Jan 10 2019

Your Comprehensive Guide to Google Ranking Factors for 2019

Posted by Peach Angeles , , , , , , , , ,

Google uses over 200 ranking signals in determining organic search page rankings. Having that number, you can’t help but wonder how the search engine manages to tweak and refine its algorithm to introduce new ranking signals and change priorities every now and then.

In fact, at least once a year, the Google search engine introduces a new set of SEO ranking factors:

We saw HTTP become a ranking signal in 2014. Mobile-user friendliness started to matter in 2015.

In 2016, we saw how digital marketers began altering the way they develop content as RankBrain came into the scene and how, in the following year, HTTPS websites were pushed to rank higher.

Lastly, in 2018, mobile web page became the latest SEO ranking factor to focus on.

Although Google has more ranking factor updates than you can imagine, you can be sure that every improvement is about measuring the relevance and value of your content to the user. Therefore, adapting your SEO approach to comply with the new triggers is key to boosting your rankings.

But, with so many factors, it begs the question, is every ranking factor of equal importance? Although every criteria matters, there’s a handful of universal practices that you should focus on first before decoding the rest.

So, as a digital marketing firm, we made prioritising your SEO efforts easier for this year by enumerating the top ranking factors for 2019.

Website Architecture

Level of Importance:

Although there are factors that have a greater effect on your rankings, the website architecture is the first thing you need to get right up front, particularly when launching your website.

It should entail organising your website into subdirectories and placing clear strings of text at the end of every URL to name a few. These measures help Google to easily understand who you are and what topics you have authority on.

For instance, if you’re looking to launch a lifestyle blog with content focusing on fashion, beauty and food, then your website should be organised into those subdirectories.

Domain Security

Level of Importance: ⋆⋆

The https at the beginning of a URL is there for a reason. It’s how Google separates secure websites from non-secure counterparts – and if you want to rank high, you want your site to be identified as secure.

Hypertext transfer protocol or HTTP is a virtual process that transfers information from a website to a visitor’s browser. HTTPS is the secured version of the protocol and ensures the information that Google indexing is safe to the user.

To secure your domain, you need what is called an SSL certificate.

Inbound Links

Level of Importance: ⋆⋆⋆

Inbound links or backlinks are the hyperlinks that direct users to your page from elsewhere on the Internet. These can affect where you rank greatly as well as on which page number you rank on.

Backlinks matters as it gives the signal to Google that other publishers trust what you have to say that they link to it from their own content – and the more the reputable the source linking to you is, the greater the impact the link has on your rankings.

It’s the reason why more than ever, Link Building has become an essential SEO strategy for gaining backlinks from other publishers. Some do it by trading backlinks or writing a guest post on the publisher’s website and link back to themselves.

Topic Authority

Level of Importance: ⋆⋆

Topics are considered the foundation of the authority that you’ll need to rank high for the long term. It means the more content you publish on a specific topic, the higher each article to that topic will rank in the search engine pages.

Let’s say the lifestyle blog you are managing has over 20 articles about fashion. By this time, Google probably assumes your website is an authority about that topic, therefore, your website has better chances in ranking highly for searches about fashion.

Keyword Intent

Level of Importance: ⋆⋆⋆

Keywords are just as important as topics. In fact, when done right, keyword optimisation can be more significant in your SEO strategy than the latter.

The earliest iteration in the ranking factors looked for the most frequent use of a keyword, phrased verbatim in a content. It was then known as an exact match. But, today, exact match takes on a different meaning. Now, a website that carries the most instances of a keyword no longer ranks the highest for that keyword, but rather those websites that match the intent behind that keyword.

Let’s consider the lifestyle website mentioned earlier as an example again. If you want this website to rank for the keywords, “best summer outfit,” it will not rank well by merely including this phrase several times throughout the content.

Instead, it should include the keyword at least once and further information like where to buy them and perhaps why they are so highly rated. It’s because these are what the readers are actually looking for and a website that serves this information has higher chances of receiving more engagement. As a result, Google will interpret this increased interaction as a good answer to their searches, ranking the URL higher.

Content Structure

Level of Importance:

It’s one thing that your content provides the information visitors are looking for. But, how the content is structured is also a major factor when you want your website to rank higher.

A good content structure should be constructed with headers and subheaders to make it easier for readers to digest and understand. A plus factor if you can include bullet points, supporting images and research from reliable sources – all of which can further engage readers with your content.

Meta Tags

Level of Importance:

Meta tags are often the most underestimated aspect of your SEO strategy when in fact, it also happens to be the linchpin of all good content marketing.

In a nutshell, meta tags help Google instantly identify the purpose of a page. These include several components, each of which should be filled with the targeted keywords and these are the:

  • Title Tag
  • Image Alt Text
  • Meta Description

Page Speed

Level of Importance:

Last on the list, page speed refers to how fast a web page loads when a user clicks on it from the search result. There are several factors that can contribute to the rate at which your page loads and of course, the faster it is, the higher the page can rank on Google.

In general, a page that loads in less than three seconds is plausible. But, it can still depend on the type of a website as Google recommends e-commerce website to be a little faster, loading in as fast as two seconds to be exact.

Nothing is guaranteed for sure – and with the rate at which Google updates its ranking factors, we can only hope to update ourselves with the latest. Nevertheless, make sure to save this article as a reference for your SEO strategies this 2019.

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