SEO Strategy 2015: 60 Google Ranking Factors For SEO Strategy 2015
There are a hundreds tips for search engine optimization (SEO) of a website. A lot of truths, half-truths and rumours. If you want to get your website to page one of Google, there are many factors to consider.
But did you know which ones matter? Do they all genuinely impact search engine optimization (SEO)? Which ones should you implement and which ones should you ignore?
I have addressed 60 ranking factors for search engine optimization (SEO) of a website below , no-nonsense opinion to each of them.
This article isn’t about having the perfect search engine optimization (SEO) strategy in place; not everything will be applicable. But it is about knowledge – hopefully this article will point you in the right direction and prevent you from wasting time on battles you can’t win.
1. Domain age :- This does count, but not that much.
2. Having keywords in a domain name :- This doesn’t give the SEO boost that it used to, but it still makes a difference because it acts as a signal of relevance.
3. Having a keyword as the first word of a domain name :- Continuing on a theme, any domain name that has a keyword as the first word is thought to have a very slight edge over any that don’t. Not worth fretting over.
4. The length of your domain registration :- Because illegitimate domains are rarely used for more than a year, Google will take a domain’s expiry date into account. So, if you can, pay for your domain several years in advance.
5. Your domain history :- Google may think that any domain that has changed hands several times is volatile and unreliable. As a result, they may look unfavourably on it, and might even reset a site’s history and remove any backlinks if it warranted it.
6. Your exact match domains :- An exact match domain is a domain that contains the precise keyword you are targeting in its title.
For example, if your business sells ‘stylish handbags’ and you want to target that phrase, an exact match domain would be stylishhandbags.com.
Broadly speaking, high quality exact match domains are thought to give you a small boost, while poor quality ones may have a slight negative effect.
7. Subdomain names :- If you’ve got a business need for a subdomain, then you know what it is. But just for the record, a subdomain is secondary website (with its own unique content) that is linked to a primary domain, where the only difference is that the www is replaced with something else.
For example, if you own www.domain.com, a subdomain might be help.domain.com.
Having a quality subdomain with a keyword in its name is good for the SEO results of your primary website.
8. WhoIs Record :- WhoIs is a query and response protocol that Google uses to query databases that store the registered users of a domain.
Your WhoIs can be set to public or private, but Google might interpret a private setting as you having something to hide. While that won’t automatically result in a ranking penalty, it may be a contributing factor if there are other negative SEO-related things going on with your website.
9. Country-specific URLS :- Having a country-specific end to a URL (eg .co.uk) often makes it harder for that site to rank globally.
10. Title tags :- After the actual content, the title tag is a webpage’s next most important factor. Have a keyword in your title tag. Furthermore, title tags with a keyword at the start do better than those that don’t.
11. Meta descriptions :- Keywords in meta descriptions aren’t as important as they used to be, but they still matter.
12. H1 Tags :- Keywords in H1 tags send another clear message of site relevance to Google.
13. Frequently used keywords in content :- Don’t incorporate too many keywords into your copy or Google might interpret this as spammy behavior.
A natural smattering of keywords is the safest route to take. In other words, write for humans, not for search engines.
The only ‘forcing’ going on should be that of trying to engineer a relevant keyword into the first 100 words of a piece of copy.
14. Length of content :- Longer pieces of content are likely to be preferred in search results, but don’t specifically write more words for this reason – Google’s technology is clever and they won’t like it.
15. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords :- These are just extra words that will give Google more clarity when it comes to words with multiple meanings.
For example, the word ‘sky’ could relate to the satellite broadcaster or the sky above us. Having more clarity in your copy will be more beneficial than not.
Any LSI keywords that can be used in website copy, meta titles or meta descriptions are going to be helpful, but again, don’t include them at the expense of branding and reputation. Not a game-changer.
16. Page loading speed :- Put simply, Google is a business – their reputation is based on being a helpful search engine. They don’t want to point people towards duff websites, so web pages that load quickly will be prioritised in search results.
17. Duplicated content :- Expect to be penalised if you duplicate content on your website (or even slightly modify other content). Likewise, expect a bad SEO result if you have copied content from a third-party website.
18. Image optimisation :- It’s very beneficial to optimise all on-page images by giving them appropriate file names, alt text, titles, descriptions and captions.
19. Page and content updates :- Google is likely to reward you if you edit your content and keep it up-to-date.
20. Order of keywords :- A web page that contains an exact search term will always rank higher than those that contain variants.
For example, if someone was searching for ‘blue velvet shoes’, web pages that contained ‘blue velvet shoes’ will be given priority over ones that contain ‘shoes made of blue velvet’.
This isn’t an SEO issue – the lesson here is that keyword research is vital in order to give yourself the best chance of attracting the right visitors.
21. Outbound links :- It’s not confirmed, but many SEO experts believe that linking out to reputable sites sends trust signals to Google. One thing’s for sure though: make sure that the pages you link out to have relevance to your content. And don’t overdo it.
22. Grammar and spelling :- Proper grammar and spelling tells Google that you’ve got a website of quality. Worried? Hire a copywriter.
23. Helpful supplementary content :- Extra information or tools that add to your website content is an indicator of a page’s quality. For example, if you offered loans, then a loan repayment calculator would be a good idea.
24. Content mixture :- SEO experts can’t pin down the extent to which this can help, but it’s generally acknowledged that hosting different types of content on your website is a good idea (eg videos, images, podcasts, PowerPoint presentations etc).
25. Internal links :- Relevant internal links demonstrates to Google that you’ve thought about how best to structure your website. It also implies that your website should be easy to navigate.
Note that links with specific anchor text will always outperform vague links.
For example, the links
26. Broken links :- Have too many and Google will think that your site is either neglected or has been abandoned. The same applies to HTML errors and sloppy coding in general.
27. Page host’s domain authority :- A page on an authoritative domain will rank higher than one on a domain with less authority. Not a killer by any means, but it will be the difference between ranking above a competitor in a search result.
28. PageRank :- Not hugely significant, but web pages with a high PR tend to rank better than pages with a low PR.
29. URL length :- Not 100% proven, but research indicates that excessively long URLs may hurt search visibility. You might want to reconsider that extra long blog post title.
30. URL proximity :- The nearer your webpage is to your homepage (navigationally), the more likelier it is to rank well. Don’t bury your blog.
31. References and sources :- Google considers any web page that cites reputable references and sources as one of quality. Don’t be afraid to quote the experts.
32. Appearance of content :- Google cares about the effectiveness of a page. No one wants to be met by a wall of text, so Google is likely to give preference to a web page that makes content easier to read.
That means break your copy up into headlines, bullets and numbered lists.
33. Priority of page according to your sitemap :- It’s a tiny factor, but a factor nonetheless. The more important your webpage is, as per your sitemap, the more likely it is to rank well.
34. The effect of ranking well for a different keyword :- If a web page ranks highly for one keyword, Google is more likely to boost its rank for others.
35. Page age :- Most SEO experts understand that Google loves fresh content, but some people reckon an older page with updated content may be preferable.
There’s no official stance from Google on this, but everything points to fresh content being more important.
36. Quality and usefulness of content :- The biggie. The mother of optimal SEO strategy in 2014. If you’re going to embrace one factor, this is the one. This is the requirement that many of the other factors are born out of.
A web page must have information that’s of good quality and relevance to a search, but it must also be useful to the reader (as well as content that’s displayed nicely, see point 32).
37. Contact us page :- Google looks favourably on sites that have an appropriate amount of contact details that are easy to find. So be contactable!
38. Site architecture :- A well structured website makes life easier for Google to assess everything it needs to. It should have a logical breadcrumb. Also see point 25.
39. Sitemap :- A sitemap makes it easier for search engines to index your web pages. Also see point 33.
40. Site uptime :- Regular site maintenance or server issues are quite likely to hurt your ranking. Google doesn’t want to show up a website that people can’t visit.
41. Server location :- This will affect how easy your website will find it to rank in different countries. For example, a UK-based server may make it easier to rank highly in UK searches, but harder in French searches.
Not a killer, but worth bearing in mind if you have a business that’s targeting a certain part of the world.
42. Duplicate metadata :- A big no-no. This will certainly affect your ranking. Don’t be lazy. Download Splash Copywriters’ SEO guide for free, look up metadata and do it properly!
43. Mobile optimisation :- Websites that have been optimised for mobile phones will rank higher on mobile searches than ones that haven’t. Simples.
44. YouTube videos :- Put simply, these are given priority in searches because Google owns YouTube. If that doesn’t convince you to make a video for your business then nothing will.
45. Google analytics and Google webmaster :- Some people think that having these tools installed on your site can improve your ranking, but there’s not much proof of this. Probably scaremongering.
46. Website reviews :- Good website reviews and testimonials (both internal and external) do exactly what you’d think they would – they tell Google that you’ve got a reputable website.
47. The age of your backlinks :- Assuming they’re both of a similar quality, an older backlink is more powerful than a new one.
48. Backlinks :- Not as important as they used to be, but still pretty vital. Backlinks should be of a high quality, otherwise don’t bother having any at all.
Note that they should also be from a diverse range of sources – multiple backlinks from a single source is not a good idea.
It’s not proven, but it’s worth noting that backlinks to a homepage are thought to be slightly more valuable that backlinks to a different part of your website.
49. Social media popularity :- ‘Shares’ and ‘likes’ will have an effect on the rank of a webpage but only a small effect; it’s very much the icing on the cake.
50. Guest blogging :- This is always good for SEO no matter what, but there’s an important difference that’s worth noting in how the backlink is manifested. A link via a guest post in an author bio area is much less powerful than a contextual backlink within a ‘normal’ article.
51. Link locations :- Links embedded in content carry more weight than links in a footer or sidebar. That goes for both internal links and backlinks. And on that note, the nearer the link is to the beginning of the text, the better.
52. Bounce rate and repeat traffic :- Google will sit up and take notice if people regularly hang around your website, because the chances are, if they like your content, others will too.
This is another small factor that’s thrown into the equation, but it all really revolves around your ability to solve point 36.
53. Blog comments :- Websites with lots of blog comments means an active website with an engaged audience. Google will approve.
54. Browsing history :- If you’re signed in to Google, they’ll try to personalise searches for you where possible, based on your internet history.
Worth bearing in mind if you rank differently on different devices. Nothing you can do about this.
55. Google+ :- Similarly with the YouTube situation (point 44), Google loves Google+, so publish your content through Google+ whenever you can.
56. Having a connected social media :- Websites with a LinkedIn company page and numerous Facebook likes and shares, tweets and pins etc are more likely to rank well than those that don’t have any.
57. Paid your tax? :- Some SEO experts think that Google even goes as far as factoring in whether it’s paid its corporation tax before deciding its rank in a search result.
58. Redirects :- Generally, any tactic that could be interpreted as trying to pull the wool over Google’s eyes will be frowned upon. Therefore, sneaky redirects won’t just be penalised, they’ll most likely result in your website being de-indexed.
59. All things affiliate :- Google isn’t a fan of affiliate sites and affiliate-related activity, so think twice before doing anything along this route.
60. Automation :- Google wants real people to create real content for real audiences, so don’t be tempted by automated content creation ‘solutions’.