The algorithms used by Google and Bing to rank websites are highly complex, and their exact composition is a closely guarded secret. However, industry experts estimate that there are over 200 separate factors involved in Google search rankings, some of which are highly influential.
These are believed to the key elements considered by Google and Bing when tabulating results. That makes them a high priority for any SEO campaign or content overhaul…
- A stable domain history. Older sites have more credibility than newly-launched ones, though maintaining original ownership is a bigger factor in building site authority.
- Page loading speeds. Search engines estimate how long pages will take to display, and slow sites are deemed to be unfriendly to mobile, which is frowned upon nowadays.
- Keyword use in domains and subdomains. Their inclusion acts as relevancy signals, particularly if a keyword appears before other words in a domain name.
- Keyword prominence in the body text. If a word or phrase appears within the first 100 words of a webpage, it’s likely to end up on the first page of related search results.
- Update frequency. A blog or news page should be augmented regularly, as recently updated pages (particularly with significant additions) boost Google search rankings.
- Country code TLDs. The .us TLD never really caught on, but a domestic ccTLD generally boosts results in that country. However, it harms rankings in foreign SERPs.
- Outbound links. A website willing to direct its audience to an external resource is deemed to be trustworthy, and this is a positive in terms of Google search rankings.
- Inbound links. The same also works in reverse. Links from social media or directories are good, but inbound traffic from media platforms or academic resources is better.
- Links to YouTube. As the world’s second largest search engine (behind parent company Google), content hosted on YouTube’s servers significantly enhances SEO.
- Use of images. Just like videos, image titles can be optimized. Accompanying placeholder text and captions also provide further scope for keyword deployment.
- Content length. As well as encouraging the deployment of keywords in H1/H2 tags and body copy, this has been shown to correlate with SERP position.
- Time spent on site. If audiences remain engaged on a website, its content is deemed to be relevant. Conversely, quick departures from a page will harm its reputation.
- Social media presence. Social posts aren’t just a way of increasing keyword use and inbound links. Regularly updated profiles imply an active, trustworthy brand.
- Duplicated text. This infers plagiarism and may lead to sites being downgraded. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to identify which site should be punished.
- Link farms. Inbound and outbound links only carry weight if they’re connected to reputable external platforms. Link farms damage any sites they’re associated with.
- Broken links, 404 errors or other unavailable content. Worryingly, your site will be demoted in ranking results if your host server is offline when the web crawlers arrive.
- Excessive URL lengths. Remember when we said that domains should contain a keyword? Keep in mind that they shouldn’t contain 50 other characters over and above this core term.
- Missing contact information. Not providing a way to get in touch may be detrimental, and the same is true of contact data that doesn’t match a site’s WHOIS record.
- Missing site data. Robots.txt files, XML sitemaps and meta descriptions are all easy wins when optimizing your Google search ranking.
- Low-quality writing. Certain words like “free” and “sponsored” are tainted by association with spam. Badly written or poorly translated copy can also harm results.
- Intrusive advertising. By clamping down on hover ads and interstitials, Google now marks down sites where mobile audiences have to endure full-screen banners or ads.