I bought Crowdo Links, how long does it take to rank 1st on Google?
Are Crowdo Links the only way to secure a top spot in Google Search?
What else do I need to do besides link-building to rank better?
Those are some typical questions, asked by our clients.
That is why we wanted to give you an overview of different factors that Google takes into account when ranking your website. Let’s dive straight into it!
Table of Contents
These days SEO is a complex and multifaceted process. Tons of components influence the way Google ranks your website. Moreover, each algorithm update brings more and more pieces to that complex SEO puzzle.
Broadly, we can divide those factors into 5 broad categories:
- Off-page SEO
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Behavioral Factors
- Website UI and UX
Having Crowdo Links alone or having a lot of content will not guarantee high visibility on search, as this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s jump in and name some of the most prominent ranking factors from each of the categories mentioned above.
This category is based on the content of your web page and how well it is optimized.
Content is king and always will be.
Let’s take a look at some of the best practices of optimizing your content for SEO (note: this is not even a full list):
- Unique content – this has been probably stated a billion times, but hey – it’s a guide, so we have to cover everything. Always write unique content and check it through Copyscape to prevent plagiarism. Duplicate content is probably the most common way to get a Google penalty. And if you feel like referring to your own work word-by-word, then include a canonical URL to the webpage where the information comes from.
- Page title – simply the most important on-page SEO factor. Your title should describe the nature of your website and include your high-priority keyword. If your homepage title is “home” – well, you’re clearly doing something wrong.
- Keyword proximity – this term refers to the distance between individual keywords that make up a long-tail keyword phrase. The smaller that distance – the higher your chances for ranking for that particular phrase.
- Keyword density – this is the ratio, calculated by taking the number your target keyword appears on the page and dividing that by total word count. If your keyword appears 10 times and your word count is 1000 words, that means your keyword density is 1%.
Nobody knows the ideal figure for that ratio, but aiming to keep it between 1 to 2% is a solid strategy. If your keyword appears less often, web crawlers may not consider it a target keyword. On the other hand, having a crazy keyword density would be considered keyword stuffing (a.k.a penalizable by Google).
- Keyword prominence – this term describes how early on your keyword is mentioned on important elements of a webpage. This is why it’s so important to have your target keyword at the beginning of your page title, opening paragraph as well as meta tags.
- Natural language searches – the way people search for information has changed, mostly due to the introduction of voice search. Whereas before we would just google a certain keyword (e.g first president of the US), now more people would ask a question to the voice assistant (e.g who was the first president of the US).
This means that you have to optimize your content for those natural language searches. Formulate some FAQs among your target audience and answer them using concise language and everyday vocabulary.
This way your content will also have a better chance of showing up in Google’s answer boxes which is a big deal.
- Content length – not a rule that you must abide by, but generally speaking longer content (2.000 words or above) works better. Why? Because Google favors pages that give an in-depth explanation on the subject. Moreover, in this way you can answer more questions and include more useful keywords.
- Use of synonyms/ jargon – let us repeat it, don’t stuff a single keyword a billion times. Make use of synonyms and professional jargon within your field.
- FAQ – having a Q&A section is really important for 3 reasons. First, it benefits your users. Second, you have a higher chance of showing up in Google Search for a specific question. Third, an FAQ section increases your chances of showing up in featured snippets (to be discussed in Technical SEO).
- Content quality – this is quite an ambiguous term, but there is some conventional wisdom of what makes good content. First, don’t aim to rewrite somebody else’s content just to make it “unique”. That probably works just fine for filler content (e.g money sites or PBN), but not for a reputable website that cares about its audience.
Do your research, find knowledge gaps, and make a genuine contribution to the topic at hand. Proofread the text, check your spelling and grammar (p.s – Grammarly helps).
Remember – long term SEO is about users, not numbers.
- Content recency & updates – aged content is usually given preference on search because it has already acquired a certain reputation and engagement. Make sure to update your existing content from time to time, search engines appreciate it.
- Multimedia content – make sure to include imagery and video in your blog posts. Not only it helps your readers to digest your content better, but a number of studies have confirmed that it helps your content to rank.
- Internal links – when writing a blog post, definitely link some other pages of yours, when relevant. It is helpful both for your audience and for search engines. Moreover, this is a “must” for cornerstone content.
- Broken links – what a waste of SEO potential! Not only broken links are bad for SEO, but also for user experience (unsurpsingly). Monitor broken links regularly and get rid of them.
The name says it all, this category is based on SEO activities done outside of your website, most notably your backlink profile. Let’s discuss what constitutes a healthy backlink profile.
Link building is still one of the most important ranking factors © Neil Pateil.
Well, we just have to agree with that.
Having a strong backlink profile with both authority and diversity is vital to ranking high on Google.
Yet there are so many criteria of “high-quality” backlinks, that we feel like discussing them more specifically:
- The number of referring domains – the more domains point to your website – the better, Nuff said. Yet don’t be deluded by quantity alone, as many other aspects play a role.
- DA/DR of referring domains – you want to have backlinks from reputable websites with high metrics. Look for high DA (or DR) domains, as backlinks from those websites are a lot more valuable.
- Referring domain (or page) relevance – don’t miss that one, as it’s super important! Make sure that links pointing to your website come from niche-relevant sources. If you’re working in the hospitality sector, you probably wouldn’t want links coming from gambling websites, right?
- Backlink anchor text – if you’re working on a link building campaign yourself or outsource it to professional services like Crowdo, always make use of appropriate anchor text.
Let’s say you want to maximize the authority of your link profile through guest posting – in that case definitely aim for descriptive anchor texts, that consist of your target keywords (e.g hotels in Malaysia).
On the other hand, if you’re going for diversity and you aim to build web 2.0, tier 2, or crowd links, then stick to natural anchor texts (usually your site URL or brand name).
- Natural link profile – ideally your backlink profile should consist of various types of links, including both dofollow and nofollow. Nofollow links only will not get you far in SERP, whereas having only dofollow links doesn’t look natural.
- Link diversity – you should leverage multiple link building strategies to your benefit. Thus, your backlink profile should contain links from different sources: media links, forum links, guest post links, Quora links, Reddit links among others.
- Link velocity/ link pacing – the frequency at which backlinks to your website are built may influence the value of those links. In other words, too many links built all of a sudden = suspicious to Google = no SEO benefit or even a penalty.
- Backlink age – most SEO specialists consider that aged backlinks will have more SEO value than the new ones. Although this theory hasn’t received a definite confirmation, this might something to consider.
- Absence of toxic links – analyze your backlinks through Ahrefs or similar tools and identify unfavorable backlinks (or toxic links). Those are links from spammy and irrelevant websites. Compile a list of those and remove them using Google Disavow.
- Word count of referring content – generally, the more context is around your link – the better. This is especially relevant for forum link building campaigns and niche edits.
- Quality of referring content – ensure that the content surrounding your link is of high quality (relevant, natural, no spelling mistakes). Of course, this is limited to backlink campaigns that you have control over (guest posting, crowd marketing). If those links are user-generated content, then you can’t do much about it.
Last but not least, if you want to learn some effective link building strategies that you can apply – we have a dedicated article on that subject.
Your website is crawled by robots, so technicalities are important. The better your content is structured from a technical standpoint – the higher the chances of Google serving it to the right audience.
- Meta description – always write a unique and informative meta description, that does not exceed 160 characters in length. Include your target keywords, that describe your business well, but don’t overstuff them.
- Content hierarchy – remember, that your headings (<h2>, <h3> etc) is not a place for keyword stuffing. Of course, you can and should include some of your target keywords within the headings, where appropriate. Yet the purpose of those tags is to give your content a solid structure and hierarchy. This way users can skim through your page and extract key takeaways much quicker, and it also gives Google Bots a better indication of what your page is about.
- Image optimization – this is important for accessibility, as well as ranking on Google Images (mind you, there is definitely a lot of traffic coming from there). Basically, all you need to do is add an <alt> text, caption, and description to your images, where applicable.
- Schema markup – this allows search engines to understand the purpose of your content better. When you google something, you’ve probably seen reviews, ratings, or common questions showing up right on the results page.
Those are called rich snippets and they are powered by schema markups. We will not go into technical stuff too much, but here’s an in-depth article that will explain how schemas work.
- URL structure – excessively long or confusing URLs are not considered SEO-friendly (nor human-friendly), and thus should be avoided.
- Sitemap.xml – upload a sitemap to your Google Search Console. This makes it easier for Google to crawl and analyze your website structure and helps to index your pages quicker.
- Robots.txt – having this file at hand allows you to specify which pages should be crawled and indexed, and which ones shouldn’t.
You mustn’t accidentally index pages meant for receipts and payments (as this is private), as well as unfinished pages because there’s a chance Google will remember that old version until re-indexing. And this doesn’t always happen momentarily.
You’ve gotten used to seeing most of the metrics below in your Google Analytics. The truth is – they’re not only for you. This data is accessible to Google, thus it may be taken into consideration when ranking your website. And even if you don’t have GA in place, well Google still has that data, but you won’t be able to see it for yourself.
- Bounce rate – number of visitors who opened your website and bounced (left the page immediately)
- CTR – number of visitors who click on your website, when it shows up in organic search
- Average time spent on page – the longer the user stays on the page the better because this means the user is engaged in what you have to tell him/her.
- Organic traffic – this is quite self-explanatory, but the more organic traffic your website receives already – the higher the potential for rankings.
- Repeat visitors – if your target audience visits your website regularly, that indicates their loyalty and engagement, which is favored by Google.
- Pages per session – the number of pages viewed by users on average. Again, if a user reviews many pages – this is a sign of positive user engagement.
Website UI and UX
There are probably thousands of factors that determine an easy-to-understand user interface and a positive user experience. Yet, they can be broken down into the following categories:
- Website security and performance
- Website layout
- Mobile Experience
Website Security and Performance
No one likes unstable and slow websites, neither does Google. Give some attention to the following points:
- Https connection – a secure connection is always preferred both by users and by search engines, this has already been confirmed by Google. In order to have https connection you just need a valid SSL certificate, which most hosting firms provide free of charge. Alternatively, you can buy it separately.
- Page speed – faster-loading websites are usually given a preference in search results. Other than that, it’s also important for user experience, which influences a lot of other factors indirectly (for example bounce rate). You can check your website speed using Google PageSpeed Insights, GT Metrix, or Pingdom Tools. These web apps will also provide you with some advice on how you can optimize your website performance further.
Having a clear and understandable website layout is one of the key determinants of the overall user experience. Make sure to pay attention to the following points:
- Website navigation – the structure of your website plays a vital role in shaping the overall page experience. Make sure that you categorize your content; include the most prominent pages in your menu; and structure your website in a way that’d be easy for users to navigate.
- Readability – ensure that your content is readable to humans. Tiny font sizes or (especially!) hidden text is a “no go”.
- Accessibility – Google has already announced that accessibility does a play role in SEO. Thus, you need to make sure that your website is accessible to people with physical disabilities. This includes but is not limited to: including <alt> tag in your images, adjusting the construct to a sufficient level for people with visual defects, avoiding rapidly-flashing animations.
- Organic advertising – remember those websites from the 90s that were filled with ads entirely? You literally couldn’t read a single word, because your whole screen was bombarded by ads. Well, these days Google doesn’t appreciate it. Make sure that your ads don’t hurt the overall experience of a user when he jumps to your website.
- No intrusive interstitials – those are full-page popups, that prevent you from reading content. Google has stated that this practice may cause deranking.
Mobile devices dominate the web in 2020, and the trend is not going to disappear any time soon. Google has already suggested that mobile-optimized pages will be given a preference on search as a part of their “mobile-first index”. Here are a few steps that you can take to optimize your website for mobile:
- AMP – or accelerated mobile pages. Those are meant to improve the UX on mobile devices. It should be mentioned that having an AMP is not a direct ranking factor, but it is considered a good practice in general. If you’re a developer, this resource might come in handy.
Whether or not you’re going to set up an AMP, just make sure that your website has a separate mobile version. Desktop-only websites are annoying and frustrating, so take the following into account:
- Larger font sizes – 12pt might be enough for desktop, but it will look tiny on a 5-inch screen
- 1-column (vertical) layout – most of the time horizontal scrolling on mobile is just a pain in the butt. Try to prevent that.
- Easy-to-use menu (usually hamburger menu) – again, a horizontal menu is perfectly fine for a laptop screen, not for a mobile screen
- No excessive JS running in the background – this slows down the website tremendously
- Small image sizes – large images aren’t needed for the small screen, they only slow your web page
Luckily, most page builders and WP themes are responsive by default, and that’s what most people use to build their websites these days.
Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. Google will likely take these into account even more heavily from December 2020 Core Update.
Although this subject is insufficiently researched yet, we already have a few suggestions, that could positively impact your E-A-T:
Your domain forms the history of your presence on the web. Hence, even here there are a few factors that might come into play when Google ranks your website:
- Domain age – older domains are considered more trustworthy, thus have a better chance of ranking at the top of Google. This does not mean that new domains don’t stand a chance but as a rule of thumb domain age signals trust.
- Domain Authority – your DA is another factor that comes into play. It is shaped by the number and quality of backlinks your website receives, in other words – your backlink profile.
- Domain history – unsurprisingly, domain history shouldn’t be neglected. Google tries to combat PBN websites (when people buy expired domains, make a network out of them, and use it solely for backlink building). Thus, frequent changes in domain ownership or website purpose may raise a red flag to Google crawlers.
- Contact us page – pretty much every single website has a page with contact information, and you should have one as well. Not only for legitimacy, but your contact details are often displayed when people find your business, so they call or text you straight away. Particularly important for local businesses!
- Blog authorship/ complete author profile – search engines try to trace the content back to its author. Thus, it is vital to let your users know who wrote that blog post. Include a short bio, links to your social media and a portrait picture (preferable). Some people like us go as far as creating a specific author page.
- Social media activity – any legit business has a social media page these days (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). It is known for sure that Facebook share or Pinterest repins have no direct SEO benefit, yet your social media activity may add to your credibility and enhance your EAT.
- Terms and conditions – websites that offer legit and legal products and services will always have a T&C page. This is not a direct ranking factor in Google, but it impacts your EAT which impacts your Google ranking… you get the idea.
- User reviews / ratings – if you’re selling something, then having positive reviews and ratings can impact your visibility, especially if those come from Google Reviews, Facebook, or TrustPilot.
- Comments section (or user-generated content) – if you’re running a blog, then it’s definitely a good idea to let your users leave their comments. It has been proven by several studies that user engagement (including comments) influences your SERP positively.
- Text mentions/ linkless mentions – text mentions around the web are known to influence the EAT of your website.
If you don’t know what to do or simply can’t afford to spend hours doing research – there’s a solution and it’s called Crowdo Audit.
It takes a lot of time, resources, and expertise to implement a successful SEO strategy.
Are these ALL of the factors that Google takes into account?
No! The real list is much larger! First of all, we combined some points for simplicity.
Secondly, no one knows all the factors precisely, we just know there are lots of them, that we don’t know about.
Should I expect higher ranking only if I have ALL of these factors perfectly optimized?
No! Each of these factors holds different value for each use case. There are very few websites with “perfect” optimization.
You should definitely try and do your best, but if some things don’t work out – that doesn’t mean you want to rank high on Google.
Is this list of Google Ranking factors “evergreen”?
Yes and no. Search engine rules are dynamic and every Google update makes an impact, yet most of the mentioned factors (such as quality content) will likely never lose their significance.
Are all of these factors confirmed by Google?
Not all of them. We try to mention it when certain thing has been stated by Google directly. Yet our knowledge is limited and a lot of the factors from our list are based on research from SEO practioners and researchers, yet Google hasn’t confirmed yet explicitly.