Google has come a long way since we were introduced to it in 1998. As time has passed and the search engine developed, so has the SEO industry. During this time, however, the industry has moved further away from what Google considers to be worthy ranking factors. Instead, it is more concerned with digital strategy and thinking long-term. However, this does not mean we can forget potential ranking factors to consider.
It would be foolish of us to neglect factors where strong evidence of an influence on search results exists. So much has changed over the years. We haven’t really discussed how those changes may have had an effect on the ranking factors.
In 2014, Google announced the use of SSL being considered as a positive ranking factor. They said that the change would impact less than 1 per cent of global queries. However, they were clear in saying that this may strengthen in an effort to encourage all websites to use HTTPS. In 2017, Google started Chrome began labelling certain websites as “insecure” if there was no HTTPS.
In 2015, Google rolled out a mobile-friendly update. This was designed to identify pages that were difficult to use on mobile devices. At the beginning of 2017, Google rolled out a penalty for websites that use interstitial pages that interfere with mobile user experience. Google then introduced mobile-first indexing. For many websites, Google indexes the mobile version of a page as opposed to the desktop version. This is used for all search results.
Due to specific adult content being blocked by Google, some pages will not appear until safe search is switched off. Safe search exists primarily to block specific results, and certain language you use (explicit) could also block your website.
Though word count is not a ranking factor, the length of your content is correlated with rankings in search results. Giving search engines more information to work with can help with SEO. Though you don’t need to go crazy, you need to make sure your content is clearly detailed with useful resources.
Often taken for granted, it’s worth reminding ourselves the meaning of authoritative backlinks within the framework of PageRank. This is the probability of someone finding your page through random clicking. As a result, links from pages with many inbound links, which also had inbound links, and so on, heavily impacted rankings. The value of backlinks has changed, but the core principle is something to remember. Backlinks help Google estimate the likelihood of your site being found naturally.
Google factors the anchor text of a backlink into the rankings. This information is then used to decide the relevance of that link for a search result. In response to abuse, however, Google has made it clear that manipulating anchor text can result in a penalty. Algorithms such as Penguin have been put in place to fight this kind of manipulation.
In 2003, the Hilltop algorithm was introduced. This was a method of identifying page relevancy for a keyword based on whether it had backlinks from an “expert” page. These pages were curated lists containing links to pages on certain topics. The pages with the most links were considered authorities. This has evolved since its introduction, but the core principle remains the same.
Your chosen keyword should be in specific places on your page. The first is the title, followed by the first paragraph, and then the header. You should also be sure to place the keyword in the URL and the alt text for any relevant images in the page.
Ranking factors should not be the only guide to improving your SEO strategy. It’s important to remind yourself what factors may be considered by search engines when they rank your site. Doing so will help you to develop a strategy best equipped to perform well online.
For many of you, the main focus will be on your business. Having someone else to take care of these things will benefit your business better than doing it yourself. This is where Search and More come in. We can offer you a wide range of SEO and web design services that will give your business the digital boost it needs. Get in touch for more information.
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