Bytes is WorldWide Merchant's blog in which we keep our clients informed about tips, tricks, updates, and new features of the WWM content management system.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
How Google Ranks Your Pages
A look at a few of the factors that Google uses to rank your website (as of early 2014).
Using somewhere around 200 variables, Google’s search ranking algorithm is an incredibly complex, dynamic thing which keeps us SEO professionals on our toes!
No one knows exactly how the search algorithm works, because the people over at Google guard their recipe like a dragon guards treasure. Still, they’re nice enough to give us search marketers clues as to what Google looks for in a website.
Google’s most recent major update, codenamed “Hummingbird,” was announced at the end of 2013. Hummingbird set the SEOverse all a-twitter. Would keywords still be relevant? What role would social media play in the new rankings? How much more value would Google place on quality content?
In the end, the Hummingbird update came and went with little fuss. There was some shuffling of rankings in the SERP’s (search engine results pages). But ultimately the dropped listings were low-quality sites and, for most companies, it was business as usual with little more than a hiccup in rankings.
Google Ranking Factors
Google uses about 200 factors in ranking your webpages for any given keyword. These factors range from things you can control (your content, your hosting provider, your site’s optimization), to things you have limited control over (quality of linkbacks and traffic statistics), to things you have no control over whatsoever (a searcher’s physical location, their browser history, and the keywords a searcher enters in Google).
The level of importance that Google gives to each of these factors is unknown and varies over time and from site to site, depending a variety of other factors.
At the Server Level
Server response time
SSL Certificate (for ecommerce sites)
At the Site (Domain) Level
Penalized Whois owner
Country TLD extension
Site trust level
Keyword in Domain
Keyword in subdomain
Exact match domain (except when site is low quality)
Frequency of updates
Freshness of updates
Frequency of changes
Scope & magnitude of changes
History of page updates
Existence and completeness of Contact Us page
Existence of Terms of Service and Privacy pages
Number of pages
Use of Google Analytics
Use of Google Webmaster Tools
Yahoo! Directory listing
Business brand signals
Site has Facebook page and likes
Site has Twitter profile with followers
Legitimacy of social media accounts
Site has official LinkedIn company page
Employees are listed at LinkedIn
Site has employee profiles
Site has a blog
Number of RSS subscribers
Business has physical location with a Google+ Local listing
At the Page Level
Page load speed via HTML and via Chrome
Priority in sitemap.xml
Number of other keywords for which the page ranks well
Use in meta title tag
Prominence in title tag
In meta description tag
Use of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords in title and description tags
(LSI keywords put your keyword into context. E.g. Sage the accounting software or sage the herb?)
In H1 tag, in H2, H3, etc., tags
Keyword Use in Content
Keyword word order
Natural language keywords – natural variations of your target keyword
Content length (The average top 3 sites for any keyword contains between 2,400 and 2,500 words)
Frequency of updates
Content syndication (Do you use syndicated content on your site? Google would rather offer people the original source.)