10 Most Decisive Google    (SEO) Ranking Factors in 2019

by Amir Nada

I am sure you know that Googles uses over 200 ranking signals in their algorithm to determine organic search result page positions… But which ranking signals actually matter? What SEO tactics should you focus on in 2019? Well, together with my team I have collected all the crucial data, used industry-leading SEO tools such as SEMrush, Majestic SEO, Deep Crawl and Similar Web, as well as looked at our own propriety data sets and analysed top ranking sites (top 3) from 10 industries in 3 different markets to help determine the latest Google ranking factors. Some are confirmed. Some are controversial. I’ve narrowed down the list of all the key components which are decisive as well as created the following chart to provide a clear overview of all relevant ranking factors and each of their weighting.

1. Mobile First (Not Friendly)

Google’s mobile-first index is now in full swing, which means results from mobile-optimized sites are prioritized, rather than a sites desktop version. Hence developing and optimising your sites mobile experience should be one of your main priorities in 2019 and beyond. This is only the result of a change in global user behavior as today more people are accessing the web via mobile devices. In order to guarantee top ranking results businesses, have to apply a mobile first (not friendly) approach to web design, user experience and conversion optimization.

2. (Super-Fast) Page Loading Speed

Page loading speed is known to be a key ranking factor but not only can a slow loading page reduce your sites chances for top organic search result rankings, it can also impact the number of visitors to your site and whether those who have made it actually convert. According to a recent study by Statista over 2 billion people are expected to buy goods and services online in 2019, 47 percent of them expect a webpage to load within two seconds and 40 percent will abandon a page that take more than 3 seconds to load. Making sure your page loads as fast as possible is crucial in a mobile first search environment as users are even more impatient on their smartphones. If you’re not sure about your sites current page loading speed you can check out Google’s page speed testing tool.

3. RankBrain means relevance

Google started implementing its artificial intelligence (RankBrain) back in 2015 to better rank pages but back then it wasn’t considered a key ranking component. Now with all the SEO data analyzed we can see a clear correlation with sites who are answering search queries, providing great user engagement and top organic ranking positions. RankBrain evaluates pages in “real time” by matching the most suitable content with a user’s search intent, this could be as simple as answering a question that is typed into Google. As engagement provides correlation to relevanceRankBrain might be also looking at the following:

  • Click through rate (percentage of users who click to visit a site from the SERPs)
  • Bounce rate (users who bounce back to SERPs as they haven’t been served most relevant content)
  • Dwell time (how long someone stayed on your site after they’ve arrived)

4. Experiences Are King (Not Content)

We have reached the point of endless competition; content has become either non-discoverable (due to an endless amount of relevant content indexed by Google) or user behavior has matured to such levels that ordinary content has very little engagement. Gone are the days of boring, basic and repetitive content. If you want to achieve meaningful content engagements in 2019 and beyond then you need to create superlative experiences. Google has already prioritized user experience as a key component for top organic search rankings so it’s only logical to connect the two. Superlative content experience means developing the most informative, user-friendly, readable and engaging information on a particular subject. Considering search demand, content length, format, design and structure as well as A/B testing different versions are key for user engagement success. You can find high authoritative content via a simple Google search, type in your targeted search queries and analyze top ranking pages and their content to inform future content strategies.

5. Superb Backlinks

Backlinks are still a major factor to ranking success however the focus this year should be in obtaining relevant contextual links from reputable high authority domains. Think about it this way if I can spot spammy or irrelevant external backlinks, imagen what Google’s artificial intelligent and algorithms can do. Don’t risk a site penalization for a couple of low-quality links as the possible ranking/traffic loss and time to regain top result page positions will outweigh initial visibility gains. While guest posting and influencer marketing have been proven link gaining strategies it is crucial to think outside the box and add real value to any outreach activities. You can always use link tools such as Majestic SEO or Ahrefs to analyses competitor link profiles and find outreach opportunities. In terms of outreach campaign goals try to increase your number of unique root domain links, links to specific landing pages and diversification of your anchor text distribution to a highly targeted set of keyword campaigns.

6. Prioritize Security & Accessibility

A strong technical foundation is crucial to any sites ranking success so setting up a secure and accessible domain should always be a top priority. Google has been favoring domains with the HTTPS-protocol for a while now so making sure your site is secured is no longer an option. In terms of accessibility, it is really about making sure Google can easily reach and crawl your site URL’s. Adding robots.txt files will tell the search engine robots what information they can or can’t crawl & index as well as uploading an xml sitemap to provide a summarized list for easy access.

7. Domain Identity (Age, Name and Authority)

When it comes to top search engine rankings age really matters, nearly 60% of sites that have top search result rankings are 3 yearsor older. In fact, only very few sites which are less than a year old achieve similar results which make SEO optimization efforts for younger domains so important. Exact match domains can also benefit from higher ranking positions as long as they are not spammy sites with thin content. However, if you have already established a site with relevant content and valuable information you don’t really need to consider changing it to an exact-match domain. Another domain factor to consider is authority. Moz an industry leading SEO tool provider has developed a domain score rating to evaluate the likelihood for a particular page or domain to rank in organic search results. They have codified this into both page and domain authority which are both ranked from 0 to 100 and comprise a combination of content, link signals and social shares.

8. Increased CTR via Schema

I am still surprised how little web masters utilize the power of schema markups. Anything that makes it easier for Google to understand the information on your site and help your content to appear as rich snippets in SERP’s should be considered a vital optimization component. And if you didn’t know by now… Adding structured data can improve click-through-rates (CTR) by 30 percent which means additional visits and leads at almost zero cost. There are now more then 600 different types of schema markups which sites can choose from so there isn’t any excuse to ignore this very simple but effective organic ranking and conversion component any longer.

9. Authentic Business Information

Local SEO requires its very own strategy that is distinct from other optimization efforts but on a more general level adding authentic business information on Google My Business, Facebook and other relevant local citations are crucial local ranking factors. Local SEO optimization efforts should include:

  • Correct NAP – name, address and phone number
  • Authenticated business listings on relevant resources
  • Reviews from reputable sites
  • Content that fulfils local search demand

10. Consider Search Demand & Intent

This part might not directly correlate with organic search rankings however proper keyword search demand mapping as well as planning out content by classifying and understanding user search intent is crucial for any site’s ranking success. Keyword search demand mapping should be seen as a core strategic framework to site planning and optimization. It provides a clear overview of a sites search market share vs. key ranking/direct competitors, helps to inform on a site’s information architecture and what pages need to be optimized or developed to attract more traffic. If you want an easy-to-use keyword research tool that brings comprehensive search features I’d go with Keyword Finder. Search intent is also crucial when planning out content as you need to understand what people are actually looking for and at what buying stage they are in. For example, if someone uses “compare” as part of their search query, they’re likely investigating a product or particular service. And if they use “buy”, they’re probably looking to make a purchase. Search queries will change depending on the stage of a user’s buying journey:

  • Searching for an answer to a question (informational& navigational)
  • Searching for more specific information (research & discovery)
  • Making a purchase (transactional)

Now that you know all the decisive Google ranking factors you’ll be able to eliminate strategies that didn’t work and optimize your bottom line.

BUT if you truly want to master your SEO and grow your business just keep reading…

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