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20 SEO Ranking Factors that are essential for survival in 2020

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SEO is a always ahanging due to Google’s dynamic algorithm. What was working for your website one year will certainly evolve and change over the course of time. So how do you stay on top of these ranking factor changes in 2020?

In this article, we’ll take a close look ( and make it super easy for you to understand ) the most important SEO ranking factors and how you can use these tips to survive the competitive digital landscape on Google in 2020.

Why Your SEO Matters

Every business wants their website to rank on page 1 of Google. And, because of human search behaviour most people click on the first 3 results and this is where you want to be. It’s really competitive and difficult to get to these top results and this is why SEO matters so much. Google is by far the most used search engine in the world and if your website is positioned number one, two or three then you’re bound to get a high click through rate. This in turn will generate more sales leads and inquiries which is what business is all about. On average, sites in the top 3 positions will harness about 40% of web traffic for that keyword search.

Simply put, you have to be up there to get the new business calls. But, to be up there you have to deliver Google users the most informative and valuable results. Google’s reputation depends on this and this is why the top results come from websites that are insightful, user friendly and are packed with juicy content.

But the big question that all businesses want to know is how do I get my website to the top of the search results. All my competitors are there so it’s vital I am as well. This blog will clearly outline what are the most important SEO ranking factors to consider?

What Are Google Ranking Factors?

Google’s goal is to search and display every page on the internet and sort this into a digestible format for it’s users ( the general public). Google will sort and rank each page based on a myriad of ranking factors through it’s complex algorithm. This algorithm will determine the order in which those pages are displayed and which keywords are relevant to these pages and query search terms. This algorithm is a secret and SEO companies can only speculate as to what goes into these ranking factors. They do however have a good idea based on past algorithmic changes and ranking trends. Essentially, all you have to do is play by the ranking factor rules and you should be ok. Deliver what the user wants and your website will rank. Having said that, the organic search algorithm is frequently updated and changed to continue to provide better results to users, so you have to be continually vigilant with your website and always be updating and refining as technology and user habits change. As far as we know there are over 200 ranking factors to consider in 2020, but I’ll just give you the most important based on my experience.

Core SEO Ranking Factors

1. Site Architecture

Your website has to be easy to crawl by the search engines to be visible and this is all dependant on the site’s architecture. Clear, easy to use navigation is vital for ranking. Have the menu at the top of your page with a clear URL structure which makes it easy for users to navigate.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: put your most important service or products as the first button in your navigation.

2. SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate shows that your website is safe and this is super important if you have an eCommerce site. Google, since 2014 has had this as a ranking factor and will continue to do so as internet security becomes more important, Hackers, scams, rip offs are all too common online and having an SSL certificate adds that layer of trust which puts your customers at ease.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: SSL Certificates are easy to install and are only about $50 AUD per year. You internet hosting company will be able to do this for you very quickly.

3. Server Location

This is kind of speculative but it makes sense. Have the location of your server hosting in the country your marketing to. If you are trying to target the Australian market then use Australian hosting providers.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: There are loads of Aussie hosting companies that will offer this service such as Ventra IP, Go Daddy or Melbourne IT.

4. Site Usability

Websites that too confusing and hard to navigate will definitely loose in the ranking wars. Users that land on your website and bounce off it ( because of the bad experience), time spent on each page and the number of pages viewed will all effect your rankings and are prime ranking factors taken into account by Google.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: We suggest you try using a web design agency that knows the correlation between site usability and SEO rankings and what it takes to create a site that offers exemplary site usability.

5. Sitemap

Often overlooked and super easy to implement a sitemaps help search engines to index your site structure and pages more thoroughly. This in turn will improve your sites organic search visibility.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Pop the sitemap in the footer of your website.

6. Contact Information

Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines states that it favours sites with a correct address and contact details. Look at it this way, why would Google rank a Sydney based website in Brisbane if it only had a Sydney address. Many companies try to have multiple addresses throughout Australia with bogus number and fake PO Boxes. This will not work anymore. Be honest with your address and phone number and you’ll see an improvement in your local SEO rankings.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Add a Google map to your location and make sure you add your business on: Google My Business to add to the trustworthiness of your site.

7. Site Reputation

What are people saying about your website and business on other platforms is another Google ranking factor. Are you receiving negative reviews on Google, Yelp or Trip Advisor and how are you handling these. It’s important to protect your brand online for Google to perceive your business as valuable enough to rank.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Answer all negative online reviews in a timely and proactive manner. Never be rude and make sure you address all complaints quickly.

8. Mobile Usability

Mobile usability & having a mobile friendly website is one of the most important ranking factors on Google for 2020. Everyone uses their mobile nowadays so it makes sense that Google would want to only rank sites that deliver a seamless user experience on a mobile. Clunky, difficult to navigate websites that are not mobile friendly will never ever rank over sites that offer the opposite experience.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: If your website is not mobile friendly get your web team to design a WordPress site that offer a great mobile experience. For basic brochure style sites this is generally easy to implement.

Domain Level SEO Ranking Factors

9. Country Code TLD

A country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) is a domain that uses an extension to relate a website back to a specific country or region. For example, .au is used for Australia, .nz for New Zealand, .uk for the United Kingdom and .id is for Indonesia. If you have a website that ends in a .au then your more likely to rank better in Australia than a site ending in .uk. It makes sense as Google would only want to rank businesses that cater for the domestic market as that’s where users are searching. Put simply; if your an electrician in Sydney you wand want your website ending in .au as this is your market.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: A lot of people think it’s OK to have a website ending in .com but if your an Aussie business make sure it ends with a .au.

10. Age of Domain

The jury is still out with this but most people would consider an aged website that has been online for a few years will be easier to rank than a brand new site. Aged domains & websites would have built up a certain level of trust within Google and this means that it would be easier to rank. Having said tat new domains can still rank if these ranking factors outlined in this article are adhered to.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Don’t be negative about ranking a new website. Yes, it will take longer as Google indexes new pages on your site but over time you will start to see it rank.

11. Keywords in Domain Name

Using keywords in your domain name used to have a massive impact on your rankings but having an exact match domain will no longer work as well as it used to. There were too many people doing this and Google has since frowned upon this.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Get a domain name that reflects your business and don’t try to buy one in the hope that it will rank.

On-Page SEO Ranking Factors

12. Title Tags

Page titles or title tags are one of Google’s strongest relevancy signals and are a massive ranking factor. This title must reflect the content of the page so Google can identify this quickly. So if your a plumber in Sydney your page title should begin with the words: ‘Plumbers Sydney’.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Title tags that start with a keyword tend to perform better than titles with keywords at the end of the tag.

13. Keyword Density

Keyword density in 2020 is still an important ranking factor. Your page content must have keywords that are relevant to it more so than on other pages. So for example, if your a ‘ plumber in Sydney ‘ and as part of your services you offer ‘ hot water repairs’ then this page should mention the words ‘ hot water repairs two or three times.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip:  Don’t stuff the page with too many relevant keywords in the hope of ranking as this will make your page content irrelevant and in turn will harm your rankings.

14. Content Page Length

Content length is a really important ranking factor. Thinly worded web pages will not rank over pages that are full of rich, informative copy with the correct H1, H2 and H3 headings. Here’s an interesting statistic that should be very much front of mind when writing copy for your website: The average page one result in Google is almost 2,000 words.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: If your bad at writing copy use a copywriter. Decent copywriters charge about 25 cents per word but it’s so worth it for your main pages that you need to rank.

15. Content Updates

Do you update your website frequently? When was the last time you looked at your old blogs or articles and gave them a refresh? Refreshing your content will encourage Google’s spiders to index your pages and rank them. Updating existing out step blogs, article and news items have shown to increase user engagement by up to 125%. Google’s recent caffeine update aims to give users more live search results from pages that have recently been published or updated.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Updating all your web content may seem like an insurmountable task and therefore put into the too hard basket. So do this slowly and gradually with say 1 page per week. Over time you’ll soon see that you have updated your whole website.

16. Content Quality

In 2020 the quality of the content you publish has enormous value when it comes to ranking a site. It would have to be one of the most important factors. The search engine’s algorithm will evaluate how relevant and important the content is and rank it accordingly. Grammar and spelling also counts as does external links within the content to substantiate facts from credible resources. Also, as tempting as it may be never ever plagiarise copy from another website.

Also read: Is quality content good for SEO rankings?

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Again, like content length you should engage the services of a copywriter for the best results.

17. URL Structure

The URL of each web page throughout your site will have a tremendous impact on your ranking. Search engines will want to look for keywords in the URL, it’s length and its relevance to the page. Keep these short and to the point for better rankings.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: URL’s tend to be very important when it comes to your services. If your a plumber and one of your services is gutter repairs then the URL structure should be: www.plumbersname.com.au/services/roofrepairs. The page title should be very close to the URL structure for better rankings.

18. Page Speed

Google will use page speed as a huge ranking factor in 2020. Search engine crawlers can tell your websites page speed and if it’s too slow this can and most likely will hider your rankings. Speedy load times are better for your SEO as users demand information more quickly.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Reduce all image file sizes and eliminate excessive pop ups & large graphics. If this is hard to do then at least make sure all graphics are optimised for the web.

19. Outbound & Internal Links

The links you have pointing outbound from a page will affect the pages ranking. Too many outbound links may take people away from the site and reduce your sites ‘on page’ time. This can have a negative affect on your SEO. Use a couple of outbound links only to relevant, trustworthy sites and revisit these links every couple of months to make sure that the page they point to is still up and running. Broken links are a sign that you are neglecting your website maintenance. You’ll be amazed at how many dead links you will find over time.

Internal links are a great way to funnel users down pathways. You may want them to make a call or direct them to the shopping page and internal linking is designed specifically for this. Having users look around your site shows interest and Google will pick this up.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Have a look at your site and do a complete audit of your outbound and internal links.

20. Backlinks

This is super important and one of the most common ways SEO agencies will help improve a sites ranking. Backlinks are citations from other sites pointing towards your site. The theory is the more links you get from trustworthy sites the more trustworthy you become. Better rankings should follow.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Don’t think that the more links the better. Best to have 1 really good link pointing to your site than 100 easy to get dodgy links.

In Summary

Here you have it; our top 20 SEO ranking factors for 2020 that should help you have a better understanding of what it takes to get better Google rankings. There are loads more and there are even loads we don’t know about and Google will never tell us. But, if you fly low under the radar and do the right things in terms of ‘on & off page’ SEO you should be fine. If you need any other help or want to go over your current Google rankings contact us at SEO Sydney Experts.

steven waldberg - ceo seo sydney experts

About the author

Steven Waldberg

Steven is the director of SEO Sydney Experts and is one of the founding members ( that’s over 18 years ago). He has one of the longest careers in the SEO and content marketing industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including B & T and AdNews. If you’re serious about working with someone who will dedicate 100% of himself to your business; Steven is your SEO Expert.

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