Since its inception, Google has been making waves. The world’s largest search engine has now become the quintessential gateway to the internet. With Google as gatekeeper, it makes sense for online entrepreneurs and others looking to increase findability and build website traffic to pay attention to the factors that make a site rank high in Google.
While Google does not release the algorithm they use to determine which links will rank highest, a lot of research goes into determining the value of various factors each year. Various students of SEO say there are at least 200 factors involved. We’re sharing what are widely believed to be the top 9. While mastering these Google ranking factors won’t guarantee you success, it will move you in the right direction.
1. Increase Backlinks
It is currently believed that other sites linking into your website make up almost 20% of Google’s ranking. Information contained in patents regarding their proprietary system indicate that the number and quality of links are both important. All things being equal, sites with more incoming links will rank higher than those with fewer links.
So, how do you find out how many backlinks you have?
It can be a tedious process. Since many of your links may not even register on Google, you can’t simply search your own domain name and take a simple count. Cloud based apps exist that can pull all existing inbound links from any site and show you exactly how many of what kind you currently have. By comparing your site with those of your competitors, you can get a leg up on the competition in Google ranking. The tools are simple to use and typically only require a URL to provide you with a report that can get you started.
How can I improve my ranking using this information?
Remembering that this is both a numbers and quality game, you can work to get more relevant backlinks. The more authority a site carries, the better the backlinks will be. Here are three suggestions for getting backlinks to your content.
- Find guest blogging opportunities that will allow you to link back to your work. Many blogs look for guest posters, and some even pay. Check out sites like Writertown.com for lists of sites that need guest bloggers.
- Offer to trade links with sites that offer complementary products, services, or content. Be sure it is a product you would endorse, since that is essentially what you are offering.
- Increase links from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These are not as valuable, but they help, and can lead to other shares and backlinks.
Here’s one free tool you can use to have a list of your backlinks right now!
Open Link Profiler is the best and easiest link tracking tool we’ve found online. In addition to showing you how many links, it gives you URLs for each link, the age of the link, how much each link is helping what they call your Link Influence Score and more.
2. Boost your link authority
This one clocks in between 10-20% percent on your Google ranking score, according to most experts. The number of backlinks is important, but high quality links add to your score, while low quality, spammy links may detract. While it’s secondary to making sure you have backlinks, this is something to pay attention to.
So, how do you determine link authority?
Here again, Open Link Profiler’s Link Influence Score is a great place to start. It shows you a percentage based score for each link, comparing all of your links to give you a good idea of which, if any may be hurting you, and which should be repeated on similar sites. OLP’s score runs up to 100, with scores under 20 being marked as potentially negative.
Here’s how you can improve
In addition to making sure your future link building is on high quality sites, you can also eliminate low quality, or spammy looking links. The first step is to message the site and request they remove it, explaining that they don’t have enough authority yet and may actually be penalizing your site. If this fails, you can ask Google to ignore the link by “disavowing” your connection to the backlinking site.
Here’s Google’s advice on disavowing links
This article shares Google’s process for disavowing links. Note, use caution. You should only do this if you are relatively certain the link is dragging you down. Not only will it remove the link in connection to you, but could be detrimental to another site, owned by a hard working entrepreneur like yourself.
3. Improve link anchor text
Another factor in link “health” is the anchor text attached to it. Link anchor text is the highlighted text a reader clicks on to visit your site. What it says matters, but how varied the text is between links is even more important. Whether the assumption is earned or not, a long list of links all worded exactly the same will be treated as if you copied and pasted your link onto every single site. Google will discount your ranking for this under Penguin.
Understanding link anchor text
On your own site, you create the anchor text for each link you include in your content. It may be a reference to the article title, the website’s name, or a concept you’re talking about. When you receive backlinks, another webmaster, with a separate agenda is setting that. They may have copied your link, or simply produced one the same as you do. You have no control over how these links are generated, unless you asked for the link to be placed and supplied the text.
How you can improve your anchor text
The best defense, as they say, is a good offense and going forward, you can be proactive in building and requesting your own backlinks, but changing existing links is going to take some leg work. You’ll need to approach the website’s owner and request the change. Typically most sites have a contact button in the header, or footer, that allows you to contact the site’s owner. Be polite, after all, they did link to your content and are potentially sending traffic. Explain your goal and suggest a change that makes sense in the context of their content. The rest is up to them.
Here’s a tool you can use to make this simpler
The Open Link Profiler tool offers limited information on link text. Link Assistant offers a “freemium” tool that allows you to explore this in depth for free. If you choose, you can opt to upgrade to a paid tool with even more features. In addition to showing you your link text, Link Assistant can help you find contact information for the site, shortcutting the process.
Check out our second instalment with three more key Google ranking factors.