Google’s Major Ranking Factors Part 2 – On-page SEO

Content & User Experience

To achieve good visibility in search you’ll need to ensure your website has relevant, original content that is properly optimised and easy to access in a variety of browsers and on a variety of devices.

Onsite SEO is as important as ever and needs to be a big part of your digital marketing strategy. If you hope to stay ahead of the competition in either paid or organic search, your on page optimisation better be right.

Today we’ll take a look at what makes good content and why site structure and navigation impact not only user experience but also search engine visibility.

Creating Relevant, Useful Content

It’s no surprise that your content needs to be original and relevant, but in a world awash with information on every subject, how can you ensure your content outranks the competition? From blog posts to about pages and e-commerce products, content that really exceeds competitors is that which brings unique value by focusing on in-depth topics.

While we often think of our users as having short attention spans, it’s clear that a short article lacking in research and about a topic already covered by others is not likely to keep visitors focused.

Make sure your content is offering all the relevant information on your chosen topic but use great design and some common sense to segment your content into manageable sections with informative headings and useful graphics or images.

Mark Up & Structure

Make sure that all your content includes appropriate mark up, whether that be metadata, schema mark up, or other basic optimisation and usability tags like alt image tags. You should be using heading tags in a common sense way – a lot of people use these to style content regardless of page structure but Google will be expecting your H1 tag at the top of your page not a H6 because you like the font size!

Need help with this? Take a look at our recent blog on supercharging your website in search with meta data.

Ideal Content Length

Google specifically mentions content length as important criteria for page quality, although clearly there is no ideal length for all content. A good rule to follow is to identify pages that rank well in your niche and take a look at the content length. This should give you an idea of what’s working for consumers in your particular market.

Differentiated content

Using a variety of content types is great for keeping your audience engaged. Most people are put off when presented with a white screen full of text, so try adding graphics or create a video that illustrates your point. We can digest video content better than any other form of information transmission (a topic for another blog post). If you are not using video already then you need to consider how to incorporate it into your content strategy, because your competitors already have! E-books, white papers and podcasts can all be highly engaging and show Google that you’re investing in quality diverse content.

User Experience

Of course, user experience is important for your website visitors but it also has a big impact on your visibility in search engines. So, how does Google know if websites visitors are getting a good user experience?

There are several indicators that the Google algorithms can examine to understand whether website visitors are getting what they want from your website so here’s where we explain the jargon a little!

CTR – The number of people who click through to your content after seeing a listing in search

Bounce rate – The number of people who visit only one page on your website

Dwell time – How long people spend on your page when coming from a Google search

All these are indicators of quality. If Google is presenting your website in search but no one clicks then they’re likely to drop it a few places in the rankings. Google expects CTR to be within a certain range, for example branded keywords in the number 1 spot the result is around 50% and 33% for non-branded searches.

Bounce rate and dwell time offer obvious insights into how people are interacting you’re your content and indicate quality and relevance.

This is where optimising your meta data is important, not only will attention grabbing listings in search increase your click through rate, the relevance of that listing title and text will be important so that once people arrive on your page they receive the information they expected.

Other factors that may influence user behaviour on your site are navigation structure and functionality. Ensure that your website is easy to navigate and provides clear and timely opportunities to discover more pages and more information. Check that the site passes Google’s mobile-friendly test and that it loads properly on a variety of devices and browsers. It’s important that your pages load quickly as this can cause people to abandon your site, increasing your bounce rate and eliminating the possibility for people to see your content.

Final thoughts

While Google’s algorithms are complex, one overriding factor should be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about promoting and optimising your website for visibility.

Does this benefit web users?

Google wants to provide the most relevant, engaging and useful content they can, that’s how they’ll remain the biggest search engine on the planet! So, whatever you do online, make it the best quality resource it can be, be honest about what you’re providing and think about user expectations, experience and behaviour.

If it’s relevant, it’s most likely SEO future proof, so forget quick fixes and cheap links and buy into real PR and interest in what you’re offering.

Join us next time for insights into technical SEO and ranking factors!