This post takes you on a walk through a number of Google ranking factors in 2020 that are going to be very useful for you to get the topmost position in the SERPs in year 2020 and later. So, tighten your seat belts as we are about to take off!
Ranking higher in the search engine result pages of Google is gradually getting tougher with each passing day, and I guess you are well aware of this fact.
And, the tougher this job gets, the more people hunt through their cheat sheets just to see themselves in the top search engine rankings.
I’m sure, you know it quite well that Google changes its algorithms numerous times a year, but have you ever thought about the reasons for their doing such?
Well, they, surely, must be looking for that x-factor that’d help their searchers to find the exact things that they would be searching for. And, don’t you think Google has many other jobs than keeping you stuck with your SEO?
Then What’s Running in Google’s Mind?
Google simply doesn’t want its users to go back empty-handed. And if it finds you providing the best information against a particular query, Google wouldn’t lose a second to place you higher when searched for that particular query.
But even if you are stuffing your website and blogs with a lot of information, why are you not being able to see Google’ favor reflect on your rankings?
Well, you might be the best cook in this entire world, but your audience might not even touch your cooked food if the plate isn’t clean enough. Similarly, you need to take care of a certain number of things while serving your best dishes on Google’s table.
Well… let me make your job easy by putting a list of 12 most important Google ranking signals for 2020 that will help you achieve high search engine positions in 2020 and after. Those are:
1. Secured Website (HTTPS)
Throughout the years, Google has been insisting webmasters to look forward to a secured website, i.e., switching from HTTP to HTTPS, business owners don’t seem concerned about this event.
But, to be honest, in order to rank high enough with your search engine optimized website, you need to make sure that the inbound traffic arriving at your website does not face any security issues. And, after you take certain precautions like switching to a secure website, keep in mind to notify Google about the same.
So, here’s how a secure website looks like.
Though, Google has assured that they’ll let webmasters know more about the same in the near future, but to help you with this grave issue, here I have prepared a set of steps that will help you save yourself from the wrath of Google.
- Choose the certificate you want to opt for. It might be a single domain, a multi-domain certificate or even a wildcard certificate.
- Opt for 2048-bit certifications
- Relative URLs stand best for the resources that are on the same domain. Opt for them.
- Protocol relative URLs stand best for the rest of the domains
- Change your website’s address to a better one
- Try not to block your HTTPS site from using robots.txt
- Let search engines index your webpages but prohibit no-index meta tags from performing the same task.
2. Mobile Responsive Websites
Speaking of mobile responsive websites, such websites are the way of hope to rank high, if you are not that good with SEO.
And, there’s a strong reason behind this saying, websites that are mobile responsive have a strong chance to rank high as Google itself has confirmed that they prefer mobile responsive websites ranking higher as they are capable of serving a larger audience base due to their ease of use.
“Responsive web design: Serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., “respond”) based on the screen size. Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.”, according to Google.
With a responsive web design, you don’t require changing your URL or HTML to make a good fit for mobile users; where, in the case of dynamic serving or separate URLs, people would require making a good number of changes in their websites. Such procedures are not at all cost effective as methods, neither they are less time-consuming.
At this point of time, mobile responsive websites need to be built keeping in mind mobile-first indexing, as it is an integral part of the four aspects concerned with Google’s ranking algorithm which are crawling, indexing, retrieval and ranking.
To let you know, mobile-first indexing is a process of gathering content and it has no such advantage when it is about acquiring higher ranks in the SERPs. Though, mobile-first indexing plays a vital role in mobile optimization and optimizing your website is vital for ranking high. Guess, you already have your answer.
3. High-Quality Content
Content is King! And, you cannot deny this fact.
Also, you need to follow the rule of crafting 10x content, as coined by Rand Fishkin, to drive customers. but if you talk to SEO experts about the type of content required to drive traffic, you’ll find several different answers.
But there are two main things that you need to keep in mind while crafting effective content for your website.
One is, bigger content doesn’t mean better content. You can just answer a simple question within a couple of sentences. It doesn’t require to fill your content page with necessary words and stuffed keywords to become useful for your customer.
Another thing is, your content has to be relevant to the query you are addressing.
So, if you are looking forward to creating valuable content to educate your customers, simply learn from Google itself.
Also, keep an eye on the following points when you are planning your content:
Also, keep an eye on the following points when you are planning your content.
- Search Intent refers to the intention with which a searcher is performing the specific search. Figure out what searchers are looking for, if they are looking for a particular website or they are trying to find out an answer to their questions or if they are intending to purchase something. This will help you place your content in a better way to your customers.
- Keyword Research is done to figure out the most used words people type in to find answers for their queries. It gives you a prominent knowledge about what to rank for. If you research for a particular keyword in your niche, it will help you get a better understanding of what people are actually looking for and which keyword has the highest demand.
- Voice Search is more of a revolution. With time, the people searching for things are shifting to voice search instead of typing in stuff. So, if you stay strong in the race, you need to voice optimize your content.
- Rich Snippets is the particular structured data that website operators can use as markup in their present HTML. This data helps search engines figure out the exact information contained in each web page.
- Heading Tags are a part of the HTML code done for a web page development. These headings are the main outline of your webpage. So, to see the best results with your SEO, add keywords to your heading tags.
- Schema is more of a hidden ingredient of your website that let’s search engines know more about your web content. Schema is also responsible for Google featuring your snippet in the SERPs.
- LSI Keywords or Latent Semantic Indexing keywords are such keywords that are semantically connected to your primary keyword. Such keywords can be anything starting form synonyms to simple words that are often found together as they have the same context.
4. Perfect On Page Optimization
To be honest, if you’re good at on-page optimization, it can play a huge role in placing your website in the top ranks of the SERPs.
And, to optimize your webpages well you need to take care of several factors like,
- The content you are uploading on your webpages,
- The meta tags are also vital to keep an eye on while optimizing your webpage, and to be precise, these tags are the most significant aspects of on-page SEO.
- URL optimization is a must; your URLs should indicate the hierarchy of your website pages.
And, many other important aspects to keep in mind while working on onpage SEO. Brian Dean has a great guide for onpage SEO, which you can read to know more in details.
5. Excellent User Experience a.k.a RankBrain
Why do top companies have such a knack of creating groundbreaking user experiences?
The answer is quite simple. UX can help your website get good rankings. Yes, that’s true. But, have you ever thought of the reason?
If you haven’t yet, then let me tell you that user experience is not just a namesake thing. It is actually the experience that users do after they enter your website.
So, if you can take care of the experience of your users on your website, then why won’t you craft it in the best way possible? Without spending any time further on something else, you should jump directly into building a highly convenient UX in the first place.
So, to become the darling of your users, provide them with a high performance, trustworthy UX. Help them explore your website in a better way. And navigate them in the best way possible.
And, by building a poor UX that drives website visitors away, you will ultimately end up triggering Google’s RankBrain to pull you down in the search engine ranks.
Source: Express Writers
Here is another infographic that will enhance your knowledge of RankBrain.
Source: Express Writers
6. Page Speed
Loading speed of a webpage has always been a thing for website users and the reason is quite apparent.
Today users wish to get everything on demand and in the least time possible. And, that counts in knowledge as well.
People might enter your website for getting educated about their requirements but, if they find your webpage loading in a slow pace, they won’t think a single time before bouncing to another webpage providing the very same information.
Apparently, that page will be of one of your competitor’s. So, you can clearly understand what a slow loading page can affect you with.
That is why, recently in the year 2018, Google has introduced page loading speed as a ranking signal for the searches that get triggered from mobile phones. It is called the “Speed Update”.
And, since then, Google has confirmed that they have noticed a good number of enhancements in the websites centering page speed.
7. High-Quality Links
So, before speaking of high-quality links, you need to know, which type of links are considered as high-quality links.
A link coming from a relevant, high authority website that has top quality content and good traffic, is worth more than a link coming from a website with no such values. And, such links are considered as high-quality links.
However, earning high quality links isn’t as easy as it seems, but if you follow these basic link building tips, you can achieve it:
- Publish detailed educational content on relevant trending topics on your blog so that others can think of linking to it.
- Pitch other relevant blogs for guest blogging, but only those whose content you find interesting and not just any another blog. If your posts are helpful to others, you stand high chances of getting a backlink to your guest posts from some other relevant websites.
- Once you are done with the above-mentioned steps, create a list of some of the greatest blog posts of yours, and use those shortlisted blog posts links to start pitching the top-quality websites in your industry. Understand their requirements and send them the content they are looking for. Because to crack a big website, you need to grab their attention, which is quite impossible without a solid link portfolio of yours. What’s next…sooner or later, your content will start getting published in such websites.
- Lists are also a great way to earn high quality links as long as they serve a great purpose. For instance, our blogpost about bad websites list, ranks in top positions of Google, and it has earned many links from a bunch of websites that were looking for a relevant source of information. You can see the following image for backlinks:
So, focus on creating list-based content that matters, so you can start earning some great links too.
- You should also participate in relevant forums and blogs as they are also a great way to earn high quality links because people out there are looking for some solutions. And, if you are able to provide what they need, you not only become an authority and get direct traffic to your website but also good quality backlinks to your website.
- Last but not least, always make sure to do the perfect on page optimization of your written content wherever you post it so that it receives the full SEO value from Google and other search engines as it matters a lot for earning links. As we all know content that is better optimized gets better rankings, and if you rank better, you are next to searchers. Who knows if some of them are looking for a relevant source to link back to?
In short, high quality links are must for your online success. The more and better high-quality links your website has, you will stay ahead in the SERPs. Additionally, with these trustworthy links, you don’t need to be worried about any penalty from Google and other search engines.
8. Direct Traffic
So, what is direct traffic?
So, assuming that you already know about website traffic, let me tell you, website traffic that comes directly from the internet and not by getting redirected from any other website, is called direct traffic.
In other words, when people see your URL somewhere on the Internet and then they copy it and open directly in browser, such visits are known as a direct visitor and such traffic is called as direct traffic.
Also, the people who recall your domain and come back for more are also counted in as direct traffic.
So, your next question would be, how direct traffic can affect rankings.
I have a solution for that query as well. According to Google, they wish to rank the authoritative websites at the top of SERPs. So, it all depends on how high authority your website has. And that directly depends on the influence or in other words, the countable links and tactful online presence your website has created for itself.
Here is a study from SEMrush, which shows us that direct traffic is the most prominent Google ranking factor nowadays.
And, this should clearly make you understand why direct traffic helps you increase your website’s authority and eventually, your rankings in the SERPs.
9. User Signals
User signals are such signals that search engines receive from your website users about their experience on your website.
And, according to sources, such signals are potential enough to make an impact on your rankings in the SERPs. These signals are a cumulative quotient of the on-site duration, CTR as well as the bounce rate.
The return-to-SERP rates are also taken in concern by the search engines when they calculate the search rankings of websites.
To elaborate, let me make a quick rundown the various kinds of user signals.
- On-site Span
- Bounce Rate
- And, Return-to-SERP rates
To make use of user signals and turn them in positive ones, you need to perform certain measures. You need to optimize your content accordingly so that people looking for relevant keywords find your educating content and don’t bounce from your website.
- Improve your meta descriptions present in the snippets so that they match the target website and the return-to-SERP rate goes down.
- You also need to work on your website’s loading time. Loading time is a highly impactful thing that plays a major part in ranking your website in the SERPs. Even a millisecond counts like anything in this case.
- Mobile optimization is something that can also affect your website’s ranking if not performed properly. And, it is not just me, but Google also has the same opinion.
Here is what Google has to say,
“Having said that, we continue to encourage webmasters to make their content mobile-friendly. We do evaluate all content in our index — whether it is desktop or mobile — to determine how mobile-friendly it is. Since 2015, this measure can help mobile-friendly content perform better for those who are searching on mobile. Related, we recently announced that beginning in July 2018, content that is slow-loading may perform less well for both desktop and mobile searchers.”
10. Click Thru Rate (CTR) Optimization
Many people out there have confusion regarding what click thru rate actually is. If you are one of them, let me tell you.
Click-thru-rate is a special metric that is used to get an idea of the clicks that advertisers receive on their advertisements depending on the number of impressions.
So, if you are at the top of a Search Engine Result Page and you are still not getting enough click-thru audience, you might be failing badly in SEO.
But does CTR or click thru rate help your page to rank higher?
Well, you can check it from this infographic from 2014.
And, now let’s have a look at the position-based click-thru-rate data infographic.
So, you can clearly understand that click thru rates do matter when you are looking forward to getting your users organically.
And, if you can keep up with the required click-thru-rate, your website is bound to stay at the top but if you are being able to match up with the expected rate, your SERPs position is bound to fall.
11. Take Local SEO Seriously
Have you been seeing bad days in the rankings?
Do you work really hard and are going through the basics of SEO but still not achieving good enough ranks?
Well, let me tell you then you might be missing out somewhere. It might be the local SEO that most marketers tend to abandon.
But I completely understand, to get to know the exact value of local SEO in the SERPs, you need to have an idea of local SEO first.
So, local SEO is about the types of searches that are performed being localized.
Now, if you are wondering about its value in your search engine rankings, let me put light on this infographic from Moz. It will help you get a good idea about the importance of local SEO in ranking you in the SERPs.
So, I guess, you can pretty much understand how important link signals are when it is about being a Google ranking factor.
12. Keep an Eye on Latest Updates from Google
Last but not at all the least of importance compared to the previous points comes the point of maintaining your website’s quality with the regular updates coming from Google.
Yes, the numerous algorithms from Google keep a big eye upon your website’s quality when it is about ranking your website accordingly.
Google keeps an eye on the date of your website’s initial creation, the size of change performed on your website since the initial period, the types of changes done, the rate of your updating your website, creation of new webpages and the rate of the growth of links.
Yes, you got my point, Google wants to see that your website is getting updated regularly with quality perks.
You can just set up Google Alerts to help yourself with the same.
Source: Google Alerts
And, not just Google but users also turn their nose up if they see that your website isn’t updated. Almost 96% of users visit your website multiple times before buying a thing from you as they aren’t ready yet. That’s totally legit. Who’d even opt to buy from a website that looks old and dry?
So, give them a strong reason to choose you instead of opting for any one of your competitors.
On the other hand, your blogs that were posted earlier to your website when published all over again with fresh inclusions can boost up your organic web traffic by an unimaginable 111.37%. Isn’t that hilarious? All you have to do is republish them without changing their URLs.
So, I guess you have already understood why your website needs to be updated and why you should shape up your strategies accordingly.
Your High Time to Act!
The above-mentioned Google ranking signals for 2020, if taken care properly, are capable of pushing your positions high up in the Search Engine Result Pages.
Google ranks such websites at the top which are capable of educating users with the best pieces of knowledge and to become one of them, basic SEO won’t help much.
You need to work a bit harder than the rest to see yourself above them in the SERPs.
And, not to worry, this hard work will pay off in the longer run.
Work smart, not hard.
See you in the topmost ranks.