Google is constantly updating what factors is uses to rank and display websites on SERPs (search engine results pages). Currently, out of the 200-plus factors, Google uses there are several that are among the most important for businesses to utilize correctly as part of the SEO marketing strategies. Falling short on these will drastically impact your other SEO efforts and your placement on SERPs.
Backlinks, or inbound links, have been an important ranking criteria for quite some time. However, as Google and the algorithms they use to index and crawl content have become more intelligent over the years, they are able to identify and pick out low quality and irrelevant backlinks to your website.
As such, it is important to conduct routine backlink audits to verify what sites are linked to yours and whether their content is relevant and related to yours to ensure they are of the highest quality.
2. Mobile Optimized Sites
Google has been a strong proponent of mobile friendly website content and gives sites that optimize their content for mobile devices a higher ranking, compared to desktop-only websites. According to Google, around 85% of all websites are now mobile friendly and meet this ranking criteria.
However, if you are still running a desktop-only site and are in process of updating to a mobile-friendly design, it is important to wait until the site is fully developed before launching it. Otherwise, you could be penalized by Google for broken links, pages without content, and other such issues, further hurting your current rankings.
3. Page Loading Speeds
How long it takes for your page to load on a desktop or mobile device is another important ranking criteria. Google currently recommends page load times of two seconds or less for mobile devices and no longer than three seconds for desktop pages.
4. Secure Web Pages
Google recently started ranking websites that use SSL certificates and HTTPS higher placement in SERPS, compared to sites still using HTTP. Expect Google to continue to award sites moving to HTTPS designs as this is expected to continue to be a top ranking criteria.
5. Page Content
With the majority of online content being viewed on mobile devices, Google has adjusted how it ranks sites based upon the content on their web pages. While original and quality content is still important, the actual layout of the content on the page is starting to effect rankings.
Ideally, content should be designed with the mobile user in mind. This means sentences should be limited to between two and three sentences and/or between four and five lines in length.
6. Type of Content
The type of content is also an important ranking factor. Embedded YouTube videos, images, and infographics are becoming essential types of content to incorporate into web pages, along with text-based content. Pages that use a combination of text and one or more of the other types, do help improve rankings.