8 major Google ranking signals in 2017

22 August 2017
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Google’s ranking algorithm has stacked up by more than 200 components or signals. Though, the numbers are astonishing, they can become reasonably difficult for a normal human being to understand.

Having said that, SEO is not about ticking all the boxes, it is about ticking the major boxes, right. The following are the list of top eight ranking factors that are gathered after studies conducted by SearchMetrics, Backlinko and SEO PowerSuite, and these would help in optimizing a website.

Backlinks

Even in 2017, backlinks are still the most pivotal part of Google’s authority. The following are the things that can either make it or break it for the website.

1. Link score

The question that everyone asks is how does Google convert backlinks into a reliable ranking signal? The answer is that Google goes it through calculation of a ‘link score’. The link score is calculation by the accumulation of every incoming link’s individual quality score (PageRank) and the count of external links to the website.

The link quantity is an essential component of the score. But, even then, low quality, spam filled and links coming from same domain have little to no value. Google considers one at a time when assessing the link profile. Therefore, the aim should be to notch up the number of linking domains.

The link quality is relatively difficult to assess. Even though, PageRank is still one of the top factors in Google’s ranking algorithm, it version no longer available for the public. Fortunately, there are other options available for the public such as SEO PowerSuite’s InLink Rank and it has the same formula as PageRank.

2. Important Anchor Text

Backlinks has another element known as anchor text which is important for rankings. Besides the content, the backlink’s anchor informs Google about the purpose of the website and which category should it rank for. In this regard, keeping the right balance is essential and it can be achieved via Penguin which helps in keeping anchors assorted and natural.

Important Anchor Text

How to optimize:

The first step is to know the link scores of the competitors. This would give a clear indication of the length you have to cover in order surpass them. For such purpose, SEO SpyGlass’s excellent Domain Comparison module would help in comparing numerous website’s link profiles under different criteria. Once you have used the tool to create a project, you can then use the Domain Comparison module to add the domains of the competitors, know their link scores and comparison of the link profiles.

Content

Nothing beats content but Google is looking for quality content with the following three elements:

Keyword usage

Having a potent title with keywords and variations is number one in terms of relevance to Google. Using the keywords in the content’s body and having H1 tag headings weighs the most in SEO.

Length

As per Google’s search quality guidelines, the length of the content is vital for overall quality and rankings. Though, there is no definite count for it, but it must be long enough to cover the topic and every aspect of it.

Comprehensiveness

RankBrain, which is part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, is part of every query. Apart from its various functions, the main function is to examine results with good user satisfaction metrics and pinpointing its general features. The features that help in making them adequate search results.

How to optimize:

Website Auditor is one of the best tools to check pages for different on-page factors such as keyword usage and length of the content. It would also examine the page’s comprehensiveness by using the TF-IDF algorithm and then offer you various recommendations in comparison with the competitors.

Use the tool, create a project, go to Content Analysis, mention the pages, enter the keywords and get statistical answer plus recommendations. Then check the Competitors tab and to understand the way rivals handle any aspect of their website.

The next step would be to check the content count in the body of the text and compare it with that of the competitors. Once that is complete, move to TF-IDF dashboard for the variety of terms that are used by rivals and specific usage advice for the current content on the website. This information and advice shall be used to edit and make the website more informative and detailed.

Technical SEO

Technical platform is important in terms of SEO and rankings for the website and following are the top two ones:

  • Page speed

Google have confirmed that page load is a valid ranking signal and therefore, every website must load within two seconds or less. Speed is crucial for UX as well because the low pages have a high bounce rate and low conversion rate.

The biggest reasons for low page speed loading is scripts, images and CSS files.

Page Speed

  • Mobile-friendliness

Pages that are not optimized for mobile phones, have no ranking in mobile searches. And as more than 50% of the searches are made via mobile phones in 2017, due importance needs to be given to it.

Mobile phones will continue to be in the spot light as Google wants to move to mobile first indexing.

How to optimize:

In order to find the eligibility of a website for Google’s mobile and speed then one can use the Website Auditor. Go to content analysis then page audit before switching to technical factors. Assess the page usability (mobile) and page speed (desktop) sections and check for any warning statuses for details and fixability.

User experience

Enhancing user experience is important and the users, would only click on a certain link when it is far more relevant and valuable than other options in the search results.

  • Click-through rate

The search engine results page (SERP) click through rate (CTR) means the number of clicks in search listing that verses the number of times it was displayed to the user. According to SearchMetrics’ study, it was discovered that CTR, the ranking signal, has the best relationship with rankings out of all the other factors.

How to optimize:

Firstly, one needs to find out the current SERP CTR position for the website. It could be done by logging onto Google Search Console, then search analytics report, select clicks, impressions, CTR and position. A 30% CTR result would mean number 1 position, 15% for number 2 and 10% for number 3.

Conclusion

SEO is an ever changing scenario and therefore, one cannot focus on every tiny detail. One needs to prioritize and set standards for the website. But, the most vital aspect is to keep a stern watch on the riavls.

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