Google recently did away with Page Rank. In other words, they got rid of the add-on that allowed users to view page rankings. In fact, pages are still ranked. Otherwise how would Google determine which sites got top billing for relevant searches?
That’s to say, you can no longer track rankings for your own website and competitors for SEO or other purposes. Yet, you still need to know how rankings are determined.
That’s because you must continue to improve and increase your chances for top slots in specific search queries. In fact, there could be as many as 200 ranking factors (“the 200”) considered when determining how pages get ranked for searches.
Some have called “the 200” nothing more than a myth. They have denounced lists that claim to present accurate factors. Though, in fact, they’re simply making things up to try to hit a target number. In 2014, Moz published an article warning of just this sort of fraud. They note that many of the factors are considered correlation, rather than casual ranking.
However, that hasn’t stopped SEO. Sites like Backlinko publish and update such lists as recently as last year. The real problem is not the number of ranking factors. These include everything from keywords and tags.
That is in addition to duplicate and syndicated content, or the use of multimedia elements on pages, for example. Plus, you must determine which factors hold the most weight and can do the most harm or good for your website rankings. Here are a few you might want to focus on.
1. Quality Content
Content is king, as most of us are by now well aware. A few years back, Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithms were implemented. Therefore, websites had to shape up or ship out, so to speak.
They needed to provide relevant, timely, and high-quality content. They had to avoid shady SEO practices like keyword stuffing and linking schemes. If they didn’t, they’d risk delisting by Google.
It’s not enough to create relevant content these days, though. You also have to make sure it is written in a natural way. Keywords need to be seamlessly integrated. Plus, the content you provide must be comprehensive.
It should provide the greatest possible value to the audience seeking it. It’s a tall order, to be sure. However, the rewards for nailing it could be naturally high, unpaid rankings with Google.
2. Content Volume
You want to make sure that any content you post and promote is of the highest quality. Thus, you can’t avoid the fact that posting more content gives you greater opportunities. These include optimization, getting found, liked, get shared.
That is in addition to getting links, and generally competing for higher rankings with Google. There is one major caveat, of course. It is figuring out how to keep content volume high without losing quality along the way.
Along with quality content, links are among the most important ranking factors. Those in consideration could include backlinks (especially the quality and number of backlinks). They may also encompass outbound links, and broken links.
You should be cultivating the first two and tracking and repairing the third. Don’t forget about the power of organic links, as well. Links to your site are posted and shared by users of their own volition. Thus, they have the power to boost your rankings.
4. Meta Tags
This hidden information is used to describe your page content. It is not seen by users. Yet, Google crawlers can definitely see it. They use it as a factor in determining page rank. Your title tags, Meta keyword attributes, Meta description attributes, and Meta robots attributes could all play a role. Therefore, don’t dismiss them as inconsequential.
5. Domain Age
Google engineer Matt Cutts has stated that domain age is a relevant ranking factor. It’s really no surprise that established websites hold more sway with Google. That’s due to their history of good behavior, so to speak. However, Cutts also said that this particular ranking factor is relatively insignificant.
Of course, this is the same guy that said “stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done” back in 2014. Though, the practice is still going strong. Is he a completely reliable source? It’s hard to tell. He certainly has an agenda. In any case, you probably don’t want to give up on a website that boasts significant domain age.
6. Mobile-First Indexing
With more and more users accessing content by mobile means, such as smartphones, tablets, etc. These are used rather than via computer. Therefore, Google is making a big push toward mobile-first indexing. This basically entails a shift toward using the mobile versions of websites, as opposed to desktop versions, for ranking purposes.
If you are not yet optimized for mobile, now is definitely the time to get onboard. Frankly, this is the wave of the future (and the present, for that matter). This means businesses that want to gain an edge over competitors should work on their mobile game.
It’s all about the green lock icon. Supposedly, URLs that feature added security (denoted by HTTPS, as opposed to HTTP) have long curried favor with Google. They’ve seen higher rankings as a result.
Last year, however, a number of giants in the tech world, including Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, all agreed. They decided to start flagging HTTP sites as unsafe for users.
Unfortunately, the process was complicated by a company called Let’s Encrypt. Their mission is to make it easier and less expensive for websites to get DV (domain validation) SSL certificates. This, in turn, prompted cybercriminals to set up seemingly legitimate websites for fraudulent purposes.
As early as March of this year, there were roughly 1,000 sites with Let’s Encrypt-issued DV certificates. They contained the words “Pay Pal” in their names. This abuse prompted Google and others to start flagging HTTPS sites with mixed content issues. Additionally, they targeted those known to be phishing and malware sites.
As a result, this affects truly valid websites. These folks want to offer secure interactions for site visitors and maintain their rankings with Google. They now have to go the extra mile, obtaining EV (extended validation) certificates.
Plus, they need the green lock icons that come with them. Will this help your rankings with Google? Perhaps this won’t happen yet. However, the day could be fast approaching. That is thanks to the rise in fraudulent DV certificates.
If you have any comments about this topic or suggestions about future topics leave them in the comment box below.
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