An estimated 8.5 billion searches are made on Google every day. But achieving that coveted top spot for your website isn’t easy. Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine which website will best respond to a user’s search.
Don’t panic. We won’t dredge over all 200 seo ranking factors, but let’s go over what we consider the 5 most important ones required to rank high on Google, when it comes to content.
The first Google ranking factor we’ll talk about is high quality content.
High quality content essentially boils down to three key elements: the content being original, valuable and helpful to the user. You could write a glorious essay full of pithy one liners and swirling imagery, but if it doesn’t help the user in any way, it’s unlikely to pass the Google ranking factors.
So, when it comes to writing helpful content, you want to consider several things:
Answer your audiences’ key questions.
You can do this by performing keyword research, using Google’s People Also Asked” and other tools like Answer the Public to determine what questions people are asking about a particular topic and then making sure the content on your page answers those key questions.
Keep updated with the most relevant information.
If you work in an industry where new legislation is released, new research is published or advice changes, you want to make sure that your content reflects those changes. You might update the page, and mark when and why those updates have happened so Google knows you’re providing the latest and most accurate information to your user. For YMYL content, this is a must.
You also want to ensure that your content is different and better than your competitors. There’s no point just replicating what someone else has done. They’re the original source, so Google will simply rank their site above you in the results because they’ve already checked off the Google ranking factors way before you.
Include things like clear headings, short and concise text, bullet points, and numbered lists. Setting out your content clearly makes it easier for Google to crawl but also just offers a better user experience. Spelling and grammar nerds unite, because this is one seo ranking factor that can get overlooked, resulting in crap content.
There’s a lot of debate within the content world about how long a website page or a blog post should be. Essentially it boils down to this: if your competitors have written an article that is 600 words and you’ve only written 300, the likelihood is that within their 600 words, they’re answering a lot more questions than you are and providing more valuable information. So don’t fall behind. Look at how much content your competitors are writing and try and match it using keyword research to determine what key questions you should be answering.
Like we said earlier, Google loves helpful content, so as a side note, if a competitor’s 600 words is pure waffle and your 300 words is genuinely useful content, that’s a far better Google ranking factor to target. Size doesn’t necessarily matter in that case.
2. Optimised Copy
We’ve covered the ins and outs of the content and now we can delve into the second seo content ranking factor: optimised copy.
When you’re writing content for a website, you’re going to perform keyword research first and make sure you’re familiar with how your audience is searching around that topic. Always make sure that your trophy keywords are included within your page title, your meta description, your URL slug, and any alt text. Then make sure that relevant keywords are used regularly throughout your copy, as long as it’s natural and not forced. Keyword cramming sounds clunky, turns users off and is not in the list of seo ranking factors.
3. Search Intent
Speaking of keywords, that brings us to ranking factor number three: search intent.
When someone searches for something on Google, there’s always an intent behind the type of query that they’re using. User intent and creating helpful content are kingpins in the Google ranking factors.
If someone searches for a keyword like “banana bread”, even though they’ve not written “banana bread recipe”, Google still knows that they’re likely looking for recipes and, as such, will provide results which match that search intent. If someone searches for “removing a bike wheel”, Google knows that they’re likely looking for a tutorial video on how to remove a bike wheel or a step-by-step blog.
So, Google understands what the search intent behind each of those keywords is. Therefore, when you’re mapping out your content you need to consider this search intent to decide what keyword to target and what type of page to create. If you’re targeting the keyword “Vitamin C supplements”, for instance, you’ll need to know that this keyword is transactional and so the person searching for it is likely looking to purchase that product.
Consequently, you might use that keyword on your product page, but if someone’s searching for “benefits of vitamin C supplements”, that keyword is informational, meaning the user is looking to find out more information about vitamin C supplements. The best way to respond to that query is a blog or an FAQ section. When you’re mapping out your keywords for the website, make sure you take search intent into consideration.
4. Site Structure
The fourth ranking factor to consider is site structure.
It seems obvious, but having a site which is well-structured is going to provide a better user experience, which is why it’s one of the Google ranking factors.
Let’s say you’re a retailer, you don’t want your navigation to just be “Home”, “Shop”, “Blog”, “About Us”.
You want to build out that shop section to showcase from the get-go what product offering you have. You might consider swapping out “Shop” for “Men’s”, “Women’s”, “Brands”, “New In”, etc. Then having subsections within each of those categories to highlight what products you’re offering.
Within the women’s sections, you might have “Tops” and “Shirts”, “Jumpers”, “Skirts”, “Dresses”, “Trousers”, etc.. What that means is when the user goes to your website and hovers over your navigation, they’re able to see all of the types of products that you’re offering and navigate directly to the one that they’re looking for. When you build out your site structure, you want to consider that a user should be able to find what they’re looking for within 2 to 3 clicks.
5. User Experience
Finally, in our rundown of seo ranking factors to think about is the user experience itself. There are so many things that contribute towards a good user experience. Readability, high quality content and site structure are just a few examples, but there are three key things that Google uses to assess whether your website is providing a good user experience.
The first is click-through-rate (CTR). When someone searches for a query, if they find your website and then click through to it, Google will see that as you responding to the needs of that user. To ensure you have a high CTR you want to make sure that your page title and meta description are optimised towards that keyword and have a strong call to action.
The second factor is bounce rate. When a user lands on your website, if they then leave that website without interacting with anything on the page, Google will see that as negative.
On the flip side and the third piece of the puzzle, if someone spends a lot of time on that page it signals a positive User Engagement. Google will see this as you are providing valuable information to that user.
These are the measurables of the user experience and they’re included in our list of Google ranking factors because if Google can measure that users like your site, they’ll show it to more users and you’ll keep climbing that greasy Google pole.
Those are just five of 200 ranking factors Google uses to determine which website to recommend to a user. By all means bore yourself silly, reading the other 195 (they are actually useful to know) but, if you’ve got better things to do, consider using an SEO agency that can recite any SEO ranking factors in their sleep.