It seems like only yesterday that Google listed their 200+ ranking factors, when in actual fact this happened in about 2009. We are now very close to 2020 and Google has changed drastically over the last ten years. Today there is such a thing as neural matching, an  AI method to better connect words to concepts, which allows the search engine to recognise concepts behind keywords. This has become a vital component to all digital marketing agencies in South Africa and across the world. 

If you have invested in a digital marketing strategy it is important to understand the different ranking factors that Google uses, as well as what is fact and what is myth. This can be difficult for those who are not collaborating with an online marketing agency, but below we take a closer look at the ranking factors for 2020 in order to unravel what is fact and what is fiction. 


Domain Age And Registration Length


Domain age has long been considered an important ranking factor when it comes to link building and referral traffic. Domain names with a longer period of registration were also supposedly ranked better and seen as having more authority. However, Google itself has been denying this idea and saying that domain age does not have any direct relation to ranking. 

In 2010, Matt Cutts  (the former head of search at Google) stated that there was no difference between an established website and a website that has only been in operation for six months. This means that the idea of domain age and registration length having any significant impact on your search rankings. Older domains might have better quality backlinks but the age of the domain will not have any bearing on its ranking in Google. Myth, busted!


Keyword Domain


A keyword domain is a domain name that has one or many keywords in the domain name. They are believed to rank better and faster than those that do not use keywords because they are more relevant to those searching for those keywords. While Google does take into account keywords in domain names, it has no proven impact on your SEO (search engine optimisation) ranking. 

The fact is that, simply because your website has keywords in the domain name, this does not mean that it will automatically rank for these keywords. Having your keywords in your domain name will help to improve your search results but it does not guarantee that you will rank for these keywords. This is up to the organic SEO strategy that you have in place as well as the Google Ads campaign that you have running. Another truth revealed. 


Country Code TLD


A Country Code TLD (country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) is a domain with an extension pointing to the website’s relation to a certain country, for example, .fr for France or .ca for Canada. It is believed that having a ccTLD will help you to rank better in the referenced country or in your targeted region. 

Google has recently stated that ccTLDs are a strong signal to search engines that your site is specifically intended for a certain country. This can have an effect on your rankings worldwide, but if you are only marketing to a certain country, then this should not be of too much concern. If you are targeting multiple countries or regions, it is important to have a ccTLD for each as this can help to improve your ranking for each one. This is a definite ranking factor!


Keyword In The Title Tag


Not sure what a title tag is? A title tag tells the search engines what the page is about and it is used by search engines to form snippets to show searchers when they look for certain information. It is a ranking factor that signals the page’s relevance to search engines, and is currently not as important today as it has been in previous years

Title tags are important for SEO and digital marketing strategies. Having title tags that are unique and contain relevant keywords will help your SEO to improve as this will show search engines that your website is valuable to those looking for your targeted keywords. Keep title tags contextualised to the pages they are for in order to maintain your SEO ranking. This is an important ranking factor for any website. 


Image Optimisation

Images are able to signal their relevance to search engines by using alt-text tags that use descriptions and keywords. Their file name, title, and description are also important for SEO ranking and should always be considered when uploading content or adding images to your website or blog. 

Alt-text is extremely important if you want your images and content to rank on Google. The alt-text, titles, and captions need to be relevant to the image and to the content that it is being used in. This will also lead to higher-quality traffic to your website and can help this leading search engine to find your content quickly and easily. Image optimisation is an important SEO ranking factor for any search engine. 


Fact Or Fiction?


There are many myths and half-truths in the world of Google, SEO, and digital marketing, but once you understand these factors a little you will be able to ascertain what is fact and what is fiction. 

Domain age, registration length, and a keyword domain do not have much bearing on your ranking in search engine results, while ccTLD, title tag keywords, and image optimisation have a definite impact on your rankings. If you are interested in a professionally structured digital marketing strategy, feel free to contact NetMechanic to find out how we can help you.