There was a time when all you had to do to get your website featured on the first page of Google rankings was to stuff your home page with keywords. Today, however, search engine results favor high-quality, original content – not those 300-word articles generated by robot software. But how have Google rankings changed in recent years and can adding some “how-to” style content to your website boost your rankings and add value for your customers?

How Have Google Rankings Changed? 

Though other search engines do exist (and many people favor them), Google has become the king of all things Internet. If you want to find something (like the best vacuum cleaner), you go to Google. Because Google has become the top search engine, it became necessary for them to develop an algorithm for compiling and ordering search results. Over the years, this algorithm has changed dramatically in terms of what kind of content it favors and as that algorithm continues to change, companies and websites must change with it. Here are some of the criteria that play a role in determining a website’s ranking according to Google’s algorithm:

  • Domain/Trust Authority – Google no longer ranks websites according to how many times they use a specific keyword – now they favor websites that represent an authority in their field and provide their consumers with good value and trustworthy information.
  • On-Page Keyword Usage – Again, this is no longer the main factor that Google considers when determining page rankings but it is still important. Today it isn’t about the number of times you use a certain keyword but striking the right balance in terms of keyword density is important.
  • User Signals – The Google algorithm keeps track not only of how many different users visit a website but also how long they spend on that website and how many links they click through. Pages ranked in the two-three positions have an average click-through rate of 36%.
  • Technical Ranking Factors – The use of H1 and H2 tags plays a role in determining Google rankings. Other technical factors that play a role include mobile accessibility, load time, URL length, and HTTPS encryption.

Google currently uses about 200 different ranking factors in their algorithm, so it is impossible for a website to manipulate all of them. But having a general understanding of what those factors are will help you to create a website that is ranked positively. Learn more in the next section.

What Kind of Content Do Search Engines Favor?

Though there are certain technical factors which play a role in determining a site’s Google ranking, the current Google algorithm places a lot of importance on user experience. Users don’t want to see a website that consists of 300-word pages loaded with every possible instance of a certain keyword – that kind of content has no value. The best way a website can establish itself as an authority in their field is to provide high-quality and informative content. Not only should the content itself be useful, but the website should be a valuable resource as well. One of the most underutilized tools to accomplish this goal is internal linking. Internal links help users to find other relevant content within the same website which increases the amount of time the user spends on the site – this also plays into the website’s favor when it comes to Google rankings. External links, video integration, and high-quality images are also important Google ranking factors.

Another important factor that Google rankings consider is social signals. Different social media platforms are weighted differently with Facebook being the most highly-weighted social signal. In addition to offering a mobile-friendly website, companies can boost their Google rankings by establishing a social media presence. When it comes to the first and second positions for Google rankings, social signals from Google+ are the most prevalent but the same goes for Pinterest and Twitter. It is really about the overall social media presence that a company has rather than their success with any one platform. It isn’t just about the number of social media accounts either, but their authority. Tweets from aged, authority profiles carry a great deal of weight as do likes and shares from popular Facebook pages. The Google algorithm even considers votes on social sharing sites like Digg, Reddit, and Stumbleupon.

How to Create Quality Content that Performs Well 

Understanding how the Google rankings algorithm works can help you to create a website and a web presence that yields excellent results. But there is no way to fulfill all of the Google algorithm’s requirements with a single site – you have to pick a direction and commit to it. There are, however, a few factors you should consider when creating your content to increase your success rate – here are a few of the top factors to incorporate:

  • Create original content. Websites that rank poorly typically offer low-quality content – content that is repetitive, stuffed with keywords, and doesn’t provide real value. Today, websites that rank well are those that offer high-quality and original content – this is how a website becomes an authority.
  • Use strong headlines. A strong headline is the way you turn a prospective reader into an actual reader. Recent statistics from Copyblogger say that 80% of people will read the headline on a site, but only 20% of those people will read the rest of the content. A strong headline will give your readers a preview of your content while intriguing them enough to keep reading.
  • Inspire readers to take action. Not only do readers want content that informs, they also want to know how to apply the information they are being given. You don’t have to tell readers exactly what they should do, but you should inspire them to take action based on their own discretion.
  • Be accurate and informative. Your website isn’t going to do anyone any good if the information you provide is inaccurate or outdated. Not only do you need to offer quality content, but your sources should be other high-quality sites as well. Linking to authoritative sources can help to improve your own rankings but linking to low-quality sites can hurt you.
  • Create engaging content. Readers aren’t going to stay on your site for very long if you bore them. Tell an engaging story and speak to the reader like he is a real person. Give your reader the information they need, but leave them longing for more – then give them links to additional content on your site!
  • Stay up to date. Creating a high-ranking website is an ongoing task – you can’t just post a few articles and expect to stay on the first page of Google rankings. Search engines favor sites that offer regular, up-to-date content.

Creating a website is easier than ever with all kinds of free website generators available. But there is a difference between creating a website and creating a website that works. By learning how the Google algorithm determines site rankings you can craft high-quality, original content for your site that performs and ranks well.