The Top SEO Ranking Factors of 2017

Major Ranking Factors for SEO in 2017

By Jeremy Ashburn
November 2nd, 2017

One of the biggest myths in the industry right now is that the Google algorithm has become so complex that it’s pretty much useless to spend time with SEO ranking factors. The key phrase in that sentence is MYTH! SEO is far from useless, even in the current growing trends of social media paid traffic.

Top 3 Ranking Factors for 2017While working with local businesses, we often come across business owners who come across who focus solely on social media marketing, while completely neglecting the importance of SEO strategies. Now don’t misunderstand, we know how important it is to stay current and make use of social media marketing, but because so many business owners have thrown out SEO as a tool of the past, a huge window has been left wide open for SEO. By better developing the content on your website, you can dramatically enhance Google’s stream of free traffic to your site.

Google’s algorithm has thousands of ranking factors and sub factors, and understanding all of them would drive even the most dedicated SEO strategist up the wall, but the beauty is that there are only a handful of factors that will give you the most success.

Based on the extensive research done by some of the Internet’s top analytic services, there are 3 main factors that determine highly effective SEO. As a local business owner, here's how you can take your site to the next level with these top 3 SEO ranking factors in 2017.

Factor #1 - RankBrain

Sound familiar? Probably not. Here’s the gist of it. RankBrain is the artificial intelligence algorithm that Google uses in order to learn about what people search for most, auto update itself, and provide the best search results for its users. In laymen’s terms, if RankBrain notices that more people click on the second search result more than the first, it will move the second up and the first down. It is a very sophisticated system that has one simple job: to arrange Google’s search results in order from most popular to least.

Why It Matters To You

Google’s primary aim is to provide the best, most accurate search results for its users, so if you focus on strategically filling your web page content with the right keywords relevant to your site, RankBrain will take care of the rest. As long as your content has articles that are more than 500 words long and contain answers to the questions that were searched for in Google, RankBrain will acknowledge your site’s relevance. Of course, this is just the basics of RankBrain, but you get the gist.

Factor #2 - Content

The key word on this whole subject is “relevance.” Like I said before, Google is all about providing the most accurate search results relevant to whatever you type into its engine. That means that the content on your site, and more importantly the SEO keywords in that content, must be relevant to whatever Google’s users are searching for. Many website owner’s think that it is sufficient to have adequate content on their site, and just provide links to other sites that better explain the query. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Google’s algorithm ranks content relevant to its users searches much higher over relevant links. The SEO keywords that you embed in relevant content make a huge difference in whether or not your site is seen.

 Basically, the better you can answer a users search query in your content, the higher the probability that your site will be seen by Google as relevant to its users.

Factor #3 - Link Value

We know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t you just tell me that great content mattered more than links?” Just hear us out. It is all about where your links are coming from. Google puts higher value on links and backlinks that come from high valued domains. Of course, this does not replace good, relevant content, but if your site has links to domains that are of low value, then they are inconsequential to the visibility of your site. On the other hand, if your site has links to higher value domains, this strengthens the visibility and value of your site. Moz.com, a top SEO analytics site, calls this “Domain authority” and “Page authority,” and Moz has great, in depth info on the subject.

Skyrocket to the top of Searches

These are just the primary determining factors of efficient SEO, and there is so much more that can be learned about the tips above, as well as many others. However, you can rest assure knowing that if you begin with these top 3 SEO ranking factors, you’ll be on your way to watching your site skyrocket to the top of Google’s search results.

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Why Your Website Should Add Value To the Web
Why Your Website Should Add Value To the Web

Junk

Ever seen this type of writing on the web? Seriously? What does this stuff even mean? What we're looking at here isn't high quality writing. No, my friends, this is junk. Everything you publish on your site or on the web should ad value for the searcher. Never, ever, is it OK to publish junk, anywhere on the web. Unfortunately, the web is littered with junk like this:
Here's an Example of "Keyword Stuffing, Adding Junk to the Web."
Here's an example of Junk Content on the Web, called "Keyword Stuffing."
See how the words "red apples" are repeated over and over in the content of this paragraph? The process of doing this is called "keyword stuffing."

Keyword Stuffing

Google defines keyword stuffing as the "practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results." Quite often, keywords appear over and over again in lists, groups, or patterns. Most of the time, these keywords appear totally out of context and repeated over and over. And, guess what? Google doesn't like keyword stuffing. This is because the act of doing keyword stuffing is an attempt of manipulate Google's algorithm. Google especially hates any attempt to manipulate their algorithm in any way. What happens when Google finds out a website is trying to manipulate them? Yep, you guessed it. Whenever Google finds violations like this they will "add a slap" to the website and penalize it in the rankings. In real world examples, this usually means that the offending site will drop out of Google's First page into the second, third, or hundredth page. Basically, the offending website disappears from Google's Search altogether and it can take alot of work to make that website "move to the top" again. Sometimes it's not even possible.

Why Publish this Junk?

So why do we see this so called "keyword stuffing" across the web? Once upon a time back before 2012, keyword stuffing was actually common practice among people that did SEO. The reason that SEO people did this was because it actually worked. The combination of keyword stuffing and publishing articles across the web would actually make a website go to the top of Google. Unfortunately, the web was littered with more examples of things that look like this: Alas, here's yet another example of keyword stuffing. Google hates this. Keyword stuffing is, at it's core, spam. And, Google hates spam. When the engineers at Google saw that the web was being littered with all this spam, they decided to do something about it.

Google Responds

Ready to laugh? We're some humor about keyword stuffing.
Here's some keyword stuffing humor.
So, what happened? Google got smarter. Around 2012, Google started releasing a whole bunch of updates to their algorithm that began to penalize sites for keyword stuffing. At that time, thousands of sites that were using keyword stuffing dropped out of Google completely, never to be seen again. 2012 were dark days for many SEO's because they lost thousands of hours of hard work down the drain. Because they considered Google unpredictable, many people stopped doing Search Engine Optimization completely. Since 2012, Google has gotten better and better at recognizing and penalizing all types of spam. The actual process of Google's engineers updating the algorithm, over and over, have made it much more intelligent. It's my opinion that all this algorithm updating has made Google into the first Artificial Intelligence (AI). No worries though, Google isn't an artificial intelligence that wants to "take over the world," it's an AI that wants to make the world a better place by giving the user a great experience. Thing about it? If suddenly, Google started delivering search results that had spam, would people keep using it? Of course not. People would start flocking over to Bing (gasp) and Yahoo (double gasp) away from Google. Google would start loosing it's 64% desktop market share of the search engine market. For that reason, Google's top concern is delivering an excellent user experience. Google wants:
  • people to quickly find what they're looking for.
  • results that solve problems.
  • results that answer questions.
  • to suppress spam as much as possible.
The more Google can keep doing those Four things, the more Google can stay ahead of the other search engines, make money, and grow.

Adding Value

One of my mentors would always repeat this mantra: "Always add value to the web." When he said this, we meant that whenever we publish anything online, we must make sure that it adds value. We need to make sure that the content we're publishing answers questions, solves problems, and helps people. Why is Value so important to Google? The reason is that sites that provide a high amount of value help people quickly find what they're looking for. The more value that people find using Google, the more they'll tend to keep using Google vs other search engines. When a site answers questions that people are asking for, that's value. When site's provide direction to life's persistent questions, that site is providing value. When a site has a high quality design, that's value. When a site publishes excellent content, that's value. Value also gets ranked at the top of Search Engines.

How Can You Add Value?

Ok, we get it. Value is, well, valuable. Publishing high quality content on your site will actually boost your company in the search results and also increase your site's value at the same time. So, what are different ways that you can add value to the web? Here's a list of pages or blog posts that you could create on your site to add more value:
  1. Blog Posts that answer your most common questions.
  2. Pages that Answer Specific Questions.
  3. Videos about your Company's Service and/or Offerings.
  4. Info-graphics about humorous, interesting, and great topics.
  5. Transcriptions of videos or audio that you've recorded on your phone.
  6. Blog Posts that comment on trending relevant topics on the web.
As a SEO Professional in the industry, we can assure you that if you publish this type of content at least four times a month, you'll start showing up in more and more searches. You can't publish this type of valuable content and NOT be ranking in Google.

Go Forth!

Now that you know the importance of value, we encourage you to start adding value to your site. Also, the process of creating great content doesn't have to be hours and hours of writing articles while looking at the screen. Content doesn't have to be boring; it can be fun! You can actually get a 500 word article by recording a 2 minute video on your phone, getting it transcribed at rev.com, and publishing the content as a blog post (along with the video). Go forth, always add value to the web, live, and prosper.