Google’s Ranking Factors for SEO 2016
This year has been challenging for SEO even though Google's ranking factors have remained steady. I'm not sure if its because I'm missing Matt Cutts delivering Google's updates or because Mobile has finally surpassed Desktop. Either way, as an SEO professional, I think all the SEO ranking signals have been generally good for Users. Here is a quick list of Google's current Ranking Requirements
- Mobile-Friendly: Visible websites on the first page of competitive search results have a mobile-friendly websites
- HTTPS: Websites with high rankings usually have an HTTPS encryption or SSL certificate associated with their domain
- Usability: User experience in both mobile and desktop have increased in terms of structured elements like lists and bullet points (Notice I'm using a bullet points here, it makes it easier for you to read)
- Rankbrain: Click-Through-Rates or CTRs and Bounce rates are now more important than ever since Rankbrain was released. Rankbrain is Google's new machine-learning AI technology.
- Social Media: Social Signals are still important and visible websites on Google also have an active Social Media counterpart
- Technical SEO: A prerequisite in high rankings is ensuring that Technical factors as on-page SEO elements have been done.
Break down of SEO Ranking Factors
1. Website Content -- Content is not just the King anymore, whats a position that's higher? God? Content is God. But you need to know what and how content works in the realm of SEO
- Content Relevance based on User Signals -- how long are users staying on the site? How many users are bouncing off?
- Keywords in word count, body, description, title, and such are decreasing in importance
2. Technical SEO -- these include on-page SEO factors
- HTTPS encryption is now a strong signal
- H1 is still a strong signal
- .com's are ranking better
- File size still seems to be factor
- Page speed is still a strong ranking factor
3. User Experience -- how does a User react when viewing your website, these elements include the following
- Font size seems to be a strong ranking signal
- Images is still a strong ranking factor
- Video integration, still a strong ranking factor
- External links, still a ranking factor
4. Social Signals -- does SEO include Social Signals? Yes, but is declining in importance
5. Backlinks -- Google has mentioned time and time again that backlinks will continue to decline in importance but here are some factors
- Number of backlinks -- remains a ranking factor
- Backlinks that have a no-follow -- remains a ranking factor
- Important backlinks with .gov, .edu TLDs -- remains a ranking factor
What to Expect for SEO in 2017
So moving forward, what can we expect for SEO in 2017, well, here is a short list of factors I believe will impact your Websites visibility moving forward:
- Voice Search will start gaining ground with the initial launch of Google Home, this means that enabling your website for Voice search will be tantamount since Voice doesn't allow for a top ten ranking and instead will only choose 1 website out of thousands.
- Preparing for Mobile Indexing will be a focus for Google as seen through its AMP acquisition and AMP Indexing of Websites
- Click-Through-Rates or CTRs will determine your website's importance and rank -- I think this is might be the ranking factor that will eventually overtake backlinks.
The information on this page has been tested by yours truly, some information summarized (some surmised) from the following sources:
- all about Rankbrain by Search Engine Land
- Ranking Factors Study by Searchmetrics
- Ranking Factors by Search Engine Land
- Ranking Factors by MOZ
- Top Ranking Factors by Search Engine Land