Google recently unveiled its “SEO Myth Busters” series aimed at answering questions from SEO specialists and those looking to optimize their search presence. The first episode, hosted by Google Webmaster Trend Analyst Martin Splatt, was centered around what Google’s top ranking factors are. The answers that Martin gave about what he considers the top ranking factors to be may surprise some optimizers.
Google’s Top Ranking Factors: Content
Martin’s #1 ranking factor likely won’t be a surprise to most SEO specialists; content is king. The most important thing you can do to help your site rank is to write engaging, high-quality, and unique copy. Martin explained the importance of creating great content, saying:
“You have to have really good content. And that means you have to have content…that serves a purpose for the user. So if your content says where you are, what you do, how you help me with what I’m trying to accomplish, that’s fantastic.”
The important thing to consider here is the phrasing of “serves a purpose” and how it relates to the content you create. For example, when someone is searching for a long-tail keyword, having content that exactly matches that long-tail search will help your ranking considerably.
Furthermore, Martin touched on the importance of having content that caters to more general searches as well, as not every search is a long-tail keyword that will only turn up a small number of results, as many users haven’t researched enough to get to a specific keyword.
“If you use a very specific term for your ice cream…let’s say like Smooth Cream 5000…I’m not going to search for that because I don’t know about it. I’m just going to like, I need ice cream.”
What Martin is saying here is that having content that is hyper-focused on a specific product with trademark recognition can be a problem because users don’t know what to search for. You want to make sure that you are still being found for general terms, in this case, “ice cream”, while also still having content about your specific products to build that name recognition among your patrons. In other words, even if you have specific products centered around long-tail keywords, don’t forget to use layman’s terms for your content, as most users aren’t experts on your content like you are.
Martin explained that the second most important factor is your site’s meta data. However, this is a bit misleading. It has been confirmed that metadata is not actually a ranking factor for Google. Martin explained its importance by saying:
“…have a meta description because that gives you the possibility to have a little snippet in the search results that let people find out which of the many results might be the ones that help them best.”
Essentially what Martin’s saying here is that while the meta data might not be a ranking factor itself, having it there allows users to differentiate between the top content to figure out which page may offer the most relevant information, making it a user-controlled ranking factor in a way. It won’t help your site rank higher, but it may make your site more intriguing if you end up in those top results.
Finally, the last ranking factor that Martin touched on was site performance. Martin explained that site performance encompasses site speed, as well as making the content easy to engage with. Having a site that loads slowly can cause users to move on to another site, so ensuring your site loads quickly can help your site move up the SERP’s.
One Final Question
Finally, the web developer who sat down with Martin asked him one more question that may be of interest to those outside of the SEO world. As the episode wrapped up, the developer asked Martin
“Why is it so important for companies to rank like in the top results?”
Martin’s answer was as follows:
“You build stuff on the internet… do you want people to use it?…So in order to make sure that people can use it they have to know about it… You want to be the first or first couple of because I’m not going to go to page 99 and go like oh yeah this might be the perfect thing.”
Google is designed to present the most relevant results to a user’s inquiry, so after completing a search, the majority of users won’t venture much past the 3rd or 4th page to find the result they were searching for. This is why it’s so important to be one of the first results, and why it’s important to have a great SEO strategy for your site. If you need help with your site’s SEO or any other digital marketing services, our team at Boston Web Marketing is ready to help! We can be reached over the phone at (857) 526-0096 or by filling out our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!