Google Ranking Factors, Most Important Google Ranking Factors, Must-Know Google Ranking Factors in 2017, SEO Ranking Factors for 2017, Top Search Engine Ranking Factors in 2017

Four Most Important SEO Ranking Factors in 2017


2017’s Four Most Important Ranking Factors, According to SEO Industry Studies

1. Content

Content is one of the most important Google ranking factors, according to Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google. This shouldn’t be news — content has been an important ranking factor for a while — but in recent years, we’ve seen a shift away from keyword-focused content towards more relevant content written in natural language. Expect to see more of that as 2017 unfolds.
In fact, the SearchMetrics study cited above found that just 53% of the top 20 queries have keywords in their title tag, and less than 40% of landing pages have keywords in their H1. This number is dropping year-over-year, which “clearly demonstrates that Google evaluates content according to its relevance—and not by the inclusion of individual keywords.”
So what exactly does “relevant” content look like? The short answer is: comprehensive.
Consider the top result when you Google “Golden Retriever”:
google results for Golden Retriever
DogTime’s article on Golden Retrievers rings in at almost 3,500 words, and it covers everything including breed characteristics, history, personality, health, care, and even rescue groups. The page also includes multiple images, infographics, and embedded videos — it’s everything you could ever want to know about Golden Retrievers on one page.
This supports what Backlinko found: Semantic search is here to stay. Algorithm updates like Hummingbird and RankBrain place intense value on semantic relevance and optimization, meaning that an in-depth examination of one topic in easy-to-understand language will always beat out unreadable keyword-dense drivel.
Backlinko also found that long-form content ranks better than short-form content, probably because it allows articles to consider their subject in more detail. That said, SearchMetrics found that mobile content is usually only 2/3 the length of desktop content, and mobile use is on the rise.
How to optimize:
Content influences a variety of other ranking factors, such as bounce rate and CTR. So for best results, make sure your content is both comprehensive and relevant to your audience — an in-depth examination of flamenco dancing probably won’t do much for your auto-repair business.
I recommend you use content auditing software to:
  • Find and fix thin content.
  • Explore fewer topics in greater detail on each page.
  • Improve your Topical Authority in your niche

2. Backlinks

Backlinks remain an important Google ranking factor, but over the years, Google has learned to weed out the bad links from the good. More links will still result in a higher score, but only if they’re from a number of diverse and authoritative domains.
The key to a strong link building campaign in 2017 is to create content people crave, and then to promote that content relentlessly. When other industry authorities read and link to your content, Google will read your backlink’s matching anchor text and consider your content more relevant.
When your content earns a lot of these high-quality backlinks, you hit three important ranking signals: number of backlinks, link authority, and link diversity.
Note that one of the main roles of social signals is to win you more high-quality backlinks. SearchMetrics found that ranking position and social signals strongly correlated across all social media channels — though Facebook is still the platform with the highest concentration of user interactions.
How to optimize:
There are many different ways to approach link building, but what they all boil down to is content marketing. Step one: Create high-quality content. Step two: Promote.
If you’re having trouble coming up with original content, consider using the Skyscraper link building technique: Find someone else’s relevant content with lots of backlinks, improve upon their content with a more detailed article, and then share your content.
I also recommend you use link auditing software to get a better picture of your link profile. Use this software to:
  • Monitor how many links your content has and the quality of those links.
  • Reach out to high-quality partners for backlinks.
  • Eliminate spammy and low-quality links; disavow them if you can’t get them removed.

3. Mobile-First User Experience

One of the biggest changes we saw in 2016 was Google’s shift towards mobile-first indexing. This means that Google’s index will now primarily crawl the mobile version of websites as opposed to the desktop version.
Mobile optimization is an extremely important ranking factor. All of the top 100 most visible domains have mobile-friendly solutions, according to SearchMetrics.
In 2017, it will be more important than ever that your content is responsive on all mobile platforms and identical to the content on your desktop site. Mobile-friendliness is now the norm, and with 85% of all websites now meeting Google’s criteria for being mobile-friendly, it’s time to improve your website even more — think mobile-first, not just mobile-friendly.
A word of warning: according to Google, if you are in the process of building a mobile version of your site, don’t launch it until it’s finished. Releasing a broken or incomplete mobile version of your website might wind up hurting your ranking more than helping; it’s better to keep your website desktop-only until the mobile version is ready.
Page speed is another important ranking factor that ties heavily into a good user experience. Desktop websites should load in 3 seconds or less, while mobile websites should load in 2 seconds or less (according to SearchMetrics, the top-ranked mobile websites are approximately one second quicker than their desktop equivalents).
How to optimize:
  • Use Google Search Console to add and verify the mobile version of your website.
  • Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure that the same structured markup exists on both your desktop and your mobile site.
  • Ensure that your mobile site is accessible to Googlebot using the txt testing tool.
  • Test your page speed using PageSpeed Insights. If your page is slow, use an auditing tool to find and fix uncompressed content, page errors, and other elements slowing your website down.

4. Other Technical Factors

There are many other technical factors which might play a big role in your website’s rank. These factors include:
Encryption: Backlinko still finds a strong correlation between HTTPS websites and first page Google rankings, and SearchMetrics confirms that 45% of the top websites all use HTTPS encryption (up from 12% in 2015). Google confirmed back in 2014 that websites with a strong HTTPS encryption will rank better than their HTTP counterparts, and, as of 2017, websites that have not switched to HTTPS are now marked as unsafe in Google Chrome.
H1 and H2 Headings: There are more landing pages with an H1 and H2 in the source code this year. SearchMetrics found a strong correlation between the use of at least one H2 and a higher rank.
Anchor text: Exact-match anchor text still has a strong influence on rankings, but you risk a Penguin penalty if your links appear unnatural or spammy. Make sure your backlink anchor text is diverse and organic.
anchor text distribution
Interstitials: In keeping with Google’s emphasis on mobile-first optimization, as of 10 January 2017, they’re cracking down on intrusive interstitial pop-ups. That means any page with an ad or CTA that covers the main content or whisks users to a new page upon clicking might suffer a penalty. Exceptions to this include login dialogs, small banners that are easy to dismiss, and legally-required interstitials (e.g. age verification).
How to optimize:
  • Switch to HTTPS encryption.
  • Make use of H2 headings, especially if the top URLS in your niche don’t.
  • Ensure that your anchor text is diverse and semantically relevant.
  • Remove all intrusive interstitials from your mobile website.

Conclusion

SEO is an ever-evolving industry. In the past few years, we’ve seen Google make a steady push for rich content, quality links, and a perfect mobile experience. Other ranking factors are certainly important and will play a role in your rankings, but if you prioritize improving elements of your website related to these factors, then you’ll come out ahead of the competition.

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Google page level seo factors, Guide to Google ranking factors, Most Important Google Ranking Factors, On Page SEO Techniques, On-Page Ranking Factors, Search Engine Ranking Factors

Website Page Level SEO Factors

Page Level

Keyword in Title Tag: The title tag is a webpage’s second most important piece of content (besides the content of the page) and therefore sends a strong on-page SEO signal.
Title Tag Starts with Keyword: According to Moz data, title tags that starts with a keyword tend to perform better than title tags with the keyword towards the end of the tag:
Title Tag Data
Keyword in Description Tag: Another relevancy signal. Not especially important now, but still makes a difference.
Keyword Appears in H1 Tag: H1 tags are a “second title tag” that sends another relevancy signal to Google, according to results from this correlation study:
h1 Ranking Study
Keyword is Most Frequently Used Phrase in Document: Having a keyword appear more than any other likely acts as a relevancy signal.
Content Length:  Content with more words can cover a wider breadth and are likely preferred to shorter superficial articles. SERPIQ found that content length correlated with SERP position:Content Length SEOKeyword Density: Although not as important as it once was, keyword density is still something Google uses to determine the topic of a webpage. But going overboard can hurt you.
Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords in Content (LSI): LSI keywords help search engines extract meaning from words with more than one meaning (Apple the computer company vs. the fruit). The presence/absence of LSI probably also acts as a content quality signal.
LSI Keywords in Title and Description Tags: As with webpage content, LSI keywords in page meta tags probably help Google discern between synonyms. May also act as a relevancy signal.
Page Loading Speed via HTML: Both Google and Bing use page loading speed as a ranking factor. Search engine spiders can estimate your site speed fairly accurately based on a page’s code and filesize.
Duplicate Content: Identical content on the same site (even slightly modified) can negatively influence a site’s search engine visibility.
Rel=Canonical: When used properly, use of this tag may prevent Google from considering pages duplicate content.
Page Loading Speed via Chrome: Google may also use Chrome user data to get a better handle on a page’s loading time as this takes into account server speed, CDN usage and other non HTML-related site speed signals.
Image Optimization: Images on-page send search engines important relevancy signals through their file name, alt text, title, description and caption.
Recency of Content Updates: Google Caffeine update favors recently updated content, especially for time-sensitive searches. Highlighting this factor’s importance, Google shows the date of a page’s last update for certain pages:
google results date
Magnitude of Content Updates: The significance of edits and changes is also a freshness factor. Adding or removing entire sections is a more significant update than switching around the order of a few words.
Historical Updates Page Updates: How often has the page been updated over time? Daily, weekly, every 5-years? Frequency of page updates also play a role in freshness.
Keyword Prominence: Having a keyword appear in the first 100-words of a page’s content appears to be a significant relevancy signal.
Keyword in H2, H3 Tags: Having your keyword appear as a subheading in H2 or H3 format may be another weak relevancy signal. Moz’s panel agrees:
H2 Moz Image
Keyword Word Order: An exact match of a searcher’s keyword in a page’s content will generally rank better than the same keyword phrase in a different order. For example: consider a search for: “cat shaving techniques”. A page optimized for the phrase “cat shaving techniques” will rank better than a page optimized for “techniques for shaving a cat”. This is a good illustration of why keyword research is really, really important.
Outbound Link Quality: Many SEOs think that linking out to authority sites helps send trust signals to Google.
Outbound Link Theme: According to Moz, search engines may use the content of the pages you link to as a relevancy signal. For example, if you have a page about cars that links to movie-related pages, this may tell Google that your page is about the movie Cars, not the automobile.
Grammar and Spelling: Proper grammar and spelling  is a quality signal, although Cutts gave mixed messages in 2011 on whether or not this was important.
Syndicated Content: Is the content on the page original? If it’s scraped or copied from an indexed page it won’t rank as well as the original or end up in their Supplemental Index.
Helpful Supplementary Content: According to a now-public Google Rater Guidelines Document, helpful supplementary content is an indicator of a page’s quality (and therefore, Google ranking). Examples include currency converters, loan interest calculators and interactive recipes.
Number of Outbound Links: Too many dofollow OBLs may “leak” PageRank, which can hurt that page’s rankings.
Multimedia: Images, videos and other multimedia elements may act as a content quality signal.
Number of Internal Links Pointing to Page: The number of internal links to a page indicates its importance relative to other pages on the site.
Quality of Internal Links Pointing to Page: Internal links from authoritative pages on domain have a stronger effect than pages with no or low PR.
Broken Links: Having too many broken links on a page may be a sign of a neglected or abandoned site. The Google Rater Guidelines Document uses broken links as one was to assess a homepage’s quality.
Reading Level: There’s no doubt that Google estimates the reading level of webpages. In fact, Google used to give you reading level stats:
Google Reading Level
But what they do with that information is up for debate. Some say that a basic reading level will help you rank better because it will appeal to the masses. But others associate a basic reading level with content mills like Ezine Articles.
Affiliate Links: Affiliate links themselves probably won’t hurt your rankings. But if you have too many, Google’s algorithm may pay closer attention to other quality signals to make sure you’re not a “thin affiliate site”.
HTML errors/W3C validation: Lots of HTML errors or sloppy coding may be a sign of a poor quality site. While controversial, many in SEO think that WC3 validation is a weak quality signal.
Page Host’s Domain Authority: All things being equal, a page on an authoritative domain will rank higher than a page on a domain with less authority.
Page’s PageRank: Not perfectly correlated. But in general higher PR pages tend to rank better than low PR pages.
URL Length: Search Engine Journal notes that excessively long URLs may hurt search visibility.
URL Path: A page closer to the homepage may get a slight authority boost.
Human Editors: Although never confirmed, Google has filed a patent for a system that allows human editors to influence the SERPs.
Page Category: The category the page appears on is a relevancy signal. A page that’s part of a closely related category should get a relevancy boost compared to a page that’s filed under an unrelated or less related category.
WordPress Tags: Tags are WordPress-specific relevancy signal.  According to Yoast.com:

“The only way it improves your SEO is by relating one piece of content to another, and more specifically a group of posts to each other”

Keyword in URL: Another important relevancy signal.
URL String:  The categories in the URL string are read by Google and may provide a thematic signal to what a page is about:
google url strings
References and Sources: Citing references and sources, like research papers do, may be a sign of quality. The Google Quality Guidelines states that reviewers should keep an eye out for sources when looking at certain pages: “This is a topic where expertise and/or authoritative sources are important…”. However, Google has denied that they use external links as a ranking signal.
Bullets and Numbered Lists: Bullets and numbered lists help break up your content for readers, making them more user friendly. Google likely agrees and may prefer content with bullets and numbers.
Priority of Page in Sitemap: The priority a page is given via the sitemap.xml file may influence ranking.
Too Many Outbound Links: Straight from the aforementioned Quality rater document:

“Some pages have way, way too many links, obscuring the page and distracting from the Main Content”

Quantity of Other Keywords Page Ranks For: If the page ranks for several other keywords it may give Google an internal sign of quality.
Page Age: Although Google prefers fresh content, an older page that’s regularly updated may outperform a newer page.
User Friendly Layout: Citing the Google Quality Guidelines Document yet again:

“The page layout on highest quality pages makes the Main Content immediately visible”

Parked Domains: A Google update in December of 2011 decreased search visibility of parked domains.
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