Search engine optimization is essential for any business or organization that wants to rank high on SERPs. By optimizing a website, a business can increase the organic traffic to its website, which can generate more leads and sales and result in a significant boost to a business’s revenue.
To optimize a website, SEO professionals rely on numerous search engine ranking factors, and in this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about them. We will highlight some of the most relevant factors that can help you rank and show you how to improve your online presence by taking advantage of the SEO ranking factors on our list.
Google ranks search results by using software known as web crawlers that scan and index web pages. Web crawlers discover URLs, review and categorize pages, oo-follow hyperlinks on any page they visit, then repeat the process. While doing so, web crawlers determine the relevance of each web page to a specific search engine query and rank the page accordingly.
Web crawlers rely on an algorithm to determine which page is relevant to the user query, and each search engine has its specific algorithm. So how does the Google algorithm work?
As far as Google goes, its algorithm uses more than 200 different ranking factors that determine the fate of any published page on the web.
Now that you know the basics, you are ready to learn more about the most important ranking factors we have prepared for you. However, before we begin, you should know that the factors on our list are not sorted in any particular order and are of equal importance.
Granted, while some may be more impactful than others, you won’t go far or rank high by simply focusing on a single ranking factor. Instead, your strategy should aim to include and connect multiple ranking factors.
The good news is that you won’t have to focus on all 200+ ranking factors Google’s algorithm uses to rank pages. However, for the best results, you should make sure to pay extra attention to all the factors on our list, as each one of them can significantly boost your organic traffic.
Well-written content is one of the most significant of Google’s 200+ ranking factors. Therefore, the content on your website should provide valuable information relevant to the searcher’s intent. It should be original, well-researched, in-depth, and well-structured. A high-quality blog post will appeal not only to web crawlers but also to users, which can lower bounce rates and increase user engagement on your site.
Before you start working on the content, you should research keywords and explore search term popularity over time. One way to do that is to use Google ranking software that can help you track, analyze, and monitor your keywords. Once you find keywords with satisfactory search volume, intent, and keyword difficulty, you can use them to create a roadmap for future content.
An important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t overstuff your posts with keywords, as it will only have an adverse effect on your rankings. Actionable and meaningful content is much more important to Google’s algorithm than any desktop or mobile keyword rankings, so always prioritize great content over keyword usage.
The best way to do that is to ensure keywords are inserted organically and are there to merely help web crawlers understand the intent of your post and deliver it to the right audience.
In addition to writing new content, you should also make sure that your old content is up to date. In fact, revamping old content can improve organic traffic by as much as 106%. Naturally, this goes beyond simply changing 2021 to 2022 in the title and calling it a day. To ensure your old content is relevant today, you should get to the bottom of things and update the essence of each post.
As far as content length goes, Backlinko discovered that the mean word count of a Google first page result is 1,447 words. Does this mean that every post you create should be 1,447 words long? Absolutely not. Content length can vary from piece to piece or one industry to another. In some cases, short content is more suitable, while in others, you will want to cover a topic in-depth and ensure you deliver premium quality to the reader.
The best thing you can do is use one of many Google rank tools available online to research your industry and the competition. That way, you can learn what type of content you should create and what information is relevant to people in your industry.
According to the latest search engine statistics, around 87% of mobile device owners use a search engine at least once a day. In fact, 55% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices alone, which is one of the reasons Google updated its algorithm in 2021 to use mobile-first indexing.
The 2021 Google algorithm update means that web crawlers will first check the mobile version of your website. In other words, your mobile site is more important than your desktop site to Google. Because of that, you should ensure that your website design has a mobile-first approach.
A responsive website design helps Google’s algorithm index the information on and about the page more accurately. An important thing to know is that Google indexing is not the same as ranking. However, you are unlikely to rank high if web crawlers cannot properly index your site.
The good news for site owners or website developers is that Google’s algorithm doesn’t favor a specific mobile website design. Even though Google recommends a responsive website format, you won’t have to worry about choosing a dynamic, responsive, or design with separate URLs.
Additionally, you should always strive to improve your website’s usability on mobile. Apart from a responsive website that resizes to fit the device’s display, you should use larger fonts to improve readability, make your website easier to navigate on mobile, and even ensure the content isn’t hidden behind an ad.
Finally, you should learn how to track SEO rankings and discover what smartphone and tablet users often search for. That way, you can narrow down the list and focus on mobile keyword rankings to create customized posts that can easily rank higher in the SERP.
A good page experience is vital for anyone who wants to rank higher, and there are several ways you can improve the user experience on your website.
As we mentioned before, the first thing you can do to improve page experience is to ensure the content on your website is relevant to the searcher’s intent. The reason this is also important for page experience is that Google uses AI known as RankBrain to rank web pages, and some of the signals RankBrain takes into account are:
A high bounce rate and a low dwell time might indicate to RankBrain that the page doesn’t match the searcher’s intent, making it significantly harder to rank higher in organic search results. For example, you are not going to rank high if you try to rank for the fastest cars in the world and post content exclusively about gardening.
In other words, your goal should not be to deceive or trick someone into merely clicking on a link to your page but rather get people to stay on your website and enjoy the content.
Apart from that, you should make sure to work on your website design since a bad layout or an unappealing UX design may cause users to simply stop engaging with the website. Instead of overcomplicating things, rely on a simple UX strategy to ensure users need only a few clicks to find any relevant information on your website.
Another thing that can significantly improve your page experience is a secure website. For that reason, you may want to consider switching to HTTPS. While it won’t affect your rankings directly, HTTPS is better for users, and with Chrome labeling your website as secure, it can positively affect your website’s click-through rate.
Lastly, make sure that your ad placement is on point. While most people dislike ads, we understand they are a necessity and a source of steady income for a lot of website owners. However, if a user cannot access content without being bombarded by ads, or the content is covered with ads, they are most likely to quickly exit the website and look for the information in another place.
Not only that, but Chrome can simply remove all ads from your website if you violate Better Ads Standards, so make sure that you follow Google guidelines regarding ad placement so that any ads on your site are tactfully placed.
Like page experience, page speed can be the difference between a user staying on your website or leaving because the page took too long to load. In fact, according to the latest data available by Google, the bounce rate increases by as much as 32% if a website takes one to three extra seconds to load.
For businesses like Amazon, an extra second could spell millions of dollars in lost revenue. Granted, while Amazon is in a league of its own, you shouldn’t risk losing potential leads by not optimizing your website pages properly.
As is the case with page experience, there are several different ways you can improve page speed, all of which have to do with the technical aspect of SEO and website design.
First things first, make sure that your website is hosted on a dedicated and high-performance server. Your website can be slowed down if it’s on a shared server, regardless of how well structured it is. In addition, you can shorten the distance the information has to travel between the server and the user by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Another thing you can do to significantly improve page load speed is to optimize all the images on your website for SEO. However, always make sure to prioritize image quality first. After all, what good is a 30 kB image if it’s indistinguishable and the text is impossible to read?
On-page optimization is closely connected to high-quality content, making it one of the most valuable organic and Google Ads ranking factors. Regardless of what you are trying to rank for, on-site SEO is fairly simple to implement, so there is no excuse not to take full advantage of it.
We mentioned earlier that keyword research is an important part of providing targeted content for your niche, so the keywords you use should be relevant to your business and your posts. However, keywords won’t do your SEO strategy much good if you just insert them randomly throughout your posts. Instead of that, focus on placing the main keyword in the title and header tags.
At the same time, make sure that your header tags are formatted properly. By doing so, you can help web crawlers discover your content, learn the intent behind it, and make it visually more appealing to improve user experience.
In addition, you should write compelling, actionable, and helpful meta descriptions shorter than 160 characters. A meta description is a short text you can find beneath a link to any site or page whenever you use a search engine. Even though Google uses meta descriptions around 30% of the time and sometimes may even rewrite your meta description, the algorithm will often pull a featured snippet from the meta description.
This is especially important for anyone who wants to optimize for voice search. Voice search is one of the latest SEO trends since 40.7% of voice search answers come from a featured snippet. However you look at it, a well-written and actional meta description may increase organic traffic to your website and improve your click-through rate.
The entire web is built on links, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that links are one of the most valuable types of search engine ranking factors. Links can help you improve user experience, increase organic traffic to your website, and improve domain authority, which we will cover later in the article.
There are three types of links you should focus on when link building.
Internal links can help web crawlers prioritize the indexing of specific pages. At the same time, the goal of internal links is to improve user experience. By building a roadmap around connected topics and linking to another page on your site, people can more easily find relevant pages and jump from one page to another.
In return, the influx of extra link juice can help boost the ranking of pages you link to. So, make sure that your content includes a web of links that direct traffic to relevant pages. Also, create links from high-ranking pages to new pages to boost their visibility.
Inbound links, also known as backlinks, affect your domain authority. Google uses these types of links to determine how relevant and authoritative your content is. However, unlike internal or outbound links, inbound links occur when an authoritative website includes a link to your site or page. The takeaway here is that, while the number of backlinks to your site is important, the site’s domain authority matters even more.
In most cases, you cannot directly affect the number of inbound links to your website. However, you can earn them by ensuring the content on your website is relevant and worth linking to. As long as the content you provide has value to your audience, you should automatically generate backlinks to your site.
Another thing you can do to improve your SEO strategy’s effectiveness and increase the number of backlinks is to find related content and ask the author for a backlink. Of course, this is only effective if the content on your site is relevant to the author, or your site has a satisfactory domain authority.
Apart from that, you can explore various blog opportunities. If blog owners enjoy your content and it matches their industry, they may allow you to publish a blog post on their site and include a link that leads back to it. Of course, for this strategy to be effective, you should post on sites with high domain authority and enough traffic.
Outbound links occur when you add a link to another site in your content. The goal of outbound links is to improve the overall quality of your content by making it easier to explore other resources and add more context.
At the same time, by including outbound links to your resources, you can improve your website’s domain authority, which is why outbound links are often referred to as authority links by SEO professionals.
An important thing to know about link building is that you shouldn’t overdo it and overstuff your posts with links. Google uses something known as Google TrustRank, which is yet another algorithm. The goal of TrustRank is to analyze links and separate spam pages from useful content. Not only that, but based on TrustRank results, Google may penalize websites that simply spam links in the hope of achieving a higher domain rating.
In other words, the quality of the links you create is more important than their number. All the links should be relevant to the content you are posting and provide readers with additional information.
The same can be said about reciprocal links that occur when you link to a website that links back to you. In the SEO industry, this is known as gray SEO, and you should avoid it since Google may penalize your site for that. However, unlike spamming links, reciprocal links occur naturally, and more than 70% of domains have them.
We mentioned web crawlers and Google indexing earlier when discussing how Google ranks search results. As far as crawlability goes, it simply refers to how accessible your website is to web crawlers. If web crawlers cannot find your site or a page, they cannot index or rank it. For that reason, crawlability falls under the most important search engine ranking factors.
The first thing you should do after you’re done building your website is to submit a sitemap to all the top search engines. By using the robots.txt file, you can allow or block a specific search engine from indexing the pages you specify, which may come in handy if you are trying to rank on multiple search engines, given that each search engine has a slightly different algorithm.
If you wish to check the number of pages web crawlers have crawled on your site, you can use tools like Google Search Console. Once your website is up and operational and you have a search engine position report you can use, you can decide whether your site needs further improvements and in what area.
In addition, there are other things you can do to improve your site’s crawlability, most of which you should already know from our article. For example, the first thing you can fix is the site structure and the internal link structure.
Furthermore, you should check your site’s code and see if everything is working properly. If you receive a lot of HTTP status codes errors, you may want to double-check whether your site has any server errors or looped redirects, as both can prevent crawlers from indexing your site correctly.
Finally, make sure to regularly add new content or update the existing one since web crawlers are more likely to visit sites that do so. In contrast, avoid posting any duplicate content on your site as it may deter web crawlers from frequently checking your site and even result in your pages losing ranking.
The first thing you should know is that, according to Google, domain authority, age, and URL do not affect page rankings. Despite that, they are as important as any other factor on our list and can improve user experience and drive organic traffic to your website.
Domain URL is perhaps the least relevant of the three, and the most important thing you should know about it concerns exact match domains. EMDs are domains using the exact keyword they are trying to rank for in their domain name.
While exact match domains may sometimes give your site a traffic boost, Google will often penalize them, especially if the content on an EDM website is lackluster. To avoid that, simply pick a domain name relevant to your business and optimize your site accordingly.
As far as domain authority goes, it refers to how credible the information on your site is. Having a high domain authority has numerous advantages. First and foremost, other sites are more likely to link to you, and a nice link boost to your website can mean even higher DA.
Additionally, it can also mean more organic traffic to your website, which you can always check and track with tools like Google Analytics. Furthermore, a high domain authority can help improve user experience by reassuring your site’s visitors that the content they are consuming comes from a reliable source.
As we mentioned earlier in the link building section, there are many ways to improve your domain authority. You can:
In addition to domain authority and domain URL, domain age can also play a role in your rankings. Namely, if you have ever used an SEO tool and thoroughly examined any search engine position analysis report, you might’ve noticed that most top-ranking pages are two years old. In fact, according to the latest data, only 22% of top-ranking pages are less than a year old. Unfortunately, you can’t do much about domain age other than wait.
In contrast, there have been numerous cases where a fresh page managed to rank high in the SERPs, so the feat is all but impossible. In any case, it takes time for SEO to make an impact on your traffic and rankings, so a bit of waiting is a given.
Before making a purchase, people will often research a product, check its reviews, and compare the price. Even though a sale may occur in a brick-and-mortar location, the latest data indicates that approximately 50% of all product searches begin on Google.
For that reason, optimizing for local SEO is essential for both online and brick-and-mortar businesses that want to convert leads into paying customers.
The first thing you should do to improve your local SEO is to check your Google My Business listings and provide information like your business name, address, and phone number. Around 64% of consumers use GMB to find information about a local business, and you shouldn’t lose leads by not doing something as simple as updating your Google My Business listings.
Doing so can also help search engines understand your business and determine how relevant it is to the searcher.
Apart from business info, around 70% of people decide to visit a store after looking it up online, which is why you should optimize for the so-called “people also search for” and “near me” searches. While there are some differences between the two, local SEO works much like general SEO, so you shouldn’t have any difficulties adjusting your SEO strategy to focus on local SEO.
Some of the local SEO ranking factors you can use and things you can do for your local SEO strategy is to focus on your mobile-first approach, find relevant keywords with a local rank tracker, make sure users can easily find the information on your website, regularly update content like product or service prices, manage reviews, and build brand authority.
Did you know that Google counts links from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter differently than it does with other authoritative links? However, even though Google doesn’t consider social shares a ranking factor, a strong social media presence is essential for any business that wants to strive in today’s world of digital marketing.
The best testament to that is the fact that around 92% of marketers in the US with more than 100 employees use social media to increase brand awareness, improve user engagement, and generate leads. Why? Because social media shares mean more organic traffic to your website. At the same time, more traffic translates to the opportunity to build backlinks and increase domain authority.
In other words, social signals are a key ranking factor that indirectly helps your business.
The way you will boost your online presence varies from one industry to another. The first thing you should do is check out the platform’s demographics and understand the audience’s needs. Then, you can create specialized content for the platform you are using, ensuring that your post is relevant to the targeted audience.
In addition, you may want to adjust things like content length or the way you optimize images to make sure your content fits the platform and is shorter and much easier to digest.
The first thing you should know about SEO is that it may take months before you see any tangible results. Moreover, have in mind that SEO is an ongoing process. Keep an eye on the latest trends and work on your website continuously.
One of the most effective ways to do it is with the help of tools like our SERP Checker that can track your page rankings and monitor which keywords perform well. By using a tracking tool, you can focus on tasks that need your attention the most and improve your site’s overall performance.
Even though it may seem like SEO is a lot of work, most search engine ranking factors we’ve included in our list are interconnected, so all the work you do on your site has multiple purposes.
However, the most important thing to remember is that a lot of these rank systems should serve only as guidelines to help you with your SEO strategy. Rather than fixating on creating content to feed the algorithm, your main goal should be quality content that appeals to your audience.