List of Most Important Google SEO Ranking Factors

If you were given 10 websites, asked to check them manually and rank them based on their quality of services and user experience, you can easily sort them out and order manually from top to bottom. Search engines are programmed to do the same function with a set of instructions called algorithms. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo & Ask etc have their own set of instructions to prioritise their search results.

In this article we are going to look at the search market leader Google and some of its most important ranking factors. Not much information about Google algorithms is available in the public domain. We have compiled a list of ranking factors based on our SEO marketing experience and the information made available in the public domain by Google.

List of Most Important Google SEO Ranking Factors

Billions of searches are performed on Google every day and Google has confirmed that it uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine page rankings and to rank websites in its search results. Instead of making a huge list of hundreds of Google ranking factors, we will take a look into some of the most important ranking factors in this article that you may even consider implementing in order to improve your website rankings.

Responsive Website Ranking Factor: The use of mobile devices has exceeded desktop computers. That’s why search engines are acting fast to provide good user experience to their online searchers. Responsive websites are ones that change based on the size of the screen, meaning that the website is automatically adjusted based on the size of the device screen that it is viewed on.  Responsive websites offer great flexibility on all sizes of devices. A responsive website functions differently on smartphones, tablets, laptops/computers etc. Responsive websites give the best user experience to website visitors, which is why Google uses this as an important ranking factor to determine which websites are responsive and therefore should be ranked high for better user experience.

Website Structure Ranking Factor: The primary connection between a business and Google is the website. When you launch a new website or re-design your existing website, the website is the first things that you submit to Google for crawling and indexing. By making your website simple, readable, navigable and informative, you can help Google to understand and index your website easily and rank high in its SERP’s.

Back-links Ranking Factor: Inbound links are one of the most important ranking factors. Links are the backbone of Google search results calculations. Using the link building factor (alongside several other factors) Google determines which websites have good quality and relevant links and could be useful information sources for the online community, therefore tending to give high rankings to such quality websites.

Back links also called inbound links; these are the incoming links pointing to your website from other websites. Having back-links from trustworthy, reputed, high domain authority, high page authority, natural, relevant and genuine websites plays a key role in determining your website rankings on Google SERP’s. Google considers high authority inbounds links to be an endorsement of your website by other reputed websites. Natural links coming from the body content are far more powerful than footer or side bar links.

Load Speed Ranking Factor: A website that loads fast gives good user experience to its online visitors. Since Google publicly talks about user experience, load speed is considered to be one of the most important signals of rankings. Google wants to give the best user experience to its online users. Websites that load fast on desktop computers, smartphones, tablets etc give a good surfing experience to their visitors and engage them on their website, which helps to rank them high on SERP’s. Google specially uses Chrome browser data to better understand how much time a page took to load for visitors and what type of experience and interaction they had with the website. 

Meta Data Ranking Factor: Amongst the 4 important Meta tags, title tag is the most important tag. Title and description tags especially help Google to understand the purpose of the page. They are the first entry points of the page, where the search engines crawler finds page related information. Having page related keywords in the title and description tags is considered important. Though the description tag is not considered as a rankings factor, it does affect CTR.

Content Ranking Factor: Content on a website is extremely important to create relevance, explain the page and to engage your website audience, therefore it is considered to be a very important signal of Google rankings. Websites with informative, unique, natural, relevant & SEO friendly (use of keywords) contents help to win the trust of Google algorithms. At the same time, useful content also helps to engage your website audience, which results in a lower bounce rate. The lower the bounce rate, the higher the rankings, as Google considers the website to be important given that people are staying on the website. Presenting content on your website with numbered lists, bullet points, a table of contents, headings and sub-headings creates a good impression, simplifies the content structure and helps search engines to understand your website content better.

User Interaction Ranking Factor: Google carefully monitors how users interact with search results, and it uses the user interaction information as an important ranking factor to prioritise its search results. Google uses CTR, RankBrain algorithm, bounce rate, website traffic etc to analyse user behaviour.

Keyword Ranking Factor: Keywords used both on-site and off-site play a crucial role in determining website relevance and rankings. Keyword stuffing doesn’t carry any weight; in fact, using keywords naturally on the page with a clear purpose carries huge weight e.g. keywords in the meta tags, header tags H1-H3, body content etc. Off-site use of keywords naturally in the anchor text can put a very positive impact on your keyword promotion on SERPS’s.

Spam Ranking Factors: Spam ranking factors that negatively affect website rankings include popups, outbound links to spam websites, bad redirects, duplicate content spamming, over optimisation, keyword stuffing, doorway pages, meta tags spamming, unnatural links, low quality directory links, selling or buying links etc.

Brand Ranking Factor: Your brand can have a massive positive impact on your website rankings and Google takes into consideration brand related factors that closely associate with rankings, such as searches performed with brand name, brand name in anchor text, brand Facebook likes, brand LinkedIn page, brand Twitter followers, brand name in articles & content etc.

Domain Ranking Factors: If your domain has “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure” https:// at the start of the domain name, it tells Google that the website is secure. As the market leader, Google wants to provide a safe & secure user experience to its online users, thus storing and presenting https:// secure websites to its searchers in order to provide a safe experience and information to them.

Other domain related factors that may influence your website rankings on Google are:

  • Age of your website domain

  • SEO/Keyword friendly domain name

  • Domain TLD extension

  • Use of keywords in page URL’s

  • If your domain has previous spam history

Reviews Ranking Factor: Reviews on major review websites such as Yelp, Trustpilot, Which, Choice and especially Google reviews are highly likely to be used as a ranking factor by Google. When customers leave positive feedback for your business, it means your website is useful, informative and trustworthy; that’s why having positive reviews may influence your rankings to a certain extent.

Social Signals Ranking Factor: Social signals may also be taken into account by the Google search engine as a ranking factor to determine positions on SERP’s e.g. based on number of tweets, Facebook likes, Pinterest pins, Facebook shares, votes on social sharing websites etc.

Some Other Ranking Factors Google May Use Are:

  1. Duplicating content from other websites or within your website pages.

  2. Genuine information on the contact page of your website may be considered a positive signal.

  3. Optimising images with the alt text, name, and title helps Google understand the images better.

  4. Privacy page, T&C’s and internet policies can help prove your website’s trustworthiness to Google.

  5. How often the page is updated determines page freshness.

  6. Outbound links from your website pointing to high authority & reputed websites.

  7. Hidden content put in place to cheat search engines may affect rankings negatively.

  8. Using the same Meta tags across your website can be negative for your rankings.

  9. Internal linking structure of the website.

  10. Inbound links from relevant domains.

  11. Use of rich snippets is positive.

  12. Inbound links from reputed old domains can be very positive.

  13. Broken links affect website performance on search engines.

  14. Domain authority and page authority.

  15. Breadcrumb trail on your pages.

  16. Internal page URL’s length.

  17. Pages priority defined in the sitemap file.

  18. High quality older page if updated regularly can perform better than newer pages on SERP’s.

  19. Server uptime should be good, otherwise if your website stays offline due to server side issues it could harm your website rankings.

  20. Generally “nofollow” doesn’t carry much weight but links from high quality websites such as Wikipedia, Wikihow etc with “nofollow” tag may be considered as ranking factors.

Having knowledge about Google ranking factors can help you to understand how Google ranks its search results and you can optimise your website accordingly to gain good rankings in the SERP’s.