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How to Rank Higher on Google in 2020 by Meeting These 4 Benchmarks

You may be aware of the traditional factors that impact your website’s ability to rank well on Google’s search engine.

These Include:

Some of these factors you can control, some you cannot. Technology advances. The way people use the Internet, as well as their expectations, changes. And so Google’s search algorithms evolve. I want to share with you how to rank higher on Google in 2019 by meeting 4 major benchmarks set by the search engine giant. All factors which you can control.

Mobile-Friendly Architecture

Back in May of 2015, Google announced that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan”. This trend continues to grow as smartphones and tablets now dominate the way people access the Internet. In March of 2016, Google revealed an update that penalizes non mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. With more searches now on mobile devices, this further increased the importance of websites to be responsive and mobile-friendly. In fact, we should design websites around mobile considerations first, desktop second.

Google even released a tool and a guide to help test for, and design for, factors in their mobile algorithm updates.

Bottomline: your website needs to be responsive and mobile-friendly.

Encryption

In August of 2014, Google committed to making the Internet more secure by factoring encryption, or HTTPS, into its algorithm and giving prevalence to websites using this more secure type of connection. Web browsers now also let people know if websites they visit use a secure connection by displaying a padlock next to the URL in the address bar.

In the past, website owners needed to purchase an SSL Certificate from a provider (usually their web host) to take advantage of HTTPS. Depending on the security needs of your website, this might still be the best route to take, especially for eCommerce sites or sites collecting private user data. For everyone else, you can take advantage of free HTTPS offerings from the bigger name web hosting providers, or use a free service like Cloudflare to encrypt your website.

Want to test your website’s encryption? Check out the Qualys SSL Labs Server Test.

Bottomline: deliver your website over HTTPS.

Hacks and Infections

Google digs deeper when it comes to the security of websites and the users it sends to them. It tries to identify hacked sites and sites infected with malicious code. Google flags your site in search listings and lets its users know the security risks of clicking through to your pages. If you do not resolve the issues in a timely manner, the impacted pages will lose their search engine positions.

You can read more about hacked sites and how to request a review after cleaning an infection from Google. I recommend setting up Google’s Search Console to claim ownership of your website, be alerted of problems detected by Google, and better track other issues Google sees with your website. The Search Console also shows individual page position on Google’s search engine as well as keywords used to find your website.

Bottomline: build security into your website infrastructure for prevention and early detection and make sure you cleanup any infection or hack as soon as possible!

Performance & Speed

Way back in 2010, Google signaled they would begin using page load speed as a search position rank factor. In July of 2018, they took a step further with a new algorithm update that targets mobile searches specifically. They provide a tool which you can use to see how they view the performance of your individual web pages, with emphasis and harsher standards for mobile devices. Pingdom and GTmetrix also offer excellent tools for this purpose.

Steps you can take to improve the performance of your website include:

Bottomline: improve the load speed of all your web pages.

Final Thoughts

As the number one search engine in the world, Google provides a key service to people browsing the Internet – its customers. It aims to make that experience the best possible, both in delivering the content people want, and doing what it can to guarantee that web pages offer that content in a secure and timely way.

Google does not want you to be left in the dark in these areas. In addition to the tools and guides mentioned, if you use Google’s Chrome browser, you can also install their Lighthouse DevTool to test the quality of your web pages.

To meet Google’s benchmarks can be demanding. Sometimes, installation and configuration of the right plugins and extensions do the job. Sometimes, updates to settings in your web hosting account does the trick. Other times, the negative issues that effect these factors exist in the architecture of the website itself or of the web host’s server. If so, considerations like a website overhaul or changing hosts need to be taken.

As a web developer, I incorporate mobile-friendly design, encryption, security, and performance optimization into all of the website projects I work on. I no longer consider these elements optional. Neither should you. When you shop for a web hosting company, a CMS, a web designer/developer of your own, make sure that these benchmarks will be built into those services and your website. I even offer specific monthly plans to ensure these 4 targets continue to be met.

So many factors in Google’s search algorithms remain a mystery and out of our control. Be sure to focus on and optimize the parts you can.

Warren Samu
Last edited on
May 22nd, 2020
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