions on your website. But how exactly do you boost SEO? To answer that question, you first have to understand what Google is looking for on your website.
Google actually looks at more than 200 ranking factors to determine where you'll fall on the search results for a certain query, but many of them can be grouped into broader categories. This is by no means an extensive list, but by paying attention to these areas, you'll have a much greater chance at landing that coveted top spot.
Your domain should tell users exactly what to expect when they get to your website, and using a keyword as the first word in your domain, as well as in your subdomain, can put you ahead of competitors. Domain history can impact you, too, like in situations where a previous owner had a penalty on the domain.
Public WhoIs information is more highly looked upon than private WhoIs information. If you have a country-specific domain extension (like .cn, .ca, .uk, etc.), your site might rank higher for your particular country but could be negatively impacted on a global scale. Finally, don't worry so much about your domain's age. While it is a factor, it doesn't matter as much as you might think.
Backlinks are great tools for boosting your SEO when they're used correctly. One of the biggest factors here is the authority of the page you're linking to. Links from high-ranking competitors and "hub" pages can be valuable tools here as well. It should go without saying, but in general, make sure you're linking from the highest quality resources you can find.
Another important backlink factor is the number of linking root domains. The more referring domains, the higher your post is likely to appear on Google. Be sure you've optimized your alt tags for images and have keyword-rich anchor text. Your links should come from a wide range of diverse sources, but don't overdo it, or you may risk appearing like webspam.
Google's RankBrain is an AI algorithm that (many believe) tracks how users interact with their presented search results. Keep an eye on your bounce rate, as studies have shown that a high bounce rate may correlate with lower Google rankings. Additionally, "pogostiking" may become an issue. A user might bounce from result to result trying to find an answer to their question, and those results that people Pogostick can see their Google positioning severly impacted.
Comments and bookmarks play a big role in Google's ranking as well. When people are actively commenting on and engaging with a post, that's a good sign that the information is valuable and thought-provoking. Bookmarks, likewise, indicate that the post in question is full of interesting knowledge that is worthy of being returned to. Finally, Google focuses quite a bit on "dwell time," or how long a person spends on your page. Work to make your website thorough and engaging to keep people scrolling longer.
Having brand name anchor text is one of the best and easiest ways to put out your brand signal. If people are searching for your brand name in particular, that's a good sign that your site is legitimate, and Google takes notice. Google also pays close attention to searches that involve a brand name along with an industry-relevant keyword.
This category is also where your social media presence comes into play. If your page has a Facebook or Twitter account with a good number of followers, these things just help your authority and legitimacy. If Google can see that your business has an official LinkedIn page or a brick-and-mortar location, that's even better.
On-Site Webspam Factors
Your goal for boosting SEO should be to prove that you're an authoritative and valuable resource for your target audience. Anything that might signal your site as webspam isn't likely to help here. Watch out for sneaky redirects and gibberish content. Keep an eye on optimization, but as with most things, Google can tell when you're overdoing it and may penalize you for it.
Affiliate links won't penalize you on their own, but when you try to hide them, that's a different story. Make sure your IP address isn't flagged as spam, you're not using autogenerated content, and you're not keyword stuffing your meta tags or meta descriptions. All of these things could penalize your Google ranking by making your site appear illegitimate.
Special Rules for Google
Google has a few factors they look at that other search engines might not consider. For instance, for some queries, Google actually prioritizes newer pages over their older counterparts. Also, a user's browsing and search history can help determine how relevant your content is to that specific person and could impact your ranking on the search page.
Your location might also play a part in where you rank. Google looks more favorably on sites with a local server IP, and for local searches, Google will put a local result above a more general result. Finally, try to optimize your content for Featured Snippets by answering users' biggest queries in short paragraphs or convenient lists.
As we mentioned, this is just a small portion of the factors that Google considers when ranking your website. Some of these factors might be common sense, while others are more obscure. At the end of the day, your Google search ranking is determined by how legitimate and authoritative your website appears. If anything on your website or social media platforms looks questionable, consider diving deeper.
Semalt provides free and paid SEO services for businesses around the globe. The company is proud to serve those with business projects, e-commerce ventures, startup owners, individual entrepreneurs, and webmasters.