Getting your site or pages listed in the search engines can be mind boggling even at the best of times. Not only are the search ranking factors kept largely a secret but apparently there are over 200 of them that may affect where you’re listed in the search results.
Over the next few posts we’ll take a look at all of the Google Ranking Factors that we can get our hands on and hopefully give you a better idea of what ranks and does not rank in the search engines. We’ll start with on-site page optimization because this will definitely include some things that you can implement right away.
1) Keyword is most used phrase in the article – Without overdoing it having the keyword spread liberally throughout the article will help that page rank higher in the search engines.
2) Keyword in title tag – The title of the page tells readers what the article is about and sends a strong signal to the search engines as well.
3) Keyword is at beginning of title tag – Not only will the keyword be highlighted in the search results but pages that begin with the keyword tend to rank a little better than those that don’t.
4) Keyword in description – The description you put on a page may or may not show up in the search results. It’s good to put it in there just in case and may help a little with page ranking.
5) Keyword in H1, H2 & H3 tags – The H1 tags are often overlooked but should be viewed in a similar way to the title tags.
6) Length of post – Content is still king and longer posts tend to do better than shorter posts.
7) Keyword density – In the past everything was about getting as many keywords into your article as possible. Thankfully that’s changed but having a higher keyword density is still better unless you go overboard.
8) No duplicate content – Try to keep all your content unique. If you have pages that repeat some of your posts like your archives pages than make sure these are not being indexed by the search engines.
9) Page loading speed – The faster your page loads the better. You can check your page loading speed with online tools such as the Speed Load Test here.
10) Image optimization – Using relevant file names for your images as well as descriptions and alt text should help with Google ranking.
11) Domain authority – as you would image the higher the authority of the name the greater chance a specific page on that domain has to rank. You can check the domain authority for your domain or pages with Open Site Explorer here.
11) Page rank – High PR pages tend to perform better than low PR pages.
12) Broken links – Try to remove any broken links from your site as it could negatively effect your search results. It’s good to do a periodic check of your website to find any broken links. You can use an online tool such as Broken Link Check to automatically scan all links on your site.
13) Length of URL – shorter is generally better and excessively long URLs may have a negative impact on search visibility.
14) Age of page – While new and fresh content does often rank well in the search engines for a time, older pages that are kept up to date will perform better.
15) Outbound links – Linking to other authority sites is great but having too many outbound links that distract the reader from the main content is a sign of a poor quality website.
16) Referencing – Citing your sources and referencing your article let Google know that you have thought about your content and care about the quality of your posts.
17) Other keywords the page ranks for – It’s a case of those who have will be given more. If your page already ranks for a certain keyword it’s more likely to rank for other similar keywords on the same page.
18) Main content is visible – The web page should be user-friendly and easy to read. Having content that is plain to see and immediately obvious is a must. Google states “The page layout on highest quality pages makes the Main Content immediately visible.”
19) Parked domains – In the past parked domains could rank for keywords but after the Parked Domain update a few years ago this is no longer the case and Google plainly says “In most cases, we prefer not to show them.”
20) WordPress tags – They’re not immediately helpful except in the way they relate certain groups of posts to each other and provide relevancy.
21) URL path – Pages that are closer to the main domain may rank slightly better than those that are further away.
In the next part we’ll continue looking at Google Ranking Factors to help your web pages rank higher in the search engines. There are over 200 ranking factors so we’ve only just scratched the surface.