SEO

8 Essential SEO Ranking Factors

Image wit the title of the blog post and SEO search tool

We continuously discuss SEO on our blog. The aim of each and every post is to provide value and knowledge into the field that will help you navigate SEO for your own business.

The main issue here is that businesses deal with many SEOs that don’t provide them with value, but rather focus on shady SEO practices that harm their businesses rather than help them. Before starting with your SEO campaign, let’s start with understanding SEO ranking factors. How does Google determine if your website ranks or not?

So, what ranking factors matter? What should you focus on?

According to Google’s John Mueller, “awesomeness” is the path to go.

But, how can you do that? The internet is overflooded with content and the number of SEOs preaching about ranking factors and best practices is just too many.

You might already know this, but Google uses more than 200 SEO ranking factors in its algorithm, so knowing where to place your focus to maximize your results might seem like a mission impossible.

Don’t worry, we have your back!

In this blog post, we will discuss eight important SEO ranking factors. These SEO ranking factors are essential for any business that wants to improve its online visibility and attract more customers.

But before getting into the details of each one, let’s start with understanding what SEO is and isn’t.

What is SEO?

SEO is not about tricks, it’s about understanding how Google works and providing value to your target audience.

That being said, SEO is all about optimizing your website for search engines so that you can rank higher and attract more visitors. This can be done by improving the content on your website, making sure your website is fast and mobile-friendly, optimizing your titles and meta descriptions, and building high-quality links.

SEO is not easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort. It can help you improve your website’s visibility and attract more customers.

Now that we have a better understanding of SEO, let’s move on to the eight essential SEO ranking factors.

The following SEO ranking factors are based on current Google algorithm changes and best practices.

SEO Ranking Factor #01: Content

Content is King, heard that before? Well, it is, and for good reason. After all, that’s the whole point of a search query, isn’t it?

It’s not about the quantity of the content on your website either, it’s all about quality. That’s thanks to Google’s Fred algorithm that was introduced in 2017. This algorithm focuses on the quality of the content on websites and punishes websites that are trying to game the system with low-quality content.

So, what makes high-quality content?

There is no one answer to this question, as it depends on your target audience and what they are looking for. However, there are a few things that you can do to make sure your content is high-quality:

  • Make sure your content is relevant and up-to-date
  • Write in a clear and concise manner
  • Use images, videos, and infographics to break up the text and add value
  • Use keywords throughout your content, but don’t overdo it
  • Write for your target audience, not for search engines

High-quality content will naturally result in an increase in the average time on page for your website visitors and reduce your bounce rates.

What else must you consider besides written valuable content?

Google RankBrain

RankBrain is a machine-learning algorithm that was introduced in 2015. This algorithm uses artificial intelligence to help Google process search queries and determine the best results for the user.

This image shows a page from google analytics show user flow

One of the ways that RankBrain determines the best results is by measuring how engaged users are with the content on your website. In other words, it looks at how long people stay on your website and how often they return.

This is why it’s important to have high-quality content that people will want to read and share. If you can keep your visitors engaged, RankBrain will rank your website higher in the search results.

Keywords

Understanding the best keywords and keyword opportunities available to you, through well-performed keyword research, will help you rank. How does this work?

Keyword stuffing, for one. A technique once used by SEOs and webmasters to increase their site’s ranking in SERPs (search engine results page), has long been penalized by Google. So how do you determine what keywords are right for your website?

There are a few different methods that you can use:

  • Use the Google Ads Keyword Planner Tool
  • Use Google Autocomplete to find popular keywords
  • Use competitor analysis to find profitable keywords

Once you have determined which keywords are best for your website, make sure to use them throughout your content. But don’t overdo it! You still want to write for your target audience, not for search engines.

Check out this case study on how keyword research works.

Content Freshness

First, let’s start by saying that there are two types of content to take into consideration.

First, content that is relevant for a long period and doesn’t need regular updating. Also known as evergreen content.

Second, content that needs continuous updates to stay fresh and relevant.

The second type of content is easy to update, but what do you do with evergreen content?

Updating evergreen content can be a daunting task, but it’s important. You don’t want to rewrite the entire thing, but you can update certain sections to make sure it’s still relevant. Since the majority of the content is probably still relevant, then you can republish old content as new content by adding fresh information and updated images. This will help keep your website visitors engaged and coming back for more.

In addition to keeping your content fresh, you should also consider refreshing your website design, as needed. This will keep your website looking.

SEO Ranking Factor #02: Mobile Friendliness

Nowadays, more and more people are using their smartphones and tablets to access the internet. In fact, Google has reported that as of April 2016, around 60% of search queries were made from mobile devices.

This is why your website needs to be mobile-friendly. If it’s not, then you’re missing out on a large portion of the market.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make your website mobile-friendly:

  • Use a responsive design template
  • Make sure all of your images and videos are properly sized for mobile devices
  • Use tap targets that are easy to hit on a touchscreen
  • Avoid using Flash or other plugins that are not supported by mobile devices

SEO Ranking Factor #03: Page Speed

In addition to making your website mobile-friendly, you should also make sure that it loads quickly.

According to Google, 53% of visitors will leave a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. On top of that, page speed has been a mobile ranking factor since 2018, so it’s more important than ever to make sure your website loads quickly.

So, how can you test your website’s average page speed, you ask? It’s easy!

All you have to do is go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights and enter your website’s URL.

Page speed insight example of Moe Abdallah's website

You’ll then get a score, along with suggestions on how to make your website load faster. Since page speed has become such an important SEO ranking factor, it’s worth taking the time to make sure your website is as fast as possible.

SEO Ranking Factor #04: Page Experience

Page experience is a relatively new SEO ranking factor. It’s intended to help Google determine how users interact with your website and whether they derive value from the content on your pages.

The SEO ranking factor consists of the following criteria:

  1. Core Web Vitals, which measures user experience metrics such as page load speed, interactivity, and visual stability.
  2. Mobile-friendliness, which determines whether or not your website is optimized for mobile devices .
  3. Safe-browsing, which determines whether or not your website is secure and protected from malware.
  4. HTTPS security, which determines whether or not your website is using a secure connection.
  5. User satisfaction, which determines how users feel about the content on your pages.

You can improve your SEO by making sure that all of the SEO ranking factors above are met.

SEO Ranking Factor #05: On-Page Optimizations

On-page optimization is another important factor for SEO. This factor is one that most beginners or nonSEOs know by heart.

A common answer I get when I ask someone if they know what SEO is, is “Yes, putting keywords in the titles and descriptions, no?”

Well, that answer is not completely right, but it has a sense of the actual truth to it.

On-page optimizations include the following:

Metadata: Titles and Descriptions

That’s short for the metadata, that is the meta titles and descriptions of every page.

If you don’t set the metadata for each page yourself, then Google would pull content from each page and use them for the headlines and descriptions that appear in a SERP.

An example of search engine results page (SERP)

Best practices to writing a good title and description include making sure that it is:

  • Accurate and descriptive of the page’s content
  • Concise, with a character limit of around 60 for titles and 160 for descriptions
  • Engaging, so that users want to click on it
  • Focused on the user, not on you or your business
  • Unique, in order to stand out from other search results
image of a good headline and description (metadata) from Gillette

The SEO ranking factor of on-page optimization is one that you can’t ignore if you want to rank your website higher in the search engine results pages.

Schema

Another important factor of on-page optimization is Schema markup. Schema is a  type of code that you insert on your web page to help search engines better understand what the content on your website is all about.

The schema was created back in  2011 by Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo.

Schema helps search engines return more informative results for users. For example, if you search for a movie on Google, the results will show you not only the title of the movie but also it’s rating, genre, and runtime.

An image of the Pets 2 movie Search engine results page on Google
(SERPs)

This is because Schema markup has been added to the code.

This is not all theoretical talk, the importance of structured data and Schema has been highlighted by Google many times. Andrew Valente of Google has stated that “adding Schema markup to your HTML improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title”.

Google has even made it clear that it will be using structured data to improve the SEO ranking of websites. It’s worth noting here that Schema is used to affect ranking factors, but it in itself is not a ranking factor.

SEO Ranking Factor #06: Internal Linking

Internal linking and its structure help website visitors and search engines better navigate your website and find relevant pages.

So, how should you link to different pages across your website?

There are a few things to keep in mind when linking internally:

  • The anchor text you use should be descriptive of the page’s content 
  • The link should open in a new tab or window
  • Don’t use too many links on a page
  • Only link to relevant pages
  • Links should be user-centred

Backlinks, that is links from other websites pointing to your website, are essential for SEO.

I remember a point where many SEOs around me kept on mentioning that backlinks no longer hold any ranking weight. That’s not true!

If you want to rank, then you should build and execute a backlink strategy.

The SEO ranking factor of backlinks is one that’s been confirmed by Google. Gary Illyes of Google said at SMX West in 2016 that “Links are still the best way we have to figure out what’s on other people’s sites”.

But, not just any kind of backlink will do. SEO experts agree that you need to get authoritative, relevant, and quality links pointing back to your website.

There are tools that you can use to help you identify authoritative and high-quality backlinks, such as:

  1. Majestic SEO
  2. Ahrefs
  3. Moz

SEO Ranking Factor #08: Local SEO

Local SEO is the optimization of your online properties so that you can be found in geographically-relevant searches. In other words, if you’re a business that wants to be found by people in your area, you need to optimize for local SEO.

Local ranking is dependent on three different factors, which are:

  1. Relevance is how well your business’s website matches the search query.
  2. Distance is how close your business is to the searcher’s location.
  3. Prominence is how well-known your business is. That is dependent on links, articles, and business directories that link back to your website.

So, what did you understand from this article?

There are eight SEO ranking factors that you should be aware of if you want your website to rank well. These are:

  1. SEO Ranking Factor #01: Content
  2. SEO Ranking Factor #02: Mobile Friendliness
  3. SEO Ranking Factor #03: Page Speed
  4. SEO Ranking Factor #04: Page Experience
  5. SEO Ranking Factor #05: On-Page Optimizations
  6. SEO Ranking Factor #06: Internal Linking
  7. SEO Ranking Factor #07: Authoritative Backlinks
  8. SEO Ranking Factor #08: Local SEO

That’s it! So, now that you know what SEO ranking factors are important and how to optimize them, go out there and create the online awesomeness that John Mueller mentioned.

If you’re having difficulty getting started with SEO, then feel free to hit us up and our team will get your business to rank!

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