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Competitor Landing Page Analysis, Do’s and Don’ts

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Competition is a necessary evil in the business world. If you’re not constantly watching what your competitors are doing, you can quickly find yourself out of luck. This is why competitor analysis is such a critical part of an effective PPC campaign. By understanding your competition’s strategy, you can better optimize your own campaign and avoid costly mistakes. This blog post will give you some tips for conducting an effective competitor landing page analysis to see what’s working and what’s not in your niche.

The goal of analyzing your competitors’ landing pages

When you’re analyzing your competitors’ landing pages, you’re looking for clues about what’s working well for them and what’s not. You may find that they’re using specific keywords or phrases that you’re not or that they have a stronger CTA than you do. You’ll be able to see if using a different tech stack correlates to conversions, CTR, or any other performance metric. In short, by understanding what’s working for them, you can adapt your own strategy to compete more effectively.

The above is particularly important when both you and your competition offer very similar products or services. For example, if you’re running a PPC campaign for a brick-and-mortar bank, it’s likely that you’ll need a strong CTA to drive potential leads away from more modern online banks. Taking a look at what’s working for your biggest competitors can serve as inspiration.

On the other hand, landing page analysis can also help you find areas where your competitors fall short. Maybe their pages are cluttered, or the copy is difficult to read. Maybe they’re not using any images on their pages, or their color scheme is off. Identifying these weaknesses can help you focus your own efforts and improve your conversion rates.

As you can tell by now, there are many things you’ll need to consider when analyzing your competitors’ landing pages. This can sometimes feel overwhelming, even for some experienced PPC marketers. This is why, below, you’ll find six useful and actionable tips that will help you focus on what’s important. 

1.) Don’t just copy your competitors.

The first thing to understand about competitor landing pages is that you should avoid the temptation to copy them upfront. This should go without saying, but it never hurts to remember that cutting corners rarely pays off in the long run.

However, there is a stronger reason to avoid being a copycat. Even though copying a strategy point by point may help increase your performance at first, it doesn’t help you stand out from your competitors in the long run.

Remember that differentiating yourself from the competition is one of the keys to successful marketing in general, and that applies to PPC marketing as well.

The idea is to learn from your competition, avoid their mistakes and think of ways to improve on what they do well. If you see something awesome on their landing pages, think of how you can make it even more awesome. That’s the mindset you need when you approach landing page analysis or any form of competitor analysis for that matter.

2.) Use Google Ads’ auction report to make a quick list of competitors and their landing pages.

The Auction report in Google Ads is a great resource for quickly getting an overview of your competitors’ landing pages. This report shows you the ads competing for each of your keywords and the URLs of the corresponding landing pages.

This report is especially useful when you’re doing a preliminary analysis and want to get a general overview of what your competitors are doing. It’s also useful for identifying new competitors you may not have been aware of before.

To access the report, follow these steps:

  • Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  • Click on the ad keyword, active ad campaign, or ad group for which you want to find competitors.
  • Click on the “Auction Insight” tab.
  • Analyze the auction report.

With the information in this report, you’ll be able to:

  • Check your competitor’s domains to see if they spend their ad budget on the same keywords as you.
  • Take a look at what position your ad is usually placed on.
  • See how frequently your ads are being shown compared to the competition.

3.) Take advantage of Facebook’s Page Transparency feature.

Facebook created its Page Transparency feature in response to the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The goal was to help Facebook users make more informed decisions when voting by showing how much money political organizations and candidates spend on Facebook Ads. Consequently, it’s a great tool to find out how much your competitors are spending on Facebook Ads and the level of engagement of their audience.

The best thing is how easy it is to access this information since it’s all in your competitor’s Ad Library. To get there, all you have to do is:

  • Log into your Facebook account.
  • Go to your competitor’s Facebook Business page
  • Navigate to the “Page Transparency” tab and click on “See All.”
  • Scroll down on the pop-up to the “Ads from this Page” section to see if the page is running ads.
  • If it is, click on the “Go To Ad Library” button.

Once you’re in the Ad Library, you’ll find all sorts of great information, including:

  • All the Facebook ads run by that company on their Facebook business page;
  • How long they have been running each campaign;
  • The copy of the ad and its description;
  • The landing page URL is what’s most relevant for this post.

4.) Don’t click on the ad – use a spying tool to view competing landing pages instead.

An important tip to keep in mind is to avoid clicking on your competitors’ ads’ CTA once you find them. The reason is simple: even though the effect may be negligible if that ad generates a ton of traffic, you don’t want to give your competitor’s ad a boost in CTR by clicking on it every time you want to take a look at their landing page.

While finding the actual landing page URL can sometimes be tricky without clicking on it, you can use some paid espionage tools to avoid this issue. One example is iSpionage, but there are others available.

5.) Know what to look for in your competitor’s landing pages

Understanding how your rivals’ landing pages perform might assist you in creating better, more effective landing pages based on their experience. Some key pieces of information to look for are

Where is the traffic to their landing page coming from?

Is it coming from SEO ranking, is it coming from ad campaigns, social media, etc.

What are they showing on their landing pages?

Analyze each landing page for information like the type of design they use and the overall style. Ask yourself what colors are more dominant. How are those colors related to the brand? Would a similar color scheme work for your landing page?

Also, see what their main offer is. Can you offer something better? If they offer guarantees, can you offer more guarantees?

Analyze landing page performance

It’s important to research performance metrics like how many page views their landing pages get, their bounce rate, CTR, etc.; anything that can help you assess how effective your competitors’ landing pages are.

Analyze what technology stack they used

This is one more aspect of your competition you want to consider analyzing. Knowing whether your competition uses DoubleClick.Net, Adsense, or Facebook Custom Audiences and comparing that with what you’re using could provide insight into what’s making a difference in their marketing efforts.

What CMS they’re using is also relevant for landing pages, as well as what multimedia technologies they’re implementing. You could even find out what payment methods they offer their customers to see if you’re falling behind in terms of the adoption of new technologies like crypto.

While all this may sound like hard-to-find information, you won’t have to look for it yourself since several tools like BuiltWith will get the job done.

6.) Look for and analyze A/B Tests

You can easily learn from the results of your competitors’ A/B tests on landing pages and ad copy if you have a complete list of their ads and landing pages. This can be a huge time saver for your PPC marketing efforts.

For example, suppose you’re building a landing page for a certain keyword. You do your research and find that a competitor already A/B tested landing pages for the same keyword. By analyzing which landing page was most effective for them (after following the previous tip on both landing pages), you can use the results to craft your own landing page.

The bottom line

Landing page analysis is an important part of any PPC marketing campaign, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Using the auction report in Google Ads and Facebook’s Page Transparency feature can help give you a comprehensive list of your competitors and their landing pages. Additionally, by looking at your competitors’ A/B tests, analyzing their copy, assets, and technology, you can get a good idea of what strategies are working for them and how you might improve on their tactics. Once you have this information, it’s time to start analyzing it and turning it into unique, highly-converting landing pages of your own.




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8 Fast Takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

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8 Fast Takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

Similar to last year, Google Marketing Live provided a torrent of AI-fueled advances for advertisers. In all, nine presenters announced 30 products and features over the 90-minute keynote event.

In the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll examine each of these new products and features in-depth and share what marketers and advertising experts think of them as they roll out.

But for now, here’s a quick recap of the most important announcements from Google Marketing Live 2024.

Contents

8 biggest takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

The GML keynote was a fast and furious hour and a half. Here are the biggest announcements from the event.

1. Automatic ad placements in AI overviews

Just last week at Google I/O, Google announced the wider release of AI overviews in search results (formerly known as SGE or search generative experience). Now, Google is testing automatically placed Search, PMax, and Shopping ads in AI Overview boxes.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI overview ad

The ads will show up in a block labeled “Sponsored” to separate them from the organic and AI-derived content.

These ads will show up automatically when they match the intent of both the query and the AI Overview; advertisers don’t need to take any action to target those placements.

2. AI-powered, personalized recommendations and advice

In another experiment, Google is using AI to speed along shoppers’ decision-making process for large or complicated purchases by offering personalized product recommendations.

Google used the example of someone shopping for storage space.

The user would search for “short-term storage” and click on a relevant ad. They would then enter a guided shopping experience where they could answer questions and provide a photo of what they wanted to store.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI guided ad.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI guided ad.

Google’s AI reviews the details and suggests the right-size storage unit and related items like packing materials. The user then clicks through to a product page on the business’s website to finalize their purchase.

This ad feature is currently in the testing phase. If it’s successful, it will soon be available to other verticals.

3. AI creative asset production for PMax campaigns

Google announced more features and tools to help advertisers create PMax campaign assets faster and at scale. These new features include:

  • The ability to add brand guidelines for colors, fonts, and imagery.
  • Image editing is used to add and extend backgrounds, add objects, and alter image sizes to fit multiple ad placements (think of adding a plant and expanding the wall for a furniture ad).
  • Auto-generation of ads from a product feed.
  • Asset-level conversion metrics.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of PMax ad creation.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of PMax ad creation.

4. AI-enhanced Shopping Ads

    Shopping Ads got another layer of AI treatment with several upgrades to create a more immersive shopping experience.

    Virtual try-on for apparel

    Google is expanding its virtual try-on (VTO) experience to apparel ads. Beginning with men’s and women’s tops, users will be able to see how individual styles look on different body types.

    3D product images

    Using Adidas brand sneakers as an example, Google showed off new 360-degree shoe views that can be featured in ads. Google generates the 3D images using images provided by the seller.

    In-ad, short-form product videos

    Advertisers can now incorporate short product videos—created by the brand or by influencers—into ads. The videos will be clickable and interactive, letting shoppers view related products and get styling suggestions.

    The ads will include product details under each video.

    5. New visually immersive ad formats and features

    Google shared that it’s expanding its demand-gen video ad campaigns by adding new options for advertisers. These features include:

    • Clickable stickers created from existing image assets.
    • The ability for users to swipe left to a branded YouTube landing page.
    • AI-generated animations based on static images.

    6. Cohesive first-party data management

    In a move to improve the quality of data used to guide AI outputs, Google announced that its Ads Data Manager platform is coming out of beta testing and is now widely available.

    Google Marketing Live - screenshot of Google performance dashboard.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of Google performance dashboard.

    Ads Data Manager lets advertisers aggregate first-party data from sources like YouTube, Google Ads, HubSpot, and Shopify to make it more visible and actionable. The platform also acts as a “check engine light” to help make sure marketers are using data safely and responsibly.

    7. Visual brand profiles on search

    Sellers can now create a brand profile for Search, including branded imagery, product deals, videos, and more.

    Brand profiles will also include reviews pulled from Product Listing Ads. It remains to be seen how much control advertisers have over which reviews are shown.

    8. New profit optimization goals in PMax

    Advertisers will be able to optimize ads for profit goals in Performance Max campaigns.

    Google says advertisers using the new profit goals saw a 15% uplift in campaign profit compared to revenue-only goals.

    What we didn’t see at Google Marketing Live 2024

    There was a lot for advertisers to be excited about in this year’s GML keynote, but a couple of topics stood out by their absence.

    No B2B-specific products or features

    Once again, the 90-minute Google Marketing Live session focused on the rollout of products designed to help business-to-consumer brands generate more return from their Google Ads investments.

    There wasn’t a single mention of a B2B company, example, or use case. For obvious reasons, we’d have loved to see some.

    No (or too few) small-business case studies

    By number, the vast majority of advertisers on Google are small businesses. Yet just about every example, case study, and customer story featured big brands using Google’s newest features to attract new customers.

    Additionally, the majority of example use cases for the new features announced at Google Marketing Live 2024 were for travel and ecommerce–industries that typically thrive in the search ads environment. Meanwhile, the typical small business wouldn’t be able to reap the same benefits from these new features.

    “Google Ads and YouTube ads for well-established brands should work. If it didn’t, it would be alarming. Show me a local business with impressive stats,” tweeted Julie Bacchini, President of Neptune Moon and Managing Director of PPCChat.

    Google Marketing Live - screenshot of a Tweet about Google Marketing Live.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of a Tweet about Google Marketing Live.

    Source

    Our hope is that Google will use AI to make advertising easier for smaller businesses with smaller budgets.

    What it all means

    We’ll dig deeper into all these announcements and new AI features in an upcoming post, but for now, the takeaway is clear: Google is investing heavily in AI across the board. We get the feeling that not all users are quite as excited about AI as Google is, and regardless, there are bound to be some hiccups, as with any new technology. But we’ll be here to help you all navigate the changes.

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How to Navigate Your Google Ads Suspension

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Google Ads Account

Are you facing the dreaded red bar of death in your Google Ads account? If so, you may be the victim of a Google Ads suspension.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Google Ads accounts are suspended for various reasons, leaving businesses puzzled and eager to restore their campaigns.

Whether you’re new to the concept of a Google Ads suspension or currently grappling with one, this article will explore Google’s policies, to help you understand common suspensions, and will offer guidance on resolving issues if you find yourself fighting a suspension.

Understanding Google’s Approach to Suspensions

Google says it prioritizes user safety and credibility over generating revenue from advertisers. With billions of ads and millions of advertiser accounts to manage, Google has implemented robust policies to ensure a largely secure online experience for users.

These policies are designed to uphold legal requirements and the safety of users. The challenge arises when legitimate advertisers unintentionally get caught in the same net as bad actors who are deliberately violating policies.

Google’s policies cover a wide range of areas, from preventing scams and illegitimate businesses, to safeguarding users against misleading ads and harmful websites. In the past year alone, Google flagged over 5.5 billion ads and suspended around 12.7 million advertiser accounts.

While these measures protect users, they also pose a significant challenge for businesses aiming to reach their audience through Google.

Common Reasons for Google Ads Suspensions

While the reasons an account has been suspended can vary, some are more common than others. Circumventing Systems, Suspicious Payment Activity, Unacceptable Business Practices, and Counterfeit Goods are among the top suspension types.

None of these suspension types are impossible to recover from. The team at StubGroup has worked with numerous accounts struggling with these types of suspensions and have successfully gotten them reinstated.

Types of Google Ads Suspensions

Google rarely provides detailed explanations for account suspensions. If you get flagged for a certain policy, Google does not give more information than that. Here’s a few of the most common suspension types and their potential causes:

Circumventing Systems

This suspension type flags tactics like cloaking, sneaky redirects, and creating multiple accounts to bypass Google’s system.

Obvious things that can cause this type of suspension are redirecting users to a different final URL than the one displayed in the ad, maintaining multiple accounts to run similar ads, malicious software, or using cloaking techniques to show different content to Google’s review systems and actual users. There are, however, many other, less common and often unintentional triggers for Google to suspend an ad account for circumventing systems.

Suspicious Payment Activity

This suspension involves issues with your payment method used for the Google Ads account.

Common causes include: Using virtual or prepaid cards, having multiple accounts with a history of suspension linked to the same payment method, or discrepancies in the payment details provided.

Unacceptable Business Practices

This suspension revolves around practices deemed unethical or harmful by Google, such as misleading claims or deceptive offers. It’s common to see this suspension type in verticals that are more heavily restricted by Google’s advertising policies.

Common causes include: Failing to deliver promised services, using misleading information in ads, or engaging in practices that violate Google’s guidelines on transparency and honesty.

Counterfeit Goods

Google issues this suspension if it suspects the account is advertising counterfeit products or unauthorized replicas. Businesses with original products and services can also be hit with a counterfeit good suspension if something about their business confuses Google’s algorithms.

Common causes include: Selling or promoting fake goods, using brand names without authorization, using misleading wording that could lead Google to think a product is counterfeit, or listing products that violate Google’s trademark policies.

The Technical Perspective

From a technical standpoint, most suspensions stem from insufficient or incorrect information on the website. They can also come about as a result of landing page issues, security concerns, and inconsistent payment details.

Google’s emphasis on user safety and positive experiences shapes its algorithms. That renders these issues of top importance, and the first to get flagged.

Navigating Your Google Ads Suspension Effectively

If you find yourself dealing with a suspended account, don’t panic. Instead, use these trusty tips to get through it.

  1. Don’t Panic: Everyone’s first thought is to create a new Google Ads account. Don’t be lured into this trap. Creating a new account is seen by Google as an attempt to circumvent their system and ignore the underlying problem. That new account might hurt your chances of restoring your suspended Google Ads account.
  2. Identify the Issue: Understand the specific reason for the suspension. Review the policy Google says that you have violated and compare the policy with your account or website for anything that could appear misleading or flag Google’s system. Finding the cause behind your suspension is crucial for an effective appeal.
  3. Review Everything: Conduct a thorough review of your website, landing pages, ad content, and payment processes. Check anything and everything that could seem malicious.
  4. Address Any Technical Issues: Promptly address any technical issues you find. If you don’t have someone in-house, work with experts to ensure everything is taken care of.
  5. Construct a Clear Appeal: When submitting an appeal for your suspended Google Ads account, provide a clear and concise explanation of the actions taken to resolve the issues. Google does not respond well to complaints against them or angry appeals. The best road to action is a calm, comprehensive appeal, outlining the resolved issues.
  6. Documentation: Keep detailed records of changes made to your website, ad content, or payment processes as evidence of your compliance efforts.
  7. Monitor and Iterate: Keep a record of your appeal. After submission, wait for an email from Google and monitor your ad account.

What if Google Rejects My Appeal?

If your appeal gets rejected, you may need to go back to the drawing board. Re-evaluate and scan for anything that could still be triggering Google’s system or reviewers, including the status of connected accounts and the payment methods used.

If Google provides feedback, use that as you audit your account, website, and any linked accounts that might be affected.

Analyze Google’s Response

When Google rejects an appeal, they reply with an automated email as to why it was rejected. From time to time, however, there will be clues as to why they rejected your appeal to help steer you in the right direction.

Making Changes

Depending on Google’s feedback, you may need to make more changes to your ad account, website, or the documentation you submitted with the appeal.

This includes reviewing and updating any payment method information to ensure it is current. Check there are no outstanding balances that could lead to account suspension.

Resubmit with Updates

After each change, review and revise your appeal. Ensure it addresses the concerns raised by Google and its policies. Once you are confident in your modifications, resubmit the appeal.

Persistence and Patience with Google

Google’s review process can take time, so patience is key. While you are suspended, explore different channels you may have overlooked before. There are many different ways to advertise, digitally and in print, who knows where you may find success.

Consider Expert Assistance

If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of rejections and suspensions, consider seeking expert assistance like the suspension team at StubGroup. Professionals with experience in dealing with Google suspensions can provide valuable insights, identify blind spots, and guide you through the process more efficiently.

When choosing a professional to work with, be cautious and thoroughly research the companies to choose a reliable and transparent company that will keep your information safe and maintain an open line of communication with you.

Strategies for Preventing Google Ads Suspensions

  • Stay Informed: Google is always updating their policies. Regularly review and stay updated on those policies to ensure ongoing compliance.
  • Comprehensive Compliance Training: Educate your team about Google’s policies and best practices so they are aware of what to avoid when operating both your website and ad account.
  • Audit Your Online Presence: Conduct regular audits of your website, landing pages, social media, and ad content to identify and address potential issues before any bigger problems can arise.
  • Security Measures: Prioritize website security. Implementing HTTPS and conduct regular security audits of both your ad account and website. Keep your software updated, and address vulnerabilities promptly.
  • Ad Campaign Monitoring: Actively monitor the performance of your ad campaigns. Look for signs of policy violations or content issues and address them. It’s crucial to maintaining smooth and efficient Google Ads campaigns that you adhere to Google’s policies to prevent suspensions and achieve desired results.



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The Top 10 Google Ranking Factors (+Optimization Tips)

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The Top 10 Google Ranking Factors (+Optimization Tips)

Where’s the first place people go when they need an answer, idea, product, or service? Not to the Yellow Pages. Not into town. Not even to family and friends at this point. They go to the Goog. And most of them do not go past the first page of results.

And it is for this reason that SEO, or search engine optimization, is a multi-billion dollar industry. SEO is the practice of getting a website to align with Google’s ranking factors. So what are those ranking factors and how can you optimize your site for them? Read on to find out.

search engine optimization - google ranking factors

Table of contents

What are Google ranking factors?

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank as high as possible in organic search engine results (and yes, you can aim for the first page). When talking about search, we use the term “organic” to refer to search results that are unpaid. This is different from paid results, which come from PPC advertising.

Organic rankings on Google are determined by an algorithm that takes into account various characteristics and SEO metrics —and these are your ranking factors.

There are over 200 Google ranking factors, and while we will never know all of them, we do know many. We also know that while ranking factors and algorithms may shift, the characteristics Google is trying to parse out through them are expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T).

google ranking factors - meaning of E-A-Tgoogle ranking factors - meaning of E-A-T

E-A-T is not a ranking factor; rather, ranking factors are a way for Google to measure of E-A-T.

Types of Google ranking factors

Before we get into the top 10 Google ranking factors around which you can optimize your website pages, let’s first go over the different types.

  • On-page ranking factors refer to the quality of the content on the page and the keywords its targeting.
  • Off-page ranking factors are like endorsements from other pages on your site or other websites, and primarily involve backlinks.
  • Technical ranking factors measure your site’s ability to be crawled, indexed, and render content quickly and safely for searchers.
  • Local ranking factors involve all three of the above, with a special focus on reviews, reputation, and listings.

There isn’t one single ranking factor that will make or break your SEO. It’s the combination of all your technical, on-page, and off-page efforts that work together to help you rank higher on Google, get more traffic, and build trust.

The top Google ranking factors according to First Page Sage are as follows:

search engine optimization - google ranking factorssearch engine optimization - google ranking factors

On-page Google ranking factors

The above technical search engine ranking factors have to do with your website as a whole, while these next ranking factors are more page-specific—hence the term on-page SEO.

1. Relevant, high-quality content

The single most important Google ranking factor is the quality of your content. This correlates to the consistent publication of high quality content, user engagement, and niche expertise in the chart above. So what makes relevant, quality content?

  • It’s trustworthy. The information is in-depth, accurate, useful, and free of spammy links and/or comments.
  • It’s readable. That means organized logically, written conversationally, and not stuffed with keywords (Google will actually penalize you for this). Incorporate it naturally into your page and use it interchangeably with related keywords.
  • It’s fresh. Even the most evergreen content loses relevancy over time. So in addition to writing net new content, you should also be updating outdated pages with new information and new keywords that are relevant to today. This is the key to maintaining a good freshness score.
  • It matches the intent of the keyword. In addition to using keyword research tools to find out what your ideal audience is searching online, make sure to search the keyword on Google itself to make sure you understand what users are seeking when they perform that search.

In a recent survey conducted by Directive, 78% of marketers identified keyword research as a high-impact practice for driving new traffic. The research process allows you to better understand what your audience is searching for and create content that directly addresses these search queries.
google ranking factors - impact of keyword research on driving new trafficgoogle ranking factors - impact of keyword research on driving new traffic

2. Keyword placement

Once you know which keywords you want to rank for, it’s important to insert them into specific places on your page. This includes:

  • Title tag: aka meta title; the title that appears on the SERP
  • H1 title: title that appears on the page
  • H2 headings: aim for at least two
  • URL: keep your URL short and clean as well.
  • Naturally in the body: and also in the first 100 words
  • Meta description: the blurb that appears below the title tag/meta title. Make sure it accurately sums up your page and gives searchers a reason to click. Google doesn’t always use the meta description you provide, but it’s still important to include.

keyword placement checklist for on-page seokeyword placement checklist for on-page seo

Keywords in the title tags are, by far, the most important, followed by H2s and URL.

3. Image optimization

This is an important one—not only because of Google image search but also because regular search results are getting more and more visual—especially on mobile. Here’s how to optimize your images for SEO:

  • Assign alt text: This is the text alternative of an image, and the only way that Google can “see” them. Be short but descriptive and include the keyword. This also makes your website accessible to visually-impaired readers who rely on screen readers to browse the internet, and will show if the image fails to load.
  • Compress and resize: Use an image compressor (tinypng is my favorite) to keep your image file sizes to 70-100KB or less if you can. Often, saving as JPG instead of PNG helps. Also, images rarely need to be more than 1,000px wide. Though a responsive website will resize the images automatically, the less requests your site needs to make to the server, the better for page speed.
  • Add value: If you can, avoid using empty stock images and graphics in your blog posts and instead use screenshots, examples, charts, and illustrations that depict concepts. This improves the quality of the content and keeps users engaged longer.
  • Include the keyword: Not just in the alt text, but the file name. And replace spaces with dashes in the file name, otherwise your CMS will replace them with “%20” which creates an untrustworthy-looking image link.

google ranking factors - a properly saved, tagged, and compressed image in wordpressgoogle ranking factors - a properly saved, tagged, and compressed image in wordpress

A properly saved, tagged, sized, and compressed image.

4. Niche expertise

It’s not just the quality of your content that indicates expertise in your niche, but also the quantity of that quality content. For example, WordStream has been publishing high-quality content about PPC for a long time now, so Google has come to see us as a trusted source in this niche. But if we were to publish a super high-quality post about, say, robotic process automation, our chances of ranking for that keyword are slim.

To build out your niche expertise, you can use the hub and spoke method (also known as pillar page and cluster content). With this method, you create a hub/pillar page on a particular topic, usually a broad, high-volume keyword. This serves as the main resource for that topic, and your various H2s cover different child keywords within that topic.

Then you have your spokes, or cluster content, which are the additional pages that dive deeper into each of the aspects (child keywords) covered in the pillar page.

google ranking factors - hub and spoke content clustersgoogle ranking factors - hub and spoke content clusters

In addition to demonstrating your expertise within this niche, this method also helps with your site structure, which we’ll talk about later. Since the cluster pages link to and from the pillar content, as well as to each other, this keeps all of your links tightly organized around the same topic.

✅ Is your site optimized to rank on Google? Get an instant SEO audit with our free website grader. ✅

Technical Google ranking factors

Since it involves knowledge of website structure and content management systems, technical SEO is commonly a joint effort between marketing and development teams. But although this may seem complicated, once your website is in good working order, there’s not a lot of ongoing maintenance required in terms of SEO. Here are the technical strategies for improving your rank:

5. Page speed

Users expect a pain-free browsing experience, which is why page speed is an important ranking factor. If your pages take too long to load, your bounce rate will increase and your ranking will decrease. You can check yours with GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights.

google ranking factors - gtmetrix homepagegoogle ranking factors - gtmetrix homepage

6. Mobile-friendliness

Back in 2019, Google told us it would be using mobile-first indexing on all new sites. This means that it makes its ranking assessment based on the mobile version of a site rather than the desktop. Then, in 2020 it told us plans for this to be the case for all sites, and as of 2021, all sites are now subject to mobile-first indexing.

In other words, even if the desktop version of your site is flawless, your search engine ranking could take a major hit if it isn’t optimized for mobile. Most content management systems allow you to make preview and adjustments for mobile/smaller screens. You can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

google ranking factors - google's mobile friendly test homepagegoogle ranking factors - google's mobile friendly test homepage

In addition to these tests, you should still always preview and test your web pages on an actual mobile device because there are some things that code just can’t pick up.

7. Core Web Vitals

While SEO trends ebb and flow, ranking factors don’t often change. But in 2021, Google did introduce a new ranking factor—Core Web Vitals—as a part of the page experience update. Core Web Vitals quantify a person’s experience on your page, which dictates whether and how they engage with it. They include:

  • LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): how long it takes for the visible elements on a page to load.
  • FID (First Input Delay): How long it takes for your page to register the first click or tap on the page.
  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): whether there are unexpected movements or disruptive popups

You can improve your Core Web Vitals with lazy loading, code minification, image compression, and more.

core web vitalscore web vitals

8. Website architecture

As mentioned earlier, search engines work by crawling and indexing different pieces of content on your website. Internal links refer to any hyperlink that points to another page on your same website. The more organized and tightly-knit your internal linking structure is, the more points of access you create to any given page, and the easier it is for search engines (and users) to find what they’re looking for.

Ideally, any given page on your site should be accessible in three clicks or less.

google ranking factors - internal linking structuregoogle ranking factors - internal linking structure

To do this, you must be mindful of what pages you’re linking to each time you create a new page or a new piece of content.

It makes it so that search engines can easily understand and index the content. Topic clusters are also beneficial from a user experience perspective. It makes your content easier to navigate and readers will realize that they don’t have to go to multiple sites to find what they’re looking for.

It’s likely that your website already undergoes regular maintenance to check for things like bugs or server errors. For SEO purposes, it’s a good idea to do a technical SEO audit of your site every couple of months to check for things such as 404 errors, redirect loops, and broken links.

9. Site security

Ever wonder what the s stands for in https (as opposed to just plain old http)? Well it stands for secure. And the way you get your site to be an https site rather than an http site is to get an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. There are a few different routes to getting an SSL, and the cost depends on the level of security you need as well as your hosting setup. HubSpot, for example offers free SSL through its CMS.

Off-page Google ranking factors

Off-page ranking factors have to do with entities outside of your website, such as social media platforms, influencers, and other websites, but there is one focal point to any off-page SEO strategy:

10. Backlinks

Last but most definitely not least, we have backlinks. A backlink is a link to your page that comes from another website. A page with a lot of links pointing back to it indicates to Google that the particular page is providing exceptional value, and is coming from a credible website.  But one link from one quality domain is much better than multiple links from several low-authority websites.

google ranking factors - how backlinking link juice is transferredgoogle ranking factors - how backlinking link juice is transferred

From our page on link building

So how do you get backlinks? Here are four link-building strategies.

  • Original, quality content: If your content is high-quality, unique, and provides value to your audience, it will generate backlinks on its own. Go for the irreplicable content like thought leadership content and original data-driven pieces.
  • Cold outreach: It takes years to build this kind of authority, so you’ll also want to build backlinks by finding related content and pitching your pieces to the author for a link.
  • Guest posts: Another method for building backlinks is by guest blogging. Rather than just asking for a link, offer to write a post for that site. You can include a backlink to your site in the post or in yoru author bio.

The top 10 Google ranking factors [recap]

With a strong presence in both paid and organic search engine results, you can increase your visibility—and no matter what kind of business you run, having visibility on search engines is critical if you want to earn trust, build brand awareness, increase traffic to your site, attract customers, and drive revenue. The top 10 Google Ranking factors include:

  1. Quality content
  2. Keyword placement
  3. Image optimization
  4. URL structure
  5. Page speed
  6. Mobile-friendliness
  7. Core Web Vitals
  8. Site architecture
  9. Site security
  10. Backlinks

Just remember, when it comes to real SEO, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet. The most important note to keep in mind is that climbing the search results pages takes time. If you optimize your website for several ranking factors today, it’s not going to magically appear in the number one spot tomorrow.

The optimization process requires ongoing effort to keep your site as fresh and relevant for your audience as possible. As long as your website is functional and optimized with your target buyer in mind, you’ll start to see organic growth.

For more opportunities to optimize for Google’s ranking factors, follow our easy 10-step SEO audit, or you can use our free Website Grader tool to do it for you. Or, check out our full range of digital marketing solutions to learn how we can help with your SEO.

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