5 Google Ranking Factors You Need to Know

Google Analytics ScreenIf your business relies on organic search traffic, Google’s algorithm can make or break your business. Websites that rank number one for popular search queries can rake in millions of hits per month. Meanwhile, websites that rank outside of the first ten results are often left fighting for scraps.

 

The good news? Effective search engine optimization (SEO) practices can launch you from the bottom of the pile to the top of the pack. The bad news? Google’s algorithm relies on literally hundreds of ranking factors. 

 

Thankfully, you don’t need to know every line of code from Google’s algorithm to boost your rankings in search results. So long as you optimize for the following five need-to-know ranking factors, you can achieve first-page rankings for key search terms.

 

1. On-Page Content

Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” back in 1996. Now, more than twenty years later, his words ring as true as ever. Content is far and away the biggest factor for Google search rankings. Barring a total-overhaul of Google’s algorithm, content will hold its crown for years and years to come.

 

When evaluating content for its search rankings, Google’s algorithm judges content in three key ways:

 

  • Relevance. To determine content relevance, Google looks for keywords from the user’s search query, other words and phrases related to the user’s query, as well as the density and placement of these keywords in the text.
  • Quality. In addition to content relevance, Google’s algorithm searches for signals that indicate high-quality content. These signals include the length and readability of content, user engagement metrics, and on-page errors like spelling mistakes or broken images.
  • Uniqueness. Google doesn’t want to show users several near-identical results of the same page. So if Google determines that two or more pages are overly similar, it will exclude all but one of those pages from search results.

 

2. Strong Backlinks

While Google’s algorithm measures certain signals of content relevance and quality, the search engine still relies on users to tell it which pages are best. This is accomplished by evaluating a page’s backlink profile:

 

  • How many backlinks point to this page?
  • How trustworthy and popular are the sites where these backlinks are found?
  • What keywords are used in the anchor text of these backlinks?

 

To achieve a first-page ranking for a competitive search query, both your page and your overall website will need a strong backlink profile. You’ll also need to make sure that your profile isn’t filled with low-quality or untrustworthy links, which can result in Google punishing your page in search rankings.

 

3. Social Signals

Google has spent more than a decade telling users that social media signals are not a part of its algorithm. Yet multiple studies have shown an undisputable link between a website’s social media signals and its rankings in Google search results.

 

Despite these studies, many SEO experts believe that Google is telling the truth and that it doesn’t measure social media signals. Instead, they hypothesize that social media helps drive other factors that Google does measure. The more a news story is shared on Facebook, the better that page’s engagement metrics will be, the more backlinks it will accrue, etc.

 

So, while Google might not be tracking your Facebook share counts, social media plays a big — likely indirect — role in the search engine rankings. To rise in Google’s rankings, brands are wise to focus on social media.

 

4. Mobile-Friendliness

Over 60% of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, and that number continues to grow year after year.

 

Google knows that most of its users are viewing pages on mobile devices, and its algorithm reflects this. Back in 2016, Google switched to a mobile-first format, meaning pages with mobile-friendly design would rank higher than pages with poor mobile functionality.

 

More than 80% of all webpages now meet Google’s standards for mobile-friendly content, and pages that meet these standards perform far better in search rankings. So, if you want to rank well against these pages, you’ll need invest in mobile-friendly design.

 

5. Technical Factors

In the past, technical factors played a bigger role in Google’s search rankings. While the impact of these factors has diminished in the past decade, they still play a big role in the search engine rankings.

 

Here are three of the most important technical ranking factors right now:

 

  • Meta data. Meta data continues to have a big impact on Google rankings. For best results, your title tag and meta description should include important keywords, encourage user engagement, and fit Google’s character limits (roughly 70 characters for title tags and 160 characters for meta descriptions).
  • Crawlability. Google captures data by crawling the web, jumping from link to link to link and capturing page data as it goes. If Google’s robots can’t find your page due to poor site structure, or if your page blocks them from crawling, you won’t appear in search results.
  • Encryption. Google now expects HTTPS encryption on every website. If you don’t have HTTPS encryption in place, Google will lower your pages in search results. It may even block users from visiting your website through Chrome.

 

Click here to learn more about search ranking factors and Qiigo solutions to help you navigate and manage your online presence.

PPC Basics Part 1: Understanding Paid Search to Grow Sales

Pay Per Click BasicsPaid search is a powerful digital marketing tool, and can place your business ad at the very top of search engine results at just the right moment. But learning how to effectively use paid search (or PPC) can be overwhelming. Here’s a quick but comprehensive run down on the basics of paid search and how it can work for your business.

How Paid Search Works

Paid search refers to ads placed at the top of the results screen on search engines, like Google and Bing. Businesses bid for top placement on these results pages for keyword terms and phrases that are related to their products or services. An example of this would be a cleaning company paying to have their ad shown when a customer searches for “cleaning services”.

 

The benefits of paid search are easy to see; a customer is in need of a service you provide, and your ad appears at the top of their search. PPC ads generate leads, that when followed up on and closed, can generate more business for your company.

What’s the Difference Between PPC and SEO?

When you use paid searches, you get instant results in the form of ads that can generate web traffic and leads. When you stop paying for paid searches, your ads and web traffic abruptly stop.

 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the visibility of your website in search results that are seen below PPC ads at the top of the page. SEO doesn’t provide instant results as paid searches do and should be seen as a long term investment in your website’s visibility. Ongoing SEO efforts will generate results that grow over time and provide free, organic web traffic.

 

Businesses looking to maximize their online presence use an ongoing strategy of combining SEO and PPC for maximum results.

Paid Search Acronyms (And What They Mean)

There are a slew of acronyms being used in the world of paid search. Here are some terms you may come across, and what they mean:

    • SEM: SEM stands for “search engine marketing” and can refer to any boost to your website’s visibility that you pay for, but it’s most often used in reference to PPC advertising.
    • PPC: PPC stands for “pay per click” and is the most common pricing structure in search engine marketing. Also referred to as paid search, it means that advertisers pay by the number of clicks an ad receives.
    • CPC: CPC stands for “cost per click” and determines the price an advertiser pays when someone clicks on their ad.
    • Max CPC: This is the maximum cost an advertiser is willing to pay per click. The CPC may come in lower than the Max CPC, but never higher.
    • CTR: CTR stands for “click through rate” and refers to the percentage of customers that clicked on your ad and how effective your ad is; a low CTR would indicate that many users are seeing your ad, but few are clicking on it.
    • CPM: CPM stands for “cost per mille” or cost per thousand impressions. It’s a different pricing model in which the advertiser pays based on how many times the ad is shown, not how many times it’s clicked.
    • CTA: CTA stands for “call to action, and it tells customers what to do next, such as “call now for an appointment” or “book today”.

 

 

This information touches on the basics of PPC, but how do you actually get set target keywords, get ads placed, and manage your campaign? We’ll cover that in our next post.

 

 

The Importance of Bidding on Brand Keywords

BRAND on price labels

The positive results from your SEO efforts have your brand appearing at the top of the search engine results page. Great news! Now that you’ve made it to the top of the page are you thinking about cutting back on your PPC campaign? Don’t do it!

Running a PPC lead generation campaign in conjunction with your SEO efforts can maximize your efforts. Consider these reasons why a PPC campaign with an emphasis on brand keywords is important.

    1. Two Links are Better than One. It’s great to be listed at the top of the organic search result list, but who’s above you? When you bid on brand terms you can dominate search real estate by claiming the top two spots on the page. The paid search link is not likely to cannibalize the SEO link. In fact, the two links are more likely to work together to drive even more traffic to your site.

    2. Dominate the Competition. What happens when the competition buys your brand term and starts to show up above you? It can and will happen. Secure your space with a brand keyword campaign before your competition gets in on the game.

    3. Branding Matters. The largest and most dominant brands in any industry are asserting their presence by owning the top paid and organic search spots. This strategy can be successful for your brand too.

    4. Strategic Promotion. Paid search provides the opportunity for you to direct consumers to specific pages within your site. Use paid search to drive attention to new product offerings, promotions and special offers.

    5. Brand Keywords are Affordable. Typically bidding on brand keywords is less expensive than bidding on generic keywords. Lower CPC makes brand keywords affordable and effective.

    6. Brand Searches Indicate Intent. Consumers are most likely to search on product or service keywords during the research phase of the buying process. Once they’ve made their decision, searches shift to brand words. Position your brand to show up front and center when consumers are ready to purchase.

Is your brand running both organic and paid search campaigns? Looking for advice on how to maximize your efforts? Call Qiigo and let us help guide your brand with successful paid and organic search efforts.