There are so many things that contribute to where your website ranks, making it almost impossible to cover absolutely everything. Some factors have more of an impact than others, but the most important thing is to follow the guidelines (Moz and Yoast provide a lot of helpful information) and not to take shortcuts. In doing so, you may be breaching Google’s guidelines and are likely to see negative results in return.
In this blog, we cover 5 basic, but important ranking factors that are recognised by Google and can help to make your website more visible, driving traffic to your site and business.
Website Works on Mobile
It used to be that Google would look at your website, as it appears on a desktop computer, and base your rankings on this. But, as more and more searches are happening on mobile, there’s been a shift in how it treats searches on different devices.
In 2015, Google recognised the need for mobile phone users to receive a different experience on a website from a desktop user. Therefore, Google made an update to the search results that would prefer mobile-friendly websites over those that are not.
The 2015 update wasn’t the end of Google’s search for a truly mobile accessible internet. In 2018 Google is rolling out its mobile-first index. This essentially means that your desktop site will no longer impact where you appear in searches, it will be based entirely on your website as it appears on a mobile.
If your website shows a desktop view when opened on a mobile, it’s likely that your user is going to click off of your site as they won’t be able to navigate around as easily as they would on a mobile optimised site, which is why Google has pushed to change this.
In addition to a non-mobile friendly website affecting your rankings, it will also affect your user engagement. Your mobile visitors will spend less time on your website and will often return to search results to find a better result. Having poor user engagement will also lead to reduced ranking.
In November 2017, 97% of mobile searches were carried out on Google’s search engine, making it crucial that you work in line with Google’s idea of a mobile-friendly website.
Your title tag is found in the code of your web page. It’s not visible when you view the page, but Google and other robots can see it. This is used to determine the topic of your page and populates the main headline in search results.
Your page title is one of the most important elements on your website.
Your headings build on your page titles to break your website text up into different focus topics. Headings are broken down into tiers, H1 being the most powerful, then H2, H3 and so on. Google and your visitors will use your headings to determine what you’re talking about and if it’s relevant. It’s important that your headings are natural but also contain your key phrases.
Inbound, Outbound and Internal Links
High-quality links to and from your website and between your website’s own pages can help Google to understand what is on each page and how relevant it is.
Inbound links can come from a variety of places. Some of the most common places your website will be linked from are directories, such as Yell and Yelp, from places you sponsor and from other businesses you have a relationship with.
Links are very important, as they act sort of like a voting system. The way Google looks at it – if you’re being referenced by other websites you must have something of quality. That being said, links aren’t the be all and end all. It is possible to appear in Google without too many of them, but they do certainly give you an advantage.
It is also worth noting that not all links are equal. Links from poor quality, unrelated, sites can have a negative effect on your rankings. You should actively avoid these sorts of websites, looking only for websites that are relevant to you. You should also, if possible, try to make sure that your inbound links come from a variety of sources. Having an unnaturally large amount of links coming from one single source can be a bad thing.
Linking to quality sites that support the information on your own website helps your visitors and sends trust and relevancy signals to Google. For example, a builder linking to the local council planning permissions page will be seen as helpful and relevant.
The anchor text that you use when linking to another site should be relevant and natural. This tells Google, and your users, what is likely to be found when they follow the link that you have added.
Internal links provide doorways between the pages on your website, helping visitors and search engines find their way around. Links to an internal page can indicate the importance of that page to both Google and your users. It can help to pass on page authority, helping to boost that second pages search rankings. It can also help visitors to navigate around your site a lot easier, finding content that helps them to continue their journey to buying.
Google My Business
As well as consistent directory listings, having a Google My Business listing is one of most effective ways for local businesses to be found online. Once you’ve input your name, address and phone number (NAP), you can also add your business opening hours, logo and the areas that you serve. Google will use this information to learn more about your business and will also include you in more specific searches, such as “cafe open late on Saturdays” because it has the information to draw on.
Google My Business also allows your business to appear within Google Maps. So, if someone searches for ‘places to eat near me’ and you own a restaurant in the local area, it’s likely that your business will appear in what is known as the ‘Map Pack’.