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August 14, 2017

3 Ranking Factors With Big Payoff Potential

man with magnifying glass
Photo Credit: andercismo

Google has a lot of ranking factors. A lot.

In fact, many of them remain mysterious unknowns in the SEO recipe. These are withheld for competitive purposes. Google doesn’t want its “secret sauce” copied.

Though we may not know all the possible ranking factors for Google, we can pinpoint the most effective. These have more weight on the ranking factor scale. As this Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors from Search Engine Land shows, quality is big for any of them.

SearchEngineLand_successfactors

The most important ranking factors will make a huge difference for you. You’ll see it in traffic and in conversions resulting from that traffic.

In particular, focus on quality for content, links and site architecture for big returns. Let’s plumb each of these factors and explore how to use them.

3 Ranking Factors with Big Payoff Potential

There’s one main idea you should understand about ranking factors. They’re tailored for the user experience.

If you cater to your audience, making it easy as possible for them to get what they need, you’ll rank better.

Of course, it all starts with content.

1. Content

Content is always, everywhere, number one.

You’ve heard the phrase “Content is king” so often that it has become a cliché. But, like all good clichés, it’s an overused phrase precisely because it rings true.

Providing quality content on your website is one of the best ways to rank on Google. Period.

However, as time marches on and technology changes, how you write and create that content for decent rankings has changed, too.

A short time ago, it used to be all about keywords. Now? Google is placing relevance at the top of the must-haves for content quality.

Relevance means a few different things for content regarding subject matter:

  • It must be relevant to the business or company. I.e., if you’re selling designer handbags, you shouldn’t be writing about luxury hotels.
  • It absolutely must be relevant to the intended audience and their concerns, needs, and desires. I.e., if your customers are middle-aged stay-at-home moms and dads, you should not be writing anything for young parents in their 20s.

On top of that, relevance also has to do with comprehensiveness. This means you should:

  • Choose narrower topics and be exhaustive as well as detailed. Provide useful information and lots of answers.
  • Champion long-form content over short articles. Longer articles tend to be more detailed/exhaustive. That’s a circle of influence, right there.

Search Engine Land recommends researching your audience and collecting data about them. This helps you understand who you’re addressing. This data defines consumer intent, which is where they are on their journey to making a purchase.

If you can influence them on this journey through great content, you’re going places.

contentisking

Surprisingly, Bill Gates coined the phrase “Content is king” way back in 1996.

2. Links (Including Link-Building and Backlinks)

After content, the next-greatest ranking factor is your links. Of course, they can’t be any old links. These must be quality, too.

This means you need to be linking to authority sites, and authority sites need to be linking to you.

Google measures link quality in different ways. Generally, larger, more respectable sites have higher authority. This is just common sense. However, sites relevant to yours that link to you also count, says Search Engine Land.

How do you earn quality backlinks? You need to promote your content and network. This is often called “link-building.”

There are lots of excellent strategies for link-building out there. For inspiration, look to Search Engine Journal, Moz, and Backlinko. Each has an exhaustive guide.

Helpfully, a great method for natural link-building is creating fantastic content.

3. Site Architecture (Headings, “Crawlability,” and Mobile-Friendliness)

After content and link-building, the third most important ranking factor is site architecture.

There are lots of little pieces that make up this broad category:

  • How easy it is for Google to “crawl” your website
  • How your pages are structured and organized with headings and subheadings
  • How mobile-friendly your site is

There are more, but these are ones you should focus on. Let’s break them down.

Website Crawling

Search engines index your site by crawling it. In essence, they read through your pages to help them understand what it’s about. If they can’t crawl your pages, you won’t get indexed. If you don’t get indexed, you don’t show up in search results.

Luckily, it’s really easy to make your site “crawlable.” In general, avoid fussy design that can hide your pages’ basic information from crawlers. This includes JavaScript and Flash – errors in the code can hide your links or even your text. If you need these in your design, get a web designer to make sure they’re right.

Headings and Subheadings

If you want to rank, pay attention to your H1s and H2s. Search engines use them to understand what a page is about. Keywords in headings can increase your chances for ranking, too.

Plus, without these integral structural cues, your audience will get hit with a wall of text. Believe me, they will not want to wade through it.

walloftext

Image via Know Your Memes

Mobile-Friendliness

A computer is no longer the only way to access the Internet. Now we can log-in on our Smartphones, tablets, and even our watches. Accordingly, Google is rewarding mobile-friendly sites by ranking them higher on mobile searches.

Make your site accessible through any device, and you’ll have a better chance of ranking higher.

Combine these aspects of site architecture to support your content and link-building, too.

To Rank, You Need Quality Content, Links, and Structure

The beauty of all ranking factors is they don’t exist in silos. Instead, they lean on each other for support. Remove one, and your quality will plummet, much like a Jenga tower.

In short, you must be detailed and thorough at every turn in order to rank. It’s simple in theory, difficult in practice, but totally achievable.


avatar

Julia dropped out of college to follow her passion in tech and writing, and hasn’t looked back since. Today, she’s been named among the top 30 content marketers, is the founder and CEO of leading content agency Express Writers, hosts the Write Podcast and #ContentWritingChat, and is a published, best-selling author. She’s also the creator of a brand new, leading industry course, The Practical Content Strategist Certification Course.

10 Responses to “3 Ranking Factors With Big Payoff Potential

    Another Great Blogpost.

    avatar Dev Pandey says:

    Hello Julia,

    Great article, nowadays SEO has become very much content oriented and mobile friendly. If you have great content and good site it has more chances to rank higher..

    avatar Rob Fermin says:

    so it’s like science now with the whole periodic table thing.

    avatar Umapathy says:

    Hi Julia,

    Well explained post about the important ranking factors. However, link building is the major factor for ranking of websites. If you have high quality links, you can rank even a site with less quality content.

    Love this word, Content is king. I really happy for 2017 SEO update. Now only White hat is real…..and I feel very bad for those guys who do only black hat to rank site 🙂

    avatar banna360 says:

    If you have high-quality links, you can rank even a site with less quality content.

    avatar RDF says:

    Content is really the heart of ranking on SERPs. Hands down!!!

    avatar WestLinks says:

    Luv your article, very useful for me. Please keep it up!

    avatar Mark says:

    For me! First you make a strong back bone such as content! And after you just need a front-end such as on-page factors! When both prepared well, it’s time to make promote via link building!

    avatar WPGlossy says:

    Hi Julia,

    Enjoyed reading your post, thanks! I have been blogging since 2013 and hence I aware of the things that you have mentioned in this post.

    Crafting the quality content matters a lot and yes, link building is an art that should be done carefully. I 100% agree that the site structure should be perfect and everyone should implement the SILO format to perform better.

    Regards,
    Sakthi

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