Google doesn't give us the secrets of its ranking algorithms very often, so when it does, we'd better pay attention.
SEO ranking factors often feel like one of the seven wonders of the internet. And unless you dedicate a ton of time, money and effort to testing out different methods on your website, you'll never know what works for you. At least, that's what it seems like.
Fortunately, many people have dedicated their time, money and effort already to determine what works best for SEO, so all you have to do is follow those who came before. Google has even come straight out and told us a couple of its ranking factors so we will use them to improve our websites for online users.
Google's announced ranking factors
Just this year, Google has announced two pretty important ranking factors. While these factors alone don't seem to have a huge impact on your ranking in the search engines, they are very important for user experience.
Google's PageSpeed update came into effect in July 2018. What this means is that page speed is now a ranking factor for websites in mobile searches (from phones and tablets). If your website runs slowly on mobile devices, you should make some changes to get it loading quicker.
Not only is this a ranking factor for mobile devices, but it can also contribute to the overall performance of your website and how users interact with it. According to Statista, more than 50 percent of website traffic is performed on a mobile device. So if you want your website to perform well among those users and to show up in their searches, make the changes to be mobile-friendly. The most common way to fix page-speed issues for mobile websites is to optimize the images, change the size and compress them so they don't take as much time to load.
If you're not sure of your page speed for mobile devices, plug your website into Google's PageSpeed Insights. It will give you an estimated page speed and an optimization score. It'll even offer you a few tips to fix your page speed so this doesn't affect your mobile rankings.
SSL certificates (also known as HTTPS) are a secure encryption that allows your website to send information without fear of it being hacked. This has always been critical for websites that accept online payments and sensitive information, like e-commerce sites and medical facilities. But with some updates that Google Chrome recently rolled out, this is becoming more important for all websites, regardless of the information they collect.
If your site doesn't have the secure HTTPS extension, Google Chrome will now display the site URL as Not Secure. This can severely impact the traffic on your website just because the average user doesn't understand why it isn't secure.
Google announced HTTPS as a ranking signal four years ago, but with its change to flag websites as non-secure in July of this year, website owners are getting the hint and opting for an SSL certificate. Not only is having HTTPS on your website a good ranking signal, but there are many other benefits to getting an SSL certificate, like protecting your website and keeping valuable traffic.
Google is constantly evolving is algorithms to create a better experience for all users across the web, and it'll certainly come out with more updates like these as technology evolves.