Did you know there are over 200 Google ranking factors? Ranking factors are used by Google to judge how well your website content matches a particular online search.
And Google is by far the most popular search engine on the planet.
It dominates other search engines like Bing and Yahoo with more than 8.5 billion searches each day. Over 90% of all online searches are conducted with Google.
So, your business stands to benefit massively from ranking higher in Google search results. However, with so many different elements, which Google ranking factors are the most important to focus on?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 10 factors that are sure to improve your rankings. If you haven’t addressed all of these items, try to take action as soon as possible.
Let’s dive right in…
What Is a Google Ranking Factor?
A Google ranking factor is one of many small pieces of information that Google uses to decide how well a webpage answers a specific search query.
In other words, if someone types in “best WordPress theme” into their search engine, Google uses ranking factors to display content that is most likely to help that searcher.
Ranking factors can include anything from the number of words on a page, to the time it takes for images to load. The goal for Google is to provide users the optimal content to solve their search requests, along with a positive online experience.
What Are the Most Important Google Ranking Factors?
When it comes to getting higher rankings, some website owners may be tempted to optimize for every single ranking factor.
But, it’s impossible to be perfect from Google’s perspective. So, make sure you prioritize the ranking factors that give you the most benefit.
To help you out, we’ve shortlisted the most important ranking factors for improving your site’s rank in search results.
- High-quality Content
- Search Intent and Content Relevancy
- Website Loading Speed
- Mobile Friendliness
- Domain Authority
- Keyword Optimization
- Website Structure
- Website Security
- On-page Experience
Our Top Google Ranking Factors for Boosting Page Ranks
1. High-quality Content
You may have heard the old SEO saying, “content is king.” And in the case of Google ranking factors, the quality of your content has a huge impact.
If you can create content that’s unique, fresh, and helpful for users, then Google will rank it higher on its search engine results page (SERPs).
Google pays special attention to your content quality. No matter how optimized your webpage is, if your content is not valuable, then you can’t expect higher rankings.
So, how does Google measure content quality?
Original, Unique, and Valuable Content
Google gives preference to content that’s original. You want to create webpages that respond to your audience’s needs, provide unique value, and are not copied from another source.
If your content is duplicated, or too similar to other webpages, it will cause a negative impact on your SEO. In the worst cases, Google might not even index a duplicate page.
Not only that, if you regularly publish duplicate content, Google may reduce the crawl rate on your website.
So, when you’re creating content, make sure it’s different and better than other websites that are ranking for your targeted search term. Of course, the search terms you want to rank for should also match your focus keywords.
Up to Date and Fresh Content
Another way to boost your content quality is by keeping it fresh and updated. Google favors newer content, whether it was recently published or thoroughly updated.
When you regularly update posts and add new information, you’re sending positive ranking signals to search engines.
Content freshness plays an even bigger role if you cover topics that involve news or trends. For such topics, Google prefers pages that provide the latest information.
For instance, if you’re writing about a global health crisis, you want to publish content that contains recent news and researches. And a simple way of finding the latest information to keep your content fresh is by using Google Trends.
Just enter your search term in the tool and look at Related Topics. These are trending queries that can help you add value to your posts.
Content length is an easy ranking factor to measure and understand. And, another easy guideline to remember is that longer is generally better.
According to different studies, content length has a significant impact on where you rank on the search results. On average, posts in the first 10 positions on Google search have 1,890 words.
In spite of that average, there’s no way to write the “perfect” number of words. The perfect length for any piece of content is dependent on the reader’s goal and the subject matter.
A better approach is to create content that has depth and covers a topic completely. That’s because Google prioritizes content that fully responds to users’ needs and provides detailed solutions.
Content Structure and Organization
As a part of content quality, your blog posts and pages should be well organized and structured. This makes it easier for visitors to read your site content and find solutions to their needs and problems.
To improve the structure and organization of your articles, you should use multiple headings and subheadings (H2, H3, H4, and so on) to organize your ideas and topics.
You can also use bulleted and numbered lists to make information easier to read. Google might even pick these lists and show them as featured snippets if your keywords match a search query.
So, working on your content’s structure and organization can help improve its readability. As a result, you’ll also increase user engagement on your site, which affects Google ranking factors in many positive ways.
After content quality, our next critical Google ranking factor is backlinks. Incoming links from other websites have a huge influence on Google’s ranking algorithm.
In fact, webpages with fewer backlinks get much less organic traffic, because they’re buried deep in the search results.
So, how are backlinks important for your site’s SEO?
Backlinks, or inbound links, are like a vote of confidence for your website. Google measures those votes and analyzes the quality of your links.
All in all, backlinks from high authority websites are more valuable, and will boost your rankings more, than links from lower rated sites. Acquiring these links sends a signal to Google that your content is trustworthy, since other high-quality websites vouch for it.
3. Search Intent and Content Relevancy
Another crucial ranking factor for Google is how well your content matches a user’s search intent. Search intent is simply a term that describes what the user is trying to accomplish with a search.
Do they intend to buy something to solve a problem or need? Do they want to learn how to do a task? Or are they only seeking information to better understand a topic?
Every searcher is different, and you need to understand the why behind a search query so that your content properly addresses it.
For example, if someone searches for the best WordPress themes, the top results are mostly listicles. The authors, and Google, believe that these searchers want to compare and likely install a new WordPress theme.
Here’s another example. If you search the keyword, “make banana bread,” you’ll notice that the results consist of recipes, how-to articles, and videos.
So, if you were to create content on either of these example topics, it’s important to match the search intent and create the right type of content.
For instance, in some cases Google displays mostly videos and infographics in the top results. This means you should create a video or an infographic for the best chance of ranking for those keywords.
For eCommerce sites, search intent also gives you information about where visitors are in the buyer journey.
Are they looking for general information about your industry, do they want a tutorial or a how-to article, or are they in the final research stage and ready to buy your product?
By matching your content with search intent, you can answer these questions and create content that people are most looking for.
4. Website Loading Speed
Among the hundreds of Google ranking factors, another top priority is page speeds. That’s because in May 2021, Google made website loading speed a part of its Core Web Vitals.
Website speed includes metrics that Google considers as critical for user experience on your site. It measures your website’s overall speed and responsiveness, along with loading speed of different elements like fonts and images.
Now, the goal here isn’t to beat your competitors and shave milliseconds off of your load time. It’s more about meeting a minimum standard for page loading time.
Google wants your website to load quickly and provide a great user experience for your audience.
To easily check your website loading speed in WordPress, you can use the MonsterInsights Site Speed report.
It will analyze your website, display a score for mobile and desktop, show important metrics about your page load times, and highlight suggestions to make your site even faster.
For instance, one way to improve your WordPress website loading speed is to use a CDN (content delivery network). CDNs can speed up your content load times for users around the world.
In addition, you can try these simple tips to speed up your WordPress site’s performance.
5. Mobile Friendliness
Along with speed, another thing to seriously consider is your site’s performance on smaller screens.
Ever since Google prioritized mobile search in 2019, it’s key that your website be responsive on any size screen. Mobile-first means that Google will now use your website’s mobile version for indexing and ranking.
Previously, Google used the desktop version of your website for indexing. But with over 4.2 billion mobile internet users in the world, it’s no surprise that Google made this shift.
So, if you want to maximize your rankings, your website must be mobile-friendly.
6. Domain Authority
The next ranking factor you need to work on is your website’s domain authority (DA). It’s a metric that grades your site’s expertise on a particular topic and its ability to rank on search engines.
Domain authority was invented by the SEO company Moz, and it generates a score from 1 to 100. The higher your domain authority, the higher your chances of ranking on Google for keywords related to your areas of expertise.
Of course, there are different ways you can boost your site’s authority. One way is to acquire high-quality backlinks. But, having a lot of backlinks doesn’t guarantee higher rankings.
This is why you need to create amazing content that’s focused on your industry or main subject. And try to focus your website and blog content on one major topic.
To get an idea of which topics most appeal to your site visitors, use a tool like MonsterInsights, the best Google Analytics WordPress plugin. This shows you real data about the most popular pages on your website.
Then, you can create more high-quality content around similar topics to increase your topical authority.
Ultimately, Google will recognize your site as an expert in your field, which boosts your domain authority and should lead to a better position in the search results.
7. Keyword Optimization
Besides publishing original content and getting backlinks, one of the most well-known ranking factors is the use of keywords on websites.
Keywords should match the search terms users type into search engines. So, it’s important that your webpages contain the keywords your audience is searching for, in addition to matching their search intent and monitoring your keyword rankings. That way, Google can bring up your page in its search results.
To ensure that your website is keyword optimized, here are a few tips:
- Title Tags – Include your target keyword at the start of your posts’ SEO title tags.
- Meta Description – Write irresistible meta descriptions and add your focus keyword so users know what your page is about and click on it.
- Image Alt Text – Since Google cannot read images, you can add your keywords in the image alt text section to tell what the visual is about.
- Anchor Text – Google uses anchor text to find out what the page is about, so you can use your keywords for anchor text when linking your pages.
- Use LSI Keywords – Although your webpage might focus on one primary keyword, you’ll find that people search for many related terms. These extra keywords are called LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords. LSI keywords help Google to figure out what your content is about even more precisely. These words also indicate to Google that you’re covering a topic thoroughly.
- Avoid Keyword Stuffing – Keyword optimization doesn’t mean repeating your primary search term over and over again. That’s called keyword stuffing, and it’s not an effective SEO practice. Try to include your focus keyword a few times and mix things up with variations and secondary keywords.
- Include Keywords in H2 and H3 – You can further optimize content by using keyword variations and LSI keywords in H2 and H3 headings of your post.
- Add Keyword in URL – Ideally, your primary keyword is included in the webpage’s URL. So, for a tutorial article where your keyphrase is “how to beat donkey kong,” the URL might be something like www.bestgamingtips.com/how-to-beat-donkey-kong/.
8. Website Structure
While keyword optimization is important, another factor you should consider is your site’s structure, especially if you’re launching a new site.
Your website’s architecture is important from a crawling and indexing perspective. A simple structure, without too many subdirectories, can aid Google crawlers in indexing your website and its pages.
And to speed up indexing of new and updated content, you can start by creating a sitemap in WordPress. A sitemap contains all the important pages that you want the search engine to know about.
Sitemaps help the Google crawler to navigate through your website, discover new content, and index your pages.
Your site can have more than one sitemap. In fact, if you use the WordPress plugin All in One SEO, you can easily make special sitemaps for video and news content. This can boost your rankings for those particular types of content in Google search.
One more way to help Google index your website is by optimizing your WordPress robots.txt file.
A robots.txt file provides a pathway for Google bots and tells them how to crawl and index your website. It identifies which pages search engine spiders should crawl and which they should avoid.
As a result, you’ll save crawl quota and the bots will not go through pages that are not necessary, like the admin page.
For more information, check this complete tutorial on how to optimize your robots.txt file for SEO.
9. Website Security
Along with site architecture, your site’s security is now a key Google ranking factor. One of the biggest requirements is to ensure your site is using HTTPS protocol, as this encrypts the data between your website and a user’s browser.
Google confirmed in 2014 that HTTPS is a ranking signal. So, if your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate and is still using http://… in its URL, now would be a good time to update.
You can follow this guide on how to properly move a WordPress site from HTTP to HTTPS.
10. On-page Experience
The last Google ranking factor we’ll discuss is the user’s on-page experience. These metrics give Google more details about your visitors’ user experience.
But how does Google measure on-page experience?
It uses various ranking signals like:
- CTR (click-through-rate) – The percentage of users that click on your website link in the search results. When you improve your CTR with better titles and meta descriptions, you’re sure to get a boost in your rankings.
- Bounce Rate – Having a high bounce rate isn’t good for your site. If a high percentage of people click through to your site and then hit the back button without interacting, Google judges that page as not relevant to searchers and drops its rank.
- Dwell Time – This measures how long a visitor stays on your site after coming from Google search results. The higher the dwell time, the better your user engagement is. Google interprets a longer period of engagement as a sign that your content is highly relevant for the user.
While we’ve tried to list the most common and important ranking signals, there are definitely many more. But, if you master these fundamentals first, we guarantee you’ll see a major improvement in Google rankings and organic search traffic.
And that’s it!
We hope you liked our article on the most important Google ranking factors. If you need more info on your site’s Google rankings, read this post on the best Google ranking checker tools.