1. Content Quality and Length
The term “quality content” is relative. A lot of people use it without knowing what it really means. How does Google rate quality content? How do you score content quality?
A better way to explain “quality” content is to ask yourself these questions:
- Does your content answer the user’s question?
- Is your content well-formatted?
- Is your content opinionated or backed by data?
- Is it visually-appealing and easy to read?
The truth be told, Googlebot can’t differentiate between quality content and a poor content.
Rather, the bot learns from users. In other words, if the users are happy and spend a decent amount of time reading the content, Google bot will assume the content is useful, well-written, visually-appealing, easy to read, and possesses all other attributes of a quality content.
According to Google search quality guidelines, “creating high-quality MC (main content) takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill.”
That said, if you want a better search visibility in 2018, make sure you’re creating useful and long-form content. After all, “longer posts usually outperform shorter ones,” says Neil Patel.
It doesn’t matter how many updates Google rolls out, content will always be a relevant factor -- because that’s the core factor that correlates with user behavior.
Remember that even if you manage to rank high in Google without valuable content, it’ll only last but for a moment. You’ll lose that exciting rank!
Generally, the quality of your content will depend on the purpose of your page. Google gives an example:
“For news articles and information pages, high-quality content must be factually accurate for the topic and must be supported by expert consensus where such consensus exists.”
Quality content for a gossip site is different from that of a content marketing site or an e-commerce sales page. One way to judge quality content is if it has fulfilled its purpose -- such as solving users problems and supplying the right information?
How about the length of your content? Google says, “The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page.”
For a wide topic, you may need a higher number of words whereas a fewer number would do justice for a narrower topic. However, in most cases, long pages have been found to rank higher in the organic listings.
Findings by serpIQ show a correlation between the length of posts and their ranking on Google. For most posts on the first page, they’re above 2,000 words. Rand Fishkin also agrees that 10x content is the way to sustain your ranking in any competitive niche.
When Delivra, an email service provider started publishing more quality and long-form content to its website and using different promotional ways to promote it, the company’s website traffic increased by 20% and search rankings increased, especially for major keywords like “Email Marketing.”
The biggest endorsement you can get from another website happens when they link to your content page. By this action, they’re saying they trust your content to the extent that they're willing to recommend it to their readers. When many authoritative domains link to your pages, it increases the trust and authority of your page and you see a better ranking.
Google’s Search Quality Senior Strategist, Andrey Lipattsev, admitted that the quality of content, backlinks, and Rankbrain are the 3 most important determinants of where a page will rank in the organic listings.
In fact, there's almost no chance for your page to rank without backlinks to it -- unless there’s zero competition for that key term.
Moz conducted a study of the Top 50 Google search results for 15,000 keywords and found that 99.2% of pages in these results had at least one external link pointing to the website.
If backlinks are so important, how do you acquire them for your page? First of all, you need to know that links are not created equal.
A backlink from the New York Times website is probably worth more than 10 links from new websites. Links from authoritative websites can get your page to rank higher in Google first page in a short period of time.
The general rule is that Google doesn't want you to ask for links. Google wants you to earn them. Participating in link schemes to influence search rank is a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines.
To gain more backlinks to your website, engage in these activities:
i). Create long-form quality content: When a website visitor enjoys your content and is able to solve his/her problem, they can recommend your page to their friends, fans, and partners.
These people will, in turn, link to your page due to the trust of someone they know.
In a study by Moz and Buzzsumo, they found that longer content usually gets more social shares and links.
ii). Find broken links opportunities: Finding your competitor’s broken links on a web page means you can send a message to the concerned webmaster to replace with your link.
To detect broken links on a page, you can use the “Check My Links” extension for Chrome.
By implementing his skyscraper technique for building links, Brian Dean was able to increase his blog’s organic traffic by 110% in 14 days.
3. Mobile-First User Experience
How good is the mobile version of your website? It doesn’t matter how much you paid for your website or how beautiful it looks, if users struggle to view it on their smartphones and tablets, you have wasted money. You should learn to prioritize your marketing budget.
When designing websites for our clients, Bloominari, our digital marketing, and web design agency which is based in San Diego, California first considers mobile users. We know that mobile users behave in a certain way; hence, we pay attention to them.
We help clients locally, throughout the U.S. and globally. You can contact us today to discuss your web design project.
Over the years, mobile has become more important as more visitors now access websites through their mobile devices.
For instance, about 60% of Google searches across diverse industries are conducted on mobile devices.
Given this change and trend in user behavior, Google introduced the mobile-first indexing.
In fact, a few days ago, Google notified webmasters via Google Search Console that the mobile version of their website will be first indexed and presented to users way before the desktop version.
This is because many websites with different desktop and mobile version of their websites have different content on the two versions.
With the initial desktop-first indexing, the search engine was showing content on mobile that was incompatible with the device and offered a poor user experience.
The good news is that Google has once again, changed the game. If you already have a responsive website, then your website has the same view across all devices.
You can still make general changes to your website like optimizing the load speed to improve the user experience. However, if you have a different mobile and desktop site, Google recommends the following activities on the mobile version to get it ready for users and mobile-first indexing:
- Serve structured markup for the mobile version.
- Use a robots.txt testing tool to verify that Googlebot can access the mobile site.
- Add and verify your mobile version in Search Console.
- Make your mobile site mobile-friendly.
You can test the mobile version of your website using the Google mobile-friendly test.
While making your website mobile-friendly, you should be aware that apart from improving your search ranking in the organic listing pages, you’ll offer a better user experience to your site visitors which can lead to more sales.
By moving to a mobile-friendly responsive design, Offspring improved its search engine rankings significantly, which resulted in a 25.59% increase in traffic.
4. Domain Power
From my personal experience, Google tends to reward authoritative domains over new domains. If you’re starting a new website, you may think it's unfair. And trust me, it’s unfair!
All things being equal, a domain with a higher domain power, which is also called domain authority (DA), as coined by Moz will rank higher even if it has similar content to a domain with a lower authority.
Some domains have gained authority over the years due to valuable content, the number of backlinks gained, trusted authors, and other factors. Moz’s domain authority is one of the most popular ratings to know how powerful your domain is.
DA is a comparative measure of how different websites perform on important metrics like link profiles and other factors. For every website at its creation, it has a domain authority of 1 and it increases over time.
Due to the logarithmic scale, it’s much easier to improve your domain authority from 20 to 30 than from 80 to 90.
To improve your domain power, it’s vital that you improve both on-site and off-site SEO for your website.
5. Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The point of whether click-through rate affects Google rankings or not has been a debate for years. Bartosz Goralewicz wrote about the results of an experiment he conducted to check if the CTR actually affected search rankings.
His results, which was published on Search Engine Land, showed that there was no effect of an increase in CTR in his rankings for some keywords. However, there were many flaws in his experiments.
For starters, the traffic and the clicks were driven by bots. And even though Google recognized those clicks, it doesn’t mean that Google assumes it as human clicks.
Likewise, this experiment resulted in a sudden boost in the search traffic for the targeted keywords and all the traffic was clicking on one result. If this isn’t suspicious, I don’t know what else is.
What if we consider another experiment by Rand Fishkin? He found that Moz ranked number 7 for a keyword “imec lab.” Then he told his Twitter followers to search for that term and click on Moz’s result on the search page.
After about 3 hours and 228 visits (human beings) from Google, Moz’s rank rose from number 7 to number 1. There could have been other factors involved, but there’s a correlation between the click-through rate of that page during that period of time and its rise in the search results.
I agree with Larry Kim on the argument that the click-through rate definitely has an effect on Google ranking. Because CTR is an important signal from users. He says any page that gets a much higher CTR than the average CTR for that position will rise in Google search.
Okay, let’s put that aside for a second. Even if a higher CTR doesn’t improve your Google rank, it will still increase your organic traffic for a given search term. This can only be a positive signal.
A few ways to get a better CTR on the search results page are:
i). Write better headlines: An emotional headline that shows the benefits of your post will attract users to click rather than a bland one. For example:
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ii). Write better meta descriptions: Your meta description is a summary of your post in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Having a suitable summary can attract more searchers to click on your page. Here’s a catchy example from Venture Team Building:
These are important factors that help your page to gain a better visibility in the organic search results.
Improving these factors means you’re improving both onsite and offsite SEO for your page.
When you improve these factors, you can get positive results in a short period of time. This means more targeted traffic which could lead to more customers, more sales, and increased revenue for your business.