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Google Ranking Algorithm Changes in 2024

Google is constantly updating their algorithm, so it’s important for people working in SEO (search engine optimization) to be on top of things. They need to adjust their methods to make sure that the companies they are representing are being favored in rankings. It’s a constant dance of trying to appease Google’s algorithm so that you are favored over your competitors. Another struggle is that other companies will also be doing the exact same thing, so understanding effective SEO techniques is crucial to getting a leg up on them. 

Most changes that Google makes to their search algorithm are small. On average, they change Google Search 13 times a day. Sometimes, however, the algorithm updates are more noticeable and have a bigger impact. These algorithm changes can cause shifts in rankings, web traffic, revenue, and more. The changes may end up benefiting your brand, or could cause losses. Adjusting quickly to updates can greatly benefit your company’s visibility in the rankings. 

We are still in the first third of 2024, but Google has already implemented big algorithm changes. March saw changes to the spam algorithm such as: 

  • Buying expired domains to abuse the system and help boost rankings for low-quality content is now labeled as spam. 
  • Using automation, people, or both to produce scaled content and abuse the system to boost search rankings is now classified as search spam. 

Google has been taking action against spam using manual actions as well as algorithmic spam systems. 

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Other changes were made in March, such as: 

  • Unhelpful content in Google Search being reduced by 40 percent. 
  • Google’s system for helpful content was put into their overall main ranking system. 
  • A complex algorithm update for multiple core Google systems. It caused more ranking fluctuations than normal core updates usually do. 
  • Freshness used to be in the “Other” category, but it is now one of the algorithm’s biggest factors. 
  • Trustworthiness is a new factor in Google’s algorithm. Google will be implementing technology that can determine if content is factual. 
  • Keywords in URL and Keywords in Header Tags were eliminated as an important factor in ranking. 

As part of their March updates, Google announced that there would be another update coming in May. When this update is implemented, third-party content made for rankings that isn’t closely controlled by the website owner will be labeled as spam. This is often referred to as “parasite SEO,” and Google plans to take both manual and automated actions against this practice. 

In this article, we will go over the top Google ranking factors in 2024. 

Consistent, High-Quality Content

One of the most crucial ranking factors is producing great content. If visitors to the article are engaged with its content, then Google will promote it. What constitutes high-quality content is a complicated topic, but the bottom line is that content is king. No matter how many SEO techniques you use, you will not see good results if the content itself is bad. 

  • Google prefers original content that has unique value to your audience. If your content is directly copied from another source, it will have a negative impact on your site’s rankings. 
  • You should also make sure that your content is fresh. Google favors content that is updated or was published recently. If you update posts and add new information to them, this can boost them in the rankings. When it comes to freshness, Google wants pages with up-to-date information. 
  • Longer content usually performs better, but there is no perfect length for articles. Content over 2,000 words usually ranks higher, but you should prioritize quality over quantity. Ensure that your content has the necessary depth, and explains the topic thoroughly. You want to ensure that your readers understand what you want to convey to them, and that they are finding the information they were searching for. 
  • Lastly, the structure of your content is important. Your pages should be well-organized so that visitors can navigate it easily. It’s also a good idea to use headings and subheadings to organize different topics. Bulleted and numbered lists can also help you organize your content. Good structure for your articles improves readability, which increases engagement. 

Backlinks

So, what exactly is a backlink? They are a sort of voting system on the internet. If another website links to your website, it indicates that your site is trustworthy. Websites with less backlinks are pushed down in search results. Backlinks used to be one of the most important factors in Google’s algorithm. However, over time they have become less important compared to other factors. Backlinks are still a big factor in how Google ranks your website in search results, but takes a backseat to creating quality content. When your content is good, it has the side effect of organically attracting links. It’s better to focus on making good content because it’s the top ranking factor. A backlink’s source needs to be both relevant and the incoming links need to be quality. 

Niche Expertise

One reason that Google may favor a website is if it considers it a niche expert on a certain hub keyword. For this to happen, the site will need multiple pages about the same topic. This could include both articles as well as FAQ landing pages and more. Consistently having this hub keyword throughout the site’s pages attracts traffic from Google searches that have this keyword in them. Demonstrating your brand’s niche expertise can help you stand out amongst your competitors and offer something unique. 

User Engagement

In recent years, the Google algorithm has made user engagement more important. Because this on-site factor could be easily manipulated by people running a website, Google used to be wary about giving weight to user engagement. However, Google’s technology has grown more sophisticated, being able to detect click fraud on sites. Because of this, user engagement has become a big ranking factor.

User engagement is related to another factor, which is Consistent Publication of Engaging Content. When the content is high-quality, engagement will increase. Engagement and user experience are measured in dwell time on page, click-through-rate, number of pages per session, bounce rate, and more. Google also has Helpfulness as a factor, which user engagement plays into. Most people will quickly click off of a page if they don’t find it helpful to what they are looking for.

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Trustworthiness

Google has ramped up their efforts to analyze content and prevent Google users from encountering disinformation or misinformation. They have updated their algorithm to make it better at detecting what information on a page is factual. If you want to improve your website’s trustworthiness, make sure that you fact-check the information and claims on your pages. Citations from trustworthy places such as government and academic sources is also a good idea. 

Mobile-Friendly/Mobile-First Website

When most people look things up, it will be on their phone. To reach your target audience, your website must be easily-navigable on mobile devices. Not only does Google want pages to be friendly for mobile users, it wants them to be the priority. Your website should look the same on mobile and desktop, with a simple layout and easy site navigation. The mobile version of your website is what will be used for ranking and indexing. For the best possible results, ensure that your website is adapted for all screen sizes. 

The good news is that making mobile-responsive websites is easier than ever before. Website builder platforms such as Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix will be mobile-responsive from the start. Plugins can also be used to make a website more friendly to mobile users. Highstreet Marketing knows how to build great websites from the ground up. 

Page Speed

Google wants its users to have the best experience possible, and part of that is to have results and websites load quickly. Every extra millisecond your website takes to load, it could make rank worse. Thankfully, there are websites that you can use to test your page speed. Page speed is that time that specific pages take to completely load all of their content. Page speed and responsiveness are important Google ranking factors. It’s not just the site’s overall speed that matters, but also the loading time or various pieces of the page such as fonts and images. If your page takes too long to load, many people will click off of it. 

Keyword Optimization

One of the ranking factors that most people are aware of is keywords. Keywords are meant to match with what people are looking up on Google, so your website should include these words so that Google will suggest it in search results. You should include keywords in image alt text, meta description, anchor text, title tags, and more. At the same time, it’s important that you avoid keyword stuffing. Don’t just include the same words over and over; instead, include your focus keywords in addition to secondary keywords and variations of them. 

Site Security/SSL Certificate

Because the internet is so central in this modern day and age, hackers have become more prolific. Google flags sites that they determine to be unsafe or harmful. They do this if the site doesn’t have a properly configured SSL certificate (which puts the “s” at the end of the “https” in website urls). A Secure Sockets Layer helps ensure that data is transferred safely. For a decade Google has wanted websites to turn from http to https. The “S” in https actually stands for secure. If you have ever clicked on a website and gotten a popup from Google Chrome about it not being secure, it’s probably because the website had an http url. 

Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult to change your website from an http to an https, and to get a free SSL certificate. It’s a crucial step in improving rankings and traffic. When Highstreet Marketing manages your company’s website, we will take care of this for you. Many site hosting services have free or cheap SSL certificates. After migrating from http to https, we will check inbound and outbound links to make sure that all of the urls are updated, and that none of them are broken. It’s also important to set up 301 redirects from the old http urls to the new ones. If somebody has your website bookmarked, then they will be automatically sent to your new address. This is also helpful for Google’s indexing. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Google’s ranking factors may seem complex, but when Highstreet Marketing is on top of your company’s SEO and website, you won’t have to worry. Proper, deliberate strategy needs to be used when optimizing websites. We are experts at keyword targeting so that Google users can find what they are looking for on your page. The whole website needs to be carefully curated, and updated along with Google’s algorithm changes. With us, you will see improvement in your brand’s rankings, as well as an increase in web traffic. 

Highstreet Marketing 

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