2019 marks the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev’s original Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, so what could be more appropriate a time to release an updated Period Table of SEO Ranking Factors? The original Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors was release in 2011 by Search Engine Land and updated in 2013, 2015 and 2017. The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking factors has become a globally recognized tool that search professionals have relied on heavily as the guideline for an effective SEO strategy. In the last several years alone the table has been downloaded more than 100,000 times in over 74 countries and linked to thousands upon thousands of blogs, marketing websites and other pieces of content. It focused mostly on elements dubbed “success factors,” with a positive and negative scoring system based on each element. The positive ranking elements included Content, HTML, Architecture, Links, Social, Trust and Personal while the negative elements focused on Violations and Blocking. You can find the original 2011 article here.
The Original Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors Released by Search Engine Land in 2011
Breaking Down the New Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors
Before we reveal the table, let’s quickly go over how to read the chart. The chart is broken up into a set of elements, each categorized into a specific vertical. Each box includes a weighted ranking, symbol, element name, brief description and color-coded category. The categories are broken up into positive ranking factors: Content, Architecture, HTML, Trust, Links and User. This is very similar to the 2011 version with the exception of removing “Social” and replacing “Personal” with “User”. Negative factors now just include “Toxins” with the addition of “Emerging Verticals.” “Emerging Verticals” have no value. Instead, they focus on emerging trends and technologies that professionals should be aware of as they could hold value at some point in the future. The original Periodic Table only included the negative factors “Violations” and “Blocking” outside the original elements. We will get into these replacements and what the categories mean later in the article but for now will focus on how to read and understand the 2019 Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors as a tool and guide for your SEO strategies.
SEO Emerging Factors
Healthcare, Finance or Legal? You Need to Know: E-A-T & YMYL
Before we get to the categories and what they mean, we need to cover a few acronyms that are vital to SEO in 2019 and beyond. The MOST important ranking factors used to boil down to content, links and Rank Brain (a machine learning AI that managed Google’s search queries). Now, it’s not so clear. This is because verticals and the types of content are held to a higher standard than the rest of the web.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. E-A-T began gaining momentum after a 2018 core algorithm launch aimed to make content more relevant and useful to users searching online. These come directly from Search Quality Raters. Their task is to check the quality of the search results following any changes the team of computer science engineers in the Search Engine and Algorithm engineering team may make. So what specifically do Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness mean for SEO and content?
Expertise: Simply put, are you an expert in your field? This is less relevant to more opinion-based websites but crucial for YMYL websites, which we will cover next. Content on websites that deal with financial, medical or legal information must come from a qualified expert in that field. You can represent this by writing content that is truthful and useful and listing some background on the author and why they are qualified to write the content.
Authoritativeness: You must show authoritativeness for your content by using credible sources to back up your statements. Testimonials and reviews that demonstrate real-life experiences are important as well.
Trustworthiness: You need to prove to users that they can trust your website. Ask yourself, is your website secure? Would a user feel that their personal or financial information is safe if they used your site? This can be especially important for e-commerce websites where users are entering payment information. Make sure your website includes an SSL certificate and clearly states in the privacy and cookies policies how user information is used and protected. Additionally, 70% of first page results are using SSL so it plays a significant role in Google’s considerations for rankings.
To reiterate, these aren’t as vital to opinionated websites such as gossip or humor sites. However, healthcare and finance companies are considered producers of YMYL content. For more information on how to maximize E-A-T you can check out this article by Search Engine Journal, 5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Google E-A-T Rating.
YMYL stands for Your Money, Your Life. These are any pages or content that could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. The information that follows is taken directly from Search Quality Evaluators Guidelines Section 2.3
“The following are examples of YMYL pages:
- Shopping or financial transaction pages: webpages that allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
- Financial information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
- Medical information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc.
- Legal information pages: webpages that provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
- News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry: webpages that include information about local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology; etc. Please use your judgment and knowledge of your locale. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL.
- Other: there are many other topics that you may consider YMYL, such as child adoption, car safety information, etc. Please use your judgment.”
YMYL websites are held to a higher standard when it comes to the 2019 Periodic Table of SEO Rankings factors, especially in relation to E-A-T.
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Without Further Ado, The 2019 Period Table of SEO Ranking Factors
2019 SEO Scorecard
Row 1 – Content
Quality +3 – Ensure that you are writing in-depth, well-written content that is highly valuable to the reader.
Research +3 and Keywords +2 – Research and keywords typically go hand in hand. Make sure you are taking the time to research popular and relevant search terms as well as accurate sources to include in your content.
Freshness +2 – Make sure you are creating timely content and either refreshing or retiring old or stagnant pages.
Multimedia +2 – Include images, video, podcasts, etc. to break up content spacing and increase engagement on your pages.
Answers +2 – Create content that can easily be converted into an answer in search. Search Queries are often entered in the form of questions. Formatting it this way increases your chances of being featured as a snippet in the SERP.
Depth +2 – Aim for substance. Shallow content often fails to attract new users or engage and can set you up for a penalty. Typically, blogs should contain at least 300-500 words. However, the best ranking blog length for 2019 is 1,705 words.
Row 2 – Architecture
Crawl +3 – Utilize technology SEO to ensure search engines can easily crawl your pages and find relevant information related to a user’s query.
Mobile +3 – Optimize your website for smartphones and tablets and ensure that it’s responsive.
Duplicate +2 – Use redirects and canonical tags on duplicate content.
Speed +2 – Ensure your website loads quickly on any device.
HTTPS +2 – Provide a secure connection for visitors with an SSL certificate.
URLs +1 – Use best practices for URL structures and build a keyword into you page’s address.
Row 3 – HTML
Titles +3 – Build keywords into your page titles. We recommend using a keyword first followed by a descriptor or brand name.
Descriptions +2 – Meta tags should describe what the page content is about.
Structure +2 – Use Schema markup and other tools to enhance your listings. This also helps search engines find types of content (events, products, organizations, etc.).
Headings +2 – Build keywords into your H1 and H2 tags as well. Make sure each page only has one H1.
AMP +1 – Utilize accelerated mobile pages to boost your page load times on mobile devices.
Row 4- Trust
Authority +3 – Gain authority in everything by getting quality links, shares, comments and more.
Engagement +2 – Visitors should spend time on a page engaging with the material and not bounce.
Reputation +1 – Sites with high traffic, links and history carry weight when it comes to reputation.
Row 5 – Links
Value +3 – Links should come from trusted, high-quality websites.
Anchors +2 – Ensure that anchors linking to other pages use similar keywords.
Backlinks +1 – Increasing your backlink profile with high-quality links leads to better rankings.
Row 6 – User
Country +2 – Consider the country of your searcher and use hreflang tags when necessary.
Locality +2 – Consider the region, state, city or landmark that may be beneficial to your searcher.
UX +2 – User experience matters now more than ever. Optimize your website for the optimal user experience.
History + 1 – Take into consideration how regularly someone has visited your website.
Intent +1 – Take into consideration why someone is conducting a specific search and what information they may be utilizing your website for.
Cloaking -3 – Don’t show a search engine different pages than your searchers.
Schemes -3 – Don’t buy links, spam blogs or use any other black hat tactics to improve your rankings.
Stuffing -2 – Don’t use excessive keywords in your copy in attempts to game the system.
Hiding -2 – Don’t hide keywords by making them invisible to the viewer.
Piracy -1 – Don’t host stolen content on your website.
Intrusive -1 – Don’t use ad-heavy content or bombard the user with pop-ups and interstitial content.
Voice – Smart home devices and mobile search are becoming increasingly popular.
Local – Listing, reviews, maps, NAP (name, address, phone) are vital for local businesses.
Image – Photos and illustrations are increasing in SERP.
Video – Searchers are looking for engaging, live action content.
For more information on emerging verticals check out our white paper “Disruptive Marketing Technologies 2019“
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