As we have progress with technologies and AI. Other areas of internet are also directly affected, mainly SEO. In 2020 if you want to rank on the first page of Google, you must focus on multiple factors of your website. Here I have tried to list out 9 important factors which directly affect your website’s SEO.
You can also read about the free tools which you can use for keyword research here.
How does SEO Work ?
Before getting into the actual details on which factors are the necessary for SEO. Let us first briefly understand how Google ranks your website. This will provide a background information on why the later factors are important.
Look at the image below to get an idea on how Google might rank your website.
The first step to ranking is Google finding your website. Once the Google finds the information on where to look. The bots known as spiders are ran through link provided. The work of spiders is to extract the links and analyse the markup of your website.
After successfully crawling your website Google uses their highly sophisticated algorithm to analyse the contents from previous steps. The algorithm puts your data against the already existing data to identify where your site belongs in the web of links.
Once that is figured out it gives your link a quantifiable number. This will later be used a user queries for something on google. Google presents the result based on the information it previously collected about everything o the topic searched through the “Keywords“.
Let us now look at the list of important factors that directly affect SEO.
Factor #1: The Use of HTTPS
Gone are the days of insecure connections in web. The early HTTP days were the norm in the internet was HTTP is over. It is due to issues in HTTP and security advancements. HTTP websites are considered to be of low quality.
As everyone is focused in creating a secure web. And with it there has been introduction of Let’s Encrypt, a non profit organization. Let’s Encrypt provide free SSL certificates to anyone without any cost. Most providers have it on their cPanel, check yours now to find out.
Why is HTTPS a necessity ?
Anyone who is viewing the site must be fully secure against the vulnerabilities. And it is the duty of the site’s owner to protect it’s users. Search engines functions on this principle and have made it a major thing for ranking these days.
And you might have heard the term hijacking and man in the middle (MITM) attacks. If you are surfing over an insecure network and also submitting sensitive contents through it. You are very much likely to be hacked, everything being transmitted is completely visible to everyone with enough technical knowledge.
For this reason a owner must always use HTTPS and a visitor must always ensure the site is protected before sending sensitive information.
But wait there’s more
HTTPS makes a website secure, as long as the connection is legitimate. Now what do I mean by that is, if you see a lock icon on your address bar, the site is secure. Click on it to find out the status of the connection. And to verify that you are connected to the right server without any MITM.
A fully secure website will show “Connection is secure” when you click on the lock. But if you are not a warning like information is displayed. Because SSL certificates can also be crafted manually and used. There are rare cases of this but they are not uncommon even for legitimate use.
And the SEO ranking is highly dependent on this factor as well. Google will not rank the websites which are not secure. Because it greatly affects the user experience and Google is here to provide a great user experience.
Factor #2: Optimize Website For Smartphones
This is the year 2020, where most people use mobile for their web browsing activity. And this key factor is recognized by the search engines. They stand by the mobile first approach for any website. If your website is optimized for mobile, congratulations. You are already on you way to rank higher.
The chances of you being ranked higher in search results is also dependent on the mobile optimizations for your website.
Why is mobile friendliness a factor ?
This is a good question to ask if you are just starting with SEO. With the number of mobile devices in the world right now everyone at least owns 2 devices out of which mobile is at least 1.
Since, we do not always carry around our laptops with us. Our to-go device for the web is smartphone. Now the smartphones can be anything from simple mobile handset to (x)pads.
How can I adapt mobile first approach ?
Well, for starters this has to be done during the developement of the website. If you are from a non technical background and are using CMS like WordPress for managing your blog / website. There are premium themes which are highly optimized for SEO. All you have to do is read their documentations and ask in forums.
I have also created a list of useful plugins for managing your WordPress site, read here.
If you have knowledge on programming and other technical things you can look into CSS media queries for optimizing your website. You can find the specifications and also great tutorials on how to achieve mobile first approach.
Factor #3: Quality of Your Content
Yes, Google’s SEO algorithm now even analyses the quality of the content you provide. If you have lower quality content chances are you will likely be not appearing on search results. The quality has multiple factors such as originality, plagiarism, content value.
The content you put out must not be plagiarized from any other sites. You have to create your own content, you cannot just copy and modify the content for getting ranked on Google.
Let us face it visitors are the main components of any websites. You want them to come back to you for much more readings. Even if you rank on the first page of Google but you have no beneficial content for your visitors. Sooner or later you are going to get moved to the last.
It is because the visitor just doesn’t want to visit your site because of the content you provide. You should always prioritize your visitor’s need and provide as much detail in your content as possible. This will result in user engagement because if the visitor finds ever bit of information in your website they will not have to go anywhere else for content.
These things makes you an original writer with valuable content. It will ultimately help your users to come back to you in the long run. Because they have now recognized you as an authentic writer who provides quality content.
Exactly this factor is taken into consideration by search engines. And they rank your website based on the value of the content you produce. Which when mixed with other factors will help you rank higher on Google.
Factor #4: Website Speed
The speed of website is the one of the important factor which will affect SEO rankings on Google. Because the web has evolved in past 25 years, and the advancement of technology has made people familiar to speed.
Nobody likes the pages that load slow in decent internet connections. This is true for every users on the internet because even me, I cannot stand slow page speeds. The website owner has to optimize their website for faster loading.
Google itself has even pointed out that speed is one of the various factors that affect SEO.
Google examines the loading of the first byte from your website to determine the speed of the connection. It is for their own internal workings because they spend time crawling your website, (spiders).
If the site is slow the cost of crawling the site is greater. The servers have to spend more time waiting to analyse your content. Which can be quite costly for Google. Hence, it affect SEO negatively while indexing is being carried out.
How to measure page speed ?
I have talked much about how page speed affect SEO but I really have not given any ways to determine the speed of your page. Well everything has a time and now the time has come.
There are multiple ways you can determine your website’s speed. The most popular being Google’s PageSpeed Insights. You can head over to that website and determine the speed of your website.
You can view result and see the things that might be affecting your website’s speed. Work on those and you might just crank up your loading speed drastically. Read to find out how you can increase page speed.
How to increase page speed ?
Now that we know how to measure the website’s speed. Let us look at ways to improve out website’s speed. These are all just technical bits, if you are not familiar you might want to google around a bit to understand the concepts.
Let us look at the topics one by one.
All the contents from servers are served over the network. Sometimes the contents of each request for html, js or css might be too much (> 500 KB). Well this is a problem even for modern internet. Because now the server has to send out KB’s of data which can be just compressed.
Browsers are capable of decompressing the gzip compression. Hence you should always use your server’s capability to compress the files before responding to any requests.
Minify HTML, CSS & JS
Another thing to watch out for is the contents of files itself. There are a lot of noise which will not be rendered by browser for user’s UI. Such as comments and spaces ( yes browsers render multiple HTML white-spaces as one white-spaces character).
The contents of the files should be made compact because on production environment no one is going to inspect all the codes. All everyone cares about is the result of the development. Therefore, the contents must be minimized to save bandwidth and reduce load time.
The most important part of the website, the images. If they are not handled properly it can cause the page to load painfully slow. Images must not be used at their full resolution, they must be compressed to suitable size instead.
The most web friendly format is WebP, but be cautious about the fact that all browsers do not support this format. You can keep the size of image between 100 – 200 KB for most use cases.
Therefore, the best advice is to remove / move the code from head section to the end of body section. It will slightly improve the performance.
Server response time
Out of all the factors this directly affect SEO. And the server response time is affected by multiple factors. The factors being the total number of visitors you’re getting, the hosting provider you choose, the location of servers on the globe.
Hence, choosing a best hosting provider might drastically improve the performance. Server response time isn’t something you can control but the hosting provider is something you can.
Factor #5: Age of Domain
This might look a little bit ridiculous, but it’s true, somewhat. Google’s algorithms do not prioritize the fresh domains, and that’s a myth. But as you age more you are more trusted because you have much more content. Because well, if you’ve been in the game for so long you must be writing legit contents.
Aside from the assumption let’s be clear that age doesn’t really alter the SEO. But, there is one more thing. If you have a domain which is old, you will have more contents. Meaning, your visitors will have a sense of trust for your content.
And if they find really good amount of content on you website they will not be looking anywhere else for anything. Hence, it is one indirect factor for ranking on Google. Because the greater the engagement the less the need for SEO.
If your visitors are visiting you directly every now and then then you have already built a trust with them. Meaning they will directly follow you website for the related things and are not dependent on the SEO.
This might look a little off but creating a trust from visitor is one of the most important factor for this times. Because there are really great amount of websites and well optimized contents in the web. You want to build a brand through SEO.
Bottom line, though it doesn’t really directly affect SEO but with age if you keep up maintaining quality content. It will build you a great visitor base and it will be really helpful.
Factor #6: Length of Content
This is yet another factor that directly affect SEO. You might as how ? Continue reading to find more insight on what might be the case for this signal.
Google has tremendously advanced with it’s algorithm which determines how one might rank higher in the search results.
I have already mentioned the quality of your content but length of your content will also have greatly affect your SEO in 2020. Let us face it having unoriginal long content will hurt your SEO.
But on the other hand if you have quality content and the length of the content is between 2,000 to 3,000 words, that’s superb. Your content will be consistently analysed and be ranked higher in SEO results.
Why is the content length important ?
Now you might be thinking what’s the fuss with length of content. Nobody want’s to go to a site that provides only a partial length. And most importantly nobody wants a site that provides surface knowledge about the topic.
Hence, creating content of quality and of length greatly affect the SEO.
How to write better content ?
Now this is a subjective question. It doesn’t really have one straight answer. But here’s a generic tip which might help you write content with great length.
Before you get into writing about any topic, you should thoroughly research about it first. Organize your contents into multiple headings and paragraphs. Is there something related to the concepts presented ?
Research more to find out about it, if yes include your findings. And once you have gathered all the related information about a topic you have it.
Ultimately the resulting content will have a great length and quality, depending on the seriousness of your research.
Factor #7: Back links are important
One of another important factors which affect SEO are back links. This is one of the prominent factor which are the building blocks of SEO. Why do you ask ? Let me elaborate.
Google among it’s other factors is greatly dependent on the links spread over the web. There are sites with higher Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA).
These two are the concepts which affect your site’s ranking. A domain or page with higher authority is more trusted among the sites presented in the web.
Always go for quality over quantity search for websites with quality where you can leave your site’s link which will act as a back link.
How to build back links ?
This is not a tutorial or a silver bullet on how to build back links. But, there is always a generic thing about back-links.
The most important thing about back links is that you have to reference yourself from non spam sources. Do you ever see some comments appearing about some kind of medicine on your website ? Yeah, that’s spam no doubt and might be some kind of bot.
But you should read other people’s related blog and leave comments with your website’s link on the website field. Not on the comment itself, though you might do that but it looks like a spam, really.
Another way is to do some form of guest post on fairly relevant website. This strategy will not immediately reflect but will have a great impact in the long run.
So, those are the few generic things which might help you build quality back-links. Oh, and all the back-links are not considered of equal quality or even quality.
Factor #8: User Experience (UX)
User experience is something that must be a priority not only for SEO but for visitors. Because visitors are the main components of your website. You are focusing on the factors that affect SEO because you want to attract more visitors, right ?
But as we are aware Google is using it’s AI to help rank websites on it’s search engine. So the user experience is something which must not be overlooked. There are various factors which the UX affects such as: CPC, User Engagement, etc.
Now you be thinking what are the areas of UX ?
To answer that question we have to understand multiple things. The UX is directly related to the user hence UI is one major component of UX.
But there are other’s as well. Such as the website loading time, the ease of access, user friendly menu placement, proper breaking down of topics into suitable headings and subheading.
Those are just some general areas which are related to the UX.
In short nobody want’s to use a unusable website even though it has great content. You have to focus on the usability of the website along with the quality of the content put out.
So you better research more on the things that fall in the category of UX. And then improve the UX to gain more users and have them engaged in your writings.
Factor #9: Hyperlinks
The last but an important factor which affect SEO is links. Well, basically the links are the building blocks of the world wide web (WWW). Everything in the WWW is basically just links in one form or the other.
There are basically 3 kinds of links in a website.
The links which point to your websites. Can also be referred to as back-links ( or inbound links ). I have already talked about the back-links in the above section. These
The next one is the outbound link, which is the links that goes out to other websites from your own. Either as a source or a reference or simply like an advertisements which you put out.
The final one being the internal links. You link your own content from your own site’s page. Make no mistake links like this have a great affect on the SEO of your website. In fact, you need to put as many as you can to make your presence more on the web.
Make sure you link enough related contents in your own website to one another. Because you want to engage the user in your own website as much as you can. Once the user leaves your website they might never return if you have not enough content.
Hence the links are the most important part of SEO. Keep researching and comment below if I have left anything out.