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Ep 3.6: Top Google Ranking Factors to Watch out for this Year

HomeGeek SpeakPodcastEp 3.6: Top Google Ranking Fac...

S03e06 – Post

Transcript

Genny:  Welcome back listeners to SEO Unfiltered. What are the big ranking factors everyone’s talking about this year? If you know your way around the back end of your website, you’ll probably find this episode a little sexy, a little intriguing, because I’m about to give you exactly what you need to boost your chances of outranking your competitors. Grab a pen, whip out your Notes app, or just listen very very closely, cuz I’ve got a ton of information to give you and it’s going to be an absolute SEO nerd fest.

 

Google ranking factor #1: How efficiently Google can crawl your site. This might be news for you, but Google is slowing down its crawl frequency, which means that you need to make sure your site can be crawled as effectively as possible when those bots show up. There are several ways to optimise your site’s crawlability. For example, check your robots.txt file to make sure there aren’t any important pages that are being blocked; speaking of which, also check that you don’t have any pages accidentally set to no-index, which is a common whoopsie that happens when the page goes live and someone forgets to flip the switch. You also want to make sure that the mobile version of your site is effectively perfect, as it will be indexed first. Okay, so just let that be your warning: Google is taking longer than it used to to index your page, so be sure to make it count. 

 

Moving on to ranking factor #2, which is your site structure. There is, in fact, a way to optimise your site navigation for higher ranking potential, because the more straightforward your site, the easier it is for web crawlers and users to find what they’re looking for, which is double points on the SEO scoreboard. Here are a couple of ways to optimise your site structure: 

  • First of all, you wanna try and make every page on your site accessible from the home page in maximum three clicks. Once again, you shouldn’t have any pages that are more than three pages deep. 
  • Next, use breadcrumbs. It’s not always necessary if you have a super simple brochure site with like 4 pages, but it’s also not going to hurt, so go ahead and enable those…place them at the top of the page where they’re easy to see. 
  • If you have Screaming Frog, audit your links to make sure you don’t have any broken links or complicated redirect chains, as those will obviously make your site more difficult to navigate. 

Ranking factor #3 is super easy in comparison, which is your Internal linking strategy. Why is this a ranking factor? Well, yes of course, it helps users navigate through your site in a logical and helpful way; but it also increases engagement rate and gives you more opportunities to massage the user down the marketing funnel. From an SEO standpoint, this sort of interweaving of pages boosts your authority and improves topical relevance, which is important for indexing your web page. All that to say, the better your internal linking strategy, the more likely you are to outrank your competitors.

 

It’s kind of silly how easy this one is to do, but then again, you could develop some potentially bad habits with it, so let’s make sure we all understand the correct way to link your pages. For example, keep your links relevant. Don’t pester people with links that have nothing to do with the page;  If they’re reading about how to maximise their tax return, they’re probably not in the mood to learn about the top ten luxury vacation spots. Your anchor texts should be relevant and descriptive, i.e., new tax benefit is way more relevant as an anchor text than “click here” is, but more on this in a minute; what are some other internal linking best practices? Oh yes, be sure to link to more than just the contact and home page…go deep and relevant. Of course, please don’t spam your readers with link after link after link…trust me, it’s counterproductive. 

 

Okay so that takes us to ranking factor #4, which is your anchor text. Same-same but different, your anchor text can also boost your page authority and UX, but there’s a right way and wrong way to anchor links to your pages. The wrong way would be to use words like “click here” or “my article” or to make an entire sentence your anchor text or to stuff your page with links, like I previously mentioned. The right way would be to use descriptive words with a mix of partial and exact matches, without bending and twisting your sentences in an obvious attempt to squeeze in a keyword….make it sound as natural as possible. That’s my advice. Keep in mind why you’re doing this, which might help with your anchor text mission. Linking to other relevant pages gives search engines more context to go on and demonstrates your authority on a subject. 

 

Okay, the #5 ranking factor has to do with your Core Web Vitals, which are the vital signs of your site, if you want to look at it that way—they measure your site’s loading performance, responsiveness, and your pages’ visual stability. I realise that some of these ranking factors are a bit more technical than others on this list, so I’ll spare you the technical terms for these metrics in case your kids are listening. But I think this topic is far too sexy to just skim over like that, so I may do an episode strictly on core web vitals this season. Anyway, as Core Web Vitals are a ranking factor, you want to optimise what they measure, so that’s doing things like speeding up your site, optimising your site for all formats, and giving your page images fixed dimensions. Reining in your JavaScript can also help improve your Core Web Vitals metrics. 

 

[pause]

 

Okay, let’s take a left turn to talk about content—our 6th ranking factor—because obviously high-quality content is a ranking factor…we’ve only been saying it for years now. Nothing I’m about to tell you should come as a shock, especially if you’ve been listening to our podcast since day one. Good content makes you look good…now how’s that for an oversimplification? Good content is also easy to read, serves search intent, and has a logical CTA at the end. From an SEO standpoint though, good content is also home to your keywords and supporting key phrases. We all know this. It hardly bears repeating, but now let’s throw in the topic of AI, and maybe the definition of good content gets a bit blurry for some of you. So, good content can also be written by AI, it just has to be good. As in helpful, as in fact-checked, proofread, expanded upon, and reformatted. ChatGPT 4 is pretty good, but it doesn’t lend much experience, expertise, or authority to your site. If you’re using AI to help you produce your content, be sure to have someone on your team take ownership of it and tweak it enough to call it their own. Then, you’ll want to link to their author page, apply on-page best practices, and run the content through your brand’s style guide to truly call it your own. That’s the golden ticket. 

 

There’s a lot of crap content out there, wouldn’t you agree? In fact, I would venture to say that most of the shit floating around the web is just toilet fodder, so Google is doing its best to combat the crap out there by prioritising content that can show E-E-A-T or experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

 

Let this be yet another warning to you. Putting content out there just for the keyword grab ain’t gonna cut it anymore, folks. Just don’t bother.

 

Okay next! Ranking factor #7 is search intent alignment, and I’m really glad I’m talking about this today, because it’s one of those things that many of our clients tend to ignore or forget about, and I’m not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with SEO experts going on and on about keyword research without really showing the same excitement about the intent. So, what I mean is that you really need to understand the intent behind the keyword in order to create content that’s relevant and useful for your audience. Is the keyword purely informational? If so, you’ll be better off creating a page that gives the audience the answers they’re looking for rather than use that keyword as an opportunity to make a landing page that pushes your product because that’s just not where the user is at. 

 

People’s Google searches can be broken down into four basic intents: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. Certain formats better lend themselves to specific intents. For example, blog posts sort of live in the informational search intent camp, whereas buying guides are better suited for commercial queries. If you want your content to rank higher, it’s your job, or the job of an SEO agency, to understand not only what your audience is searching for, but why, and to create content that helps them achieve their desired outcome. 

 

(#8) Next ranking factor is topical authority. What is topical authority? Why, the ability to talk about something more than once and from more than one angle, of course. It’s the idea that you actually are an expert and you have proven this over and over again because you keep creating high-quality content about your specialty. If you want to know how to show your authority on a subject, believe me, it is not rocket science: i.e., keep publishing what you know, be sure your content is well-written, cite your sources and link to other experts. From an SEO stand point, you do sorta want to make sure that your topic is related to a keyword, but this should come pretty naturally to you or your writer. How does this improve your rankability? The more high-quality pages you publish on a specific topic, the more engagement and backlinks from other high-authority sites you’ll get. 

 

And speaking about backlinks, our final ranking factor, #9 is backlink optimisation. What the hell does that mean? Backlinks are basically where the SEO juice is at, which means that the more high-quality backlinks your page gets, the higher you will rank. The problem that so many people have with this one is that getting a backlink isn’t just something you order on Amazon. Here are our tips for boosting your backlink potential…sorry, i just really wanted the alliteration:

  • First of all, focus on creating the type of content worthy of a high-quality backlink. Duh.
  • Second of all, claim as many social accounts and relevant directory profiles as possible. This is what we mean by optimisation by the way—taking advantage of every opportunity possible. 
  • Thirdly, get involved in industry conversations via forums and events. And don’t forget to share your own insights.
  • Guest posting isn’t a bad idea, but it really depends on the platform. I would caution people against buying backlinks or making deals with guest blog sites because they’re usually not the most reputable domains. 
  • Press release syndication is also one of those things that’s good if the backlinks are good, and pointless or even potentially harmful if they’re coming from syndication sites. So be careful! 

There’s definitely a potential to do harm to your site when scoping for backlinks, so be cautious and use your common sense, and if you’re considering buying a backlink be extra, extra cautious and do your homework cuz 9 times out of 10, there’s shady business going on. 

 

So these are the ranking factors to watch out for this year folks. I sincerely hope you weren’t surprised by any of this, but if you were, fear not! We’ve got plenty o-resources to help you catch up on what you’ve been missing. If not, feel free to contact my peers for a free SEO review—it’s kind of insane how quickly they’ can figure out you how your site ranks compared to your competitors and what you can do to maximise your site’s potential.

 

Be sure to tune in next month for your next dose of SEO advice. In the meantime, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, X, and Instagram for bite-sized SEO tips. See ya later, everybody.

 

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Show Notes

In this month’s episode, we’re diving deep into the essential ranking factors that could make or break your website’s visibility this year. If you know your way around SEO, none of these things should be too surprising, but they do bear repeating because they’re SO important.

Here’s a cheatsheet of today’s discussion:

  1. Crawlability: Make sure Google can effortlessly crawl your site. Google’s reducing its crawl frequency, so it’s vital to have your site primed and ready. Also, check your robots.txt file and ensure no crucial pages are accidentally set to no-index.
  2. Site Structure: Simplify your site’s navigation. A well-structured site aids both users and search engines, boosting your SEO score. 
  3. Internal Linking: A smart internal linking strategy not only enhances user experience but also strengthens your site’s SEO. Be logical and helpful, and guide visitors through your site’s content in a way that feels natural and intuitive.
  4. Anchor Text:  The right words can increase relevance and authority, but overdoing it can have a negative impact.
  5. Core Web Vitals: Improving loading times, responsiveness, and visual stability can significantly impact your rankings.
  6. Quality Content: Never underestimate the power of compelling content. It should be readable, informative, and aligned with your audience’s search intent.
  7. Search Intent: Align your content with the intent behind search queries. Understanding why users search for specific terms helps you create content that satisfies their needs.
  8. Topical Authority: Establish yourself as an authority in your field by consistently producing high-quality content related to your niche. (No surprise there.)
  9. Backlink Optimisation: High-quality backlinks are SEO gold. Earn them by creating valuable content and engaging with your community authentically.

Helpful Links

Implement these strategies and watch your site climb the rankings. Here’s to your success! Now go forth and optimise!

Support your fellow marketing geeks! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @GeekyTechGeeks for all things SEO and advertising related—and while you’re at it, why not subscribe, like, and follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your favourite shows.

 

Have any questions you want answered on the show? Email us at contact@geekytech.co.uk.

 

Thanks for listening 🤓

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About the Author
Genny Methot
Genny Methot
Genny Methot is Geeky Tech’s storyteller. She heads up our social media content, blog posts, and the Geek Speak podcast. Click here to learn more about Genny.
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