If you want an article to rank high in Google, there are a handful of factors that you should focus on. You will read about many different things that various people will tell you matter. They are probably right. However, certain things matter more than others. I will share with you the things that matter the most so that you can focus on them.
Creating content that will rank well in search engines is all about Search Engine Optimization or SEO. The factors that determine how well a page ranks can be divided into two different categories. Those categories are on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Each page has an on-page SEO score and an off-page SEO score. The scores are added together to determine which page ultimately should rank in which position on the search results for any given keyword phrase.
Which factors matter the most for ranking high in Google?
1) The title of the page is the most important on-page SEO factor. Your article is more likely to rank high for a phrase that is part of your title. For instance, this article would be predisposed to rank better for the phrase “get articles to rank in Google.” It is more likely to rank well for that phrase than some other phrase mentioned on this page. So if you are trying to get an article to rank well for a specific phrase, you should really have the phrase in the title. The words should be in the right order as well.
2) Write your article using a hierarchy where the subheadings are in bold or a slightly larger font. Google likes an article with one main heading and several subheadings related to the main heading. This is how research papers are written. Make your article more like a research paper if you can.
3) The site your article gets published on matters a lot. It will be far easier to get an article to rank well if it is published on a website with lots of authority. This is why articles that are published on major magazine websites or major news websites rank so well. Those sites have a lot of authority even before the article gets any links pointing to it.
If you are trying to get an article to rank well on a site of your own that is brand new, it is going to take a while. Most websites are on probation for at least 90 days from the first time they were indexed in Google. (that probation period is now debatable as Google has changed things in recent years) Google is hesitant to rank the site for anything other than that site’s own domain name when it is brand new. As the website gets older and you acquire a lot of backlinks to the pages on it, it will get easier and easier to get pages to rank higher fast.
4) Your article will need links pointing back at it if you want it to rank well for a phrase that is fairly common. Links determine your off-page SEO score. These links should come from other pages that are topically relevant to your page. These links should come from other pages that have as high of Google PR (PageRank) as possible. The higher the page’s PR is the better. The more trusted a website is the better. By trusted I mean whether the site ever links out to pages in bad neighborhoods. If this site never links out to sites that have porn, gambling, hate speech or spam on them, then the site is trusted more than one that does. Trust matters a lot.
5) Longer articles are better up to about 2000 words. This is only true provided that the material in the article is good quality. You do not want to fluff up an article. You simply want to cover the topic at hand quite thoroughly. Many writers don’t do this. They stop after 300-500 words because they think writing more than that is a waste of their time. It is not. Articles are meant to be informative. Think about research articles. They are long. Google likes articles that are like research articles. So longer is better as long it is within the limits of the website you are publishing it on.
Focus on these three main things with your articles:
1) Write great titles that use the right keywords in the right order
2) Write great content that thoroughly covers the material
3) Get great links pointing back at the article from anywhere you possibly can especially trusted sites.
There are ways that you can destroy your ranking chances as well
- If you over optimize a page by making every optimization detail absolutely perfect, Google might actually penalize your page in the rankings. They do this because they don’t want people to try to manipulate the search results. They want to decide for themselves which page is most worthy of a top ranking. If they think you are manipulating their system, your page can be punished.
- Every page has a quality score according to a number of factors. If you use a lot of profanity on your page or certain profane words, it might trigger a quality filter. If you misspell a lot of words on the page or your page has grammar mistakes that can be detected easily by computers, then your quality score will suffer. If visitors click off of your page within 1 second of entering your page, then it is likely that your page is really low quality.
- If your page only has links pointing to it from known spam sites, then your page is likely to get moved to the bottom of the search results in Google. This is a tactic that black hatters used in the past to get pages to rank well. Using this kind of tactic triggers a spam filter with Google created for websites that aren’t trusted. You only have to worry about this if you are publishing articles on your own relatively new sites. If you are publishing on a major online magazine, this won’t happen. Those old article sites are pretty much immune to spam links.
What about long term rankings?
- Google tweaks its results over time to determine which page is the best and most relevant to what the person is searching for. For instance, if the page that ranks number 3 in the search results for a phrase right now gets clicked on more than the pages that are ranked 1 or 2, then Google might assume that page has some greater quality and move it higher on the search results page.
- Google implements hundreds of changes every year into their search algorithms in an effort to return the highest quality, most popular, most relevant pages to what they believe the searcher is really looking for. These changes affect the mathematical models that they use to analyze web pages and the links that point to them. It is safe to assume that the tactics that work right now are going to be different than the tactics that work in later years. Matt Cutts from Google promises us that as long as we focus on creating content that visitors will find the most desirable, then Google will continue striving to make those pages appear near the top of the search results.
Whether you are trying to get an article to rank high in Google or trying to get some other page to rank well, you should focus on the things that matter the most. Don’t fret over the small details because in the grand scheme of things they really don’t matter much. Putting one word in bold some place in an article isn’t going to make that article shoot to the top of the SERP (search engine results page).
Focus on writing great titles, use proper page structure and cover your topic thoroughly. Then try to get it noticed so that other people will link to it. That is how you go from position 100 to position 1.