How to Improve Your Google Ranking (+200 Google Ranking Factors)
Talk to most SEO content marketers, and they'll reel off dozens of different Google ranking factors with complete authority. The problem is Google has never confirmed most of them. The search engine's algorithm – the secret sauce that determines what ranks and what doesn't – is a closely guarded mystery.
Google did reveal in 2006 that it was using over 200 ranking factors. But as more than a decade has passed since this big reveal, the reliability of these factors is less than ideal.
In short: anyone who tells you they know Google's secret is either lying or breaking an NDA.
That doesn't mean a generation of marketers hasn't deduced what works. Below we're spilling industry secrets, revealing how to increase your Google ranking.
What is a Google Ranking Factor?
Ranking factors, or SEO ranking factors, are the criteria used by Google (and other search engines) to determine the ranking order for a specific search query.
Solely relying on these factors won't necessarily deliver a perfect SEO ranking. But you should always keep them in mind to ensure a better user experience, generate more leads, and improve your overall page structure.
How to Increase Your Google Ranking
Optimising all 200 "known" ranking factors is unlikely to be a viable strategy. Creating a webpage would take months to complete. Below I've compiled all the ranking factors; they're organised into nine categories:
Keyword in domain
Keyword as the first word in domain
Domain registration length
Keyword in subdomain
Penalized Whois owner
Public/private Whois status
Keyword in title tag
Keyword at the start of the title tag
Keyword in meta description tag
Keyword in H1 tag
Keyword frequency in content
Word count rankings
Linked table of contents
Presence of semantically related keywords
Semantically related keyword in meta title and description
In-depth content quality
Page loading speed via HTML
Page loading speed via Chrome
Core web vitals
No duplicate content
Image optimization (ALT, title, file name)
Content update frequency
Historical content update data
Use of rel=canonical
Keyword in H2, H3 tags
Keyword in the first 100 words
Grammar and spelling
Outbound link count
Hidden mobile content
Mobile page optimization
Quality of outbound links
Theme of outbound links
Supplementary content (tools, calculators, etc.)
Hidden tabbed content
Internal links to the page
Quality of internal links
Broken link count
Page readability level
Affiliate link count
HTML error count
URL proximity to the homepage
Keyword in URL
Human editor opinion
Page category relevance
User-friendly content formatting
Page priority in sitemap.xml
UX signals from similar pages
Citing references and sources
URL string in search results
Internal link anchor text
Use of structured data
Contact Us page or contact information
Valuable site content
Regular site updates
HTTPS and valid SSL certificate
Use of breadcrumb markup
Site-wide mobile optimization
Age of linking domain
Number of referring domains
Links from separate c-class IPs
Number of referring pages
Backlink anchor text
ALT tag of image links
Links from .edu and .gov domains
Trust of linking page
Trust of linking domain
Links from competitors
Links from industry-relevant sites
Links from bad neighborhoods
Country TLD of referring domains
Presence of nofollow links
Link profile diversity
Context of linking page content
More follow links than sponsored or UGC
Backlinks via 301 redirects
Hover text of links
Link location on page
Link location in content
Links from relevant domains
Links from relevant pages
Page's keyword in title of the linking page
Natural backlink growth rate
Unnatural backlink growth rate
Links from top topic resources or hubs
Links from authority sites
Source links in Wikipedia
Words around backlinks
Links from real vs. fake blogs
Natural link profile
Links in real content vs. UGC
Backlinks from 301 redirect pages
TrustRank of linking site
Outbound link count on linking page
Links in real content vs. forum links
Word count of linking content
Quality of linking content
Organic click-through rate for the exact keyword
Organic click-through rates for all keywords
RankBrain user interaction metrics
Total direct traffic
Repeat visitor percentage
SERP click-backs after visiting your page
Page bookmarking by Chrome users
Special Google Algorithm Rules
Diversity in the SERP
Freshness in the SERP
User browsing history
User search history
Requirements for featured snippets
Safe search for adult or offensive content
High content quality standards for YMYL keywords
Domain diversity in SERP
Local search results
Top Stories box for news-related keywords
Presence of big brands with relevant content
Google Shopping-optimized results
Google Easter eggs, jokes, and hoaxes
Brand keyword searches
Branded anchor text
Active Twitter profile
Official LinkedIn page
Active Facebook page
Known authorship or verified profile
Real social media accounts
Brand mentions in Top Stories
Brand mentions without links
Physical location of offices
On-site Web Spams
Links to bad neighborhoods
Multiple or sneaky redirects
Flagged server IP address
Distracting ads and popups
Doorway page use
Excessive ads above the fold
Hidden affiliate links
Low-value content sites
Keyword stuffing in meta tags
Nofollowing all outbound links
Off-site Webspam Factors
Unnatural increase in backlinks
Large volume of low-quality backlinks
High percentage of links from unrelated websites
Low-quality directory links
Automatic widget links
Links from sites with the same server IP
"Poison" in anchor text
Ignored manual actions in the search console
Temporary link schemes
Top 5 Google Ranking Factors
Mindboggling, right? If browsing the list makes you anxious, you're not alone. However, most of these factors are out of your control. Don't sweat it!
Rather, focus on this handful of factors you can actually deliver on:
1. High-Quality Content
Google, above all, has always prioritised high-quality, original content. Keywords are important. Page speed is essential. But, most of all, "content is king."
That's why, first and foremost, your goal should be to deliver informative, captivating content your customers want to read and engage with.
How? Ensure you've got something to say, write fluently, provide helpful and practical information, and don't add fluff. Think about what your customers want to know related to this topic. For example, I could have gone through every ranking factor in this article – but no one wants to read that. You want to know what works and what's feasible.
2. Keyword Optimisation
Don't overdo it on the keywords. Choose 2-3 high-quality keywords and integrate them naturally throughout your content for the best results. You should have a single primary keyword that should appear in the title tag, meta description, URL tag, and every 100 words or so. Your other keywords should also appear throughout the other headings (H2 and H3) and paragraphs.
Where possible, try to use variations of the keywords. In this article, I can use the term "Google ranking factors," or I can use the variant "SEO ranking factors." They're semantically related in SEO-speak, allowing for broader search engine appeal.
Backlinks are like gold dust online. However, many SEO experts mistake quantity for quality. In fact, if you look in the list above, you'll notice that getting lots of backlinks in a short time can penalise your ranking – it looks like you bought them.
Instead, you want to prioritise high-quality backlinks from reputable, authoritative sources – think newspapers, local guides, and other renowned sites.
Often overlooked, relevance is about matching the keywords you're targeting with the theme of your content. For example, a search query for "chocolate cake" will always bring up a list of recipes. Writing about the history of chocolate cake has little relevance to the query (and won't get ranked for that keyword).
Think about what type of page you want to target a keyword with. Do you want to create a service page, e-commerce page, or blog post for this particular keyword?
5. Technical Optimisation
Technical SEO is a topic in itself. If you're really struggling, speak to an expert. The two main factors to consider are page speed and mobile friendliness.
Slower page speeds not only drop your ranking, but they also increase the bounce rate. Meanwhile, mobile friendliness is critical as more users surf the web on their smartphones over desktops.
Ensure all your pages match these two factors to do the minimum groundwork for technical SEO.
Understanding and optimising Google's ranking factors can significantly enhance your online presence and generate more leads.
At Impeccable Writing, we offer a tailored approach to help businesses navigate the labyrinth of SEO. Don't waste time on guesswork. Book a free consultation today and unlock your website's potential!