SEO - Search Engine Optimization

An in-depth guide to Google ranking factors

Last Updated: November 6, 2017

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In SEO, Google’s ranking factors are the stuff of legend. There are rumored to be more than 200 signals which inform Google’s rankings (although this statistic originated in 2006, so it’s probably safe to say things have changed a bit since then), and the exact factors which make up this list, as well as their order of importance, is the subject of perennial debate. While we at Search Engine Watch can by no means lay claim to a complete list of Google ranking factors (and anyone who says they can is lying to you – yes, even if they’re from Google, probably), we’ve delved into the subject a fair bit. Last year our intrepid editor Christopher Ratcliff wrote a ten-part series examining a number of important Google ranking factors in detail. This guide will summarize the key insights from that series for your referencing convenience, with links to the full explanations of each ranking factor. From content freshness to content quality, internal links to backlinks, we’ve covered off the major points that you need to hit for a solid Google ranking, and how to hit them. So without further ado, let’s get started. Jump to: Part 1: On-page factors Part 2: Keywords Part 3: Quality content Part 4: Content freshness Part 5: Duplicate content and syndication Part 6: Trust, authority and expertise Part 7: Site-level signals Part 8: Internal links Part 9: Outbound links Part 10: Backlinks BONUS: RankBrain Part 1: On-page factors The first part of our guide to Google ranking factors looks at the simple, technical elements that Google uses to rank your page: title tags, H1 tags and meta descriptions. These are all elements that you have total control over, and have a significant effect both on how Google ranks your site and how your site appears in the SERP. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to learn how to optimize them properly. Some key points on how to optimize your title tags, H1 tags and meta descriptions for search: Include any keywords you want to rank for in the title tag. The closer to the start of the tag the keyword is, the more likely that your page will rank for that keyword With that said, make sure your title tags are written for humans – that means they still need to make logical sense and not just be stuffed full of keywords Don’t duplicate title tags across your website, as this can negatively impact your visibility Your target keywords should also be in the H1 tag, but your H1 can differ from your title tag You can generally only use one H1 tag per page, but H2 and H3 tags can be used to break up your…

Source: An in-depth guide to Google ranking factors

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Rebecca Sentance

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