This blog post is part of a series covering Google search results ranking factors. In the last two blog posts I talked about content and user experience. In this post, let’s take a look at the (search engine optimization) SEO Google technical factors that affect search results ranking.
5 major Google ranking factors:
Why ranking in the top 10 matters
In a 2013 study, Chitika found that 91.5% of traffic went to websites on page 1 of Google search results. Page 2 had 3.8% of the traffic while page 3 had 1.1%. Pages 4-10 each get less than .4%.
In fact, the first website listed in the Google search results can expect on average to get 32.5% of the traffic. The results for the top 10 are as follows:
We always knew that ranking highly in Google matters. Now we know just how much it matters. For example, if we rank number 1 for a keyword with a monthly search volume of 1000 searches we can expect 325 visitors per month. On the other hand, if we rank 10th, we can expect traffic of just 24 visitors per month.
What makes a website rank in the top 10 Google search results?
In 2015, the folks at Searchmetrics analyzed the top 30 search results for a set of 10,000 keywords. By reverse engineering the Google search results thy came up with a list of the Google ranking factors.
SEO Google Technical Ranking Factor
A backlink is a link on somebody else’s website that links back to your website. It could be to your homepage or a particular blog post.
Websites that rank in the top 10 Google’s search results average 3,509 backlinks.
Websites that rank in the top 30 average 1,138 backlinks.
There is no way to shortcut the backlink process. It just takes time and hard work. There are some shady (aka blackhat) techniques but they are not worth the risk. Google will eventually catch on. And when they do, there is a very good chance your website will be severely penalized.
1. The best way to get backlinks is to publish statistics or original research that other people will reference in their own research. This is exactly what Searchmetrics did with the report that this blog post is based on. Once you have your research done publish it and share it on social media. If you are active on social media and have a decent following it will get picked up. Especially if your data points out interesting insights.
2. Another good way to get backlinks to reach out to people who cover your subject. When you reach out, engage them in a real human conversation. Don’t just ask them to link to your stuff. Reach out to them and let them know that you’ve expanded on the topic they originally linked and what they think. If they like your content there is a good chance they will link to you.
Backlink age: how old the backlink that is pointing to your website.
The top 10 Google search results have backlinks that were on average 470 days old. While the top 30 had backlinks that were on average 389 days old.
I feel the need… the need for SPEED!Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell
Site speed is how quickly your website loads for people.
Sites that rank in Google’s top ten search results load in 1.16 seconds.
Sites that rank in the top 30 load in 1.2 seconds.
Site speed matters! Getting your website to load quickly can be a serious can of worms. There are quite a few factors at play starting with the server you are on. Then we can get into how efficient your code is… and the list goes on.
If you are wondering how quickly your site is loading I recommend using the Pingdom Website Speed Test. Before running the test, make sure to click on settings and select the location closest to you. Second, run the test 4-5 times and average the results.
1. Use Google Page Speed Insights to identify areas to improve your site speed. Remember, Google uses the site speed, not your overall score. So, don’t focus so much on your score. Focus on the site speed number.
2. Employ website caching. Sign up for Cloudflare. What they do is basically serve up versions of your website from servers that are geographically closer to your website visitors. Cloudflare has made the setup really easy. You just need access to your domain DNS settings.
3. Employ caching. What is caching? Caching stores copies of your website locally so your website doesn’t have to traverse the internet every time a user wants to see your site.
Cloudflare also has a caching feature. This is something you should speak about with your web developer.
4. Reduce your image sizes. Are you usings tons of PNG images? Unless the images contain transparency those same images can be saved as JPGs which take up less space.
Are your images optimized for the web? Google Page Speed Insights will tell you if they are not. Reducing image size and optimizing your images will mean faster loading pages.
5. How fast is your website host? Not all website hosting is created equally. Check out this list of the fastest website hosts for 2016.
Website Encryption (HTTPS)
Website encryption (HTTPS) means having a website that is encrypted. Google has made an encrypted website a ranking signal because over time, Google wants the web to be more secure.
You can tell if a website is encrypted by looking at the address bar. If you notice a lock icon it’s a good indicate the website is encrypted.
While making your website faster can be challenging, encrypting your website is a lot more simple. According to Google, since August of 2014, secure encrypted website (HTTPS) is a ranking factor.
12% of the top 10 websites were encrypted while 10% of the top 30 were.
You can buy an SSL certificate from most website hosts. These cost about $70/year.
…We’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signalGoogle Webmaster Central Blog
Cloudflare also offers FREE HTTPS/SSL website encryption!
SEO Google Technical optimization doesn’t have to be hard. To rank well in Google search your results your website must be technically sound.
The last thing Google wants if for people to end up on your page and it takes 10+ seconds to load. This frustrates visitors and they’re just going to end up clicking the back button. Increasing your bounce rates and lowering your credibility in Google’s eyes.
Encrypt your website! Though this is a small ranking factor, its importance will only grow over time! Google also LOVES when other reputable websites link back to your website. Other sites will link back to you if you have quality content and this serves as a ranking factor.