You probably might be wondering if anyone could have this many reasons to hate anything in this world. Google, however, could very well have about 200 reasons why it thinks your website just doesn’t make the cut! Don’t worry though, because Google is not on a vendetta against websites. All they want is a list of reasons to actually like your website in order to rank it. In short, it’s not them. It’s you.
There are approximately 200 factors that Google looks at in order to see if your website is worthy of being shown to users, and on what page. The key thing to remember is that despite algorithm changes, the fundamentals of these 200+ factors remain the same. These factors are referred to as Search Ranking Factors. Cute name.
Now, you can write a whole Ph.D. thesis on these factors and explain this process through complex algorithms, but that is not what you are here for. You need to know what exactly makes Google think you don’t belong on the “Nice” list. In order to simplify, all ranking factors more or less can be divided into 8 major categories.
We are simplifying by giving you the 8 categories. Each of the 200 + factors needs to clearly fit into these categories. Knowing the categories will additionally, be beneficial when new algorithm changes come into play. Also, Good News! , MORE factors also keep getting added with each update, which is why 200, although a huge number, is not accurate. Sorry.
1. Domain Factors: These are some of the most crucial components of Google’s ranking factors. The domain factors relate to the website domain and the URL of your website. Factors like the age of your domain, positioning of keywords in your domain URL, domain history, and the length that your URL domain is registered for are included here. All these factors in combination, tell Google about the trustworthiness and authority of your website domain. For example, when it comes to ranking high in a specific country, a country-specific TLD (top-level domain) – .ca for Canada or .uk for Britain – can give you a better ranking boost than your competitors.
2. Page-Level Factors: The design, look-and-feel, and website content are what ultimately makes your website a website. You want your customers and viewers to have the best possible experience while on your webpage. This means having the best quality written and multimedia content presented as clearly as possible on your website. This should be your end goal. In a similar manner, you want your website to be easily readable by Google too. Google ‘crawler bots’ that crawl and index your website don’t always see eye to eye with a user. For example, a very good looking website with thin content and bad keyword positioning will most likely rank lower than a ‘rusty-looking’ website with well-written content. The ideal is to maintain a balance between the two under all circumstances. The main factors to watch out for here are those related to keyword positioning on the page, content length and quality, placement of images, quality of links, and page-loading speed. A key factor that is often ignored by many is the mobile-friendliness of the website. Google is increasingly shifting to a mobile-first policy. This means that Google’s algorithms are evolving to give preference to websites that work most optimally on smartphones. If you have not optimized for this algorithmic shift you need to right now. Call us. We can help.
3. Site-Level Factors: Think of your website as your online store/showroom. Google always likes an easily navigable ‘store’ that also feels reputable and trustworthy. Not too different from how people would rate a real-world visit to a store. This is where factors like the uniqueness and relevance of your content, site architecture, site reputation, and Contact Information come to play. This is a highly technical world of sitemaps, SSL certificates, breadcrumb navigation etc. You also need original thinkers to produce unique content. This is where your store basically has to be the best-looking one on the street! Just replace interior designers with web designers and salesmen with quality content writers.
4.Backlink Factors: A person is often known by the company they keep and the network of friends they have. You may not easily trust a person known to have shady connections. The same is how Google views your website in relation to the backlinks that you have. This is often called “off-page factors” in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) terms and its criticality can’t be ignored. The more links you have to high-quality, relevant, and worthy websites and webpages, the better you will be in the eyes of Google. The concept is simple, but people often make the mistake of thinking that all that is needed is “link-building” of epic proportions. Make sure to always vet the quality and relevance of your links, because the very same links you worked so hard for, might just be the ones that bring you down.
5.User Interaction: You made an amazing website, wrote some of the best-known content, and have backlinks that any competitor would be jealous of, but you still don’t perform as well as you expected. Well, that might just be because this group of factors is dependent upon your website visitors and traffic. This is where you need to maintain a keen eye over your website visits. Ideally, you don’t want too much of a bounce rate (number of people that land on your page and navigate away immediately). You need to monitor what keywords your customers click on (website clickthrough rates), how often they stay on your website (dwell time) and the comments website visitors make. The data you collect based on what your website visitors are doing will help you cater to them better.
6. Search-specific factors: Equality is a great virtue, but not all search queries are created equal. Depending on the type of searches that you do (transactional, informational, or navigational) Google will give you different search results. The picture above is a classic example of what Google ‘Local Searches’ are about. The results are shown above for “Restaurants in NYC” show you the best places in New York as opposed to a query where you just type ‘restaurants’. In terms of transactional searches, where your search query is shopping-related you will be shown the prices of the goods and/or services that you plan to purchase. Other influencing factors such as Geotargeting, Domain Diversity, SafeSearch, and having higher quality standards for “YMYL” (Your Money Your Life) keywords are some other important algorithm rules. Voice searches are also key factors in today’s day and age.
7. Brand Signals: If you are a well-known and established brand, Google should not find it hard to rank you for the brand specific keyword searches that people make ( your brand + keyword). For example, searching for “Nike shoes” should ideally give results for Nike and not some other competitor. If that is the case, you are doing something/s terribly wrong! The legitimacy of your social media accounts, overall social media presence, no. of Facebook followers and likes, etc. are key factors here. Your brand mentions in top stories and press releases are a great way to get your brand reputation sky-high.
8.Spam factors: These factors pertain to the authenticity of your site. It may not be that you are a spam website yourself, but your website looks unmistakably similar to one. This is not too uncommon in real-life encounters with the law. It’s just a part of life that needs to be dealt with. Very often, you can unknowingly link to spammy websites or can be deliberately hacked and/or become part of a malicious SEO campaign by someone else. You need to be constantly aware of these factors, and just as important is to stop looking like spammy websites. Any over-optimization ( yes, that’s a real thing) should be avoided on your website and gibberish, auto-generated content can never be utilized. Make sure that every few weeks you go over your website and make sure there is no spammy content on it or linking to it.
Having mentioned the 200+ reasons (summed up in 8 categories) Google can hate your website we kindly request not to start panicking over it and compiling a list of factors by looking at all kinds of articles online. The main thing to remember is that each of these factors is weighted by Google in specific ways. The job of any good SEO company is to find out which factors need to be specifically addressed for you in the most cost-effective and fast way. There are loads of articles that tell you what are the top 5 or top 10 factors that you need to rank for. However, anyone with a deep knowledge of Google algorithms (like Search3w) will tell you that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
And here is a small secret. NO ONE BUT GOOGLE KNOWS THE WEIGHT OF ANY SEARCH RANKING FACTOR!