With every new year, changes to Google’s ranking factors are bound to happen. Back in 2014, HTTPS became important. Then on to 2015, mobile usability became an important factor. These days, page load speeds are a major driving factor.
With so many websites out there now, all vying to be Number 1 on Google’s search results, you’re likely wondering what it is you need to focus on in 2019 in order to gain those coveted top spots.
Most of the factors you’ll want to consider when maintaining your web page remain the same. You want to focus on delivering quality content to your viewership while maintaining a secure page that offers an intuitive user experience.
That all is an oversimplification of things. When it comes to making changes to your web page and content, you need actionable advice. What follows are some of the most critical factors you’ll want to consider when updating your web page for topping Google’s search results.
1. Domain Security
One of, if not, the most important factors when deciding whether or not your site makes it into the upper echelons of Google’s rankings is Security.
It goes without saying these days that your site should be operating under an HTTPS URL. If it’s not, then you’ll want to put effort into making it so! Google uses this to determine whether or not your website is secure.
If you are unfamiliar with what HTTPS is, it is a secured form of HTTP or HyperText Transfer Protocol. HTTP is a protocol that determines how your website’s content gets transferred to your viewers’ web browser.
To ensure your website is secure, you’ll need to have an SSL certificate.
2. Website Architecture
Nearly equally important as website security is website architecture. This isn’t necessarily the most significant factor when determining your site’s Google ranking but it is something that you should focus on, nonetheless, in order to provide your viewers with the most intuitive experience.
To nail this down, you need to have your website organized into subdirectories, with clear and concise strings of text. By doing this, Google will have a much easier time determining what sort of website you are providing to viewers.
As an example, if you were to start up a site that focuses on cooking and would like to put out content revolving around baking, grilling, and prep, it would be good practice to organize your website’s pages and files into subdirectories with those titles.
This would also work better with the eCommerce websites. Imagine you have hundreds of products and need to arrange them in a way that they will be easily accessible for the viewers. Whether or not you want to increase an eCommerce website sales, or better introduce a service – website architecture helps with that a lot.
3. Topic Authority
Another factor that is especially important this year is a topic authority. Topics comprise the bulk of what determines your site’s Google search ranking. Focusing on becoming an authority on your chosen topic is increasingly important in determining how your site ranks in the long run.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of topic authority, a brief explanation would be: As you push out more content on a given topic, such as cooking, the higher your content will rank on Google’s search results.
Further building on this example, say as time goes by and you’ve built up 30 or 40 content posts pertaining to baking. As you’ve built up this content base, Google has taken notice and decided that your site is likely an authority on the topic of baking. Due to this, as you push out more content on baking, your baking posts are more likely to rank highly right off the bat than, say, if you were to put out a post on gardening.
4. Inbound Links
Inbound links have always been important, and in 2019 this has not changed. Inbound links, or backlinks, are any hyperlinks on another website that points to your web page. These links have a huge impact on whether or not your site ranks in Google’s SERPs.
You may wonder why Google cares so much about these links if you aren’t relying on them for the bulk of your traffic. To answer this question, Google sees backlinks as an indication of your site’s authority and trustworthiness. If people are deciding to link to your website, it is likely that you are putting out good content that can be trusted.
You might think you can cheat the system by interlinking content from within your own website’s domain, but it does not work that way. Google really doesn’t take into consideration internal linking from your website’s different posts but looks to links coming from offsite domains.
Because of this, link building, more than ever is an integral factor in determining your place in Google’s search results. Some ways to secure yourself more backlinks are to reach out to authoritative sites and work out a backlink agreement where you both link to each other’s content. Another great way of getting more backlinks is by guest posting on another publisher’s blog and then linking back to your site.
5. Keyword Intent
Keywords aren’t quite as important of a factor as they once were, but they are still something you should be looking at this year. While they don’t have a strong of an impact on your ranking as topic authority or backlinks, they are probably the easiest factor for you to address quickly, in order to make improvements to your website’s SEO.
Back in the day, Google would look at keyword frequency in order to determine whether or not your website was relevant to a given search term. This was referred to as an “exact match”.
These days, “exact match” doesn’t mean quite the same thing. Simply spamming keywords in your articles or blog posts will not yield a higher search ranking. Now, it is more about the intent of the keyword than the keyword itself.
To illustrate how keyword intent works here is a good example: Say you want to rank for the keyword “best charcoal grill.” Simply spamming those words in your articles won’t get your website ranked anymore. To get your site ranked, be sure to include the keyword once or twice, but also provide actual examples of charcoal grills, their features, some links to where they can be purchased, and what makes them the best.
As this information is what your viewership is actually seeking out when they input the search term, when your website provides actual useful information such as this, as opposed to just spamming keywords, they are more likely to spend time on your page. Google will see this increased traffic and time spent on your site as a sign that you are providing useful information in relation to the given keyword. As a result, your site will end up ranking higher for the keyword you targeted!
6. Content Structure
Last, but not least, is content structure. You’ll not want to just focus on the content you put out, but also how it appears to viewers. As more and more websites come about that dish out information on a given topic, simply providing good content and answers to questions isn’t always enough. How you present this information to viewers is becoming increasingly important in order to rank.
To improve upon the structure of your content, make sure you are taking advantage of headers and sub-headers in order to make your content easier to navigate and read. Don’t forget about other elements such as lists, bullet points, images, and research. These all improve the user experience of your content and will result in your viewers being more engaged with your content.
After having read through the above, you should have a good idea of what changes you need to make to your content strategy, in order to ensure your site continues to rank highly among Google’s SERPs. By continuing to provide a secure, user-friendly, experience to your users that is full of useful and informative content, you can be sure that your website makes into the top ranking for your given niche.