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  • Writer's pictureDr Joseph Nightingale

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 sign.

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:

Domain Factors

  1. Domain age

  2. Keyword in domain

  3. Keyword as the first word in domain

  4. Domain registration length

  5. Keyword in subdomain

  6. Domain history

  7. Penalized Whois owner

  8. Public/private Whois status

Page-Level Factors

  1. Keyword in title tag

  2. Keyword at the start of the title tag

  3. Keyword in meta description tag

  4. Keyword in H1 tag

  5. Keyword frequency in content

  6. Content length

  7. Word count rankings

  8. Linked table of contents

  9. Keyword density

  10. Presence of semantically related keywords

  11. Semantically related keyword in meta title and description

  12. In-depth content quality

  13. Content usefulness

  14. Page loading speed via HTML

  15. Page loading speed via Chrome

  16. Core web vitals

  17. No duplicate content

  18. Image optimization (ALT, title, file name)

  19. Content recency

  20. Page age

  21. Content update frequency

  22. Historical content update data

  23. Use of rel=canonical

  24. Keyword in H2, H3 tags

  25. Keyword in the first 100 words

  26. Grammar and spelling

  27. Content originality

  28. Entity match

  29. Outbound link count

  30. Mobile usability

  31. Hidden mobile content

  32. Mobile page optimization

  33. Multimedia presence

  34. Quality of outbound links

  35. Theme of outbound links

  36. Supplementary content (tools, calculators, etc.)

  37. Hidden tabbed content

  38. Internal links to the page

  39. Quality of internal links

  40. Broken link count

  41. Page readability level

  42. Affiliate link count

  43. HTML error count

  44. Domain authority

  45. Page authority

  46. PageRank

  47. URL length

  48. URL proximity to the homepage

  49. Keyword in URL

  50. Human editor opinion

  51. Page category relevance

  52. User-friendly content formatting

  53. Page priority in sitemap.xml

  54. UX signals from similar pages

  55. Citing references and sources

  56. User-friendly layout

  57. URL string in search results

  58. Internal link anchor text

  59. Use of structured data

Site-level Factors

  1. Contact Us page or contact information

  2. Valuable site content

  3. TrustRank

  4. Regular site updates

  5. Site architecture

  6. Sitemap presence

  7. Server downtime

  8. Server location

  9. HTTPS and valid SSL certificate

  10. Legal pages (terms and conditions, privacy policy)

  11. Unique metadata

  12. Use of breadcrumb markup

  13. Site-wide mobile optimization

  14. Site-wide user-friendliness

  15. Bounce rate

  16. Domain authority

  17. User reviews

  18. Site reputation

Backlink Factors

  1. Age of linking domain

  2. Number of referring domains

  3. Links from separate c-class IPs

  4. Number of referring pages

  5. Backlink anchor text

  6. ALT tag of image links

  7. Links from .edu and .gov domains

  8. Trust of linking page

  9. Trust of linking domain

  10. Links from competitors

  11. Links from industry-relevant sites

  12. Links from bad neighborhoods

  13. Non-advertisement links

  14. Country TLD of referring domains

  15. Domain authority

  16. Presence of nofollow links

  17. Link profile diversity

  18. Context of linking page content

  19. More follow links than sponsored or UGC

  20. Backlinks via 301 redirects

  21. Hover text of links

  22. Link location on page

  23. Link location in content

  24. Links from relevant domains

  25. Links from relevant pages

  26. Page's keyword in title of the linking page

  27. Natural backlink growth rate

  28. Unnatural backlink growth rate

  29. Links from top topic resources or hubs

  30. Links from authority sites

  31. Source links in Wikipedia

  32. Words around backlinks

  33. Backlink age

  34. Links from real vs. fake blogs

  35. Natural link profile

  36. Reciprocal links

  37. Links in real content vs. UGC

  38. Backlinks from 301 redirect pages

  39. TrustRank of linking site

  40. Outbound link count on linking page

  41. Links in real content vs. forum links

  42. Word count of linking content

  43. Quality of linking content

  44. Sitewide links

User Interaction

  1. Organic click-through rate for the exact keyword

  2. Organic click-through rates for all keywords

  3. Dwell time

  4. Bounce rate

  5. RankBrain user interaction metrics

  6. Total direct traffic

  7. Repeat visitor percentage

  8. Blocked sites

  9. SERP click-backs after visiting your page

  10. Page bookmarking by Chrome users

  11. Comment count

Special Google Algorithm Rules

  1. Diversity in the SERP

  2. Freshness in the SERP

  3. User browsing history

  4. User search history

  5. Requirements for featured snippets

  6. Geotargeting

  7. Safe search for adult or offensive content

  8. High content quality standards for YMYL keywords

  9. DMCA complaints

  10. Domain diversity in SERP

  11. Transactional searches

  12. Local search results

  13. Top Stories box for news-related keywords

  14. Search intent

  15. Presence of big brands with relevant content

  16. Google Shopping-optimized results

  17. Image results

  18. Branded search

  19. Google Easter eggs, jokes, and hoaxes

  20. Spammy queries

  21. Spammy sites

Brand Signals

  1. Brand keyword searches

  2. Branded anchor text

  3. Active Twitter profile

  4. Official LinkedIn page

  5. Active Facebook page

  6. Branded searches

  7. Known authorship or verified profile

  8. Real social media accounts

  9. Brand mentions in Top Stories

  10. Brand mentions without links

  11. Physical location of offices

On-site Web Spams

  1. Panda penalty

  2. Low-quality content

  3. Links to bad neighborhoods

  4. Multiple or sneaky redirects

  5. Flagged server IP address

  6. Distracting ads and popups

  7. Difficult-to-close popups

  8. Site over-optimization

  9. Gibberish content

  10. Doorway page use

  11. Excessive ads above the fold

  12. Hidden affiliate links

  13. Low-value content sites

  14. Affiliate sites

  15. Keyword stuffing in meta tags

  16. Computer-generated content

  17. Nofollowing all outbound links

Off-site Webspam Factors

  1. Unnatural increase in backlinks

  2. Hacked site

  3. Large volume of low-quality backlinks

  4. High percentage of links from unrelated websites

  5. Low-quality directory links

  6. Automatic widget links

  7. Links from sites with the same server IP

  8. "Poison" in anchor text

  9. Ignored manual actions in the search console

  10. Selling links

  11. 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.

3. Backlinks

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.

4. Relevance

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.

Final Thoughts

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!


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