In the early 2000’s we saw the rise of Google as the most popular search engine to use. Back then, search engine result pages (SERPs) were determined using a combination of about 200 different factors. If you knew what to optimize for, it was almost guaranteed your website would start to rank.

However, a lot has changed over the years. The algorithm Google uses for SERPs is much more complex and its endless changes are not always disclosed. Going into 2019, there are still a number of important factors that we know directly effect your search engine rankings.

Install an SSL certificate

See the HTTPS found in this websites URL and the green lock? Since July 2018, Google Chrome browser has been marking websites without an SSL certificate as ‘Not Secure’. It’s time to get up to speed an install an SSL certificate. With increased uncertainty on the internet, an SSL certificate will also give your website visitors peace of mind.

It’s quick to implement, and sometimes even free if your host supports Let’s Encrypt. If you

Speed up your website

The speed of your website will directly impact your rankings as well as the ease of use of your website. In the end, a slow website will reduce traffic and conversions due to frustrated visitors.

According to Google, more than half of mobile website visitors will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. The average website loads in over 20 seconds.

Can you imagine how many visitors are leaving?

There are several ways to optimize the page speed of your website including:

  • Use a server that is closest to where you receive website traffic.
  • Make sure your images and other files have been compressed.
  • Make sure you’re running the latest version of PHP (currently 7.2)
  • If you’re using WordPress, reduce the amount of plugins used.
  • Try out a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Make sure your mobile version rocks

Early on in 2018, Google began using mobile-first indexing of websites. This means that the mobile version if your website is considered before the desktop version. If you haven’t built a responsive website, you might be hurting your rankings.

There are several ways to optimize your website for mobile-first indexing:

  • Make sure your website functions properly on mobile, tablet and desktop devices.
  • Avoid the use of popups. Google hates popups.
  • Make sure your website is serving scaled images (a smaller version of the same image for small screens)
  • Make sure your buttons are easily clickable

AMP it up

While AMP has been largely debated about its usefulness, Google has mentioned it is a ranking factor. What is AMP exactly? It stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and is an open source initiative to make it easy for publishers to create mobile-friendly content. It’s essentially a stripped down fast loading version of your website, however it sacrifices a ton of the design elements.

Take care of the technical

You might have built your website yourself. You might have hired someone to do the job for you. While it might look fantastic at first glance, there are a number of technical elements that need to be taken care of, and sometimes maintained over time, including:

  • Make sure .htaccess file is setup correctly
  • Make sure robots.txt file is setup correctly
  • Make sure your sitemap is being indexed through Google Search Console
  • Fix any duplicate page titles or descriptions (this is bad for SEO)
  • Check for any dead links on your website

Make your content fulfill user intent

The user intent, or search intent states which goal or intention an internet user has when entering a search term into a search engine. User intent is now a central factor in content and search engine optimization and is eclipsing individual keywords as a dominant ranking factor.

Start writing a lot of useful content

Content creation is becoming one of the most important factors in 2019. If you’ve got useful information that people can benefit from, Google will start ranking your website quickly. However, the competition is fierce, with a ton of new content being produced every day.

It’s time to start getting involved with:

  • Create photos and videos
  • Create useful and informative content (over 1000 words if possible)
  • Create news articles related to your service / product / industry
  • Create a social media plan for posting created content

Check your Schema markup

Schema markup helps Google identify particular information on your page and enhances search results with the content. For example searching for a concert date might provide you with the venue, time and date, ticket price without having to click on the link. Schema has a number of uses including events, people, products, reviews and more.

Make sure the User Experience UX is great.

There are a number of best UX practices to focus on in 2019. Improving on any of these factors will directly improve your rankings.

  • Make your content unique
  • Make sure your website provides value
  • Make your website easy to navigate
  • Make sure your website is accessible to people with disabilities
  • Make sure your website is credible
  • Make sure your website is overall a pleasurable and fun experience

Create links to your website

Although link building was often abused by blackhat SEO menaces, building quality links is still an important factor.

A few whitehat techniques that are still valid include:

  • Guest Posts
  • Web directory listings
  • Commenting on forums and other blogs
  • Turn unlinked mentions into backlinks
  • Utilize resource pages aka skyscraper technique