SEO Ranking Factors
What criteria influence your search rank? Find out below.
What are ranking factors?
Google and other search engines have algorithms and systems that constantly scour the internet to determine where sites should rank.
Often results are determined real-time when someone searches, but there are factors that search engines have already measured for your site that are used in their equations to determine where you should rank for a term.
Below is a listing of ranking factors. This list is an ongoing and ever-changing resource that we are adding to and removing factors from as we learn more.
Take a look and feel free to suggest or provide feedback on a ranking factor by reaching out via our contact form.
Internal LinkingPriority: Medium
You should link to internal pages that are relevant and will help the user navigate your website. If you have an article about how to do a certain task, linking from this guide on doing tasks in general directly back into the specific page of that guide would be considered good use of self-referential links for users who want more information after finishing up with their initial reading.
Linking to internal pages is great for building a site’s underlying structure and spreading link juice.
Keeping The Content FreshPriority: Medium
Updating your old content is a great way to increase the traffic. It’s also important to improve the accuracy of your content and keep it up-to-date with the most recent information.
Image OptimizationPriority: Medium
If you want your images load faster and get listed on image searches, you should optimize your images. Here are some suggestions for you to optimize your image content:
- Serve your images as JPEG, PNG, or better yet, WebP.
- Compress images for less size.
- Use unique images.
- Customize image file names to create descriptive and keyword-rich file names.Add SEO-optimized alt texts.
- Optimize them for different resolutions.
- Create an image sitemap.
Search Engine Journal
Canonical UsagePriority: High
You may use multiple URLs to the same page, or add URL parameters for searches and categories, etc. If you don’t tell Google the original page you want to rank by using canonical tags, your pages will compete with each other and this affects your SEO negatively.
Duplicate ContentPriority: Medium
Duplicate content generally refers to the same or similar blocks of text that are either completely copied from elsewhere, such as another website, and pasted into a block on your site without modification. This is bad for many reasons: it creates an inaccurate representation of information since search engines don’t think two different pages with duplicate (or even slightly altered) content are distinct webpages; moreover, by publishing copy-and-paste articles, you risk losing visitors who value originality and creativity in their online reading material.
If you have duplicate content on your website for different purposes such as having normal and printable versions of a page, you should use canonicalization to indicate your preferred page to Google.
Google Search Central
Page Loading SpeedPriority: High
Google has indicated that page speed is one of the signals it uses in its page ranking algorithm.
If your website is slow, that means your website won’t be the Google’s first choice when a user searches a phrase related to your website. Also, you’ll be wasting your crawl budget when search engine crawlers try to crawl your website.
To make your website load faster, minimize the sources it loads, use server and browser caching, and optimize the images.
Content LengthPriority: High
Content length is important to prove the reader that the content is well-researched and comprehensive.
Google won’t directly use this metric to rank your website, but you’ll be getting more backlinks if people find your content useful. You may also rank for multiple relevant search queries as the content is more comprehensive and covers lots of topics.
Keyword DensityPriority: Medium
Keyword density is the number of times the main keyword (keyphrase) occurs in a given text, compared to the total text of that page.
Your keyword density should be close to 3% for every variants. You don’t have to use the exact match keyphrase to get a better keyword density, actually it’s better if you don’t do that. You can also use its variants. E.g. Using “optimizing for search engines” for “search engine optimization” focus keyphrase.
Keyword in Domain NamePriority: Low
Even Google doesn’t use that as a relevancy signal, people searching on the internet might see it that way and click on your link instead of others. So, a domain name with a relevant keyword in it can improve your SEO indirectly by increasing click-through rate.
Keyword in Description TagPriority: High
Google says it doesn’t use meta data to rank the pages, but it’s still a good sign for people who see your page amongst the search results.
Using your main keyword in the description will most likely help you improve the click-through rate.
Google Search Central
SSL CertificatePriority: High
Google has announced in 2014 that it has started using HTTPS as a ranking signal. HTTPS is a protocol that provides a secure connection between user and server by using an SSL certificate.
It’s better to have an SSL certificate issued on your website if you don’t have it yet.
Hiding Content on MobilePriority: Medium
You can hide some parts of your mobile website to increase usability for mobile users.
Remember that if you hide critical content, Google may see it as deceptive.
Google Search Central
Keyword in Title TagPriority: High
According to Moz, title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.
A web page’s title tells people and search engines what it’s about and it’s sometimes the first experience of your site. If search visitors see the keyword in your SERP title, it’s more likely for them to click on your link.
Country Code Extension (ccTLD)Priority: Low
Using a country code top-level domain (.cn, .us, .ca) is the strongest factor that can help the site rank for that particular country… but it can limit the site’s ability to rank globally.
Public vs. Private WhoIsPriority: Low
Most of the time, search engines don’t care about the WHOIS info of your domain name. That’s because they don’t have access to all WHOIS data, especially for ccTLDs, and that makes it unreliable. A Googler said “it doesn’t change anything.” on private WHOIS.
Still, keeping your WHOIS info public may help you be a more trustworthy source.
Search Engine Roundtable
Domain AgePriority: Low
A Googler answers the question “How important domain age for website authority?“:
“Well, my answer is not to worry that much. The difference between a domain that’s six months old versus one year old is really not that big at all.”
YouTube - Google Search Central