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SEO Ranking Factors for 2017

2017 is upon us and are you wondering what factors help you rank better on Google? Conducting an interview with Google engineers itself, we have a top three list: links, content and RankBrain. Here’s the transcript of the interview

As explained by head Google Engineer Matt Cutts,  knew last year that RankBrain was said by Google to be the third most important ranking factor. In a Q&A with Google, Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, said the other two factors were links and content:

 

80% of the reason your site ranks will be the number and authority of links coming in to your site. 20% of the reason contributing to your site is your site content – and how long people read that content.

Indeed Google looks at many other factors, such as those on our Key Table Of Ranking Factors that follow below. Links, Content and RankBrain themselves each are made up of many subfactors. But these are the overall top three, officially confirmed by Google itself.

how to rank on google

OFF PAGE RANKING FACTORS (80% of RANKING WEIGHT)

When ranking your pages, Google looks at factors outside of your site. These are critical:

  1. The number of linking domains. The number of domains linking to you is one of the most important ranking factors.
  2. The number of linking pages. There might be some links from a particular domain to your site; their number is a ranking factor too. However, it is still better to have more links from individual domains rather than from a single domain.
  3. Domain Authority of linking page. Not all pages are equal. Links to pages with higher domain authority will be a bigger factor than those on low authority domains. Therefore, you should strive to build links from high domain authority websites.
  4. Link relevancy. Some SEOs believe that links from pages related to your pages topic carry more relevancy for search engines.
  5. Authority of linking domain. The authority of a domain may be a ranking factor too. For that reason, a link from low authority page on a high authority site will be worth more that from a lower domain authority one.
  6. Links from a homepage. Similarly, some SEOs believe that links from a home page of a linking domain carry more strength than those on one of its pages.
  7. A number of do follow vs. nofollow links. Google officially stated that they don’t count nofollow links (link with rel=nofollow attribute attached). Therefore the number of your do follow links should affect your rankings too.
  8. The diversity of link types. The types of links you build to your site matters too. Too many links of one type may be a spam indicator and impact your rankings negatively.
  9. Contextual links. It is said that links within the content of the page are worth more than links in a sidebar for instance.
  10. Link anchor. Anchor text of a link carries strong impact. Assume you have a website with just 10 pages and most of these pages are empty. If 100 of the world’s largest sites (such as harvard.edu, microsoft.com and cnn.com) link to your website with with the anchor text ”elearning company’‘ – then your website will take the top rank of the keyphrase ”elearning company”
  11. Social Signals. Websites and content that get shared on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest and the host of  social networks will always outrank websites that are invisible on social sites. Google understands that only share-worthy content are deserving of being indexed well.

SEO best practices

ON PAGE RANKING FACTORS

1. Domain Age: In this video, Matt Cutts states that:

“The difference between a domain that’s six months old versus one year old is really not that big at all.”.

In other words, they do use domain age…but it’s not very important.

2. Keyword Appears in Top Level Domain: Doesn’t give the boost that it used to, but having your keyword in the domain still acts as a relevancy signal. 

3. Keyword As First Word in Domain: A domain that starts with their target keyword has an edge over sites that either don’t have the keyword in their domain or have the keyword in the middle or end of their domain.

4. Domain registration length: A Google patent states:

“Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain”.

 

5. Exact Match Domain: EMDs may still give you an edge…if it’s a quality site. But if the EMD happens to be a low-quality site, it’s vulnerable to the EMD update:

EMD Twitte

 

6. Country TLD extension: Having a Country Code Top Level Domain (.cn, .pt, .ca) helps the site rank for that particular country…but limits the site’s ability to rank globally.

7. 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.

8. 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

9. Keyword in Description Tag: Another relevancy signal. Not especially important now, but still makes a difference.

10. 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

11. Keyword is Most Frequently Used Phrase in Document:Having a keyword appear more than any other likely acts as a relevancy signal.

12. 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 SEO13. Keyword 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Duplicate Content: Identical content on the same site (even slightly modified) can negatively influence a site’s search engine visibility.

18. Rel=Canonical: When used properly, use of this tag may prevent Google from considering pages duplicate content.

19. Image Optimization: Images on-page send search engines important relevancy signals through their file name, alt text, title, description and caption.

20. Recency of Content Updates: Google Caffeine update favors recently updated content, especially for time-sensitive searches. 

21. Time on Page.  The length of time a user stays on a website increases the search engine rankings of that website. The bare minimum is 1 minute. For this reason, websites like Buzzfeed and Youtube outrank several competitors. The use of infographics, videos and sliders dramatically increase the ranking of websites.

 

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