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Google’s Search Engine Ranking Factors That Really Matters

google's search engine ranking factors that really matters

Keeping up with Google’s ever-evolving search engine ranking factors can be a real challenge. However, if you’re aiming for your website to leap from obscurity to the top of the search results, staying informed is essential. Well-optimized sites attract more organic traffic over time, leading to more leads and sales. Without strong SEO and marketing, your site might remain invisible to searchers, rendering all your efforts futile.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the critical Google search ranking factors you need to know to dominate the search results. With so many elements at play, focusing on the most impactful factors can significantly boost your search rankings. From understanding Google’s ranking systems to optimizing your web pages for speed and mobile friendliness, we’ll cover it all. Let’s dive right in and explore all the ranking factors that truly matter for your Google search engine rankings.

What Does SEO Rankings Mean?

Understanding SEO ranking is crucial for anyone looking to improve their website’s visibility on Google. But what exactly does search engine optimization ranking mean, and why is it so important for businesses?

In the simplest terms, an SEO ranking refers to where your web page appears on the search engine results pages (SERPs) when someone types in a search query. For example, if you search for “best coffee shops in New York” and your website appears as the first organic (non-paid) result, then your SEO ranking for that keyword is #1.

Google uses complex algorithms to determine these rankings, considering hundreds of ranking factors such as relevance, quality of content, and user experience. These algorithms are designed to deliver the most relevant results to users based on their search queries.

To illustrate the concept, let’s look at a couple of examples:

  • Example 1: If your business sells running shoes and your own website appears as the third result when someone searches “best running shoes,” your page has higher search rankings for that keyword. This means your site is considered highly relevant and authoritative for people looking for running shoes.
  • Example 2: Conversely, if your web pages shows up on the fifth page of search results for “affordable running shoes,” it has a low Google ranking for that keyword. This indicates that your page is either less relevant or less optimized than other results.

What SEO Rankings Mean for Businesses

Higher Google rankings mean greater visibility. When your website ranks higher on Google search results, more people are likely to see and visit it. This increased traffic can lead to several significant benefits for your business:

  1. Increased Brand Awareness: Higher SEO ranking makes your website more visible, allowing more people to discover and learn about your business. This enhances brand recognition and builds trust over time, as users often perceive top-ranked sites as more credible.
  2. More Sales and Conversions: More visitors naturally lead to more sales and conversions. Most visitors will likely purchase your products or services, sign up for your newsletter, or complete other desired actions. For example, if your page ranks high for “buy eco-friendly running shoes,” users searching for this term will likely be ready to purchase.
  3. Lower Customer Acquisition Costs: Organic traffic, driven by high SEO ranking, is essentially free compared to paid advertising channels. This means that increasing your organic traffic through improved SEO can lower your overall cost of acquiring customers over the lifetime of your business. Instead of paying for ads, you benefit from consistent, ongoing traffic driven by your SEO marketing efforts.

Top 10 Current Google Ranking Factors

google ranking factors

1. Page’s Content Quality

The quality of your website’s content is one of the most important Google ranking factors. Google’s algorithm strongly emphasizes content quality, using various ranking signals to evaluate and rank web pages. High-quality content improves search engine visibility and enhances user experience, leading to better engagement and higher conversion rates. Content should be unique with no duplicates, as duplicate content can negatively impact your rankings and reduce your site’s credibility.

 

The Importance of High-Quality Content

High-quality content is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it helps Google understand the relevance and value of your pages, ensuring they appear in search results for relevant queries. Secondly, quality content engages users, keeps them on your site longer, and encourages them to take desired actions, such as purchasing or signing up for a newsletter.

Google’s algorithm, designed to deliver the most relevant results to users, evaluates content based on factors like originality, depth, accuracy, and usefulness. This means that to rank well, your content must be well-researched and well-written and provide real value to the reader.

 

Google’s EEAT and Helpful Content

GOOGLE RANKING FACTORS - E-E-A-T

Google uses the EEAT framework—Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness—to assess the quality of content. This framework is part of Google’s search algorithms and plays a significant role in ranking content.

  • Experience: Google values content created by individuals with first-hand experience on the topic. For example, a travel blog written by someone who has visited the places they describe will rank higher than one written by someone without that experience.

  • Expertise: Content should demonstrate the author’s expertise in the subject matter. This can be achieved through well-researched information, clear explanations, and professional credentials.

  • Authoritativeness: Authoritative content is recognized as a reliable source by other reputable websites. This can be indicated by backlinks from trusted sites, citations, and the author’s reputation.

  • Trustworthiness: Trustworthiness involves transparency about the content’s sources, the author’s identity, and the website’s purpose. Trustworthy content adheres to ethical standards and provides accurate information.

The Helpful Content System Update by Google emphasizes creating content designed to satisfy a user’s search intent. This update aims to promote useful, informative, and genuinely beneficial content to the reader while demoting content created primarily for search engine rankings.

Content Length and Structure

Content length is another important ranking factor in SEO. While no fixed rule exists, research suggests that longer content tends to rank higher in search results. Studies have shown that articles with more than 2,000 words often perform better in Google’s rankings. This is because longer content usually provides more comprehensive coverage of a topic, addressing various aspects and answering multiple questions that users might have.

However, it’s essential to maintain quality over quantity. Simply stretching content to meet a word count without adding value can lead to poor user experience and higher bounce rates. Instead, create in-depth, well-structured content that covers the topic thoroughly.

2. Website Speed

website speed as a google ranking facto

Speed is a crucial SEO ranking factor. Google prioritizes faster websites because they provide a better user experience, leading to higher engagement and better rankings on search engines. Users expect pages to load quickly, and they tend to leave if a site takes too long to load. Optimizing your site speed is essential for achieving higher rankings on Google.

Best Practices for Improving Page Speed

Improving speed involves several techniques and best practices. Here are some effective strategies to enhance your site’s performance:

  • Optimize Images: Large images can significantly slow down your page speed. Use tools to compress images without compromising on quality. Formats like JPEG for photos and PNG for graphics with fewer colors can help reduce file sizes.

  • Enable Browser Caching: When a user visits your site, browser caching stores some data locally on their device. This allows the site to load faster on subsequent visits because the browser doesn’t have to reload the entire page.

  • Minimize HTTP Requests: Every element on your page, including images, scripts, and stylesheets, requires an HTTP request. Reducing the number of these requests can speed up your site. Combine files where possible, use CSS instead of images when feasible, and streamline your HTML.

  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN distributes your content across multiple servers around the globe, reducing the distance data has to travel to reach users. This can significantly improve load times for visitors from different geographical locations.

  • Enable Compression: Compressing your files can drastically reduce the size of your web pages, making them faster to load. Gzip is a popular method for file compression that can be implemented on your server.

  • Reduce Server Response Time: The time it takes for your server to respond to a request can impact page speed. Aim for a server response time of less than 200 milliseconds. This can be achieved by choosing a reliable hosting provider and optimizing your server’s performance.

  • Optimize CSS and JavaScript: Minify your CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files to remove unnecessary characters and reduce file sizes. Also, place JavaScript files at the bottom of the page or use asynchronous loading to prevent them from blocking the rendering of your web page.

  • Monitor Site Speed with Google Search Console: Google Search Console provides tools and reports to help you measure your site’s performance, including page speed. Monitor your site’s speed regularly and make adjustments as needed.

3. Mobile Friendliness

Having a mobile-friendly website is crucial for achieving high rankings on Google. With more people using mobile devices to access the internet, ensuring your site performs well on smaller screens is one of the most important ranking factors.

Mobile-friendliness refers to how well your website displays and functions on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. With over 4.2 billion mobile internet users globally, it’s no surprise that Google now prioritizes mobile search. Since 2019, Google has been using your website’s mobile version for indexing and ranking, meaning a poor mobile experience can significantly impact your search visibility.

Google’s automated ranking systems, including core web vitals, assess mobile-friendliness as part of their ranking signals, measuring load time, interactivity, and visual stability. A website that performs well on these metrics is more likely to achieve higher rankings.

Best Practices for Mobile Optimization

  1. Responsive Design: Ensure your website adapts to different screen sizes. A responsive design adjusts elements dynamically, providing a seamless experience across all devices.

  2. Fast Loading Times: Optimize your site for speed. Mobile users expect fast-loading pages, and slow sites can lead to higher bounce rates.

  3. Easy Navigation: Simplify your navigation menus and ensure buttons and links are easy to tap. This improves usability and keeps users engaged.

  4. Readable Content: Use legible fonts and appropriate font sizes. Ensure your text is easy to read without needing to zoom in.

4. Technical SEO

Technical SEO is crucial for improving your website’s visibility in organic search results. It focuses on optimizing your website’s infrastructure to make it easier for search engines to access and interpret your content.

Key Factors in Technical SEO

  1. Website Speed: Fast-loading websites provide a better user experience and are favored by Google. Optimize images, enable browser caching, and minimize JavaScript to improve speed.

  2. Crawlability: Search engine spiders need to be able to crawl your site efficiently. Use a well-structured XML sitemap and robots.txt file to guide Google through your site’s pages.

  3. Indexability: Ensure that your important pages are indexable. Check for any “noindex” tags that might be preventing search engines from indexing crucial content.

  4. URL Structure: Clean, descriptive URLs that include relevant keywords help search Google and users understand the content of your pages. Avoid using long, complicated URLs with unnecessary parameters.

  5. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): Using HTTPS instead of HTTP secures your website and is a ranking signal for Google. Ensure your site has an SSL certificate to protect user data and improve trust.

  6. Structured Data (Schema Markup): Implementing schema markup helps Google understand your site’s content better. This can lead to enhanced search results, such as rich snippets, which improve click-through rates.

  7. Fix Broken Links: Broken links can hinder the user experience and disrupt search engine crawling. Check for and fix any broken outbound links on your site regularly.

  8. Canonicalization: Use canonical tags to prevent duplicate content issues by specifying the preferred version of a webpage. This helps consolidate link equity and avoid confusing search engines with multiple versions of the same content.

  9. XML Sitemap: An XML sitemap lists all the pages on your website, helping Google find and index your content more efficiently. Make sure your sitemap is updated regularly and submitted to Search Console.

Use tools like Google Search Console to monitor your site’s technical SEO health. These tools provide insights into crawl errors, indexing issues, and other technical aspects that might affect your site’s ranking performance. Regularly auditing your site with these tools ensures that any technical issues are identified and addressed promptly.

5. On-Page SEO

checking on page optimization using screaming frog

On-page SEO involves optimizing individual pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic from Google and other search engines. Unlike off-page SEO, which focuses on external factors like backlinks, on-page SEO deals with elements within your website that you can control.

On-page SEO is crucial because it helps search engines understand your content and determine its relevance to specific search queries. Properly optimized pages improve your site’s search index, making it easier for Google to find and rank your content. Effective on-page SEO can lead to higher rankings, increased organic traffic, and a better user experience.

Key Factors in On-Page SEO

  1. Title Tags: The title tag is one of the most important on-page SEO elements. It appears in search engine results as the clickable headline for a given result. Including your target keyword in the title tag can improve your page’s relevance and ranking. However, avoid keyword stuffing and make sure the title is natural and compelling.

  2. Meta Descriptions: Although not a direct ranking factor, meta descriptions impact click-through rates. A well-written meta description can entice users to click on your link in the search results. It should be concise, include the target keyword, and accurately describe your content.

  3. Header Tags (H1, H2, H3): Header tags help structure your content, making it easier for search engines and users to understand the main topics of your page. Proper use of headers can enhance readability and improve your SEO.

  4. Keyword Optimization: Use your target keywords naturally throughout your content, including in the title, headers, and body text. Incorporate latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords, which are related terms that help search engines understand the context of your content.

  5. Internal Links: Linking to other relevant pages within your website helps search engines understand your site’s structure and can improve your pages’ ranking. Internal links also keep users engaged by providing them with more relevant content to explore.

  6. Content Quality: High-quality, informative, and relevant content is crucial. Google looks for content that provides value to users and matches their search intent. Longer, well-researched content tends to perform better in search rankings.

  7. Image Optimization: Use relevant keywords in image file names and alt text to help search engines understand the content of your images. This can also improve your visibility in image search results.

6. Domain Age, URL, and Authority

When it comes to improving keyword rankings on Google, the age of your domain, the structure of your URL, and your domain authority all play significant roles. These factors are integral to how Google evaluates the relevance and trustworthiness of your site, affecting your rank position.

 

Domain Age

Domain age refers to how long your website’s domain has been registered and active. According to data from an Ahrefs study of two million pages, nearly 60% of the sites with a top ten Google search ranking are three or more years old. This suggests that older domains generally have an advantage in ranking because they are perceived as more established and trustworthy.

While having an older domain can be beneficial, it is not the only factor that determines ranking success. Consistent SEO practices, high-quality content, and user engagement are also crucial. However, if your site has been around for a while and is well-optimized, it can provide a head start in climbing the search rankings.

 

URL Structure

The structure of your URL is another important aspect of SEO. A clean, descriptive URL that reflects the content of your page can help search engines understand the relevance of your site to specific search queries.

Exact Match Domains (EMDs), where the target keyword is included in the URL, can still be beneficial under the right circumstances. However, Google penalizes spammy sites with thin content that use EMDs solely for ranking purposes. If an exact match domain is relevant, valuable, and high-quality, it can see a ranking boost. For most businesses, the best strategy is to focus on a URL that accurately reflects the brand and content and then optimize it well.

 

Domain Authority

Domain authority is a metric that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). Developed by Moz, domain authority scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating a greater ability to rank. This score is determined by factors such as the quality and quantity of inbound links, social shares, and the overall quality of the site’s content.

Higher domain authority signals to Google that your site is a trusted and authoritative source. This, combined with other ranking signals like search intent and content relevance, helps Google determine where to place your site in search results. You can check your domain authority using tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer, which provides insights into your site’s SEO performance.

7. Link Building (Backlinks, Outbound, and Internal)

ahrefs backlinks tool

Incorporating a mix of inbound, outbound, and internal links in your SEO strategy is essential for improving your website’s ranking. Links play a crucial role in SEO by improving a website’s ranking and domain authority. Understanding the different types of links and their importance can help you develop a robust link-building strategy to boost your site’s visibility on search engines.

 

Inbound Links (Backlinks)

Inbound links, or backlinks, are links from other websites pointing to your site. Google uses these links to help determine your content’s authority and relevance. Quality backlinks from highly relevant and authoritative websites signal to Google that your content is valuable and trustworthy. Acquire high-quality backlinks and avoid low-quality links from spammy sites to improve your rankings. Create awesome content for related publishers and use SEO tools to find and analyze your inbound links.

 

Outbound Links

Outbound links are links from your website to other relevant and authoritative sites. These links show that you are providing quality content for your visitors by referencing reliable sources. While it’s important to include outbound links, you should do so judiciously. Link only to high-domain-authority sites that add value to your content.

 

Internal Links

Internal links within your website connect different pages, helping search engines understand your site’s structure and improving user experience. By linking to your own content, you can boost the search engine ranking of the linked pages. As you create new content, build a solid web of internal links to support your pages.

8. Search Intent and Content Relevancy

Understanding and catering to search intent is crucial for improving your website’s SEO and ensuring your content ranks well on Google. Search intent refers to what a user is trying to achieve with their search query. Understanding the “why” behind the search helps you create content that meets the user’s needs.

Google prioritizes content that aligns well with search intent because it enhances user satisfaction. This alignment is a significant Google ranking factor, and failing to meet search intent can result in lower rankings, regardless of how optimized your content is otherwise.

 

Types of Search Intent

  1. Informational Intent: Users are looking for information or answers to their questions. For example, if someone searches for “how to make banana bread,” they are seeking a recipe or a how-to guide. Your content should provide detailed and clear instructions to fulfill this intent.

  2. Navigational Intent: Users want to find a specific website or page. A search for “Facebook login” indicates that the user wants to navigate directly to Facebook’s login page.

  3. Transactional Intent: Users are ready to make a purchase or complete an action. A query like “buy iPhone 12” suggests that the user is looking to purchase an iPhone 12. Your content should facilitate this by providing product pages, reviews, or purchase options.

  4. Commercial Investigation: Users are researching products or services before making a decision. A search for “best laptops 2024” indicates that the user is comparing options and looking for recommendations. Listicles, reviews, and comparison guides work well for this type of intent.

Examples and Implementation

Let’s consider the keyword “best WordPress themes.” When you search for this, the top results are often listicles comparing various themes. This suggests that users with this query are looking to compare and choose a theme. Creating a detailed comparison article that lists and reviews different WordPress themes would align perfectly with this search intent.

Similarly, if you search for “make cinnamon rolls,” the results are mostly recipes and how-to articles. To match this search intent, you should create a detailed recipe post with step-by-step instructions, images, and possibly a video.

For eCommerce sites, understanding search intent can also indicate where users are in the buyer journey. For instance, a search for “best running shoes” suggests the user is still in the research phase, so a comparison guide would be appropriate. In contrast, “buy Nike running shoes” indicates readiness to purchase, so a product page with clear buying options would be best.

Keyword research is essential in identifying the search intent behind queries. By analyzing what people are searching for and how the top-ranking pages address these searches, you can tailor your content to meet these needs effectively. Avoid keyword stuffing and focus on creating personal and meaningful conversations through your content that truly addresses the user’s search intent.

Conclusion

Mastering Google’s search engine ranking factors is essential for any business aiming to increase its online visibility and drive more traffic. You can significantly improve your search rankings and achieve better results by focusing on key elements like content quality, website speed, technical SEO, and search intent. Understanding these factors and how to optimize them is crucial for staying competitive in the digital landscape.

Ready to boost your SEO knowledge and performance? Sign up for our SEO workshop today and learn how to optimize your website to dominate search engine results!

FAQs about Search Engine Ranking Factors

A ranking factor is a criterion used by search engines like Google to evaluate and determine the relevance and quality of a web page, affecting its position in search results. Common ranking factors include content quality, page speed, backlinks, and mobile-friendliness.

The fastest way to rank a keyword involves comprehensive keyword research, creating high-quality, relevant content, and optimizing on-page SEO elements such as title tags and meta descriptions. Additionally, building quality backlinks and ensuring a fast, mobile-friendly website can accelerate keyword ranking.

Yes, link building remains one of the most powerful SEO strategies. Quality backlinks from authoritative websites signal to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy, improving your site’s ranking and visibility in search results.

You can monitor your rank in SEO using tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, or SEMrush. These tools provide insights into keyword rankings, traffic, and other important metrics, helping you track your SEO performance and make necessary adjustments.

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I'm Sophie Kessner

First generation Mexican American mama that’s gone from hood to strategic hustle. I’ve spent the last 10+ years inside the personal development space supporting 100’s of coaches in scaling 6 figure businesses online & supported 4 different companies in surpassing the 7 figure mark. Today, I focus on making scaling more sustainable by integrating the lenses of business, systems, automation and CEO Development through an Equity centered and Trauma informed lens.

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Sophie is the founder of The Sacred CEO™ Agency and has been in the service based coaching industry since 2015. She’s created and scaled 4 different multi 6 figure coaching programs including their latest course, The Online Business Automator.

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