How does your audience find you?
The answer is very simple, by searching on Google.
But what if you are not visible on Google? This is a serious problem for you if you want to attract visitors and drive revenue results.
But don’t worry! Every problem has a solution, and the key to this problem is SEO. A well-optimized site gets more traffic over time, which indicates more leads and sales.
While you can’t control how Google works and think, there is a lot you can do to boost your sites’ chances of appearing in search results. That’s where SEO practice comes in increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website with Google’s various ranking factors.
Generally, the list of Google Ranking Factors is very large. Most of them are explained in in-depth instead of those that actually matter.
So without wasting your time, I am going to take a different approach, rather than listing 200 ranking factors. I will talk about the top ten, which seriously deserves your attention. But first, let’s go over the basics of ranking factors.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing the website to rank at top positions in organic search engine results. The term “organic” refers to unpaid search results.
Organic search results are different from pay per click (PPC) advertising, a strategy that focuses on paid traffic generation.
What Is "Ranking" in Search Engine?
In SEO, ranking refers to your content’s position on the search engines result page (SERPs).
Both organic and paid rankings on Google are determined by algorithms that consider various metrics and aspects considered by Google to be important, and these are known as ranking factors.
Appearing in the top 3 results is great since your click-through rates increase rapidly the closer you get to #1. A #1 means when people search for a specific term, your web page is the first result (apart from featured snippets, answer boxes, and promoted results).
How Many Search Ranking Factors Are There?
Although nobody but Google knows the exact answer. SEO experts find them through many experiments and by a lot of practice. And with that, they have arrived with a list of over 200 factors that will help you rank your page or websites.
However, going through 200 + factors takes a lot of time, and you might get confused at some point. So keep this thing in mind that not all the SEO ranking factors hold equal weight.
How Do Google Search Rankings Work?
The various factors are used in its algo to determine what results will be the most helpful for the user.
Google built its current algorithm around RankBrain. It’s a machine-learning algorithm uses to help sort and improve the search results. Depending on the keyword, RankBrain will raise or diminish the importance of backlinks, domain authority, content freshness, content length, etc.
Google search algorithm takes various ranking signals into account before displaying results. The reason behind this is because one search keyword has hundreds of meanings.
For example, If I search for the word “coffee,” Google has no idea what I’m looking for. Possible results could range widely, including:
- Finding the nearest coffee shops
- Defining what coffee is
- Benefits of Coffee
- History of coffee
- Processing, brewing, and uses
- Buy coffee beans
What Google is trying to do here is guess my intent and then show the results to what it thinks will be the most helpful result. Over time, Google’s algorithms have recognised and adapted to the user’s search intent and identified four types:
- Know queries: Where visitor wants information about something. Ex what are the different types of coffees?
- Do queries: Where the visitor wants to take action. ex” best coffee machines.”
- Website queries: Where the visitor wants to go to a specific webpage or website. ex: Amazon
- Visit-in person queries: Where the visitor wants to locate and visit a physical address. ex “coffee shops near me.”
However, this changes a bit for Google’s mobile search index that focuses on micro-moments:
According to Google’s search quality ratings, when it indexes the main content of each page, it checks factors such as:
- Content quality and amount.
- Website information and information about the content creator.
- User interaction with the page like such as time on page, bounce rates, etc.
- Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
Based on rating guidelines, Google shows visitors the most relevant, high-quality results related to the queries they entered. The most relevant result is displayed first, with the rest shown over successive pages.
What Is E-A-T and Why Does It Matter?
E-A-T is Google’s medic update, which emphasized expertise, authority, and trustworthiness as major ranking factors. The aim was to assure that visitors weren’t just getting the highest quality piece of content but also getting the right information from that content.
Websites that could lead to potentially life-altering results fall under “Your Money Your Life” (YMYL). Like Medicals sites, financial planning websites, or anything that could change the status of someone’s happiness, health, and wealth.
Google want’s to be sure that it is giving its users accurate information possible. Thus instead of focusing only on what a website’s page says, Google tries to understand who is saying.
Types Of Ranking Factors
Off-Page ranking factors: These off-page factors are measured by Google outside of your site and involve backlinks. It checks the relevance, trustworthiness and authority, which is accomplished by building the inbound links or social signals.
On-Page Ranking Factors: These are correlated to the keywords and informational quality of your pages. It refers to the front end, consisting of content formatting, image optimization, and inter linking practices.
Technical Ranking Factors: These are measured on your site but have more to do with its overall performance as a whole as opposed to individual pages. It includes the architecture of a site from meta tags to site security.
Now, let’s get into the top 10 most important factors, divided by these groups.
Top 10 Google Ranking Factors In 2020
Technical Ranking Factors
Search engines work by crawling and indexing all of the information featured on the website. And for this to happen, some technical elements need to be working properly. To execute these technical ranking optimizations, knowledge of website structure and content management system is required.
1) Site and Page Speed
It is the leading SEO ranking factor. If the pages take too long to load, the bounce rate increases, which hurts the ranking. Google wants to improve users experience of the web, and fast speed loading will do that better. There are various tools on the market that allow you to test your site speed.
You can use Google PageSpeed Insights tool, which is free, simple and offers valuable insights about the speed that allows easy optimization.
- Mobile page speed
Google uses the mobile version of a website when it is evaluating pages. Even if the desktop version of your site us great, your search engine ranking could take a huge hit if the website is not optimized for mobile. Google announced a search engine algo update focused on mobile page speed that started to affect sites from July 2018. If the website doesn’t load fast on mobile devices, then it could be penalized.
The best idea to monitor all these things is using Google Search Console. It has a section dedicated to updating you on your website’s including speed of page.
2) Mobile Friendliness
Nowadays, people use mobile devices than desktops to access the web. And that’s why there have been changes in how Google ranks search results. Google draws its results for mobile-optimised sites first rather than site geared to desktop computers.
If your site is not mobile friendly, you risk getting needlessly under-ranked. You also have to look after user experience when visitor land on your site. Include whether you:
- Have a responsive website which automatically resizes to fit the device
- Use fonts that are readable on a small screen
- Include accessible menus, so the site is easy to navigate
- Ensure that ads don’t hide important content
3) Domain Age, URL and Authority
60% of the sites that have a top ten Google search ranking are three years old or more. Only very few sites less than a year old achieve that ranking.
Therefore if you’ve had your website for a while and have optimized it using the SEO tips, that is an advantage. New domains have a harder time ranking for top keywords.
Google has penalized exact-match domains that penalty is usually for spammy sites with thin quality content. The exact match domains are considered to be relevant, valuable, and high quality can see a ranking boost.
The best way for choosing your domain is to focus on a URL that reflects your business. Also check for domain and page authority, as both ranked from 0 to 100, that tells you how likely a domain or particular page is to rank in search results.
It improves the security for visitors by encrypting data between browser and server. When you visit an unencrypted page, Google shows a “Not Secure” warning in Chrome. It is a lightweight SEO ranking factor that affects fewer than 1% of global queries. Google has confirmed to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.
4) Internal Links
Crawlers use internal links as a signal that helps them to analyze and index the information. These links refer to hyperlinks that point to an internal page within your website.
If the internal linking structure is organized and tightly knit, it is easier for search engines to find what they are looking for.
The popular method for keeping your links organized is by creating topic clusters. Create content around a specific umbrella “pillar” topic and keep the interlinking within this cluster.
For example, Suppose you are writing articles on home appliances.
Your main source would be a “Reviews and Buying Guides” type of article that covers everything there is to know about home appliances. For there, every additional article that covers related subtopics (i.e., Best Smart TVs, Best ACs, Vacuum Cleaners, etc.) should link to others in the cluster as well as back to the main resource.
This makes it so that search engines can understand and index the content. Topic clusters are also useful from a user experience. It makes your content easier to navigate and don’t have to go to multiple sites to find what they are looking for.
On-Page Ranking Factors
These ranking factors are more page-specific. Common on-page ranking factors include title tags, content, and URLs.
5) Keyword Targeting and Optimized Content
Keywords are the ideas and topics that define what your content is about. Before start creating content for the website, it is important to do keyword research. It is a high-impact practice for driving new traffic. This process enables you to understand what your audience is searching for and create content that addresses these search queries.
Before creating content for a page, identify 4-5 related keywords that you want to target. Include these keywords whenever they fit naturally into the text. Search engines are smart, and they can identify when there is repeatedly and unnaturally fit keywords in your page for SEO. It is known as keyword stuffing.
Also, fresh and original content is the first step to success. If your page has duplicate content, tell Google which one should be ranked as authoritative by using canonical URLs.
Google’s Freshness Algorithm is a game-changer. It rolled out in June 2010 and had a powerful impact over the past years. If you are site have a lot of old content that doesn’t rank updating old articles could be huge, Google gives priority to new content and makes sure that at least some of the SERP features are up to date results.
6) Meta Description, Image Alt text, Title and Header Tags
Once finding the keyword you want to rank for, it is important to insert them into specific places like the title tag, meta description and header tags. Search engines use these tags to learn what the page is about and index it accordingly.
- Make meta title about 55 – 60 characters long.
Use header tags to show content hierarchy, starting with the title tag h1 and then use h2 or h3 for subheadings.
- h1 tag being the biggest and most important header.
- Make sure the h1 as high up on the page as possible.
- Don’t copy your meta title.
- No length limit, but make sure it is informational and to the point.
The meta description is a description of a page, that founds below the meta title in Google search results. Visitor cannot see it once they enter the site. However, it isn’t a major ranking factor. Google sometimes uses it to pull a featured results snippet. Also, it gives the visitor more information about the page that can increase the click rate.
- Use the keyword at least once
- Make it shorter than 150 characters long
- Image Alt Text
Every image on the website comes with the alt-text, also referred to as an alt-tag. It makes the website accessible to visually impaired readers who rely on screen readers to browse the intent. Also, it helps Google to understand the image and index it properly.
Optimized alt-text has the ability to move the images to the first page of image search results and gives an additional shot at a higher ranking.
7) URL Structure
Along with internal linking, you should make sure that the category hierarchy of the given website is reflected in URLs. A jumbled URL with various mixed characters doesn’t do a good job of helping search engines learn about the page.
8) User Experience
Google is using artificial intelligence (RankBrain) to rank web pages better. This includes other signals that affect the search engine ranking.
- Click through rate: The percentage of searchers who click to visit your site after an entry comes up in search results.
- Bounce Rate: The number of searchers who click on your web page and quickly go back to the results
- Dwell time: How long visitors stay on your website after they’ve arrived
If searcher land on your webpage, don’t like it and bounce away then search engines will think it is not relevant to their needs. If many people do this, then it might be more difficult for your site to rank higher in search results.
Off-Page Ranking Factors
Off-Page Ranking factors have to do with entities outside of your website, like social media platforms, other websites and influencers. It involves attracting links from other sites, and share on social media.
The search crawlers analyse that how much a website is important and valuable.
Backlinks are the main part of off-page SEO. Google uses backlinks as indications of the linked-to content’s quality. Thus a site with high-value backlinks will rank better than a site with fewer backlinks.
There are three types of links – natural links, manually built links and self-created links.
- Natural links: These are given without any action on the part of the page owner. For example, a travel blogger adding a link to a blog post toward their favourite travelling spots is a natural link.
- Manually built links: These are obtained through deliberate link building activities. It includes things like getting customers to link to your site or asking influencers to share your content.
- Self-created links: These are created by adding a backlink in an online forum, or blog comment signature with optimized anchor text.
There are four strategies to get backlinks:
If your content is unique, high quality and offers great value to your audience, it’ll start generating backlinks on its own. A web page with so many links pointing back to it indicates to search engines that the specific page us giving exceptional value and coming from a credible website.
This strategy needs finding related content and pitching your pieces to the author for a link. Your goal is to get as many highly authoritative sites to link back to you.
Not everyone you send a message is going to reply, especially when many others competing for the same backlinks.
Another way of building backlinks is sourcing guest posting on external publications. It is an excellent method to establish your expertise, while also building links back to your site. Make sure you are sourcing high quality and original blog posts from credible domains that serve your audience.
Anyhow, whichever method you use, be focused in your approach and quality. It is better to have one link from one quality domain rather than four links from some low authority websites.
10) Social Signals
Social media signals don’t have a direct impact on the search ranking, and they affect the search engine optimization efforts in different ways:
- Increased online visibility and traffic to the website
- Increased authority
- Broader content distribution
- Improved local SEO
They increase online visibility and support SEO efforts to drive traffic to your website. Not only do you need to have a social media presence yourself, but you need to make it easy to share your content and amplify social signal.
Whom should you try to please - Your Audience or Google?
This is really what the extract of SEO comes down to. Is the purpose of making content that Google can read and rank easily, or is it to create content that your audience will enjoy?
Unfortunately, the answer is less climatic than you had probably like: it is both.
This is what the conclusion comes out. Is the goal to make content that users will enjoy, or is it to make content that Goggle can easily read and rank?
Asking which of these two factors is more important is like asking which side of a pair of scissors is sharpest. Both are important and need to be perfectly placed to rank the site or page.
The best advice is to create good content users will love and then optimize that content to help Google understand why your audience likes it so much.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much time does it take to optimize these ranking factors?
Optimizing these ranking factors take time. It isn’t a quick game to rank the page on SERP. If you optimize the website for several ranking factors today it isn’t going to miracle happen and your site spot on number one in one day.
This process needs ongoing efforts to keep your site relevant and fresh for your audience. When your website is functional and optimized with your target buyer in mind, you will start to see organic growth.
2. What Is Schema Code?
It is a code that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. Also, it helps the search engine get a better understanding of specific texts such as reviews, addresses, phone numbers and more.
The purpose of schema markup is to improve the presence of your website in the search results.
3. What is Backlink Anchor Text?
It is the anchor text used by other sites linking to your website. Moreover, it helps search engines determine the most relevant keywords a web page should rank for.
4. Why is it important to use Google Analytics?
It allows you to track various important metrics. Google Search Console and Google Analytics track information and measure your website performance in google search engine. Also, it will give you a detailed report of your website performance.