Important Google Ranking Factors
SEO is an ever-evolving field especially due to the changes in Google’s algorithm. What used to be a ranking factor in 2015, might not be considered at all in 2020 and onwards, and keeping up with all the changes can be quite difficult.
With that being said, in this guide, we will discuss three of the most important ranking factors you need to focus on to dominate Google ranking. By the end of this, you’ll have a clearer picture of what to focus on in your SEO optimizations.
Your website’s link profile is the most important ranking factor, which can be divided into three different types:
- Internal links: links between different page in your website, your internal linking structure can provide various benefits for your overall SEO performance
- External/outbound links: outgoing links from your website to others. Not a direct ranking factor, but will affect your site’s credibility and will help you in building relationships with the sites you link to.
- Inbound links: the most important factor in determining a website’s ranking, and deserve its own discussion below.
More About Inbound Links/Backlinks
While we’ve mentioned that link profile is the most important ranking factor, inbound links—or backlinks— are the most important of the three different link types.
We can think of backlinks as the “vote of confidence” on the internet, and often the most expensive commodity of the online world. When a lot of sites, especially relevant ones, link to yours, it’s like saying that your site is trustworthy and credible—and Google will notice this—.
There are, however, three different factors regarding backlinks as a ranking factor: quantity, quality, and relevance of anchor texts.
1. Quantity of Backlinks
Simply put, the number of backlinks coming to your site. In general, the more the merrier, but these backlinks will need to:
- “Grow” at a natural rate, if you get too many links at any given time, Google might suspect you of fraud and black-hat link building practice—and might get your site penalized—.
- The quality also matters. If you only get low-quality backlinks from “spammy” sites, you can also get penalized.
2. Quality of Backlinks
Nowadays, the quality of backlinks is more important than quantity. In general, just 2 to 3 backlinks from high-quality and relevant backlinks in your industry/niche will provide more value than 50 low-quality links.
For example, a backlink from HubSpot is more valuable than 10 links from standard-quality blogs, if you are a site in the digital marketing niche.
3. Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text in a link, and how relevant the anchor text is to the page linked is a ranking factor. For example, if the linked site is about basketball, then an anchor text of “slam dunk” or “NBA” will provide more value than, for example, “Apple”.
Content performance as a ranking factor is directly related to link profile—and mainly backlinks—.
The main idea is, if your content is good, you’ll always get more backlinks, which will boost the content’s ranking in Google SERP.
However, there are also technical and non-technical factors besides inbound links that can affect content performance:
It’s a common misconception that longer content equals better ranking. However, it’s not the length of your content that actually matters, but how long the audience stays and consumes your content (dwell time). While yes, longer content can allow users to stay longer, it can only happen when the quality of your content is maintained throughout the article.
According to Backlinko, the average length of top-ranking content is 1,890 words, but it has to be good-quality 1,890 words.
2. Relevance To Search Intent
The content must be relevant to the user’s search intent. For example, if the search intent is informational, then the content must be informative rather than transactional.
3. Content Freshness
Make sure your content is up-to-date with the latest information to avoid high bounce rate (more on this later)
User Experience Related Factors
Usability or UX factors like dwell time and bounce rate are now direct ranking factors, thanks to Google’s AI-based algorithm RankBrain. Thus, there are several technical factors that will directly and directly affect your site’s ranking:
1. Page Speed
Google’s study suggested that if your site loads slower than 3 seconds, half of your site’s visitors will bounce immediately.
Google simply prioritizes mobile-friendly and mobile-responsive sites.
3. SSL Certificate (HTTPS)
Websites that implemented SSL certificate, and use HTTPS instead of HTTP tend to rank higher. Google is extremely concerned about security nowadays, and now it’s a major ranking factor.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, and there are still a lot of ranking factors that can affect your Google SERP ranking.
However, focusing on these three factors above will provide you with a good start to climb in Google SERP ranking and start generating organic traffic.
The main focus, however, is content. When your content is good, you’ll always get the valuable backlinks and you will steadily climb the SERP ranking.