You are here for a treat so sit tight!
Before we start, let me promise you something. After you finish reading this post, you will not require another article or website to know more about SEO or the answer of how to rank a website in 2017. I am writing this introduction after finishing the whole thing so I know what I did there. I am confident that if you actually finish reading this humongous article and ask me all your remaining questions in the comments, you will never have a problem with SEO in life.
That’s a bold promise! With that, let’s get started.
How To Rank a Website?
So, I have divided the article into different sections. This is a beginner friendly one so if you are a pro, you will find many topics that you already know about. I would request you to skip the parts that you know.
Why Should I Rank My Website?
Let’s start with a stupid question. Why should you rank your website? What’s the benefit? I mean, isn’t having a website enough in 2017?
The answer is No!
Depending on what you are doing, ranking might mean success or failure for your business. Let me use a few examples to make things clearer.
Suppose, you own a pool cleaning service in Dallas, Texas. Now, how can you grow your business? There are different methods. You can actually go ahead and put a billboard on a busy street but there’s a problem.
Nobody will notice it. Even if some do, they will forget the name of your company by the time they reach home. There’s a lot of factors that have to go right for you if you want to advertise with methods such as billboard, television ads and so on! First, people will have to look at your advertisement and they will also have to have a pool, right?
Now, if you have a website, there’s another route that you can go for.
People who own a pool in Dallas, Texas definitely search for terms like “pool cleaning service”, “pool cleaning service in Dallas”, “pool cleaning service near me” and etc. on Google. Google shows them a result of 10 websites. Here’s what Google will show them:
Now, depending on where you live, Google will show you a different result. Now think of your business website at the top of this list. Obviously, people who are searching on Google using those terms are looking to get a pool service. Every lead will have a potential to turn into a customer here if you can place your website at the top of this result.
That’s why you should rank your website!
Now, that’s just for local business owners. What about digital marketers?
Almost every “earning method from online” involves ranking your website at the top of the search engine. Think about it. You have an eCommerce website and you are at the first page for keywords like trendy clothing or good trimmer! You get the idea right?
Now think about the opportunities for an affiliate marketer (Don’t worry if you don’t know who they are!)
Affilaite marketers earn by selling someone else’s products and taking a commission cut from there. For example, if I have a website about Shaving Kit Reviews and if I send people to Amazon from my website, I will get a commission when those traffic buy something from Amazon.
That’s why you see those review sites all around internet.
Now, obviously, if they are ranked on the first page for keywords like: best shaving kit, best sound speaker and etc., they can potentially earn thousands of dollars every single day.
Again, that’s why you should rank your website!
How Do I Rank My Website?
Now, that’s a great question and I am here to help you out. Ranking a website is not a matter of joke as it involves a lot of sub-topics. If you are new to SEO (Search Engine Optimization which is the process of ranking a website), you might find some parts of this article from now a bit difficult. Don’t worry about it. If you ask questions, I will help you out.
On the other hand, if you are a SEO guy, I have a treat for you.
As per Backlinko, there are around 200 ranking factors that Google test before giving your website a good ranking. However, my research tells a different story. There are actually more than 200 factors (Around 270 now) and the list is continuously updating. The math is simple. If you score more in these 270 factors than another website, you get a better rank.
We are going to do something huge now!
We will look at the top 46 or so ranking factors that I think are the most important ones. You don’t actually need to look at all 270 factors unless you want to go insane. If you can fix these 100, I can pretty much guarantee you that you will rank on the first page no matter where you are from or what type of website you got.
Note: Many of these are not confirmed by Google. Google was never known for leaking information like these and they will probably never do that either. However, I can assure you that 99.9% of these factors are effective.
40 Most Important Google Ranking Factors You Should Immediately Consider
1. Domain Registration
Always try to register your domain for more than one year. This is crucial. We often see website owners buy their domain for only a year and then keep on renewing them further. A Google Update tells us that domain registration time can be considered as a ranking factor for websites.
This sounds logical because if you are doing shady stuff online, you are less likely to register your domain for more than 1 year at a time. Google doesn’t want to keep on changing the ranking positions of websites and thus, this is a factor to consider.
Accelerated Mobile Page (AKA AMP Project) is an open source platform to make websites load faster. With the increase of mobile users all around the globe and with Google’s clear intention to show two different types of search results for mobile and pc users, AMP is becoming a core part of SEO.
Though it is still early to say anything, it looks like AMP is going to be one of the core SEO differentiators in 2017 and onwards.
3. Keyword Density
The common belief in the SEO community is that you have to stuff your keyword inside the article to get your website ranked on Google. Though that still works today, the effect is very quickly going down. The density effect started to go down when Google in a 2014 webinar said that they are trying to move away from keyword density.
If you are a veteran, you know how things were in 2014. 2012-2014 are known to be the dream time for Digital Marketers as it was super easy to manipulate Google back then.
Things have clearly changed.
4. Similar Wordings
Suppose, you are creating a website about dog food. If you keep on saying the words “dog food” on every other line in your content, you will never get a good ranking for this keyword. Google has already started to teach their robots to read between lines.
To rank now for the keyword “dog food”, you will have to talk about dog food brands, dog food types, eating habits of a dog, dog diet and similar related topics. The Google bot can now read between lines and understand what’s the page is all about.
5. Whois Data
In an interview, Matt Cutts, the former Google spam team leader said that a website that has a public Whois Data performs better in Search Engine than a hidden one. At the end of the day, it comes to the trust issue. He asked, whether Google should believe a website if the owner’s information is kept secret!
Though this is not something to be really worried about. All of our websites always had Whois Protection and they did fine.
6. SSL Certificate
Even before a year ago, SSL certificate was only used by big companies (mostly financial corporations) to keep their data safe. I remember, I didn’t see that green HTTPS on most sites back then. Things have changed dramatically when Google announced that they are going to make SSL Certificate a ranking criteria.
Also, Google Chrome now actually shows whether the information that you share with a site is safe or not in that top URL button. As Google Chrome is also a Google Product, it tells us something, doesn’t it?
7. Domain History
I have faced this many times and I think most SEOs ignore this. I know that feeling of finding a great domain and getting excited, then immediately registering it without realizing that the domain is free for a reason!
Being into the affilaite industry for a long time, I have faced this quite a few times and I have seen some of my clients face the same. Domain history is very important for your ranking on Google. Many of us think that going for expired domains help which is partially true. That actually helps but it is not wise to take that chance.
There are a number of penalties that a domain can carry and if you by chance, register a domain which had a penalty from before, you will never be able to rank it. Apart from that, domains with bad backlinks, spamming, poor content and poor previous SEO will also fall in this history criteria.
The best idea is to visit WayBackMachine whenever you are planning to buy a domain.
Simply put that potential domain name on the search box and check whether the domain had a site before. If you figure out that there was a site before, it is time to go to tools like Majestic to check the anchor and backlink profile.
If you are a business owner, I would recommend not taking an expired domain. It is too much of a risk to take.
Is content length important?
Of course it is!
In fact, if you are running a blog, content length is one of the top 10 elements that can differentiate you from the competitors. Having said that, jargons will surely not going to help you.
You have to make sure that you are providing value to your audience with the content.
We researched around 2000 search pages on Internet, mostly blogs and found that the sites that are in the first position have on average 2600 words on their page and it goes to around 700 for the 10th positioned site. However, if you do any trend analysis, you will see that the importance of content and the length of it has kept on increasing every year.
For eCommerce and service businesses where you do not have the option to put a lot of content on your website, make sure that you have items like blogs, videos & “activity pages” on your website to rank better.
9. Proper Answer
Google loves it now when you can organize your page in a way that it answers a specific question. Here’s one example:
Even in early 2016, we didn’t have this format on Google! Google now became smart enough to understand what’s your question and therefore, tries to answer your query on the same page! See that list?
Posts that are organized in a list or table format gets the first position of Google in 2017 if the exact questions are answered. If your target is to be in that “above the result” position, make sure that you optimize your content that way.
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10. Page Speed
A bit controversial, however, page speed is important if you want to rank your website. Now, there are many websites that have a very poor page speed and are ranking well on search engine because of the other strong points but being a small fish in the ocean, you will not get those benefits. Therefore, make sure that your site speed is the best possible!
Google released a special tool (Page Speed Insight) to test your site speed last year (2016). That definitely tells us that Google is interested about the site loading speed and they are going to (if not already) take actions against sites that are not fast enough which also means that if your site is fast, you will land up on the first page pretty soon!
11. Outbound Links
Most of us know about this one! This is a core on-page part of your website. If you read this article so far, you have noticed that we gave links to websites like Majestic, Google Page Speed and etc. throughout the article. Did we force the links? No! They are relevant and that’s exactly what Google wants.
Google wants you to link out naturally to websites that are on similar topics. This helps the Google Bot to understand the content of your site. Also, this creates a natural link spider for Google which is a reason that why Google appreciates sites that do this.
It is official for a long time now that having Outbound links on your page is going to give you SEO benefits.
You have to understand that Google doesn’t send humans to check your website (I used to think that when I was a kid). Google has their robot and algorithm who does the job and they cannot understand your emotions! What these bots will see is your grammar and spelling. If they are mostly wrong, the bot will report that your site has poor content which will result in SERP DROP!
Therefore, make sure that your site does not have any grammatical or spelling error. With tools such as Grammarly, it has become easier to detect spelling and grammatical errors! I recommend you all to at least have that Grammarly Extension on your browser.
This will save you at times, I promise.
13. Freshness of Content
Alright, this is again a controversial topic. Where popular bloggers believe that you do not have to keep updating your website with new content, they do believe that it is important to upgrade your old articles if you are not posting new ones.
This is why you will always see those 2017 Versions, Updated & similar words on the title of most articles these days!
Google wants you either to upload content regularly on your website or to add fresh updates to your old content. This tells Google that the site is still managed by someone and it is still an authority on that particular topic.
Simple, isn’t it?
14. Rich Media
Unless you are writing a boring SEO post like me, make sure that you are dazzling your audience with rich media all around your website. Teddy SEO is a dumb site when it comes to design but your website does not have to be the same. Keep more than enough images and videos on every article. Make sure that you are using Tweet Bars, Slide Shows, Gifs and every other possible media type whenever they are relevant.
Google loves rich media and the importance of good looking websites will keep on increasing!
15. Internal Backlinks
Internal Backlinks (AKA SILO) is also considered as a ranking factor. This is more of an On Page SEO factor than being a ranking factor but indirectly, that’s also related to ranking of your website.
Many people try to explain SILOs in different ways. My version is pretty simple.
Think that you do not have any menu options on your website. You do not have the URL bar either. Someone suddenly dropped on a page of your website. Now, the only way he can reach to other pages is via internal links of that article. So for example, if I link my About Page like this, that’s an internal linking! So if that person landed up here, he could now go to the About Us Page. You get the idea right?
So if someone lands up to one of your pages and if he or she can check each and every page, post, category and menu from that one page using internal links, that’s a proper Silo.
You don’t have to put all links on one page.
Be smart about it.
Simply, Page A will take that guy to Page D. Then, Page D will have links to page Z. Page Z will have links to Category C and so on. Obviously, when you are linking the articles, make sure that the link looks natural. Do not force it because you have to do Silo.
16. External Backlinks
External Backlink (most people only consider this as SEO) is one of the main names (Definitely one of the top 3) considered as a reason of your site going up and down on Google. Know that, External Backlinks occur when other sites link out to you. Now that can happen naturally when your website is a resource for an important topic. For example, if another website likes this SEO article of us, they can link our article as a resource inside their article, right?
That’s the natural rule of thumb. But obviously, us, the SEOs show our magic and manipulate the backlinking process in many ways.
We will talk about all that later!
18. Mobile Friendly or Not
In case if you didn’t know, Google has finally decided in 2016 that they will divide their PC search results and Mobile Search results in two different divisions. Very soon, you will not be seeing the same results for search terms as they will be different based on your search device.
This tells us that Google cares a lot about mobile friendliness these days. Google also released a checking tool called Mobile Friendliness Checker which will tell you whether your site is good enough for mobiles or not.
19. Google Analytics & Webmaster
Again, this is another point with controversies. Many SEO masters have said this on different occasions that if your site is not listed on Google Analytics and Webmasters, Google can at times completely ignore your site. My personal test has never proved this statement. I have always found my sites on Google even if they are not on Webmaster or Analytics but I have heard from very authentic people that this happens.
So it would not be wise to take that risk!
20. Author Profile
Life is full of controversies! It is said that if you have an author profile on your website, your page will be viewed as an authentic one! Now, that’s weird but guess what? Around 20,000+ blog research tells us that this is probably true.
Obviously, if you own a business type website then this is not applicable to your situation.
21. Proper Pages (About, Privacy, Contact & etc)
This is crucial. Pages like these do not hold much value in your journey as a webmaster but they are extremely important on Google’s eye! Pages like About, Privacy, Media, Contact, Resources & Policy tell Google that the website has enough authority and it is actually a “real” website.
Comments play a very important role on Google’s eye!
If you put the “Google Thinking Cap” on, it is not tough to understand that if you have more than enough comments on a page/post, that definitely tells a lot about the relevance of that page/post and the authority too!
Google loves that situation.
Therefore, if you want to rank higher, always make sure that you are encouraging people to comment on your content.
Special Note: If you liked the article so far, can you please comment on this one too? 😀
23. Social Engagement
Look back to the last image! See the amount of social share the post got? Social Share plays a vital role and the reasons are exactly similar to the comments. They also tell Google that the page/post is important and worthy of sharing.
You see, it is mathematics at the end of the day.
Google doesn’t have two (or more) eyes to see your website! Therefore, they have to depend on a lot of factors. Social engagement is one of the important ones.
24. Bounce Rate
Sites like Search Engine Watch tells us that bounce rate does not affect search ranking and I am confident enough that this is true!
Being an affiliate marketer, I have sites with up to 70% bounce rate and nothing happened. They stayed on the first page of Google for years.
In case if you don’t know what a bounce rate is, a bounce rate is the ratio of people who only visits one page of your website. So if someone comes from a Google Search and checks this article and then clicks the back button to go back, that will increase our bounce rate.
As of now, there is no conclusive evidence that bounce rate can affect your ranking though “some experts” will tell you otherwise.
25. Broken Links Inside
This is crucial. Go back to point number 11 where we discussed outbound linking. Now think about this. Suppose I am linking out to a website and the website is not available there on that domain after a month. Or, maybe the website is available but the page got shifted. What will happen to my link then?
It will then be considered as a broken link and Google does not like that.
Thus, you have to actively check once in every two or three months that whether your links are pointing to the right pages or not. We call this Outbound auditing (doesn’t matter what you call it though).
26. Thin Content
Thin content is the name of a Google Penalty and it is given to those websites that do not offer much value to their readers. It is the way of Google telling us that there is no point writing the same thing again and again with different wordings. Google does not want you to rewrite things.
Google wants you to be unique and share your own thoughts.
That’s where Thin Content comes into play. Google doesn’t like sites which keep on rewriting the same old story. So make sure that you are providing additional value to stay safe.
I am not going into too much details because I have plans to write an article about all the Google Penalties very soon. Let me know if you want that.
This is a cellphone specific problem. Earlier this year, we came to know that Google is going to penalize websites that have too much popup notifications. Popup notifications can be of many types. They can be pop up email subscription bar, they can be ads and what not!
Especially, if you are showing those on a mobile device, you are going to get penalized in 2017 (There’s probably still time to be safe)!
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28. Server Uptime
Most quality web hosting companies now offer 99.9% uptime which is fine. As long as you are using a standard web hosting company, you should not have problems with this one.
There are plugins now to tell you whether your website went down for even a second. I don’t really recommend using those plugins as they create an extra ping towards your webiste which is unnatural.
My advice would be to stay with a quality hosting company (Go for the big names like Namecheap, Hostgator etc.)!
29. Bad Links
Bad links can cause more damage to your site than the good of a good link. Well, that’s not right.
But still, bad links hurt a lot.
Even if you want to go black hat about your SEO approach, you have to make sure that the black hat links are still of high quality. Do not build spammy looking backlinks on your website. Avoid all cheap forums and profile backlinks if you want to survive for long period!
Previously, Google has penalized websites with bad backlinks and you do not want the same to happen with you.
30. Anchor Text
What’s an anchor text? An anchor text is the text used by another website to link to you. It is mostly two to three words. For example, when people will talk about our website, they will use the term Teddy SEO and link to us, probably (hopefully). In this case, Teddy SEO is an anchor text.
You have to make sure that the anchor text ratio is perfect on your website. You do not want everyone to use the same bunch of words when connecting to your website.
Though it varies from industry to industry, the rule of thumb is that you should not have the same word for more than 10% of your anchor text.
Also, make sure that you read this guide on Anchor Text from Aherfs to clear your ideas even further.
31. Relevant Links
Do you know what’s more important than a regular link?
A link from a relevant source!
Suppose you are a wedding planning website. Now, if you get a backlink from a dog food review website then Google will start to keep eyes on you. Though the dog food link can still add value, it won’t be of extreme quality.
What will be good backlinks for that site then? You know the answers already. For a wedding planning website, we need links from wedding planning sites, wedding blogs, photography blogs, DYI blogs that talk about gifts and etc.
In 2017 and beyond, it is all about keeping things relevant.
32. Rapid Link Gains
When you are doing your link building, make sure that you are not going over the board about the process. This tells Google that you are using shady techniques. It is tough to get natural links and that’s why the term “drip feed” was invented! It is always better to get 1 link a day for a full month than getting 30 links within 3 days and getting nothing for the rest 27 days.
Therefore, plan accordingly!
Did you know that Google actually counts the bookmark number of a certain page from Google Chrome? Yes, when you are logged into Chrome, Google can have a look at your bookmarks and if a page is bookmarked enough, Google will give it a better ranking!
Again, I feel like I have been saying the same thing again and again. The reason is super simple here too. People only bookmark important pages. See the connection?
To make sure that visitors bookmark your page, you can do a few things.
The best idea is to offer value and provide long content that they can’t finish in one sitting. Or you can also offer so much value that they will have no other option but to bookmark to comeback again and again.
34. Geo Targets
If we say that Teddy SEO is the best SEO company in Ireland, we are not going to get ranked for the term “best SEO company in Florida”. Google undersatnds GEO tags perfectly and they will only rank you for the specific region that you want to be ranked for.
Therefore, it is important that you know your GEO targets. If your plan is to rank in Texas alone, don’t try to use those general keywords to compete with the whole world. Use proper geo tags to compete inside Texas only.
Geo tag is not the only tool Google uses to decide the local ranking. They have other criteria such as local listing, Yellow Page, ratings and etc.
No matter what people say, my research tells me that EMDs are still valuable and they will give you better search ranking almost 90% of times.
EMD stands for exact match domain. Suppose, you want to rank for the keyword: weight loss service in Canada!
Now, if you buy a domain: losingweight.com and then target that keyword on your page, the chances of getting ranked is lower than with a domain like: weightlosscanada.com!
You get the idea right?
Google doesn’t want you to go for EMD domains as they look spammy and one keyword oriented but if you really want to target one keyword only, why not?
They are very effective!
This is pretty common and I am sure, most of you already know about this one! If you want to rank for a certain keyword, make sure that the keyword is in the H1 tag (heading) in your article at least once. There’s no point in stuffing your keyword everywhere as having it 1 time is enough.
Also, try to keep your keyword in the title of your post. These are all on-page topics that we will discuss in detail in another article probably!
37. Google+ Reviews
This is for businesses! If you have a business, make sure that you encourage your clients/customers to review your business on Google+.
There is a 5 star system there which I am sure, most of you already know about. As this is a Google product, Google value the ratings and give SERP boost to businesses that have better ratings than others.
38. Number of Social Shares
The number of social share matters. If you and your competitor have everything worked out and the only difference between the two websites is the number of tweets then the one with the higher number will be ranked in a better position. The same will happen with Facebook shares (not likes), Pinterest pins and etc.
You already know the reason so I won’t tell the same story again.
39. Branded Name Based Search
It is an open secret now that Google likes brands. They want you to be a brand/authority on a topic and the way Google understands that you are a brand is when people search your website by it’s name. So when people will start searching “teddy seo”, Google will realize that this is an authority website and they should rank all our articles a bit higher on SERP.
Therefore, you should always try to establish your website as a brand. Refer to your brand name here and there. When you are going for Guest Posts, try to link back to your website with the brand name. They all come together and help you to get a better ranking!
40. Using Disavow Tool
The last one that we have here is using Disavow Tool. Remember in point 29, we mentioned that Bad Backlinks can harm your website?
Google has a tool on their Webmaster platform called the Disavow tool.
The idea is simple. You go ahead and tell Google not to count backlinks from a URL.
However, Google doesn’t really encourage your to use the Disavow tool and many say that if you use Disavow tool a lot, you will never get a good SERP position.
When you get a bad backlink, the first step would be to contact that website and ask them to remove the link. If it is a good website, they will remove the link. If it is a spammy one and you do not get a reply from them, you can go for the Disavow option.
There is another angle to look at it.
Many say that the websites that get disavowed a lot on Webmaster get dropped in terms of ranking. So if someone else is Disavowing links from your website (they think the links you provided are bad links), you might lose ranking. Be very careful about who you are offering your links to!
That will be it for today’s article. I hope you enjoyed this guide and this will bring real value to your online journey