Where do consumers go when they need an answer, idea, product, or service? They go online. More precisely, they Google. And 95% of them don’t go past the first page of results. Google is by far the most popular search engine on the planet. It dominates other search engines with over 5.14 billion searches taking place each day. So, ranking high on Google search results is today’s golden ticket.
Keeping up with the latest developments can be hard. But, if you want your Google rankings to go from unseen to the top of the list – you have to be in the know.
Which Google ranking factors are actually important for your website and affect its ranking on SERPs?
What are Ranking Factors and Why Does Google Care?
Ah, the ranking factors. The ancient art of ranking in search engines is a never-ending journey. Ranking factors are the criteria applied by Google (and other search engines) when evaluating pages to decide the best order of relevant results to return for a search query. Google’s ranking systems are made up of not one, but a whole series of algorithms. To provide the most useful information, search algorithms look at many factors. Your job is to make the most out of them.
How Many Google Ranking Factors are There?
There are over 200 ranking factors that are generally considered correct, but it’s debatable. Since 2006, there have been thousands of algorithm updates. With the oversaturated amount of information regarding the ultimate ranking factors, how do you separate fact from fiction? With Google evaluating websites based on hundreds of ranking factors, knowing where to aim your SEO strategy for the biggest bang might seem impossible.
But, what we do know is that Google will continue adjusting ranking signals to best meet the needs of searchers. This means that even the newest SEO trends have roots in the current algorithm – and with a little info, creativity, and SEO savvy, it’s entirely possible for you to rank well.
Search Engine Ranking Factors and SEO
If you’re going to post content online, you might as well make sure your efforts are noted. SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank as high as possible in organic search engine results. Organic rankings on Google are determined by an algorithm that takes into account various characteristics and SEO metrics —and these are your ranking factors. SEO is no longer just a job title, it has become part of everyone’s job description.
Top 8 Google Ranking Factors: What Really Matters for SEO
Regardless of whether an algorithm update rocks or destroys your world, they’re an inevitable occurrence. So it’s time to face the facts, adapt accordingly, and make the changes in stride. But, most lists of Google ranking factors are way too long. They focus on listing every factor under the sun instead of those that actually matter. Even worse, some are nothing but speculation.
So, rather than listing 200+ Google ranking factors, we’ll talk about the eight that deserve your undivided attention. As difficult as ranking in the coveted number one spot may seem, there is a list that’ll help you get there.
1. High-quality content
They say content is king. In the case of Google ranking factors, it most definitely is. If you create content that’s unique, fresh, and helpful, Google will rank it higher on SERPs. No matter how optimized your website is, if your content is not valuable – you can’t expect high rankings. Keep an eye on content freshness, relevancy, keyword strategy, as well as the length, structure, and organization of your content to improve readability.
2. On-page optimization
If content is king, then SEO is queen. On-page optimization deals with the “behind the scenes” of your content and SEO. These faucets make a significant impact on your website’s visibility and the SERP position of your target keywords. If your content is high-quality, unique, and provides value to your audience, it will start to generate backlinks on its own. This leads us to…
Google launched this game-changing algorithm update back in 1996, which made clear that the number and quality of links to a page would be a strong indicator of its quality. And it still is. In fact, content and backlinks go hand in hand, as webpages without any backlinks hardly get any organic traffic. It’s how Google crawler finds your website for indexing.
Backlinks or inbound links are like a vote of confidence for your website. Google adds all those votes together and checks if a website is trustworthy enough to deserve to rank in the top results.
4. Mobile Friendliness / Mobile-First
Previously, Google would use your desktop as the primary version for indexing. But with 3.7 billion mobile internet users in the world, it’s no surprise that as of 2021, all websites are now subject to mobile-first indexing. This means that Google uses mobile-first indexing when crawling websites.
In simpler terms, this search engine predominantly uses the mobile version of a website when it’s evaluating a page. So, if you want to boost your Google rankings, your website needs to be mobile-friendly.
5. Page speed
The slower your site loads – the more visitors and revenue you’ll lose out on. Users expect a pain-free browsing experience and faster loading pages lead to a better overall website experience, hence Google’s move toward making it an important ranking factor. Your website should take a page from Google’s book – you want your pages to load as quickly as possible, no longer than 3 seconds to receive full ranking credit for this factor.
6. Page Experience
Google wants to rank content that offers visitors a positive experience, as it has always tried to prize user experience above all else. If you don’t think about UX (user experience), your website will end up at the bottom. In fact, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content and layout are unattractive.
Designing a user experience that pairs nicely with your SEO is vital if you want to succeed and rank high in the SERPs. But what contributes to a good user experience? Here are some basic elements that affect your page experience-based Google ranking:
- Easy-to-read content;
- Well-organized site;
- Interesting and useful content;
- Responsive design;
- No intrusive ads;
- Site designed around users’ needs.
7. Search Intent
Another crucial ranking factor for Google is matching the search intent of your content. It’s basically what a user is looking for, since Google doesn’t rank the same type of content for every query. Every keyword is different in the eyes of Google and you need to understand “the why” behind every search query.
Are users looking for basic information? Do they want a tutorial, like a “how-to” article? Are they looking to make a purchase? By matching the search intent, you can answer these questions, create content that people are looking for and rank high in those SERPs.
8. Domain URL and Authority
When it comes to Google ranking factors, authority matters. That’s usually a combination of great content and off-page SEO signals. And thanks to E-A-T, it can also include the authority of the content’s creator. Exact-match domains that are deemed to be relevant, valuable, and high-quality can also see a Google ranking boost.
The best route for choosing your domain? Focus on a URL that reflects your business and optimize the heck out of it!
The “First Page” Age: Ranking On Top of Google’s Throne
There isn’t a single ranking factor that will make or break your SEO. Climbing the Google search results pages is the combination of all your technical, on-page, and off-page efforts that work together to build an SEO-friendly website.
Give searchers what they’re looking for. Make sure your website looks good on every device so they would enjoy their experience. Keep your content fresh and updated and do all of the above fast and securely.
When having these top Google ranking factors in mind, it’s just a matter of time before you’ll start to see organic growth and eventually reach the very top of the search results.