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Google Algorithm and The Google Ranking Factors

Ranking on the search engines is not as simple as just registering a keyword focused domain and creating a few hundred words of content each day. In fact, those activities may drop you on the search engines. It’s important that you learn Google’s algorithms and the Google Ranking Factors.

Check out these SEO Tips for 2017

What does SEO Stand For?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the simple focus of creating on page content and performing off page actions with the intent to rank high on Google’s search engines. Google has an algorithm with several hundred ranking factors. There’s no magic button or easy answer for “How do I rank on Google?”. That being said, there are many best practices, that when used at a high level, can help your pages rank on the search engine results pages (SERP). Google matches a specific entity (web page) to a search term (query) and ranks it based on this list of ranking factors. When you learn Google’s Algorithm, you will be better prepared to create and optimize content for a particular set of search terms (Keyword and Keyword Phrases). Although, not a specific list of ranking factors, you can view Google’s Webmaster guidelines in depth here.

Google specifically suggests you AVOID the following. 

  • Automatically generated content
  • Participating in link schemes
  • Creating pages with little or no original content
  • Cloaking
  • Sneaky redirects
  • Hidden text or links
  • Doorway pages
  • Scraped content
  • Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
  • Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
  • Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware
  • Abusing rich snippets markup
  • Sending automated queries to Google

Check out our favorite keyword tool SEMrush to begin your Keyword Research.

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

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Google Ranking Factors

Ranking Factor and Link to Learn More Question Description, Definition or Suggestion
Panda Update Could my website suffer on the search engines if it doesn’t have much content? Designed to drop poor quality and thin content websites in rankings.
Backlinks: Links from Other websites Do Backlinks Still Matter in 2017? Backlinks are essentially when one website has a link to your website. Quality links to your website from a trusted, relative source can still create a boost.
http:// vs. https:// Do I need https on my website? What is a secure certificate? HTTPS does correlate with higher ranking webpages. It’s a secure
Grammar and Spelling Do I need to worry about spelling on my website? Google is looking to provide results that offer a quality user experience. The proper use of grammar and spelling would be a benefit.
Domain Age Does an older domain name rank better than a new domain? Direct or indirect, the length of a domain can indicate site value. A new site can outrank an older site with quality content and a great user experience.
Keywords in the URL Does having a keyword in my domain name help me in 2017? Exact Match Domain are no longer providing a boost. Use the URL in the slug (after the slash)
Domain Registration Length Does it matter how long I register my domain for? It matters. A longer domain name registration signals Google that you plan to build a legitimate website.
Schema Markup for Rich Snippets How can I get a rich snippet on Google? Simple code or plugin that allows you to markup your page or post as a blog, article, video etc.
Local SEO How can I get my website to rank better locally? By keeping your local citations consistent, you stand a better chance of ranking locally.
Bullets and Lists How can I make my content easier to digest? Use Bullets and lists. This is especially true on Mobile.
Mobile First Index How can I rank first on mobile devices? Google is focused on a mobile first world and is indexing accordingly.
Rel=Canonical How can I tell Google which page is the original form of the content to avoid duplicate content? Adding the Rel=canonical attribute signals to google it’s content origin, but Google will still determine which to rank.
HTML Errors How do I know if my website has HTML errors? You should watch for html errors. Consider a tool like SEMrush for regular reports.
Optimize Images for the Web How do I rank my images on Google? Use correct tags, titles, and descriptions to SEO images
Latent Semantic Indexing How does google compare webpages when determining who ranks higher? Google looks for similar words on the page that are found in other top ranking pages.
Hummingbird Algorithm How does Google know how to rank my webpage to certain keywords? An algorithm designed to rank pages based on the user intent vs. the keyword
Rank Brain How does Google’s artificial learning work? Google’s Artificial Intelligence designed to learn and create better results based on user actions.
Page Load Speed How fast should my website load? Your web pages should load in less than 3 Seconds
Keyword Density How many keywords should be in my blog post or on my web page? Less is More. Semantically related keywords are more powerful.
Number of pages How many pages should my website have to rank well on the search engines? While there isn’t a particular number, the more content, the more likely you are to rank. The key is having quality content worth ranking. You could have 20 pages that rank better than 20,000 if the 20 are quality rathern than the 20,000.
Longform Content How many words do I need on my blog post or web page? The average page one Google Ranking has over 2000 words. This doesn’t mean you always need this. A simple answer, or low competition phrase can have much less.
Updated Content How often should I update my content? Freshness is still a factor. Anytime you can update your content is a good time as long as there are updates to be made. Updating old content can give it new life on the search engines. (Hint, change the publish date)
Keywords in the Title Tag How should I title my blog post or web page? A focused keyword should be toward the front of the title tag.
Site Architecture Is my website’s architecture hurting my rankings? Start with a path of parent pages and what you will build under them. Categories and posts are great architecture and can help with ranking categories as well as posts. Make sure your pages can all be crawled.
Country TLD (Top Level Domain) Registration Should I add a country extenstion to my domain name? While this could help you locally, it could hurt you globally. You have decide based on your audience.
Multimedia Should I add video to my website? Images, videos and additional multimedia elements can act as a content quality signal.
Avoid Pop-Ups Should I have pop up’s on my website? Pop-up ads (interstitials) that lock content in exchange for information deter users, increase bounce rates, and destroy trust. Avoid these on first landing pages designed to rank well on the search engines.
Public vs. Private WhoIs domain registration Should I keep my domain registrant information private or make it public? A private domain could be a signal of something to hide. If you don’t have a reason to hide, keep it public.
Outbound Links Should I link to other websites from mine? Yes. Choose relative, authoritive websites to link out to. This is considered a positive signal. Have the link open in a new window.
Syndicated Content Should I post a blog on my website that is already syndicated on the web? If it’s someone elses content, and it’s wildly distributed, avoidance is suggested. Syndicating your own content can be beneficial.
Duplicate Content Should I use a template for my webpages? Your website should have original content without “spammy” repeat content throughout the website.
Readability Should I use expansive vocabulary in my blog posts. Keep it simple. Depending on your audience, simplifying the language for easier readability can be a positive signal with the search engines.
URL Length Should I worry that my URL’s are long? While longer URL’s don’t receive a penalty, short URL’s are frequently showing higher on the SERP
HTML Heading Tags (H1-H6) What are Heading tags? Indicate most important topics on a page.
Topic Relevant Content What content should I create to rank on the Search Engines? Focus on one single topic per page or post, and cover it in depth.
404 Error Pages What is a 404? A 404 indicates a page not found. Watch for broken links
Complete Metadescription What is a Metadescription and what is it used for? While no longer rumored to be a direct ranking factor, Google will still bold the keywords in the meta description that match the searchers query (keyword phrase).
Anchor Text with internal links – Avoid exact keyword match What is internal linking? A link to another page on your own website is internal linking. When done well, internal linking can be a benefit. When “Spammy” it can trip the spam filters.
User Experience What is user experience and how is it measured? A quality user experience is determined by the actions the user takes on the website, if any.
Supplementary Content What kind of supporting content should I have on my webpage? Charts, Calculators, Recipes, Formulas, Tables
Keyword in the top 100 words Where should I place the keyword I want to rank for? In the title tag, and in the top 100 words on the page as well as the Htags. Better to use similar words after that than to repeat intentionally.
Bounce Rates Why are my bounce rates so high? High bounce rates may indicate a poor user experience. Check quality content, page load speed, intrusive pop ups etc.
Domain Authority Why does someone’s website outrank mine? Quite simply, if two website are otherwise equal, the domain authority can cause one to rank higher.
Affiliate links Will it hurt my SEO to include affiliate links on my website? If you have a few quality outbound affiliate links, it shouldn’t be an issue with you on the search engines. Anything spammy is an issue so watch your volume and quality.
Penguin Update Will my website rank higher with more links to it? Designed to drop websites with low quality inbound links
Sitemap Do I need to submit a sitemap? Make sure you have one. Many WordPress themes and plug ins already have one. You can add yours on Google’s Search Console.
Site Uptime and Downtime Who should I host my website with? Make sure your server can handle the workload and choose a host that will keep your website up. We suggest Flywheel.
Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Do I need a privacy statement? A privacy policy and terms of service if applicable can help the trust of your website.
Breadcrumbs Do I need to use breadcrumbs on my site? You don’t need to use breadcrumbs but they can help improve navigation and the user experience.
User Reviews Does having more reviews help me rank on Google? Reviews are considered to be a growing factor in ranking. In 2017, this should be a focus.
Social Shares Does having my website shared on Facebook help me rank on Google? Social shares are a win no matter how you cut it. SEO’s debate about shares and social links being direct ranking factors. If they generate traffic, and the users engage with your content, there’s reason to believe this can help you with the search engines.
Organic Click Through Rate Does my click through rate from a keyword increase my ranking? There is a direct correlation with click through rate and higher rankings. You can see your top keyword click through rates through Google Search Console. Optimize titles and meta descriptions to increase click through rate.
Repeat Traffic (Measure with Google Analytics) Should I pay attention to first time visitors and Repeat visitors? Both first time visits and repeat visits are valuable. Repeat visitors are a sign of a quality website. This “stickiness” can be a positive signal to Google.
Bookmarked Sites Is it a positive signal when my webpage is bookmarked? It’s a positive signal when a webpage is bookmarked in Chrome.
Geo-targeting Can it help to focus my content on a geographic user? Geo-targeting is considered a ranking signal. Of course we see this specifically in our pay per click ads where we target location.
Brand Search Does using my brand as a target keyword help with SEO? Brand search is tracked and can be a positive ranking factor. Google will coorelate brand + item or service as well.
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