Achieving Page 1 ranks on Google search consistently can be quite difficult even for the most experienced SEO practitioner simply because the SEO ranking factors that Google takes into account in its search algorithm keeps on changing constantly.
Even though Google does not always announce what changes it has made, it is very important to get to know them if you are to stay ahead of the competition in the race for good ranks. A quick look at some of the essential SEO ranking factors:
To be ranked by Google, your site has to make it possible for its bots to easily reach its URL and crawl the contents to be able to understand what your site is all about. You should ensure that you have a properly configured robots.txt file that tells Google where it should look for the information.
For this, having a logical sitemap is absolutely essential. Your ranking also receives an immediate boost if it has an https prefix as Google has been at the forefront of web security promotion and has introduced it as a ranking factor as early as 2014.
Page Loading Speed
Google places great importance on user experience and considers the loading speed of the web pages as one of the most important factors for user satisfaction. It has even tweaked its search algorithm to now factor in the page loading speed in mobile devices as well. According to Tayloright, a leading SEO firm, effective from July 2018, sites that don’t load fast on mobiles could end up getting a lower page rank.
Domain Age and Authority
Ahrefs reveals that very few sites that are less than a year-old break into the top ten ranking on Google; more than 60% of them are at least three years old. It is thus an advantage to have an old URL. Despite much confusion, exact-match domains i.e. domains featuring target keywords in the URL are still considered as an SEO asset. Site authority is extremely valuable for rankings and is a function of valuable content with good quality inbound links.
According to Statista, mobile phones were used to generate 52.2% of the global online traffic in 2018. Google has recognized this paradigm shift in user habits and started factoring in mobile-friendliness of the website, an important SEO consideration for allotting page ranks. With its mobile-first index becoming a reality, it is giving preference to content from sites that are mobile-optimized in its page rankings.
Typical things to watch out for are a responsive site that displays properly on all screen sizes, usage of large fonts for better readability, ease of navigation, and ensuring interstitial ads are not blocking essential content.
No discussion on SEO is complete without the mention of the vital importance of valuable content that is properly optimized with top keywords. It is also very important to avoid duplicate or plagiarized content as Google is very sensitive to it. Being sensitive to the search intent is also critical while optimizing the content.