Over the year’s marketers and business owners have been kept in the dark about what exactly makes up Google’s ranking factors, with only rumours and myths flying around. And apart from the big announcements like the flip to a mobile first index, which is still being worked on, and the ‘Google Zoo’ things have been kept pretty under wraps. Well, our experts have scoured the web and found 20 interesting and somewhat surprising bits of SEO advice direct from the horses own mouth. So, take a read through these 20 tips, that we’ve taken directly from Google’s Webmaster blogs and Google spokespeople, and use them to help improve your business’ SEO today!
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1. Use multiple H1 Tags on a single page – Google has recently changed their instructions on the usage of H1 Tags, giving us all an opportunity to target more keywords in an ethical manner, through the use of more than H1 Tag per page.
2. The latest Panda update is about more than just quality content – Google’s latest Panda update is about more than just content, as it places an emphasis on the quality of your site’s architecture. This update aims to make us pay closer to attention to providing a great user experience not just through our website’s content but through how a user navigates through our pages.
3. AMP not yet a ranking factor – Though AMP has been making splashes throughout the SEO world this last year, providing mobile users with a better experience, it is not yet part of Google’s ranking factors, though it is thought when the mobile first index flip occurs in early 2018, that AMP may then be included.
4. There is no single formula to being number one! – As with life, there is no single answer to how to get to the top. And getting your website to the number one search result spot is no different, with page rankings affected by a diverse range of factors, which are dependent on a page’s ranking capacity and then subjected to Google’s algorithm.
5. Spamming Rich Snippets will see you punished – As with all things Google takes spamming seriously and if you’re found to be violating their guidelines in regard to Rich Snippet usage, you’ll find your pages and website come under severe punitive action.
6. Penalties can only be seen in Search Console – Google has advised us to be wary of third party tools who say they can tell us if we’ve suffered a penalty, stating that only webmasters with access to search console can see penalties.
7. Content in tabs given full SEO weightage – There have often been discussions between SEO experts about if content included in tabs or collapsible segments has any SEO weightage, well you’ll be glad to have a concrete answer as Google confirm they do.
8. Domain Authority isn’t a ranking factor – Though quoted by numerous SEO experts as a sign of your website’s authority, Google has stated that DA is not actual metric or signal deployed or used by them to rank websites, but simply a term coined by Moz.
9. Singular and plural words are different – Google advise that a keywords singular and plural variations are treated as two different entities by its crawlers, so make sure you wisely make the most of them in your content marketing plans.
10. Dashes and underscores in your URL don’t pose a threat – This is probably something you already know, but using dashes or underscores within your sites URLs doesn’t pose any threat to your SEO and in addition, Google doesn’t have a preference to which one you use.
11. Speaking of URLs – Placing keywords in your URLs can have a very slight advantage to your SEO, but before you go running off to make sure every URL has a keyword featured in it, just consider a number of redirects you’ll need to set up. And when you consider how small a benefit this will have to your SEO, as Google’s algorithms are smart enough use a host of other on-page elements such as page title, meta description and page content to identify the keywords you want to rank for.
12. Outbound links won’t help increase your ranking – Using outbound links, to useful and valuable resources, can help provide a better user experience, but Google has clarified that though that’s good it doesn’t consider them as a ranking factor.
13. Title tags aren’t as important as we once thought – Though having been an integral part of SEO strategies since the dawn of SEO, Google has stated that title tags aren’t a critical ranking factor. And in fact, Google may choose to present your H1 Tag in search results instead depending on the relevancy to the search query.
14. Crawl frequency and higher rankings – Google say there is no direct correlation between these two things, meaning whether your page gets crawled daily or weekly there is no difference in effect to your ranking performance.
15. Leave your 301 redirects for year – Google’s John Muller has stated that it can take up to a year for Google to fully understand your 301 redirects, so it’s worth leaving them up for a good while.
16. Social influence isn’t a ranking factor – This has been debated time and time again, but Google has reinforced their stance that social influence has no effect on your page’s rankings. Though we all know that increased social traffic, which leads to more engagement on site and a lower bounce rate, definitely has an indirect effect.
17. Not all of your website is indexed – Surprisingly Google announced that they never fully index the whole of your website’s pages, so it’s pretty key to make sure those important pages are front and centre if you want them to rank.
18. Number up your infinite scroll pages if you want them to be crawled – Quite a common blog and testimonial page design these days is the infinite scroll, but if you want Google to keep crawling them, then you need to add pagination to the pages.
19. Domain age isn’t a ranking factor – There have been quite a few surprising announcements about things we’ve all thought as of ranking factors, not being one, and Domain Age is another. And Google’s John Muller added to the statement that Domain registration length isn’t a factor either.
20. Speaking of things that aren’t ranking factors – User engagement, whether it be visiting a number of different pages on your site, creating an account or signing-up for your newsletter – it doesn’t matter to Google, as they don’t consider it a ranking factor and it won’t influence your ranking in search results. That being said providing a great user experience is vital to the success of growing your business through your website, from lead generation to product sales.
So, there you have it 20 valuable and somewhat surprising SEO insights from the mouth of Google itself, but as Google has often been rather coy with its ranking factor information we’d advise you not to take all of them as the final word, and if you ever have any doubts or concerns regarding your business’ SEO then our expert team are always on hand to offer advice and guidance.