The nitty-gritty of how Google algorithms rank content on websites is an ever-evolving process. This is why entire industries are dedicated to understanding, decoding, and keeping up to date with Google ranking factors.
With the right insight, big and small businesses alike can strategize how to get to the top of Google search results.
The problem is that there are literally hundreds of possible ranking factors. By finding evidence of what Google considers important, it is possible to separate myth from truth and create a strategy that works.
How Does Google Rank Content?
As you can imagine, Google does what it can to avoid uneducated advice and fraudulent websites in its content ranking. Any lapses can be incredibly detrimental to a searcher’s well-being, especially when it comes to sensitive topics like health and finances. For these topics, only the highest levels of authority and expertise should be served up.
Google provides a guideline to Google employees who rate websites. Part of this document mentions E-A-T which stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
This means webmasters must cultivate a reputation for expertise and trustworthiness in a specific area. E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, but it does explain that Google search algorithms rank websites that demonstrate these three characteristics.
How Do You Rank an Article on Google?
So how do you provide E-A-T? Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to a website. SEO refers to both off-page SEO and on-page SEO. Off-page SEO is dependent on external factors and refers to a website’s trust and backlinks.
On the other hand, the effectiveness of on-page SEO is under your control. On-page ranking factors such as content, architecture, and HTML of the web page can be optimized beforehand. Optimized content refers to target keywords, long-tail keywords, and internal linking. It also refers to content choice and depth, the authoritativeness of the content, and overall user experience.
Good SEO is not dependent on just a single factor. It works in combination with the other ranking factors to lead to better rankings. Remember that even the most optimized content will not rank highly if it does not answer questions meaningfully and creatively.
Target Relevant Keywords
Keywords connect your content with people looking for answers on the subject. However, not all keywords are created equal. With conversion as the main metric, some keywords work better than others. This is because different keywords represent different levels of intent and interest.
You must research your audience to include keywords they use to describe your product or service. Make use of analytics like Google Webmaster tools to find out what keywords people are using to find you.
Also, you should definitely check how your competition is targeting their keywords. Doing so provides insight into the keywords that you might want to rank for and provides fresh content ideas. From here, it is possible to strategize your next content and target a particular niche.
Write Engaging Content
Keyword research is essential but creating engaging content means more than just stuffing the right keywords into an article. For a reader, engaging content that captivates to the very end must either help or entertain.
Ideally, both boxes should be ticked.
Moreover, how you present your content is critical in making sure the information is consumable and visually-appealing. Some common formats include listicles like top 100 lists, how-tos, tutorials, news articles, and opinion pieces.
Creating an outline of your post filters out unnecessary details and focuses your post on topics you do want to include. Be sure to use a title tag and headings which help readers and search engines alike.
Headings act as signposts to define the parts of your content which are most important. They also show how your different points intersect.
An engaging post also starts with a stellar introduction. Your introduction must include a hook that acknowledges the reader’s query and leads to useful information quickly. Your content should spark curiosity and should flow as a story.
An engaging piece of content also appeals to multiple senses. Include high quality and relevant images and other kinds of media to illustrate your points
Research Your Facts
As mentioned earlier, top-ranked content takes into account a reader’s search intent. A keyword like “buy cat food online” shows up content from e-commerce websites because this keyword tells Google that you are looking to buy cat food.
Conversely, someone searching for “how to bake cookies” is looking to learn. Search results from this query show tutorials and how-to videos. By knowing how Google shows up results for the keyword you are ranking for, you can make sure the content you create matches the content shown in first-page search results.
Research also means using tools like Google Analytics to capitalize on your strong points. You can find within the “Traffic Sources” tab the keywords that people use to find your site.
This information is very valuable. When you know the keywords used to find your website, the more you can optimize your content to target these keywords.
Another important analytics data is search volume. If the keywords you are targeting are not being searched by anyone, then nobody will find your content. You can find keyword search volumes to target using Google Keyword Planner.
Optimize for SEO
There are many easy wins for your on-page SEO. Be sure to optimize the meta description of each post on your website. These bite-sized summaries provide readers a snapshot of your post on search results pages.
While not an active ranking factor, it does improve clickthrough rates. Meta descriptions are ideally between 150 to 160 characters and usually begin with a verb like “Learn,” “Read,” or “Discover.”
Page titles and headers are some of the most important on-page elements at your disposal. Most blogging software uses your post title as the page title, so try to organically include your keywords here. Headlines are short and should be capped at 65 characters to avoid truncation by search engines.
Take extra care with your anchor texts or words that link to other pages. These can be internal links to other pages on your website or external links to source materials. This is an active ranking factor and should be part of your link building strategy. In the case of internal links, be sure to select keywords you are actively ranking for.
As much as two-thirds of all searches are done on mobile. As such, Google announced last year their mobile-first indexing practices. This means that the search engine prioritizes the mobile version of the content in its indexing and ranking. For content marketing purposes, having mobile-friendly content that does not have huge blocks of text is a must.
Also, Google recommends that you create easy-to-read content in a well-organized site. They also recommend featuring a responsive design that has no intrusive ads.
Basically, Google wants content creators to do everything in their power to create the best search results for the keywords they are targeting.
How to Improve Google Rankings
Google content ranking uses algorithms to display the best results for every query. While off-page factors like backlinks increase a website’s trust, on-page optimization helps a web page earn more relevant traffic.
With deliberate care and the use of tools, content creators like you can craft every piece of content to earn more relevant traffic.
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