Are you eager to unlock the secrets of search engine success?
Look no further!
This comprehensive guide will reveal the top 10 SEO ranking factors Google doesn’t want you to know. With these powerful insights, you’ll be able to optimise your website for better visibility, higher rankings, and more organic traffic.
Ready to embark on your journey to SEO mastery? Let’s dive in!
The Evolution of Google Ranking Factors
Since its inception in 1998, Google has revolutionised the way we access information on the internet. As the search engine evolved, so did its ranking factors, shaping the landscape of search engine optimisation (SEO).
In the early days, simple factors like keyword density and exact match domains dominated the ranking game.
Fast forward to today, and the SEO landscape has transformed into a complex web of factors that determine a website’s visibility in search results.
Early Days of Google Search
When Google first launched, it was a ground-breaking tool that made finding information on nearly any topic a breeze.
Want to learn a new hobby or see cats in hats – no problem. Google has your back.
Its innovative approach to indexing and ranking web pages quickly made it the go-to search engine for millions of users worldwide.
In those early years, Google’s ranking factors focused on basic elements like keyword density and exact match domains. But even then, Google’s ultimate goal was to provide users with the most relevant results based on their search intent.
As the internet grew, so did Google’s search algorithm. The need to provide users with more accurate and relevant search results led to the development of various algorithm updates. These updates aimed to refine the ranking process and adapt to the ever-changing online landscape. From the introduction of PageRank to the constant evolution of Google’s algorithm, the search engine has come a long way since its early days.
Algorithm Updates and Their Effects
Each algorithm update brought new challenges and opportunities for website owners and marketers alike. By enhancing the indexing process, content ranking and user interaction, Google’s updates have had a significant positive impact on SEO ranking factors.
One particularly noteworthy change was the introduction of mobile-first indexing. With the rapid growth of mobile users, Google recognised the need to prioritise mobile-friendly websites in search results. By adopting a mobile-first approach, businesses can now optimise their mobile websites for better visibility and ranking in search results.
Another critical aspect of Google’s algorithm updates is the emphasis on E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
No – not this type of eating!
E-A-T, along with other important ranking factors like content length, organic click-through rate and RankBrain, has become vital in determining a website’s position in search results. By focusing on these factors, website owners can improve their site’s ability to rank higher and provide a better user experience.
Top 10 Most Influential SEO Ranking Factors
Now that we’ve explored the evolution of Google’s ranking factors, let’s delve into the top 10 most influential SEO ranking factors that can make or break your website’s performance. These factors include high-quality content, backlinks, mobile friendliness, page speed, keyword optimisation, technical SEO, user experience (UX) and Core Web Vitals.
Understanding and mastering these ranking factors is crucial for anyone that wants to improve their site’s visibility and ranking in search results. By focusing on these factors, you’ll be well on your way to achieving higher rankings and driving more organic traffic to your website.
So without further ado, let’s dive into each of these critical ranking factors and learn how they can help you succeed in the ever-competitive world of SEO.
Keep in mind that while we’re focusing on the top 10 ranking factors, there are many other factors that Google considers when determining a website’s position in search results.
In fact, there are over 200 Google ranking factors, which are constantly evolving. It’s essential to stay up to date with the latest developments in SEO and continuously optimise your website to meet Google’s ever-changing standards.
Fortunately, you don’t have to master every ranking factor. That could take forever and there is still a lot of mystery surrounding Google’s algorithm.
The good news is – we have an easier option for you. Starting with the most important ranking factors is the quickest way to search engine success!
1. High-Quality Content
It’s no secret that high-quality content is the cornerstone of any successful SEO strategy. But what exactly constitutes “high-quality content”?
In essence, quality content is well-researched, well-written and provides valuable information to your target audience. This type of content not only attracts more visitors, but it also keeps them engaged and encourages them to share your content with others.
When crafting your content, it’s essential to consider factors like content length and depth of topic coverage. Longer, more in-depth content tends to perform better in search results because it provides more value to readers. Additionally, incorporating outbound links to authoritative sources can further enhance your content’s credibility and improve your SEO.
Of course, creating high-quality content goes beyond just writing. It’s crucial to ensure your content is original and unique, as duplicate or too similar content can negatively impact your search rankings or even lead to non-indexing.
By focusing on creating valuable, original content that addresses your audience’s needs, you’ll be well on your way to improving your website’s SEO performance.
Backlinks, or inbound links from other websites, are a crucial component of any successful SEO strategy. They signal to Google that your content is valuable and trustworthy, which can result in higher rankings in search results.
Think of backlinks like a recommendation. If somebody rates your content enough to suggest it to their readers, you must know what you’re taking about, right?
However, not all backlinks are created equal. In general, backlinks from high-authority websites are far more beneficial than multiple links from low-authority websites.
So, how do you get quality backlinks?
One effective approach is to create content that other websites are eager to link to.
Instead of “link building”, we like to call this “link earning”.
This can involve producing informative articles, engaging infographics or even conducting original research.
Another strategy is to utilise anchor text to link to other pages on your website, thereby encouraging other websites to do the same. Leveraging social media to promote your content can also help attract valuable backlinks.
Keep in mind that while backlinks are important, it’s also crucial to avoid using low-quality directory links or engaging in spammy link-building practices. These tactics can do more harm than good, potentially leading to penalties from Google and a decline in search rankings.
Focus on acquiring high-quality, relevant backlinks that will benefit both your website’s SEO and your target audience.
3. Mobile Friendliness
With the majority of web browsing now taking place on mobile devices, mobile friendliness has become a critical SEO ranking factor. If you don’t offer a good mobile version of your website, your rankings will suffer – it’s that simple.
According to Statista, 63% of all online searches were conducted on mobile devices by the end of 2021. This trend is likely to continue as more and more people use their smartphones and tablets to access the internet.
A mobile-friendly website ensures that your content is accessible and easy to navigate for users on smartphones and tablets, which can result in a better user experience and higher search rankings.
To optimise your website for mobile devices, you should focus on implementing a responsive design that automatically adapts to different screen sizes. Additionally, you can use tools like Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to identify any issues that may be hindering your site’s mobile performance.
By prioritising mobile friendliness, you’ll be better positioned to reach your target audience and improve your website’s overall SEO performance.
4. Page Speed
Page speed is another crucial SEO ranking factor that can significantly impact your website’s performance in search results.
Slow websites are frustrating and cause users to leave. In fact, the chance of somebody bouncing increases by 32% when a page load time goes from one to just three seconds.
A fast-loading website not only provides a better user experience, but it can also lead to higher rankings and increased revenue.
To optimise your website’s page speed, you can use tools like Google Lighthouse – which is a free, open-source tool – to identify areas for improvement. Some common strategies for improving page speed include optimising images, enabling browser caching, and minimising the use of render-blocking resources.
By focusing on improving your website’s speed, you’ll be well on your way to providing an exceptional user experience and boosting your search rankings.
5. Keyword Optimisation
Keyword optimisation is one of the most well-known and essential ranking factors in SEO. By ensuring that your webpages contain the keywords your target audience is searching for, you can improve your website’s visibility in search results and drive more organic traffic to your site.
To optimise your website for keywords, it’s important to conduct thorough keyword research to identify the terms and phrases your target audience is using to find information related to your niche. Once you’ve identified these keywords, you can integrate them into your content, meta descriptions and even your URL structure to improve your website’s search performance.
It’s also crucial to consider search intent when optimising your website for keywords. By understanding the needs and desires of your target audience, you can create content that effectively addresses their search queries, resulting in higher rankings and increased traffic.
Example: Let’s say you have a landscaping business. Hundreds of people every month search on Google for the question: “How Much Does Landscaping Cost?” If you have an in-depth and helpful guide on this topic, then it could appear on Google’s search engine results pages (or SERPs) for this term. If you don’t, your website won’t be suggested by Google. It’s that simple.
6. Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the process of optimising the technical aspects of your website to improve its search engine performance.
This can involve ensuring your website is secure and accessible, optimising your site’s architecture, including a sitemaps, fixing broken links – and so forth. All of these factors play a crucial role in helping search engine spiders crawl and index your website, ultimately leading to higher search rankings.
Quality SEO platforms like Semrush can identify technical issues for you and provide guidance on fixing them. By leveraging tools like these and focusing on improving your website’s technical SEO, you can dramatically enhance its search engine performance.
7. User Experience (UX)
User experience (UX) is a critical factor in SEO, as it can directly impact user engagement, website traffic and search rankings. At its core, UX is all about providing a delightful, seamless experience for users as they interact with your website and its content.
To maximise UX for SEO, you should focus on creating a website that is easy to navigate, has a clear and logical structure and is optimised for both desktop and mobile devices. Additionally, you should produce content that is not only relevant and valuable, but also addresses the user’s search intent.
By prioritising UX in your SEO strategy, you can create a website that not only appeals to search engines, but also keeps your users engaged and coming back for more. Remember, a happy user is more likely to share your content, leave positive reviews, and ultimately help boost your search rankings.
Top Tip: Ask friends, family members or colleague to use your website. Can they navigate it easily or do they find dead ends? Often, somebody outside the business and new to the website will have a different perspective.
8. Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are a set of standardised metrics from Google that help developers optimise the user experience of their web pages. These metrics focus on aspects like page speed, responsiveness and visual stability, all of which can have a significant impact on your website’s SEO performance.
To optimise your website for Core Web Vitals, you can use tools like Google’s Lighthouse to identify areas for improvement and implement the necessary changes. By focusing on these key metrics, you can create a website that offers an exceptional user experience and ultimately ranks higher in search results.
9. Local SEO Ranking Factors
For businesses targeting specific geographic areas, local SEO ranking factors can play a crucial role in driving traffic and conversions. Some of these local ranking factors include optimising your Google Business Profile, encouraging customer reviews and using location-based keywords in your content.
By focusing on these local SEO ranking factors, you can effectively target potential customers in your area and stand out amongst your competitors. In the following sections, we’ll explore each of these factors in greater detail, providing you with actionable tips to improve your local search rankings.
Remember, while these factors are particularly important for local businesses, they can also benefit larger organisations looking to improve their visibility in specific regions. By incorporating these local SEO strategies into your overall SEO plan, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your website’s visibility and driving more targeted traffic to your business.
- Google Business Optimisation
Google Business is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By optimising your profile, you can improve your local visibility and attract more customers to your business.
Be sure to provide as much information as possible, including your business name, address, phone number and website URL. Additionally, you should regularly update your profile with new photos, videos and posts to keep your information fresh and engaging.
- Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are an essential component of local SEO, as they provide valuable insight into the quality of a business’s products or services. By encouraging your customers to leave reviews on your GMB profile, you can build trust and credibility with your target audience, ultimately leading to higher search rankings and more conversions.
To encourage customer reviews, you can implement strategies such as offering incentives for leaving a review, responding to reviews (both positive and negative), and sharing positive reviews on your social media channels. By actively engaging with your customers and showcasing their experiences, you can create a strong online reputation that will benefit your local SEO efforts.
Top Tip: Responding to reviews actually helps SEO! According to Google. When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.
10. Location-Based Keywords
Location-based keywords are an effective way to target potential customers in a specific area and improve your local search rankings. By incorporating these keywords into your content, you can ensure that your website is more visible to users searching for your products or services in your target area.
To optimise your content for location-based keywords, you should include these terms in your page titles, URLs, meta descriptions and image alt tags. Additionally, be sure to use them in your social media posts and other online marketing efforts to increase your local visibility and drive more targeted traffic to your website.
Example: Returning back to our landscaping business, let’s say they are based Greater Manchester. In this area alone, there are 720 searches per month on Google for “landscaping near me”. Including “Manchester” throughout the website strategically will give it a much better chance of showing up for local searches.
Bonus Tip: Demonstrate you’re an authority in your location by including landmarks or towns. For example: “From Bolton and Bury to Stockport and Salford, we’ve helped homeowners across Manchester bring their gardens to life.”
Give your website the X factor!
SEO is a complex and ever-evolving field, with numerous ranking factors that can significantly impact your website’s performance in search results.
By focusing on the top 10 most influential ranking factors, such as high-quality content, backlinks and mobile friendliness, you can improve your website’s visibility and drive more organic traffic.
Are you ready to unlock the secrets of search engine success and propel your website to new heights? The power is in your hands!
Not sure where to start? Here are the weights of each ranking factor according to First Page SEO:
|Consistent Publication of Engaging Content||24%▼|
|Keywords in Meta Title Tags||15%▼|
|Mobile-Friendly / Mobile-First Website||4%|
|Internal Links||3% ▼|
|Site Security / SSL Certificate||2%|
|Schema Markup / Structured Data||1%|
|Keywords in URL||1%|
|Keywords in Meta Description Tags + 19 Other Factors||1%|
Written by Alexander Campbell | Rapport Digital
Alex is the Managing Director of Rapport Digital – an expert digital marketing agency working with ambitious brands in Somerset and Bristol. As well as content writing, email marketing and social media, Rapport Digital specialises in SEO services for accountants and financial advisors.