Google recently did something unprecedented: basically reveal its top 3 ranking factors. Out of the hundreds of main factors for determining which websites will rank atop Google for any given search keyword or phrase, Andrey Lipattsev, a Google Search Quality Senior Strategist, recently revealed in a Q and A the top three. Without further adieu, let’s cover the big 3 for ranking in Google.
Top Google Ranking Factors
Of course Google is going to explicitly mention content as being the most important ranking factor. Google rewards good content with good rankings because it makes them look good when relevant content is featured atop its SERPs in response to any given search term. If Google’s users are happy, then Google is happy.
What makes for good content though? It should be informative, unique, engaging, and succinct. Let me quickly and succinctly expand on each one of those right now.
Informative – This one is self explanatory, but the content should be informative in the valuable sense. Your reader should take away something from the content you’re creating on your topic of expertise. It should be succinct (which I’ll touch on again in a moment) but at the same time it should be thorough and cover everything which your reader should know about that topic. Remember that longer articles perform better in the SERPs than shorter articles with everything else being equal. There’s no hard or fast target known, such as aiming above 1000 words per article, but each article which you create should again adequately and fully address and answer the question which drove your reader to your content in the first place.
Unique – While you should be thorough, make sure that you’re not recycling the same information as everyone else in your niche. If you’re writing on a subject which has been heavily visited in the past, make sure to make it your own by injecting your own voice if not your own thoughts on the topic.
Everyone sees the world through their own unique prism, and odds are that if you are knowledgeable about your field, then others will appreciate your unique take and presentation on that information and will come back to your content again and again.
Engaging – Just because you’re writing about property law doesn’t mean that you can’t make it engaging. Regardless of your topic, you should be using multiple forms of media to deliver your information in order to keep it fresh. Content which is delivered both through plain text, relevant images, and even video or audio on the page is much more digestible then straight text, and Google knows and rewards more dynamic content in its presentation.
Also remember the importance of breaking up your text based content into shorter sentences and paragraphs. Google considers things such as readability when grading content, so when you’re writing a post or page, organize it in such a way that you’d like to read it, as well.
Succinct – In a similar vein, don’t drone on and on about your topic. Good content can be both thoroughly informative as well as short and to the point. A good rule as in any writing you do, you should never use more words than are necessary to convey the points you’re trying to make.
Your readers will appreciate your efforts to get right to the point as it saves them time and more clearly conveys the point of the article to answers their questions.
Now that we’ve covered the content portion of the top three Google ranking factors, let’s move along to the importance of links in ranking well.
This might shock you to see a top level Google Search employee publicly acknowledge links as one of the top three Google Ranking Factors. This feels reminiscent to something they would have done in 2003 before spamming hit the mainstream.
But to call out links as one of the most important factors now in 2016 after Google has seen every kind of link manipulation in the book and issued likely millions of letters to webmasters around the globe, notifying them explicitly of rank penalties they will endure for trying to game the system.
Now you might be thinking through this announcement that Google is basically begging people to dive headfirst back into the game of buying, trading, selling, and basically just abusing links.
But really, if anything can be read into this, it’s that Google feels just fine about its ability to detect manufactured or “built” links and differentiate them from the “earned” links (see built links versus earned links for more information).
Earn yourself some good links by creating top notch content worthy of being shared, share it on social media, send messages to the webmasters or content managers of other websites in your field telling them about the content, and over time you’ll see the links roll in.
As this has a beneficial effect on your ranking, you’ll enjoy greater visibility in the SERPs which will in turn bring you even more traffic and more links, so the entire process beings to snowball. Begin with good content and the earned links will come.
I recently identified what is Google’s Rank Brain and how it affects your rankings in full, but the basic overview is that this is Google’s latest and greatest way to provide better, more relevant search results for the billions of new and existing searches which people around the globe make daily.
It is essentially Google’s most sophisticated algorithm yet which is built as an AI in that it is capable of learning and improving over time, identifying the intent behind what people are searching for more effectively than ever before to deliver more targeted results.
The algorithm doesn’t work live, meaning if you search for something unique which Google hasn’t seen before, it doesn’t use Rank Brain to deliver search results. Instead, that unique query is saved and fed to Rank Brain which for lack of a better term “takes a shot” at trying to decide the intent and delivers what it deems as being relevant search results back to Google workers.
If the results are deemed successful, they are figured into the next SERPs update.
You may be thinking that aside from Rank Brain, there aren’t a lot of surprises there. Truthfully, this is precisely what I have been preaching for years right here on Converting Copy in terms of what is paramount in your SEO efforts.
Ultimately, creating good content which is correctly labeled through considering the important on page SEO factors and targeting or featuring longer tail keywords are a couple of the best things you can do to help yourself so that Rank Brain lists your content as being relevant for the searches people are making.
If your content is relevant to the searches people make, it will improve in ranking as this is the main focal point of Rank Brain as it improves over time. Rank Brain decides that your content is irrelevant to the searches you may have been ranking well for in the past and drops you in the SERPs, then odds are you weren’t profiting or capitalizing on that likely untargeted traffic to begin with.