Hundreds of factors can influence how a website ranks in Google search. How do you know which factors have the most direct impact on rankings? We’ve put together a definitive list of the most important Google ranking factors for publishers right now.
Digital publishers are always on the hunt for new ways to boost their search rankings. While there are hundreds—possibly thousands—of things that publishers can do to optimize their websites for search, not all tactics are created equal. Some SEO strategies have more impact than others, and if you’re like most publishers, you’re probably interested in focusing on the strategies that will deliver you the greatest results in the least amount of time.
To that end, we’ve put together a definitive list of important Google ranking factors that digital publishers will want to know about as they design their search engine optimization strategies.
1. HTML Tags
Unless you’re new to the world of digital publishing, you’ve probably heard about the importance of HTML tags before. HTML tags are one of the most important Google ranking factors for publishers.
If you want your article pages to rank on the first page of Google search results, each article should have a title, meta description, header tags, and alt text. The title and meta description tags are what people see in Google search results. Header tags break the content into sections, and they should contain relevant keywords whenever possible. Alt text can be used to describe images that appear within your article pages.
2. Mobile Optimization
Beginning this month, Google has said it will judge websites based on their mobile versions. This is a big change from when Google judged websites based on the desktop version only. Websites that haven’t been designed for mobile users are likely to see a big drop in search rankings within the next few months, if they haven’t already.
To verify that your website is ready for Google’s mobile update, try out Google’s mobile-friendly test. If your page doesn’t get the green light, you may want to check with your developer to diagnose what’s wrong.
Natural backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors for websites in 2020. Because of the risks involved in using blackhat SEO techniques, digital publishers are now focusing on naturally acquiring backlinks from high authority websites similar to their own.
To search for backlink opportunities, take a look around your market. For a hyperlocal news publication, for example, that might mean checking out the websites for businesses in the local community. Publishers who are focused on a certain niche should analyze their competitors’ backlinks and look for websites that link to those competitors’ websites. A website that links to a competitor’s website, but not your own, is a prime outreach target.
4. Natural Copy
From an SEO perspective, we like to see website content that includes the right balance of keywords, entities, and images based on the length of the content. Digital publishers have a huge advantage here, since they are already posting high-quality, highly-relevant content on a regular basis.
Tactics like keyword stuffing are frowned upon, and they can actually be one of the Google ranking factors that brings down a website’s position in search results. So how do you find the right balance? The goal is to create natural-sounding copy that ranks well in search results. To accomplish that, start by analyzing your competitors’ top-ranking webpages. Content optimization tools can help you figure out the ideal amount of main and secondary keywords to include in website copy based on the length of each article.
5. Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals haven’t even been implemented yet, but they are already becoming one of the most important Google ranking factors for publishers. Core Web Vitals measure the first impression that users get when they visit a webpage. Metrics like page load times, site stability, and interactivity are all used to evaluate the user-friendliness of a website, and links to pages that meet or exceed the thresholds for Core Web Vitals are displayed with a Fast Page label.
The fact that Core Web Vitals haven’t been fully implemented means publishers still have time to get ahead on this one. Each “vital” has a set of optimization guidelines that publishers should be working to meet before the change is rolled out. To learn more about the impact that Core Web Vitals are expected to have on digital publishers, click here.
Are you prepared to take your website to the next level? To learn even more about SEO for digital publishers, check out Web Publisher PRO’s Comprehensive SEO Checklist.