Google Ranking Factors: What Are They and How Do They Work has come a long way since its inception in 1998. Today it’s the most popular way of finding information and answers to just about any questions you can ask. Plus, the platform leads the charge in dictating how content is cataloged, ranked, and served to Google users. 

Google ranking factors, like Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)—or when people find content by typing in a query and reviewing Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)—effectively connect your business with potential consumers. Google uses algorithms to help discern how your web pages should rank against everyone else’s on the internet. Additionally, Google search engines use multiple algorithms and ranking factors to determine who appears on top in SERPs. 

These factors are key in ensuring potential consumers and clients can find you and your business online. And, how Google ranks your content can make or break your business. But, as the competition gets tougher, the algorithm changes seem to also be more frequent—and more and more ranking factors are taken into consideration when vetting and ranking your content. Currently, there are more than 200 factors that may determine your ranking on Google’s algorithms!

Let’s take a closer look at what goes into Google ranking reviews and how you can leverage ranking factors to help boost your business.

What Is a Ranking Factor?

With ever-increasing site requirements, Google is continually shifting the factors it uses to audit online content. The list of items Google relies on to establish the highest quality content across websites changes along with the evolving nature of the internet.

As a result, the task of staying up-to-date on the latest ranking factors can be exhausting. Understanding key SEO efforts can help you better understand important ranking factors.

A central part of boosting your SEO rank is called a “ranking factor”. This is a criterion applied by a search engine while evaluating web pages for a SERP. A ranking factor may be related to a website’s content, user signals, current backlink profile, technical implementations, or a variety of other factors that the search engine might define as relevant.

How Do Search Rankings Work?

Whenever a solution to a specific query is needed, we use words that best represent the type of information we’re looking for. These “keywords” are competitive words aligned to your business niched, and can be leveraged to achieve stronger content optimization. The value and quality of information your content provides should be keyword rich, in order to help boost your rank in SERPs.

According to Google, a search quality rating is determined for each page’s content while indexing using factors such as:

  • E.A.T Rating (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness)
  • The purpose of the page
  • Content quality
  • Word count
  • Information on the website and its content sources and authors or creators
  • The reputation of the website and its content creator
  • Audience interaction statistics for that specific page (examples include time spent on the page by viewers and the viewer bounce rates)

There are lots of factors that may influence your ranking. But the factors outlined with this article can be used to make a positive change in your website’s SERP ranks. 

What Is E.A.T and Why Is It Important?

In August of 2018, Google started rolling out a new update codenamed the “medic update,” this set the foundation for the E.A.T criteria which is being utilized today. 

E.A.T, is a combination of three important factors: Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. It encapsulates all of the major and important ranking factors today. These newer factors are also used to expand on already existing ranking factors and requirements, such as high-quality content.

The E.A.T Mission

The purpose of the medic update was to uphold higher quality standards and make sure the information being provided through SERPs was accurate and targeted to the specific search query. While it is more complicated than that, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that a collection of all ranking factors work with Google’s algorithms to calculate an accurate SEO ranking for each page being indexed.

Why E-A-T Is Important

A key component of Google searches is based on relevancy to the subject or keywords used, and pages with the highest quality and relevancy. Only these pages are allowed to appear on top of SERPs. Google may even determine a page that was ranked at top of the SERP is no longer the most relevant solution and move it over to successive pages.

What You Should Know about E-A-T

The key thing to remember with E-A-T is that no one outside Google has a concrete idea of the exact method for calculating E-A-T 

To get a better understanding of how you can best utilize E-A-T for your website’s SEO, let’s breakdown and observe each facet of E-A-T individually:

  • Expertise: This category is meant to ascertain if the content’s author has the necessary skills and knowledge about their field. 
  • Authority: Google checks the search query against different sources that may accurately address the searcher’s question, and find the best available source.
  • Trustworthiness: If we can answer the question of whether or not the author of the contents provides unbiased, honest, and reliable information—then it is indeed trustworthy.

What You Can Do about E-A-T

While this may not be the best system in place to measure the E-A-T of a website, it still works surprisingly well. To ace your E-A-T criteria and optimize your website for Google search, use the following list to help you maximize your SEO and significantly improve your chances of ranking high in SERPs. 

  • Create a dedicated “About Us” page for your website.
  • Your “Contact Us” page should be easily accessible to everyone and allow users to effectively reach out to you or your team.
  • Start optimizing your pages and content regarding your visitors’ search intent.
  • Make sure you display any achievements, awards, certificates, or credentials on your website so Google can rank you by your expertise.
  • Allow frequent guest posts on your website from other notable sources to enhance your authority.
  • Timely response to all reviews, regardless of whether they are negative or positive.
  • Make sure all the information provided on your pages is accurate, unbiased, and updated regularly. 

A Robust and Secure HTTPS and Accessible Website

This important SEO ranking factor is about possessing the proper kind of URL—meaning, a secure HTTPS or URL that Google’s bots can effortlessly reach and crawl.

Google has to be able to access the URL and examine the page content material to recognize what that page is about. To assist the bots, you’ll need to consider the following important factors and ensure your online presence includes:

  • A website built in a well-coded way or with good development practices.
  • A robots.txt document that tells Google what is accessible, and what’s not ’on your website’s online available data.
  • A sitemap listing all your pages, making it easier to index.

Webpage Speed and Mobile Responsiveness

Web page speed is known as one of the main search engine optimization ranking elements for years. Google wants to enhance users’ experience of the searches, and rapid-loading web pages are attractive due to the rich experience they offer visitors.

A Google algorithm update was introduced targeting at mobile page speed and responsiveness that first started to affect websites in July 2018. In case your web page doesn’t load fast enough on mobile or tablet devices, then you could very well be penalized.

Mobile-Optimized, Dynamic Websites

While we’re discussing mobile-optimized websites, why is a website’s mobile friendliness perhaps the most important factor for SEO ranking? 

The answer is simple: More mobile users than ever before access internet search from their mobile devices. To capture those visitors, you need to have a mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized website for SEO.

Because mobile users outnumber computer system-based searches, Google ranks mobile-friendly pages higher in SERPs. To ensure your site can compete, consider the implementing the following into your website: 

  • Have a dynamic and responsive website which can automatically resize to fit multiple devices (especially mobile phones).
  • Use large fonts to ensure easy readability on small screens.
  • Use a UI and UX design, as well as simple colors and tones that are easy to look at for people with vision issues and challenges.
  • Include accessible menus to make your site easy to navigate.
  • Ensure that no part of your content is being blocked out by ads or other site elements.

Domain Age, URL, and Authority

Studies suggest that domain age is a contributing factor to higher rankings. When it comes to domain authority, understanding how to improve it can help boost your SEO efforts.

There are various free tools available online to check your domain authority or a specific page’s authority; such as Open Site Explorer by Moz. The process is simple and only requires you to enter your URL in the search box. Shortly after, you’ll receive a detailed report showing your domain authority, status, page authority, backlinks, established and new links.

LSI Keywords and SEO Ranking

There is a huge variety of technical SEO factors that come into play when your website’s ranking is being assessed. Regular checks will ensure that your website is compliant with Google’s guidelines, and can be easily indexed and ranked. 

The more keyphrase search results from your website are accessible the better, the sky’s the limit when it comes to technical SEO. However, you can’t just start targeting the main keywords only to nail top indexing or SEO. Instead, you want to get indexed for as many related terms as possible. This is where using latent semantic indexing or LSI, helps Google establish search intent relevancy. 

Using LSI keywords allow you to show Google the subject of your content so it can rank your web pages for any related terms used for searches. Similarly, using long-tail keywords is also a good idea for boosting your site SEO.

Keyword Type

Keywords that closely align with your visitors’ search intent are categorized into their specific types, which helps Google Search better implement search intent criteria. 

The following are three important keyword types:

  1. A keyword used to find a specific website is categorized as a navigational keyword.
  2. Keywords used to answer a specific question are titled informational keywords
  3. Purchase- or sales-related keywords are referred to as transactional keywords

Understanding what keyword class to target for your business’ website is very important and will help you better draft your content strategy and rank your site pages higher in SERPs.

Length of Content

The word count and length of your website content also matters. Google does rank content based on quality. But quantity matters, too; Google carefully audits the length of your content and its impact on bounce rates.

Although length is important, we don’t recommend you go stock-up on word counts! Stretching your content just to achieve a specific word count isn’t a good idea, and may even get you penalized. Think about your content’s subject matter; if it requires a detailed explanation, go ahead and give your content more depth.

The reason why length matters is that longer content tends to attract more links and shares, which can greatly increase your chances of getting ranked higher in SERPs.

High-Quality, Authoritative Backlinks 

Backlinks were one of the very first methods of ranking websites. A backlink is defined as a link that’s directed to your website and is also sometimes referred to as an inbound link. 

Backlinks are a representation of a website’s popularity and importance in the eyes of search engine algorithms and serve as a filter for better SEO. Websites with more backlinks get ranked higher on Google because the number of backlinks is an easy way to gauge a website’s authority. 

You can make use of backlinks by using methods like link building, outreach to other websites, allowing guest posts, or soliciting digital PR for your website to quickly gain valuable and high-quality backlinks.

What Else Should I Know about Google Ranking Factors?

These are just a few key ranking factors that can help you better understand and achieve high ranking search spots with your website and its content. Following the tips outlined here can help you climb the SERPs in no time! With a little patience, research, and strategy, you can boost your site’s SEO and reach those key SERP spots.