Each time you place a Google search you are essentially asking for a recommended list of websites relevant to the nature of your search. To be able to serve up these recommended results Google has to crawl billions of web pages, determine their purpose, rate their quality and then rank them within its index.

As of 2017 there are at least 200 known factors that influence this ranking process. Here are some of the main factors that influence how Google rates the content on your website.

Unique Content

Your content needs to be original and distinct from similar content available elsewhere online; otherwise it runs the risk of being flagged as duplicate content.

A common misconception of duplicate content is that Google will punish you with a penalty, but if that were the case wouldn’t there only be one recipe for pancakes available online?

Instead, Google will simply rank the page it considers to be the best quality and the duplicates of it will be given less weight in the search results.

Correct Use of Heading Tags

Heading tags, commonly known as H tags, are used to break apart content into a logical hierarchy – much like the contents section in a book.

Google uses these tags to follow the structure of your content and understand which parts are more important or relevant than others.

As a general rule of thumb the main title of your page should be a H1 and your content should be broken up using H2 subheadings.

H3’s and H4’s can then be used for less important subheadings, such as titling separate columns of links within your footer.

Where possible your H tags should include words and phrases related to the subject of your page.

Minimum Word Count of 300 Words

Google uses an algorithm called Panda to find websites with thin content – generally accepted to be pages with less than 2-300 words of unique content.

Any less than this and you run the risk of ranking lower than more in-depth pages due to your content being too short to offer any significant value to a searcher.

Worse still, if thin content pages on your website are very similar in terms of style and layout, they could potentially be mistaken for duplicates of each other.

Image ALT Tags

Visually impaired users often use devices known as screen readers to describe the contents of a web page to them as they browse.

The screen reader is able to dictate text to the user, but is unable to ‘see’ images like a human would, relying instead on an alternative text description (alt text) being added to describe the image.

Google looks favourably on pages that cater to visually impaired users as it shows that the website cares about the experience of all its users.

External Links

The internet is like a popularity contest where each link placed to another website is considered to be a vote of confidence in their favour.

The more people that link to your website, the higher your domain authority will be. This authority is generally accepted to be a score of how well a website is doing – because if your website was that bad why would anyone be linking to it?

If you are placing links within your content to other websites, it’s worth making sure that you are happy to be associating yourself with them.

Additionally it’s important to make sure that none of your external links are broken as this can imply that your content is outdated or poorly researched.

So in Conclusion

If you want to get the best possible results with your content then always write original, engaging and useful material.

If you get that right then you’ll keep both your visitors and the Google bot happy.