The positioning of a website in the search results is calculated by an algorithm. This algorithm incorporates many factors or criteria that can improve or even worsen the ranking of a website. Some ranking criteria are known, others are kept secret by the search engine operators.
Good search engine optimization, good ranking
The success of SEO is always measured by its positioning in the SERPs, even if this position is not influenced solely by on-page and off-page measures. Measures in the areas of social media, SEA, conversion rate optimization or content marketing naturally also contribute. But the fact remains: the better your website is found by search engines, the more traffic you will generate.
According to DELUXESURVEILLANCE, the position among the top 10 plays a decisive role, because the click rate drops significantly on the second page of results. Evaluations by Sistrix show that around 99 percent of all clicks are limited to the first 10 organic search results. But even within the first 10 places it looks very different:
– 1st place: 60 percent
– 2nd place: 16 percent
– 3rd place: 8 percent
– 4th place: 5 percent
And yet the placement doesn’t make everything. As Google is getting better and better at recognizing the user’s intention and incorporating further user data such as the location into the search result, the number of specially marked elements is increasing. In addition to data highlighters and rich snippets, these also include Google applications, e.g. weather, knowledge graph or local. Of course, these draw attention to themselves. So it is not only a good ranking that counts, but also an appealing search result look.
Ranking factors from Google
According to Google, around 200 factors are included in the algorithm. Many of them are of course secret to prevent manipulation of the search results. In addition, the criteria are constantly adjusted in order to provide the user with a better result. For example, the weighting of backlinks and keyword density has changed.
The following overview of the ranking criteria is therefore not to be regarded as complete and unchangeable, but as a guide to improve the ranking on Google, both on the page itself and with external factors.
Examples of ranking criteria:
Ease of use: The times when websites were optimized for search engines alone are long gone. Instead, the focus is on the user. He should feel comfortable on the side, i.e.:
– easy navigation
– clear structure
– important information is prominently placed
– low loading time
– good search function
Google can understand user behavior, can see how long a user stays on the website, how quickly he jumps off and switches to the next search result, whether there is an interaction with the page, etc.
Navigation architecture: This must be structured in such a way that search engine crawlers can easily and securely capture the website. For example, each subpage should contain a link to the home page.
Backlinks: Even if Google has already pointed out several times that the role of backlinks as a ranking factor has changed, the search engine is still a long way from doing without the references, if only because they form a relatively easily measurable value. The ranking is still influenced by backlinks, but not simply by the number of links, but their quality. The link quality is influenced, among other things, by the relevance of the topic, the link texts and the quality of the linked page.
Keywords: The keyword density, which was once one of the ranking criteria, no longer plays a role today, but it does not mean that pages should no longer be optimized for a keyword. A key term is still relevant for each individual page to show Google what this page is essentially about. Whether this is then relevant for this term and rewarded with a good ranking depends on the subject area of this keyword, ie Google checks to what extent the entire text content matches it. This is to prevent pages from being optimized for a certain keyword, but hiding a completely different offer behind it. An adaptation of the text content in this direction is possible, for example, using WDF * IDF.
Important “placements” for the keyword are:
– in title and description (if possible at the beginning) – rather an indirect factor and above all important with regard to user behavior, as this position has a positive effect on click behavior
– in the main heading and partly in the sub-headings
– in the internal link
Text content: The keyword here is unique content. But it’s not just the uniqueness that counts, the quality of the text content is also important: How are they structured? Do they provide relevant information? Do they offer added value? Are the headlines’ expectations being met? All of this flows into the ranking, sometimes not directly, but indirectly via the user experience.
Social media: According to Google, social signals are not a ranking signal, ie the number of likes, shares, pluses (Google+) etc. is not included in the calculation. On the other hand, there are some studies, including those by Searchmetrics and Moz, which see connections between lively activity in social networks and website rankings. The emphasis is on “connection,” because, as Matt Cutts points out in a response to these findings, it is more about the impact of good content. The likes etc. are not the reason for a better ranking.
Statement from Matt Cutts:
Searchmetrics study on ranking factors
Detailed information on ranking factors can be found in the guidelines for webmasters
Ranking criterion mobile optimization
As early as 2014, Google announced that the mobile friendliness of a website would become a ranking factor. This has been anchored in the algorithm worldwide since April 21, 2015, ie since then, mobile-optimized websites have been preferred to non-mobile-optimized websites in mobile searches. In addition, the designation “mobile-friendly” or “For mobile devices” in the German search has been added to the mobile search results. This should allow the user to recognize whether it is optimized for mobile view before they click on the page:
As with many other ranking criteria, the user experience is also the focus of mobile optimization. Therefore, Google attaches great importance to the following criteria:
– Texts can be read without having to zoom
– Links can be clicked on without problems, ie the user clicks on another navigation point because the distance is too short
– The user does not have to scroll much, as the content is optimally adapted to the smartphone screen size
Google offers a Mobile Friendly Test with which anyone can check their website for this ranking criterion.