Google is a monster, but not in the way that sends people running away, screaming and heading for the hills. The massive amount of volume of traffic it receives is enough to make your jaw drop. According to their own research, Google receives roughly 40,000 million searches every second, which equates to 3.5 billion searches every day. That’s right, 3.5 billion every day. To put a positive spin on this number, that means there are 3.5 billion opportunities for marketers to reach their target audiences on a daily basis. Behind every single one of these searches was the intent to find some kind of information.

The most popular search engine in the world gives us the ability to find anything we want with the click of a mouse, which means the results we are shown must be extremely relevant to what we’re looking for. This is where Google’s ranking factors come into play. When someone searches for a particular keyword or phrase, they expect to see information that pertains to their particular situation. Google then scrambles to find results that are most likely to solve the user’s problem. This is what makes Google, well, Google. In the blink of an eye, we have our answer.

In order to be one of the pages that shows up toward the top of the search results, you must adhere to the four main ranking factors in Google’s algorithm: authority, age, content and relevance. This means you must have quality inbound and outbound links, a website that’s been around for a little while, valuable content that solves a problem for your audience, and how relevant your content is to a specific user’s search intent. Let’s take a deeper look into these four pillars, giving you the knowledge you need to appropriately optimize your website.

Authority
Say you go to the bank to apply for a loan for your first house, but you bring no documentation of credit score or prior financial statements. How likely do you think it is that the loan officer is going to push your application forward? Obviously, your chances aren’t very good. In order to complete such a large request, you need evidence that you’re going to be able to afford the down payment and mortgage. In all, the loan officer needs your trust.

The same goes for Google and the millions of websites competing for higher rankings. When Google indexes a particular page, it looks at a number factors related to “authority,” such as content and inbound/outbound links. Both of these aspects take time to build up, which we will look closer at in the next section. Some of the best ways to increase your authority in the eyes of search engines are:
-Respond to visitors who engage with your content
-Develop relationships with industry bloggers
-Create inbound links from a variety of platforms (social media, forums, etc.)
-Guest blogging for websites/blogs that have more authority

Age
This component of Google’s algorithm is probably the most straightforward. In order to improve organic search rankings, your website has to grow in age. There’s really no way around it. Even if you have the best content for your niche, but your site is only 6 months old, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. Of course this time period varies by industry, but keep in mind that you’re going to have to work hard and be patient in the beginning. If you’re consistently producing valuable content and continue to engage with visitors and industry influencers, Google will take notice and reward you. You just have to be willing to work for a little while with little to no results. Eventually, it will all pay off.

Content
Without valuable content, your website doesn’t stand a chance. When Google crawls your website every 15-30 days, it’s looking for fresh and updated content. If it notices that your website hasn’t had any activity for a significant amount of time, it’s going to deem you irrelevant to searchers. Some of the on-page factors that Google takes into consideration when deciding if a piece of content is valuable are:
-Quality (grammar, punctuation, etc.)
-Research (statistics and supporting information)
-Keywords (both exact and LSI)
-Relevancy (date published, is the information is still accurate?)

Having a variety of content throughout your website is another tactic to increasing organic search rankings. If Google sees that you are putting forth the effort to share valuable content in a variety of ways, you will be rewarded with higher results in the SERPs, or search engine results pages. Some of the most popular forms of sharing content are:
-Blogs
-Downloadable PDFs
-Videos
-eBooks
-Interactive content

Take the time to layout the various types of content you would like to share on your website, as well as the pages that will host them. Always remember in the words of Google itself, content is king!

Relevancy
As stated earlier, there are roughly 40,000 searches on Google every second. That’s 40,000 times Google has to simultaneously find the most relevant and valuable content for its users. The “relevancy” aspect of Google’s algorithm can be looked at as a combination of the first three: authority, age and content. In order for a piece of content to be valuable to a specific keyword or phrase, it must possess all of these factors to rank well. Other than the ones we have already covered, some additional aspects that Google takes into consideration are:
-Link Juice: how your inbound links are structured.
-Location: If someone is looking for “best restaurants near me” and they’re in Miami, there’s a pretty good chance they aren’t going to see any results from Jacksonville or Tampa. Google takes the user’s location into consideration when they’re searching for something to give them the best answer to their question.

Remember, as long as you publish valuable content on a consistent basis and make an effort to engage with your website visitors, Google will take notice and reward you accordingly. Although we barely scratched the surface with the specifics, knowing the basics of Google’s algorithm will help you with your overall website efforts.

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