SEO is an art form on the internet, and ranking highly on search engines can make or break a website. The search engine ranking algorithm constantly changes, with experts estimating that Google can change its ranking factors 500 to 600 times per year.
Many of these changes are minuscule and don’t affect a website’s ranking on search engines. Still, sometimes Google changes the level of importance it applies to each ranking factor, which can affect what page your website falls into in the search engine result pages.
Let’s look at what Google currently considers the top-ranking factors for a website in 2022.
Primarily, consistently producing high-quality content on your website is a key indicator for SEO. When considering ranking factors, Google places the highest importance on the quality of content on your website. You could be doing everything else right, but you won’t rank highly on search engines if your content is poor.
When considering the calibre of your content, Google looks for:
- Originality: Your content should be new and unique, rather than a carbon copy of something else already on the web.
- Consistency: You should continue to create content, keeping up to date with current news and trends relevant to your industry and niche.
- Length: Yes, Google looks at how long the content is too. Most of the content on the first page of search engine results is approx 1,890 words – so make sure to have some long-form articles.
- Relevancy: The content you create should be relevant to your industry and not just a random blog piece on something that has no bearing on the rest of your website.
- Organisation: Everything on your website should follow a set structure. You should have clearly defined paragraphs, headings, a layout, and images. Ensure all content has a neat design that matches your other web pages.
Ensuring your website is suitable for mobile device users is imperative in 2022. Mobile users make up half of the people browsing the web, and that statistic will only get larger. Therefore, Google considers a mobile-friendly design an essential factor for any high ranking website.
So to make your website friendly to mobile users, you want the screens to be easy to navigate and readable on a small screen. You will be looking for a responsive design with a simple layout that converts easily between a desktop screen and a mobile screen. People won’t want to stay on your website if they have to zoom in to read your text or scroll to read every sentence.
Google even has a mobile-friendly test for you to put your URLs to see how they weigh up.
When someone accesses your website, whether on a mobile or desktop, they want the experience to be as smooth as possible. Your users want to navigate around your website swiftly, without having to wait for pages to load every time they hit a new web page.
Your bounce rate refers to the number of people who leave your website as pages load, and you want a low bounce rate. The ideal page load time is one to two seconds, and most people abandon a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Google counts bounce rate as a ranking factor for your website. The lower it is, the higher your rankings will be.
Google places importance on the number of users actively engaging in your content as a ranking factor. It’s an indicator of the quality of content on the website if people want to share, comment, or like it. Google can tell when someone comes onto your website, how long they spend reading your content, how many other web pages they access, and if they opt to share it on other websites.
Previously this wasn’t something they counted as a ranking factor purely because people can make up fake accounts and fake user engagement. However, Google’s algorithm continues to get more advanced. Now they know if all that engagement is coming from the same computer, so they can tell if it’s genuine engagement or not.
On-page SEO has a massive effect on ranking factors. There are plenty of on-page SEO methods to help your rankings on search engines. Numerous factors fall into this category. These include:
- Keywords: Using a primary keyword and a few secondary keywords that you sprinkle throughout your content will help Google recognise those keywords when users search those terms. Include the primary keyword in the URL and first paragraph of the content.
- Images: Including images in content to break it up and label these images to describe what they’re showing.
- Structure: Ensuring your content is separated into paragraphs and broken up into lists or bullet points helps readability.
- Meta descriptions: Optimising your meta titles and meta descriptions with keywords will help users find your content.
Backlinks are where another website links back to your web pages in their content. It shows Google that whatever your website is, the content is high quality enough that other users want to link back to you.
The quality of websites linking back to you is vital. Previously, Google only looked into how many backlinks you had, but they changed the algorithm as some websites were using ‘link farm’ tactics and spamming links back to their websites on other pages.
So Google will pay attention to what sort of websites feed into yours. Backlinks should also feel natural in content and not be out of place or irrelevant.
In conclusion, there are various ranking factors Google considers when measuring up your website. They all feed into each other. As a website owner, you should apply these techniques when creating content and landing pages for your site.
Ensuring you produce consistent, high-quality content means other websites are more likely to link back to you, and users will be more likely to engage with your content. That, in turn, will boost your rankings. Make sure to consider top Google ranking factors with every new piece of content you have, and keep researching as Google can change their algorithm at any time.