It’s interesting to watch the ranking priority changes Google makes after various core updates. Google threw a huge update at us on May 4th- right in the middle on their COVID-19 GMB shut down – and there was a big shuffle in rankings. We’ve seen increases and decreases in ranking and maybe you have too. Smarter people than myself analyzed 1000+ websites to better understand how Google ranks a website. With their 270+ manual hours and my few more to study and process, I want to present the findings. — Remember these are just stats for low to mid-sized websites and don’t reflect the case for every website everywhere.
How does Google rank a website?
Google never ranks a website based on one single item, update, or bits of data. Google uses a wide range of data to determine if a website should be ranked. It’s important to know that to understand the importance of solid and quality search engine optimization.
So, you might see:
a concrete website ranking #1 with 0 social media votes, or
a concrete website ranking #1 with only 5 internal pages, or
a concrete website ranking #1 with only 10 backlinks,
but that not an excuse to not aim for social media votes, or for your goal to stop at 10 backlinks. More articles can increase your chances of ranking higher; social media votes can increase your chances of ranking higher; a lot of quality backlinks can increase your chances of ranking higher.
SEO is about and has always been about giving your website positive points from many different areas. So here’s what you need to know in the crazy world of Google and SEO.
1. Backlinks to the homepage or backlinks to inner pages
The majority of positive-ranking websites have a higher percentage of backlinks going to inner pages than to the homepage. 30%-50% backlinks to homepage and 50%-70% backlinks to inner pages.
SEO tip: Your inner pages should have a higher backlink count than your homepage.
2. Exact brand anchors
The majority of positive-ranking websites have about 30% exact brand anchors. If your site is DallasConcretePros.com, your anchor text would be ‘concrete’ or ‘dallas concrete.’
SEO tip: Use a lot of exact broad anchors
3. Social Media Votes
The majority of the positive-ranking websites had close to 2000 social votes – that were not spammed. Google does a very good job of the relationship between social media presence and a company’s website.
SEO tip: Work on getting more social media votes from legitimate profiles. Don’t buy thousands at a time, and your social media presence shouldn’t look too spammy.
4. Which Social Media sites does Google prefer?
The majority of positive-ranking websites had social medial votes from:
Fb (likes, comments, share) (close to 20%-50% of total votes)
Pinterest (Close to 20-50% of total votes)
GetPocket, Folkd, Bitly, VK, Buffer, Reddit
SEO tip: Focus your social media+ SEO efforts on Facebook and Pinterest
5. Backlink Niche Relevancy
The majority of positive-ranking websites have many niche related backlinks. Sites that rank lower have fewer niche related backlinks and/or their backlinks were posted on the wrong category of a referring website.
SEO tip: Get links from niche relevant websites. If the links are from unrelated sites, make sure to select the right category, or use the right tag as much as possible.
6. Total On-Page Article Count
After 1000 websites were analyzed in the same niche, the positive-ranking website had almost 3 times more articles than it’s top 10 competitors.
SEO tip: Write and post more articles than your top 10 competitors. ‘Competitors’ does not include authority competitor sites such as Angie’s List or Roto-Rooter. It would be close to impossible to have more articles than them.
7. Article Word Count
The majority of positive-ranking websites have an average of 1000 words per article. The lower-ranking sites have an average of 700 words per article.
SEO tip: Make sure to have an average of 1000 words per article on your website.
8. Anchor Text
The majority of positive-ranking websites have at least 5 different anchors used. Lower ranked sites used only 2-3 anchors pointing to the page.
SEO tip: When creating backlinks, see to it that you use at least 5 different anchors pointing to your pages.
9. User Time Spent on Website
The majority of positive-ranking websites see it’s users spend an average of 53 seconds on site. Lower-ranking sites see an average of 1.49 minutes on site.
SEO tip: I have no clue how to interpret that data for SEO. Though you should make your calls to action clear and concise to close.
10. Video Backlinks
Google places a lot of weight on video backlinks. The majority of positive-ranking websites have a lot of video backlinks pointing at them.
SEO tip: Youtube videos pointing at your site is key. You can also link from other sites such as dailymotion, etc.
11. Relevancy of a Website (on-page)
The majority of positive-ranking websites had fewer broad articles than lower-ranking sites. If your website is Dallas Concrete Pros, a possible broad article would be “contractors in dallas.” Google definitely has an affinity for on-page relevancy.
SEO tip: When adding articles to your site, stick to your niche and don’t stray. No need for broad articles.
12. LSI Keywords in Backlinks
After 1000 websites were analyzed in the same niche, the majority of positive-ranking websites had more backlinks using LSI keywords than their top 10 competitors.
So if your site is Dallas Concrete Pros, Google back in the day would see that you used “concrete” as your primary keyword to know what your site is about. Today, Google relies on LSI keywords to understand content at a deeper level. It now scans your site for terms like “flatwork,” “driveway repair,” and “pavement” to be confident your site is about concrete.
SEO tips: It’s very helpful to use more LSI keywords in your backlinks.
A single factor is probably not the cause for a drop in rank or a jump in ranking. There are many factors at play. This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of al SEO tactics to perform for your website or lead generation site, but a good list to consider after the May 2020 Google update.