Google has over 200 ranking factors. Some Google has confirmed, while others SEOs hypothesized through tests and research. For a small business owner or SEO beginner, it’s impossible to implement 200 positive ranking elements.

Luckily, Search Engine Land puts together a Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors that we use here at TM to ensure we’re following tried and true practices of positive SEO. In this blog, we’ll share what Search Engine Land found for their 2017 Periodic Table and how you can implement their SEO factors into your marketing.

The Periodic Table Explained

The table is broken up into categories and within the categories are the actual ranking factors. These two things make up the element. Each element has a positive or negative number, 1-3. The higher the positive number the more important that element is for ranking.

Element: Hh +1

Hh stands for the category (H) HTML (Factors specific to web pages) and the ranking factor header tags (h). Hh has a score of +1 meaning it’s a factor in ranking, but it has the lowest positive effect out of all positive ranking factors.

Now that you know the syntax we’ll be using, let’s get started!

New Ranking Factors for 2017

Search Engine Land’s first Periodic Table came out in 2011, then was updated in 2013 and 2015. Each update changes as different ranking factors become more important that year and some ranking factors drop off entirely if the’ve become depreciated. We’ll cover the top rising elements for 2017 so you can focus on these right away.

Architecture – Mobile
(2015: +2)

Google usually isn’t that forthcoming with their ranking factors, but they’ve been very vocal about how important mobile is this year. Most site owners have taken heed and made their site mobile friendly. If you haven’t that should be the #1 thing on your to do list. But since most sites are mobile friendly, it’s less about having a mobile site than optimizing for one.

Google My Business (GMB)

For The Local Business: GMB listings take up major real estate on mobile search. It can be the only thing users actually see when searching for local businesses on their phone. Put extra emphasis on completing your GMB and pushing for reviews. Learn more about making the most of your Google My Business Profile.

Google My Business listings for local restaurants
GMB listings take up all of the mobile screen in search.

Mobile Architecture

For Everyone: While having a GMB won’t affect your site rankings on mobile, your mobile architecture could. This will effect local businesses and every other business in between. If your site provides a poor mobile experience, Google will demote it in mobile rankings.

Avoid these most common mistakes when dealing with a mobile site.

  • Hiding Content with Interstitials
    • On mobile, pop-ups promoting your newsletter, coupons, etc. can cover the entire screen and be hard for users to click out of. In January, Google introduced an interstitial penalty for mobile if your interstitial is particularly annoying.
  • Slow Mobile Sites
    • Your mobile site should render in one second. When Google starts to use a mobile first index that means your overall speed score will be dependent on how fast your mobile site loads.
  • Poor UX Design
    • Having small font size, tiny buttons, and buttons that are too close together is an extremely poor mobile experience. Users will quickly become frustrated as they keep clicking on buttons unintentionally.

Pro Tip: Make your phone number click to call so users can easily contact your business if they are browsing your website on mobile.

It’s worth running a mobile site audit, especially if you have more complicated mobile set ups like a dedicated mobile site (site with separate mobile URLs). Contact us for help sorting out your mobile needs.

Architecture – Speed
(2015: +1)

Site speed importance raised this year by one point and Google has been putting emphasis on site speed with the creation of AMP and expansion of site speed testing tools. While Search Engine Land discloses that having the fastest site won’t skyrocket you to the #1 in search, it will have an impact on your conversions, making it worth optimizing.

What Can You Do to Increase Page Speed?

  • Deal with images before they become an issue
    • PNGs are much larger than JPG files so ensure you actually need to use a PNG file type before you upload a PNG for every image.
    • Scale your images. If you need to use an image more than once, upload it to match the largest size needed. Serving images that are larger than what your page needs creates more work to render and excess data.
  • Get rid of unneeded plugins and widgets
    • If it’s not being used, get rid of it. And before downloading plugins or adding widgets to your site research how much they can burden performance.

These are just best practices and easy elements to change without the help of a developer, but site speed can be complicated if you’re trying to manage your site alone. Contact us for help improving site speed.

Content – Direct Answers
(2015: +1)

Direct answers, also called Featured Snippets, appear in the top spot before organic results, usually answering a specific user question. This makes them controversial for marketers. The reason being is that if a user already has an answer to their query, they won’t click through to the site. But there are arguments for the other side. Featured Snippets are a sign of content trust from Google, helping solidify content marketing efforts.

The increase in popularity of Featured Snippets, helped this element gain a point in 2017 versus 2015.

Example of rich snippet results in Search
Featured Snippets are in position “0”, the highest rank.

Optimizing for Featured Snippets

  • Choosing a Good Topic
    • Featured Snippets usually show up for informational queries that answer who, what, when, why. Start off by finding a common question users ask about your business and write a step by step answer.
  • Format Your Content Properly
    • Use bullets or numbers so your content is easy to read. Schema markup is a great idea too.
  • Ensure Your Content is Easy to Understand
    • This seems obvious, but by researching various featured snippet “candidates” you can tell why they didn’t get the top spot.
    • After searching for your query, you see this in the address bar: https://www.google.com/search?num=3.
    • Change the number in num=3 (so num=2, num=1, etc.) to see different possible Featured Snippets. (Keep in mind this doesn’t work for all Featured Snippet answers).

    Change the URL to see more Featured Snippets.

Below is the complete Periodic Table. Want to see an extensive breakdown of each element? Visit Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO page!

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