Everyone has been talking about SEO ranking factors for well over a decade at this point.
And this whole time, we’ve been working off of a concept around at least 200 ranking factors that Google once alluded to.
Although today in January 2019, there are a number of growing complexities around SEO.
The number that we’re looking at could actually be much higher. But, is that a good thing? Or a bad thing?
At the end of the day, the exact number of SEO factors doesn’t really matter.
To be successful at the search engine optimization game, you don’t need to worry about hitting every ranking factor.
Because they are all weighted differently.
There is a small number of significant factors that really matter when it comes to boosting your position in search results.
Developing an SEO strategy is complicated enough without driving yourself crazy over every little ranking signal.
Believe it or not, there’s a way to make your life easier. And, your digital marketing strategy more successful.
Here are the most important ranking factors you need to be paying attention to in 2018:
Quality Content Maintains Its Reign as King
The end goal of pretty much everything Google does: provide its users with high quality, relevant content that aligns with their immediate needs.
When a visitor lands on your site, they’re expecting to find fresh, engaging and useful content. Oh, and guess what?
Google expects the same thing.
No matter how Google’s algorithm evolves, content remains the primary vehicle for two of the most important SEO factors – user experience and keywords, or relevance thereof.
Content marketing is a crucial element of the user experience because it provides something of value that your visitors are looking for.
Still, this isn’t possible without a keyword strategy that helps your site get ranked higher and attract more visitors.
And no, I’m not talking about keyword usage like the old SEO strategy that now seems to work in music.
Panda, Panda, Panda
(Google has it’s own idea of a Panda)
When creating content, it’s essential to keep the focus on intent when using any keyword.
I’ll say this again. Intent.
It isn’t enough to just place high ranking keywords into content with the hopes of getting attention.
They need to serve a purpose and provide value. Long tail and voice optimized keywords that make searches more relevant is an excellent example of this.
This also doesn’t mean you need to write 10,000 words. You need to write as much as you need to properly educate your reader. Or get your point across.
Sorry professors, nobody likes essays.
Watch Out for Mobile First Indexing as it Reaches for the Lead
Google has been talking about its mobile-first index for about a year or two now.
We’ve all had plenty of warning at this point.
As we pass the halfway mark of 2018, we’re seeing it slowly rolled out and implemented.
We’re still some time away from a complete mobile-first implementation, for now.
But, that doesn’t mean that the hot ranking factors aren’t laser-focused on mobile optimization.
The free first index aside, mobile optimization and responsive design are essential to today’s mobile consumer. Which is everyone.
Your customers want sites that load quickly.
They want websites are easy to use on their mobile devices.
Mobile search is slowly, but steadily surpassing desktop. And, the fact that Google is the search engine where the overwhelming number of mobile searches are initiated, makes sense that mobile optimization is quickly becoming a top-ranking factor.
Getting quality backlinks is the bane of many an SEO strategy. Backlinks occur when another website references your website via a link included in their own content. Basically, backlinks are like votes in a popularity contest, but they only count if they come from quality sources.
The question is how to get high-quality sites to notice you and give you a nod via a backlink. One of the best tips for making this happen is stepping outside of Google’s ranking factors and heading on over to social media.
Hasn’t Google repeatedly said that social signals aren’t a ranking factor?
While you’ll occasionally come across a heated debate on this subject, social media can help build quality backlinks, regardless if it serves as ranking factor or not.
My advice: it does. Don’t ignore social media.
It all boils down to this – the more your content is shared on social media, the more your visibility increases, raising the odds of a quality site sharing and linking your content.
Elements of On Page SEO
Each one of your site’s web pages can be optimized to rank higher in search engine results.
On-page SEO includes multiple ranking factors that tie directly into search queries. A few elements of on-page SEO that you definitely shouldn’t ignore include:
Alt image tags
Keywords in URLs
Every one of your web pages and each piece of content that appears on them should be optimized with these elements to significantly elevate your search results and the quality of visitors that land on your page.
Local Ranking Factors
Small, community-based businesses depend strongly on local SEO to generate traffic and drive sales.
Local search engine optimization is a more specialized and targeted way to build rankings in front of a particular community. This involves a combination of factors that are unique to the local customer.
For example, one of the most significant local ranking factors is the Google My Business signal. Google offers a Google My Business (GMB) page as a place for businesses to provide their contact information as well as offer a platform for images, reviews and more.
Since GMB is directly connected to Google, it’s only logical that it plays a crucial role as a local SEO ranking factor. It’s important to claim your GMB page and make sure that it’s filled out completely and accurately.
Citation signals, which can go hand in hand with your GMB page, are also vital to succeeding in local SEO.
Simply put, citation signals are validations about how accurately your business details have been verified. This includes review sites, social media and business directories where your information might be listed.
Citation signals are essential to local SEO because they prove that you’re real. This isn’t such an issue for the big guys, but for smaller, locally based businesses, every bit of validation that you’re legitimate and trustworthy is crucial.
Check out these 6 strategies for business growth online.
Are You Ready for SEO in 2019 and Beyond?
There’s a lot more than just keyword ranking to SEO, and the key ranking factors that influence search results. The digital landscape is complex and ever-changing. Each year brings changes and challenges that businesses must adapt to.
While the complete list of Google’s ranking factors might be under lock and key, a professionally built website, optimized for the top performing ranking factors is within your reach today. You don’t need to be an SEO genius to land on page one, you just need the right digital marketing team on your side. Contact Direction, Inc. today to discover how our knowledge of the top ranking factors can improve your SEO strategy.
President, Direction Inc.