A lot has been said about the all-important Google website ranking factors throughout the years. Do you know why?
Well, for one, it’s because they are indeed all-important.
In a world where there’s no real “marketing” without the word “digital” preceding it, those things that can get your company a top spot on Google’s SERP are a pretty huge deal.
However, there’s another pretty big – and less talked about – reason why you keep seeing the topic brought up over and over again: The goal post is always being moved. And if you aren’t paying attention and adapting to those changes… the music stops, and you are left without a chair.
Which is mostly why, still in 2019, you see some people wasting time on outdated SEO strategies like keyword stuffing, article marketing, and clickbait.
It is also why we are going to talk about the ones you should be paying attention in 2020. Strap on.
Weren’t There, Like, 200 Of Them?
Yes, we’ve all seen and read that cool Backlinko piece with the complete list of Google website ranking factors – or one of its endless clones out there. And while extremely interesting and somewhat useful if you are in the SEO game, it can also be misleading if you don’t know what you are doing.
Listen, Brian – the writer – will be the first to tell you: Some of those are proven, others argued over, and some are nothing more than speculation. What’s worse, those that are proven are far from being weighted the same by Google as time passes.
Remember what I said about the goal post constantly being moved? Over the years, we’ve seen some of those ranking factors rise and fall from grace as the needs of the company and its users wax and wane.
And placing a ranking factor like “Domain registration length” in the same list as “mobile-friendly update” can be unintentionally disingenuous.
So, instead of going over the full spiel just to impress you with our savvy, we rather focus on a handful of crucial ranking factors with practical applications.
The ones we know will remain a huge deal come 2020.
Important Website Ranking Factors to Know Going Into 2020
So, without further ado, here’s a handful of essential ranking factors you should be focusing on to improve your site’s ranking next year.
Ok, let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. It’s 2019, and content is still king. Come 2020, its reign remains unshaken.
At the end of the day, Google is in the business of connecting its customers with the useful information that they are looking for – Well, in reality, they are in the business of Data, but that’s a can of worms for another day. So, making sure your site actually has quality content that will prove useful to whoever clicks through is still their top priority.
What makes “Quality Content” can fill books; however, here are a few good guidelines:
- Your content should provide real value to the people that find it.
- Your content should include other types of media than just text.
- Longer content tends to perform better, but quality always trumps quantity.
- As RankBrain continues to get smarter, semantic search optimization will only grow in importance.
Unsurprisingly, Backlinks return as one of the strongest website ranking signals Google relies upon to sort their results.
The theory behind it is pretty straightforward. The more links you have from multiple high-authority domains, the more likely it is that your site contains useful, quality content. At least to Google’s eyes. Hence, you get to rank higher for a given keyword.
The Penguin 4.0 algorithm update back in 2016 marked a “before” and “after” in the topic of backlinks. Now, sites with “low-quality” backlinks get relegated for those with a healthy profile. So, investing some time and resources to put together a robust backlink strategy in 2020 will be a great optimization move.
More than just producing new content on a regular basis, updating and renewing old/existent content on your site can have a huge effect ranking-wise.
Since its inception a decade ago, Google’s freshness algorithm has done nothing but improve in both accuracy and scope.
Even if you have a great-performing piece on your site, Google seems to be somewhat biased toward newer, “fresh” content. Its top result is often the most up-to-date it can find, and three of their top six results also tend to feature the article’s date.
No matter how you slice it, Google is keen on having its SERPS featuring at least a few results created (or updated!) over the past few days. However, do keep in mind that adding or removing entire sections has a more significant impact on a piece “freshness” factor than merely fixing typos or rearranging a few things.
Going into your old posts, and updating content on your site can be a quick and reliable way to give you a ranking bump.
You’d think that Google announcing mobile-first indexing a few years ago would have done the trick to get the message across loud and clear. Yet, even today, we continue to see sites that aren’t mobile-friendly or aren’t optimized to be as user-friendly on an iPhone as they are on a desktop.
In case there are still any doubts in your head about it, let me be clear: a website’s mobile compatibility has a direct influence on how it ranks on Google’s SERPs. It is, really, as simple as that.
And even if that wasn’t the case, you still have the fact that more people are using their cellphones to navigate the internet than desktops. This isn’t a subjective observation; it is a fact.
That means that not prioritizing your site’s mobile-friendliness is tantamount to ignoring the majority of your potential audience… any questions on why Google shuns a site like that?
As disruptive marketing goes, Local SEO is up there with the best practices, allowing companies of all sizes to face – and outmatch – more established competitors. We should know, as Local SEO is one of our strongest suits.
However, if you want to make the most out of a Local SEO strategy – which, you should – Schema optimization can’t be too far down your list of priorities.
In essence, the Schema markup code helps search engine algorithms understand specific pieces of data better. Specifically, things like addresses, phone numbers, reviews… basically, all things Local SEO.
For that reason, most websites will significantly benefit from undergoing a site-wide schema code optimization process.
These Are Just the Start
And there you have it, just as advertised: A few of the most important ranking factors you should concern yourself with next year.
However, as important as these are, you should know that for each one we just discussed, there are at least a couple equally important factors that we didn’t cover today — things like Page load speeds, social signals, UX, and HTTPS, to name a few.
So, if you are looking to start 2020 strong and overhaul your online presence, these website ranking factors can give you a great place to start your optimization.
But keep in mind they represent just that: a great place to start.