30 Most Important Google Ranking Factors For Beginners
Google has an inconclusive and ever changing list of factors taken into account by its search engine algorithm in ranking a website. However, attempting to optimize a website for all the factors will mean a lot of work and webmasters may not be able to optimize more than 5 websites in a year. Understanding the direction of Google in ranking websites and focusing on the more important factors with greater impact on website overall performance is the recommended way to go. In this post, we take a loo at the most important factors and how to optimize your website for these factors to achieve ranking success in Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
On Page factors, also called On-site SEO is about optimizing content for target keywords and essentially focuses on the use of proper heading, keyword placement, content quality and many other factors. On Page search engine optimization on any website has the most profound effect on its rankings. From our experience, proper On-Page optimization can significantly affect the possibility to rank within the top ten results in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Here are the critical on-page optimization factors that can affect its search visibility quite significantly:
- Keyword in the title tag.
The title meta tag is one of the strongest relevancy signals for a search engines. The tag itself is meant to give the accurate description of the pages content. Search engines use it to display the main title of a search result. Including a keyword in it will indicate to search engine what to rank the page for. Website titles define how a search engine understand the purpose and primary focus of a website and invariably will help search engines what to rank the website for.
It is recommended that the keyword should be placed at the start of the title tag. Pages optimized this way will rank better than those with keyword closer to the title’s tag end. This is generally the rule but we have also seen websites that simply place keywords within the title and not necessarily starting the title with keywords ranking much better than websites that start with keywords in title.
- Keyword in meta description tag.
The meta description tag has gained less relevance since Google made it known that it does not use this tag in page ranking anymore. However, we still thin it is important for Google because our tests reveal that a poorly written meta description affects Google's understanding of a website's primary focus and could affect how Google places the website in its search engine result pages. Remember that Google's focus is to give users the best search experience and so Google tries to place websites it considers to be of high quality at the top of its search engine result pages.
Having said that, it should be understood that the meta description tag today is is nonetheless still a relevant signal as it is crucial for gaining user clicks from search results pages. Including some relevant keyword in it makes it more relevant to a search engine and a searcher. The bottom line is that you still need to take the meta description tag very seriously.
- Keyword in H1 tag.
H1 tag is another relevant factor, serving as a description of the pages content. In spite of an ongoing discussion about its importance, it is still a good practice to include your keyword in a unique H1 tag on your page. Having a word in H1 tag tells search engines about the importance of that word. When keywords are placed in H11 tag, it simply highlights the importance of the keyword.
- Using keywords in the pages content.
From the foregoing, the use of keywords in your copy had been clarified in some way. This is different from having keywords stuffed in your content which had been the practice before now as a way of gaining high rankings. keyword stuffing is no longer an acceptable practice and will certainly lead to a penalty in today's SEO. Using the keyword in the copy and writing naturally is just fine as it still sends the relevancy signal of what the content is about.
- The length of the content
These days searchers want to be educated and won’t satisfy with basic information. Google, therefore, looks for authoritative and informative content to rank first. And it’s common sense that the longer your content is, the greater the chance that you can cover more aspects of your topic. Don’t be shy of writing long but highly useful copy then.
- Duplicate content
Not all factors can influence your rankings in a positive way. Having similar content across various pages of your site can actually hurt your rankings. Avoid duplicating content and write original copy for each page.
- Canonical tag
There are times your website will show two URLs with same content. This is unavoidable. One way to prevent this from becoming a duplicate content issue is by using a canonical tag on your site. This tag tells Google that one URL is equivalent of another, clearly stating that in spite of two pages having the same content, they are in fact one.
- Image Optimization
It’s not only text that can be optimized on a page but other media too. Image optimization, for instance, can send the search engine relevancy signals through their alt text, caption, and description for example.
- Regular Content Updates.
Keeping your page fresh with new content is still a highly rated way of getting Google to like your page and to boost its ranking. Google algorithm prefers freshly updated content. Content is like food for Google search engine. If you provide this food regularly, Google will keep crawling your page. Fresh content had been listed among the top three factors that strongly influence ranking on Google and should be taken seriously. This does not mean you have to fill your page with duplicate content copied from other websites or constantly edit your existing pages to make them fresh. Writing fresh ad original content is the recommended way to be in Google's good books. You also need to update on a consistent pattern. For instance, updating every Monday. Consistency is as important as adding the content as it forces Google to crawl our pages regularly.
- Outbound links
The idea behind outbound links is that you have to link to authoritative pages because this sends trust signals to search engines. When you link to an authoritative website, Google reasons that you too are concerned about trust and that is why you only link to websites with high trustworthiness. So, this increases your website trust which leads to a ranking boost. However, you need to be mindful of how you use outbound links. Too much out bound links on your site can hurt ranking and so despite being a good practice, it still has to be used in moderation
- Internal links
Internal links is a good way to improve your experience and get your pages to pass their strength between each other. It also reduces the rate at which people leave your website after a visiting a landing page. Just as with out bound links, you also do not need to overdo it.
- Keyword in URL
Having your keyword in your URL slug (that’s the bit that appears after the “.com/“part of the URL) is said to send another relevancy signal to Google. This in most cases will depend on how your title is crafted as, in most cases, it is automated, though it can also be edited.
The following website factors are critical for good ranking in search engines and we recommend they be implemented on every website:
The sitemap help search engines to crawl and index all pages on your site. It is the simplest and most efficient way to tell Google what pages you have on your website.
- Domain trust
Trust everything. It builds external links for you, increases the rate at which people will share your content and it counts with Google. It’s hard not to think that sites Google trusts should rank higher. But how do you build that trust? Building trust factors of your domain will certainly pay off.
- Server location
Server location affects speed of website and this a a ranking factor. The closer the location of the server, the better for the speed of the website. You may want to check your website speed using this easy tool from Google
- Mobile optimized site
There is currently more searches going through mobile devices today. Google takes mobile friendliness serioiusly and will rank you in mobile search better than sites that are not mobile friendly.
- Google Search Console integration
This is pretty easy. Simply verify your site with Google Webmasters Tools. This actually help with your sites indexing.
Off Page factors:
Here are key Off-Page ranking factors, which are factors that are outside your site that can affect your website ranking. Here are some of the key ones:
- The number of linking domains
The number of domains linking to you is one of the most important ranking factors.
- The number of linking pages
This is the links from a particular domain to your site. However, it is still better to have more links from individual domains rather than from a single domain.
- Domain Authority of linking page.
Getting links from domains with high authority is better and more rewarding than links from low authority pages.
- Link relevancy
This is about having links from websites whose focus is related to your website. Links from pages related to your pages topic carry more relevancy for search engines.
- Authority of linking domain
The authority of a domain may be a ranking factor too. For that reason, a link from low authority page on a high authority site will be worth more that from a lower domain authority one.
- Links from a homepage
SEOs believe that links from a home page of a linking domain carry more strength than those on one of its internal pages.
- Do follow vs. nofollow links
Google officially stated that they don’t count nofollow links (link with rel=nofollow attribute attached). Therefore the number of your do follow links should affect your rankings.
- Link diversity
Too many links of one type may be a spam indicator and impact your rankings negatively.
- Contextual links
SEOs agree that links within the content of the page are worth more than links in a sidebar.
- Link anchor
Anchor text of a link is also relevant for SEO and ranking.
Though domain factors are often not taken strongly in analyzing SEO and its impact on ranking, there are few domain related factors that can affect site ranking:
- Domain registration length
The length of period a domain has been registered affects its trustworthiness. Google considers domains registered for longer than a year as more trustworthy.
- Domain history
If you register a domain that had been earlier penalized,, its history might affect its current rankings
Country TLD extension
This is relevant for country specific targets. It's been observed that domains that target a particular country do better in search engine rankings with the country extensions than with generic extensions like .com and .org