Google’s algorithms are never straight forward, and just when we think that we’re making headway into understanding the criteria, the formula gets updated again. There are over 200 factors in play when Google assesses your webpage for quality and determines ranking in accordance with search terms, and so understanding what it takes to get a good score can seem unachievable.
But there are this many factors so that users can actually navigate the vast amount of information available on the internet in an efficient manner. In the millisecond between hitting ‘enter’ and receiving the first page of results, users expect to be matched with the exact sources to find the information they’re after. It’s a mammoth task, that requires ongoing tweaking of a long list of rules.
And while there are seemingly infinite SEO techniques to perfect your pages, it’s important to remember that search engine ranking factors can be grouped into couple of simple categories. As long as you understand the search engine’s problem—that it needs to match up search queries with the right content, instantly—then you’ll be able to tailor your site to these criteria.
SEO has always involved optimising for both humans and robots. While there will always be an element of technical ability needed to optimise a site, Google is shifting to focus more on the human side of optimisation, including priorities user friendliness and well written content.
Your website has to be intuitive to use for humans. This field, including User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design, means that all the technical ability in the world is useless if people can’t easily navigate your site.
Good UX design might involve considerations like flow of information, from the order of your navigation bar through to breaking up your content into scannable paragraphs with relevant headings. Some input from people who have never seen your site can help you to gain insight about whether the steps are clear as to how visitors can find the information they need.
People most often view websites to receive the answer to a certain query. It might be that they want contact details, or that they want to know if you offer a certain service, or how much your services cost. Whatever it is, they should be able to find out within three clicks from first landing on your home page or relevant landing page.
Mobile compatibility, functioning forms, and quick load times will prevent visitors from instantly clicking off your site, an action which increases your bounce rate and will immediately reduce your quality score. That said, internet users like to click on to find out more information or compare other sources. To prevent Google from thinking your site is just a ‘dead end’, links to other content are highly regarded.
Well written and relevant content
Website content isn’t a novel. All copy should say what it needs to say in the fewest words possible. Avoid big words, clunky phrasing or overly punctuated sentences. Remember, you should be writing for a 12-year old reading level. Captivating headings are punchy, use interesting words, and are nice and short. For text, don’t be afraid of white space on your site, and feel free to use dot points or images to break up larger pieces of text. Keyword research and unforced inclusion throughout your content is an essential part of increasing your SEO rankings for relevant search terms.
Content of course includes more than just copy; content also includes all the rich media on your site, from photos to videos, infographics, questionnaires, ebooks and more. To help ensure that your site gets the best possible score, all of your content should answer a question or solve a problem, and be highly relevant to the site. Don’t forget to incorporate keywords here too with captions and ALT tags. Google can read text but not imagery, and so all pictures should be accompanied by a written description of what the image contains so it can be indexed accordingly.
Your site may have the most well written content in the world, but without some technical finesse, it will never reach your desired audience. Keywords to help match search queries with your content and backlinks to build trust and give your website ‘votes’ are essential. If your content is top quality, then other pages will willingly point to you with backlinks and help you to boost your ranking.
Struggling to get the quality score that you’re after? Rise Digital Media can help you to get there.