In the good old days (circa 2009), Google supposedly only used about 200 ranking factors to determine the SERPs.
A lot has changed in the past 10 years.
But one thing that hasn’t?
You don’t need to sweat every ranking factor.
Some variables carry much more weight than others.
If you just focus on the essentials, you can still crush it in 2019. This post will delve into what those factors are and what is involved to optimize for each.
Google officially began rolling out the mobile-first index in March. Smart marketers were taking a mobile-first approach long before the official rollout.
According to Google’s Danny Sullivan
“Neither mobile-friendliness nor a mobile-responsive layout are requirements for mobile-first indexing. Pages without mobile versions still work on mobile, and are usable for indexing. That said, it’s about time to move from desktop-only and embrace mobile :)”
Here are some basics for making your site mobile-friendly:
2. Technical SEO
Some find the idea of performing technical SEO to be intimidating.
Thanks to the many SEO tools available, an SEO audit is no longer a daunting task.
The key, however, is to know how to interpret the data provided and what to do with it.
For starters, you should check the following:
Page speed has a direct impact on both traffic and conversions.
According to Google, “the average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds… yet 53 percent of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”
Slow page speed creates a poor user experience, which is why Google takes page speed into consideration as a ranking factor.
Best practices for optimizing page speed include:
Writing “great content,” optimizing it, and getting trusted links is now just the start for ranking a keyword.
As machine learning and artificial intelligence continue to evolve, each will carry more weight in Google’s core algorithm.
The ultimate goal for Google is to understand context and serve results based on searcher intent.
This makes advanced level keyword research and selection more important than ever.
For starters, you need to recognize there are some keywords and queries that will be impossible to rank for.
A keyword’s contextual relevance must align with a search query.
Before spending time and resources trying to rank for a phrase, you need to look at the current ranking websites and phrases.
Unless your website and landing page are similar to what is ranking, chances are it won’t happen.
Take the query [albany new york personal injury lawyer] for example:
At one time, this query resulted in a series of independent lawyers and law firms appearing at the top of the search results.
Google is now giving preference to law directories:
In this instance, because there is still a chance to rank in Google maps, it’s still worth pursuing this phrase. If not for that opportunity it would be a waste of time.
Google appears to have concluded that searcher intent is to find a series of lawyers or firms – not just one.
It is projected that by 2020, 44 zettabytes of data will be produced every day.
To put this in perspective, that’s the equivalent of 8.48 trillion songs or 1,440 years of HD video every day.
The challenge to break through the clutter will become exponentially more difficult as time passes.
In order to do so:
Schema markup, once added to a webpage, creates a “rich snippet” – an enhanced description which appears in the search results.
All of the leading search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex, support the use of microdata.
The real value in schema is that it can provide context to a webpage and improve the search experience.
There is no evidence that adding schema has any influence on SERPs.
If you find the thought of adding schema to a page intimidating, you shouldn’t.
Schema is actually quite simple to implement.
If you have a WordPress site, there are a number of plugins that will do this for you.
User experience (UX) is centered on gaining insight into users, their needs, their values, their abilities, and their limitations.
UX also takes into consideration business goals and objectives.
Best UX practices focus on improving the quality of the user experience.
According to Peter Morville, factors that influence UX include:
Links have been among the top ranking factors for quite some time now.
In 2019, what I think will change is that Google will become even more adept at identifying and devaluing spammy links.
That being the case, quality will continue to trump quantity.