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You often hear business owners saying “I want to rank first” for their targeted keywords. That is because on average, 71.33% of searchers click on results shown on the first page. Page two and three get only 5.59% of clicks. And on the first page alone, the top 5 results account for 67.60% of clicks.

So from a business perspective, potential customers are much more likely to find and choose your business if you rank highly on Google.

How do you get your page to rank highly on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s)?

Google uses about 200 search ranking factors in their algorithm.

The overall goal with all the different ranking factors is to deliver the most relevant search results for a given search. By finding the “best” content and delivering that to users, Google will not only be satisfying the searchers but they will also be keeping themselves as the preferred search engine.

More satisfied users, means more traffic on Google and the more Google can charge to advertisers.

To tailor your website to be perfect for every one of the 200 different ranking factors a lot of things would need to go your way. Instead, it is most efficient to focus on the most important ranking factors.

Which ranking factors does Google consider to be the most important?

How can you optimize your website to rank highly for these factors?

Continue reading to find out!

1. Content

The most important ranking factor for Google is the content on your website.

Google has bots that go through every page on the internet. These bots are often called “crawlers”. As they crawl the World Wide Web they index, or save, all the pages into Google’s database.

Then, when you search something in Google, Google scans all these pages using their algorithms to evaluate each web page and then gives you the best results.

So naturally, the content on your site is what Google will look at first.

There are a few different aspects of content that are important to consider

Length

Pages with more content do better than pages with ‘thin’ content. Algorithm updates like Hummingbird and RankBrain are all about optimizing search results to match the searcher’s query. This means that for the query to be answered an in depth examination of one topic in easy to understand language will rank first.

Keyword Usage

Throughout the pages, it should be clear what the page is about. It should also be focused on one central topic. This can be done by determining the keywords you want the page to rank for then creating the page around those keywords.

Use keywords in the H1 text and in the body. Your keywords should come naturally, if you’re talking clearly on the given topic. If you are talking about “Apples”, then the word “apples” will appear in the H1 and Types of Apples, How to Eat Apples and so on will end up being the sub headings.

Correct use of keywords will make sure Google knows what the page is about. But make sure you are not engaging in “keyword stuffing”, a term for unnecessary usage of keywords. Keywords should always flow easily in the paragraphs and be logically placed.

Comprehensiveness

Good content is important but it is also important for that content to be easy to understand for the user.

Correct usage of H1 and H2 text is a good way to tell Google (and the user) what your page is about. Subheadings can also make the page easier to read by sectioning your post.

Using multimedia is another great way to improve the user experience. So include image, infographics, and videos wherever applicable.

2. Backlink Profile

To measure a page’s legitimacy and credibility, Google will evaluate a page’s backlink profile. A backlink profile is made up of all the different sites with links pointing to your site.

How does Google make backlinks a measurable signal? It is done by evaluating the level of quality your links are and where these links are coming from, amongst other factors. Specifically, the number of backlinks, link authority and diversity.

Number Of Backlinks

The more sites you have linking to yours the better. Having links pointing to your site from great sites indicates to Google that your page is socially verified as a useful page. People view your page as relevant and credible enough to link to it on their site.

One thing to watch out for when trying to increase your backlink profile is spam links.

Because the number of backlinks is a ranking factor for Google there are a lot of black hat SEO sites out there which create pages for the sole purpose of getting backlinks.  However, Google has noticed this problem and taken action against it by prioritizing other link factors like quality of the links.

When Google crawls the web it marks pages that have a lot of outbound links and few inbound links as spam sites. Being associated with such sites will negatively impact your page.

In fact, in 2012 Google released the Penguin Algorithm Update. Penguin was designed to better catch sites attempting to inflate their search ranking position with spam links. Specifically, those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.

Link Authority

The number of links is important. But what is equally, if not more important, is the quality of those links. Link authority will be determined by the authority of the domain linking to you. Domain authority is evaluated by looking at the number of links pointing to a site and the quality of those links.

The more links you have coming into your site (inbound links) the higher your domain authority will be. Links from pages with a high domain authority will have more weight than those from pages with a low domain authority.

Spam sites usually have a low domain authority so checking the domain authority of the pages linking to you is a good way to make sure you don’t have any spam links pointing to your domain.

Diversity

Google will typically only count links coming from the same domain once. So even if one domain links to you 5 times those links will carry less weight than if 5 different sites linked to you.

The primary thing to focus on will be getting links from a number of different domains. Also to focus on getting links from domains covering a variety of industries.

How To Optimize Backlink Profile

The first step to optimize your backlink profile will be getting your backlink profile.

At ElementIQ, we use the MOZ Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs to evaluate backlink profiles. This is a free and easy to use tool. It will tell you the domain authority of the site you are evaluating as well as all the inbound links.

If you are link building, checking your competitors SEO link profile is a great way to see what you are up against. It is also a great way to get ideas of websites and blogs you can reach out to for link building.

If you are working on link building, this blog post by Kissmetrics is a great resource.  

3. Mobile Optimization

Google is always working on improving their algorithms to make sure search results are as relevant as possible. Today, more than half of Google queries are coming from mobile devices. So it is logical for Google to be paying more attention to how sites function for mobile users. This was the premise for Google’s new “mobile first” version of indexing.

Up until now when Google was indexing sites they came from a desktop perspective. Now, they will be going through the web from a mobile perspective first and desktop second.

When building your site it is important to make sure it is responsive and optimized for mobile users first and desktop users second.

Additionally, the content on your website should be the same for desktop and mobile

How To Optimize For Mobile

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly tool to test your website. The great thing about this tool is it will tell you how a Googlebot would rank your site, not just how users view it.

4. Page Speed

Page speed ties heavily into a good user experience and is an important ranking factor.

The rule of thumb is desktop websites should load in 3 seconds or less, and mobile websites should load in 2 seconds or less.

Page speed also affects other ranking factors such as the page bounce rate.

How To Optimize For Speed

You can evaluate your website’s mobile and desktop page speed with Google’s Page Speed Tool. This tool will also recommend ways to make your website faster so you can get started on making the improvements necessary.

Other Ranking Factors

These are just a few of the many different ranking factors for more information on some of the other ranking factors take a look at this infographic from Search Engine Land.

Ultimately your goal should be to make yourself visible to potential clients. As the digital world becomes increasingly important to how customers find businesses having a top position in SERP’s is a great way to increase leads.

Good focused content will be rewarded and the rest is improving your technical skills.

wooden desk with coffee and a laptop top view

How Did I Get Here?

The Job Description

From the moment I read the job posting for ElementIQ, I knew it was the job for me. ElementIQ’s internship program is exactly what it says it is–a program. The program provides training on various aspects of digital marketing then assigns tasks related to the training. These tasks enable you to practice what you have learned. I was so excited to see this job posting because it is a job where I am actually going to learn skills that will better prepare me for a marketing career.

So, how has my first week measured up to my initial thoughts? Read on to find out!

The Internship Program

Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?

Day 1 – Thursday – Orientation

The first day was a whirlwind of information. Ramesh is the main leader of the orientation program. He spent the day teaching me and Joseph, another intern who started on the same day as me, about the inner workings of ElementIQ.

ElementIQ is very up-to-date on innovative productivity applications. They use apps like Google Drive, Quip, Teamwork, and Slack to communicate and collaborate. These applications are awesome. They make staying focused and working efficiently much easier.

There are three important aspects in ElementIQ’s culture, their recipe for success is:

Huddle

Every morning at 9:08 the whole team gets together either in person or via video chat in the huddle. We talk about what needs to be accomplished that day and anything that may be blocking someone from accomplishing their tasks.

Weekly Meeting

Every Thursday from 4-5 Sam leads a meeting to go over what is happening with the agency. Part of the meeting is a deep dive in which someone leads a discussion on a topic that will better the agency.

Weekly Check-In

At ElementIQ a lot of effort is put into ensuring their employees are improving. But at the end of the day, our primary focus is the clients. Through years of experience, ElementIQ has learned that communication is key. So every Monday, we send weekly check-in emails to our clients. These emails overview what we did for the client last week, what we will be doing this week, anything we may need from them as well as any other relevant pieces of information.

Day 2 – Friday – First Remote Day

Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from about 9 am to 5 pm are spent work at a coworking office in Burnaby called SpaceKraft.

SpaceKraft is a true modern office space with chalk walls, free coffee, bean bags and a stellar view of Vancouver. The remaining two days of the week, Wednesdays and Fridays, are spent working remotely.

The day starts with a team huddle at 9:08 am, even on the days when we are all working remotely. In the huddle, everyone talked about what they had in store for their days. There was still a lot for me to learn to get up to speed with what was happening with the agency, so I spent the day reading over information about ElementIQ and some of the different aspects of digital marketing.

After a long day of reading, watching informational videos, and video chatting with Ramesh to review the material I read, the weekend had arrived!

I still needed to complete a Search Engine Basics course administered by DistilledU that I didn’t have a chance to get to on Friday. So I did that over the weekend.

Day 3 – Monday – Getting To Know The Clients

The first two days of the internship were spent learning about ElementIQ’s structure and the fundamentals of digital marketing.

Now that I understood the basics of digital marketing it was time to learn about ElementIQ’s clients! Ramesh spent the morning walking me and Joseph through each client and what we do for them. We then took some time to visit the clients’ websites and look over some work ElementIQ had previously done for them.

On Monday Ramesh also walked me and Joseph through the periodic table of SEO, a great resource that overviewed everything we had learned so far.

Day 4 – Tuesday – Blog Posts And Location Pages

On Tuesday, we put our knowledge into action and started working on projects for clients. Our first task was editing a blog post. Karmen, EIementIQ’s writing extraordinaire, showed us how to navigate WordPress. She also showed us where to find a blog post to edit which was our next task. I have used WordPress for school so I was familiar with the site. This previous experience made it easier to write my first blog post for ElementIQ.

Karmen and I were also tasked with creating some location pages for one of our clients. When I was first assigned this task I didn’t even know what a location page was! However, Ramesh provided us with some resources and Lincoln showed us a different company’s location pages so we knew what to do.

Day 5 – Wednesday – Always Learning

I absolutely love our office space, but the commute is about an hour for me so having Wednesday as a work at home day is nice and breaks up my week well.

One might be concerned that working from home makes us less efficient, but our collaborative productivity applications (such as quip and teamwork) helps us to stay on task.

Wednesday started off with the team huddle. Then, I spent the rest of the day working on a blog post, finalizing the location pages, and beginning to acquire a search engine optimization certification from Digital Marketer.

Day 6 – Thursday – Made It Through The First Week!

Thursday was officially one week after I started at ElementIQ. I was assigned the task of auditing one of our client’s websites that we had redesigned. Auditing was a fun task. It included editing for consistency, formatting, creating some images, and all the while learning a lot about dental work!

Thursday is also the day of our weekly meeting so we spent an hour going over what was happening with the agency. The deep dive topic for this meeting was about prospecting and closing. Sam shared with us some information about how to always be selling which was the main takeaway.

In the afternoon, Caleb, EIementIQ’s search engine optimization whiz, gave me, Karmen, and Joseph a lesson on SEO. This is a topic I had been learning about all week so it was incredibly beneficial to have a group discussion about it.

Day 7 – Friday – Great First Week

At the end of the first full week, I can officially say I am loving my summer internship! Everyone on the team is so kind and willing to help each other out which adds to the great workplace atmosphere.

My favorite thing about ElementIQ is their mindset for growth. Everyone at the agency is dedicated to self-improvement and we are provided with ample educational resources to help us with that process. This aligns perfectly with my summer goal to learn as much as possible about marketing.

There are so many different fields of marketing and as the world continues to digitize, digital marketing is going to become more and more important. I am so happy my summer is dedicated to becoming as proficient as possible in this up-and-coming field.