Let’s have a quick look back into the top-ranking signals of the past.
- Back in 2014, the top-ranking signals was HTTPS
- In 2015, it was the mobile-friendliness the top-ranking signal.
- 2016 witnessed content development as the same when RankBrain was introduced.
- In 2017, HTTPS again came to the forefront.
- 2018 demanded speed of mobile pages as one among the top-ranking factors.
In fact, search engine ranking algorithms work not based on a single ranking factor, but take into account various aspects of a web page to decide its weight. Google tends to evaluate websites based on hundreds of varying factors. Keeping all previous and fast-changing ranking elements in mind, let’s look into the 2019 top ranking factors which the website promoters and SEOs need to consider at the first point.
2019 Google’s top-ranking factors
As an introductory note, this is not an exhaustive list, but trying to include some of the top considerations someone aiming at a top SERP position.
Even though it doesn’t make a huge difference, there is significant differentiation between a six-month-old versus two years old domain.
Keyword in the top-level domain:
Having a relevant keyword in the domain or it coming as the first word in the domain name surely has more relevancy. Keyword in sub-domains too adds value.
A domain with may drops, volatile ownership, history of penalization may be an adverse factor.
Private vs. Public Whois:
Sometimes, having Private Whois info may be indicative of something to hide to the search engine crawlers.
Country Top Level Domain extension:
Country specific TLD may help a website rank top for that particular country.
Keyword in the title tag:
Title tag is a top on-page SEO ranking signal. Having a title tag starting with a keyword as well keyword in the description tag are valuable.
Length of content:
Adequate length content covering the topic in breadth is preferable over the shorter generic articles.
Table of contents:
As it helps the users, a linked table of contents will help the search engines to understand the page better.
Even though its relevance has decreased over time, Google crawlers still use it to determine the topic may use it to determine the topic of the page. But, be careful in terms of keyword density.
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords:
LSI keywords will help the search engines to understand the exact usage of a word, i.e., Apple the fruit and Apple the computer company).
Page loading speed:
This is one of the top-ranking factors for all search engines. Crawlers estimate the site speed based on the HTML code.
If the content of the page matches to the “entity” a user search for, then the page will get a boost against that keyword.
Similar content on the same website will negatively affect search engine ranking. However, proper use of “Rel=Canonical” tag may help prevent penalty on duplicate content.
Image title, file name, alt text, image description, etc. send relevant ranking signals to search engines.
Recently published content has more relevancy in time-specific searches.
Keyword appearing in first hundred words of page content shows a positive correlation to first-page ranking.
Quality of outbound link:
Many SEO experts find that links from authority sites will build more trust.
Spelling and grammar:
Proper spelling and grammar are sure-shot ranking signals.
The Mobilegeddon update rewards he pages which are optimized for mobile view.
Supplementary content, which is helpful for the users, can be an indicator of the page quality, i.e., currency converters, interest calculators, interactive recipes, etc.
Content behind the text:
Google may not index the content which requires the users to click on a tab or image to view.
Graphics, images, videos, and other media elements promoted by a branding company are clear-cut quality signals to search engines.
Quality of internal links from the authoritative pages to a domain will have a stronger search engine impact.
Maintaining many broken links could be indicative of an abandoned or neglected page.
If there are too many affiliates, search engine bots may pay more attention to the other quality factors to ensure whether it is a thin affiliate website.
Given all other things are level; a domain considered more authoritative will be better ranked.
Length of the URL:
Longer URLs and too short URLs may hurt.
Category of web pages seemed to be a relevant signal. A web page falling under a related category may have a boost over the page which comes under an unrelated category.
Sources and References:
Citing the sources and references seems to benefit users and search engines to decide the relevancy of a webs page.
Numbered lists and bullets:
Content with numbered lists and bullets will make it easier for the readers and crawlers to digest it.
Even though search engines prefer fresh content, aged pages which are regularly updated tend to outperform than fresher pages.
A user-friendly layout:
A layout which makes the main content easily visible has a higher priority.
Contact Us page:
Appropriate level of contact information, which matches to the Whois info has a significant weight.
Web site architecture:
Well-defined site architecture helps Google to organize the content thematically and rank it appropriately.
Appropriate sitemap will help the search engines to index the pages effectively and improve visibility.
A lot of downtime due to poor site maintenance or hosting server issues may adversely affect ranking.
Location of hosting server:
Hosting server location will influence site ranking at geo-specific searches.
HTTPS is always a top-ranking signal.
In fact, points mentioned above are only a few among the top ranking factors, and you have to take a more comprehensive approach to search engine optimization with the support of a reliable and professional service provider on maintaining a business or trade website which you want to take on top of the relevant search engine results.