That evergreen question, “what Google likes” and it can be a tricky one to answer. Google never reveals exactly what they’re looking for when they crawl your website and they frequently change the goalposts. Google uses around 200 different things to check where your site is going to rank. You can see the full “speculated” list here.
This article will go through the things that are unlikely to change for a long time, if ever and are the simplest things you can get into the habit of doing.
What Google Likes
Your focus keyword – this should be in the title of your post and, if it makes reading sense, then in the first paragraph and where it would naturally occur throughout your post.
You should also try and add your focus keyword in an H2 heading. Google will find other words within your post that it will use as keywords that relate to the rest of your post. “Keyword stuffing” is a no no, so don’t try and ram you keyword into every sentence!
Here is our top ten checklist for you to follow when you write your article.
1) Meta Title
2) Meta Description
3) Headline in H1
4) Internal Links
5) Images with Alt Tag
6) External Links
7) Keyword in URL
8) Embedded Video
9) Comment Engagement
10) Ease of Social Sharing
Word count in post – Opinions vary on this, some say a minimum of 350, some say 500, but it is definitely the longer the better. Y0u should aim for 1000 words or more, but if you’ve made your point within less then leave it. If your post is rambling and meaningless just to add to the word count no one is going to read it anyway and will “bounce” out of your site pretty quickly (high bounce rate can be a negative). You’ll notice this post isn’t 1000 words, but for me to write more just for the sake of it would defeat the object of keeping this as simple as possible!
Readability – Google can now tell if your content is “readable”, in other words, short paragraphs, headings, using bold and italics, breaking content up with images. The Yoast plugin calculates a readability score based on the Flesch-Kincaid method and you can check this within each post on the “Page Analysis” tab. In the article from Backlinko thay say
“But what they do with that information is up for debate. Some say that a basic reading level will help your page rank because it will appeal to the masses. However, Linchpin SEO discovered that reading level was one factor that separated quality sites from content mills.”
Page load speed – The amount of time your page takes to load is important and we’ll be writing an article covering this soon. In the meantime, make sure your images are optimized, we cover how to do that here.
Image optimization – images get ranked in Google and are seen through their file name, alt text, title, description and caption, so make sure these are relevant to the image. We explain where to add these attributes here. If possible and it makes sense, use your keyword in the alt text of one image.
Internal linking – this is where you create a hyperlink to another page or post on your website. You can see within this post we’ve created links to other helpful articles on the site. In Google’s eyes, this indicates the page/post importance relative to other pages/posts on the site. (Video on how to do this coming soon).
Outbound links – it is believed that linking to an authoritative site is seen as a good thing. For example, earlier in this post you’ll see a link to another site that has more information about Google ranking factors and what google likes.
Broken Links – make sure all your links work. You can use a broken link checker like this one. It will show you which page and specific line the broken links are on.
Affiliate Links – affiliate links themselves might not hurt your rankings. However, if there are too many crammed in a post then Google’s algorithm may take a closer look to make sure you’re not just a thin site with no quality content.
Categories – putting your posts into relevant categories, should give a relevancy boost.
Comments – getting a discussion going through your comment section adds to the overall content of your post and can be another relevancy signal for Google. Only approve comments that are relevant to your post, and not generic like “nice article”. Even controversial/negative comments can be good as it’s gets a dialogue going as long as you respond in a cohesive manner!
Here is a simple checklist for the main
Ok, I think that’s enough for now! These are the simple things you can do as part of your routine when writing posts. As I said, these are all open to discussion, but one thing everyone seems to agree on is “quality, regular content”.
Any questions? Leave a comment below or contact us