Google will continue to dominate the search world for the foreseeable future, with an estimated 70% market share. And while only Google’s employees know exactly which factors their algorithm looks for, local SEO experts have been able to narrow down the list of potential ranking factors to just 200 or so. If that sounds intimidating, don’t forget that Google updates its search algorithm up to 600 times every year. So just when you’ve optimized one ranking factor, Google hits you with an unexpected Panda or Penguin update.
So what are the most important Google ranking factors? The truth is, no one really knows for sure. It’s possible that only a handful of Google engineers know the complete list at any given time. Since we don’t want to overwhelm anyone still learning SEO strategies, we’re going to focus on some of the key ranking factors SEO consultants do agree on, rather than listing all 200+ potential factors.
Domain Authority: Your site’s domain authority is highly correlated with SEO results. The history of your domain is also likely a factor, as well as whether your WhoIs data is public or private.
Keyword Density: Not only should you have a strong density for your keywords, but those keywords should appear in title tags, H1 tags, meta tags, and more. Just beware overusing keywords, lest Google decides your site looks like spam.
Links, Links, Links: The number of inbound links, as well as the domain authority of the source domains, is a huge factor in your search rankings. That’s why the best SEO services put such a big priority on building links. Plus, you should have internal links pointing to your key pages.
Content is King: It’s a cliche at this point, but that doesn’t make it less true. Half of all digital marketers say content marketing is “very effective” for SEO services, and fully 92% say it’s at least “somewhat effective.” Unfortunately, with 27 million pieces of content published online every day, Google needs ways of separating good from bad. That means you need quality content rich with keywords and links.
User Experience: A poor layout, slow loading time, and high bounce rate will all cost you dearly.
Mobile-Friendly: Not only are 51% of consumers more likely to make a purchase on a mobile-friendly site, but it’s a key ranking factor for Google as well.
Repeat Traffic: If users go directly to your site, or come back again and again, Google will take note.
Broken Links: A sloppy website full of 404 pages and dead links will also hurt your search ranking.
Being Youtube: Many SEO consultants believe Google gives preferential treatment to Youtube (which Google owns). If you aren’t a world-famous video site with billions of views, then consider investing in local SEO services.
Update Frequency: How often do you update your site? If you post content, how often is that content published? Less frequently updated sites tend to fare poorly in search results.
We could go on… there are literally hundreds more factors, but virtually all SEO services for small businesses focus on these key factors. If you’re trying to create an SEO branding strategy for your company, this list is a great way to get started. And if you’re still feeling lost, then perhaps it’s time to consider asking for professional help and hiring affordable SEO services.