Often results are determined real-time when someone searches, but there are SEO ranking 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 and criteria. This list is an ongoing and ever-changing resource that we are adding to and removing factors from as we learn more.
Google Search Console is a tool that helps you see how Google sees and understands your website. Once you set GSC up, you can see the pages Google crawled and indexed, the uncrawled and unindexed pages and possibly the reasons of them.
When a visitor lands to your site and exits without any interaction with the page, that counts as bounce. If your organic visitors exits your website quickly after seeing it, this is a bad signal for Google and other search engines. To lower the bounce rate, consider:
As of June 2021, Core Web Vitals are a part of Google’s ranking algorithm. So it’s important to make sure your website is performing well according to these metrics:
To build your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness and stand out in the eyes of both your visitors and search engines, you will need some social proof. Especially if you are creating content around YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics such as legal, medical, and finance; it’s critically important to show your expertise.
To build your E-A-T:
Your website should be always up and running to keep serving the content to visitors and search engine bots. If you are not there when they come, they may never come again.
Google’s algorithm has been getting more human-like, which means that readable texts are helping to rank higher. And with voice search on the rise there is even more demand for short and easy-to-understand but informative content.
Having your focus keyword in the H1 tag is a strong signal showing what the page is about.
Domain authority score is a compound metric used for measuring a domain’s overall external SEO performance. The algorithm includes many data points to measure the final score but all of the metrics are about the external links pointing to your website and their quality.
The more natural and quality links you get from different websites, higher your domain authority score is.
With Schema markups, search engines can better understand the info on your website to serve rich results. Schema markups are used to indicate:
Breadcrumb is a text path displayed near the top of the page and helps visitors to understand where they are on the website. Breadcrumbs also appear in search results in some cases, increases crawlability, and provides better navigation for users.
Using lists and bullet points:
It’s good to use ordered or unordered lists where it makes sense.
While having some outbound links helps you to build trust and show expertise around a topic, don’t overdo it. Only link out when it makes sense to do so.
Outbound links may not be the first thing to look at for most SEOs, but there are some reasons to pay them some attention:
Avoid creating citeceptions: make sure that you cite the original source, not another cite.
Keywords in a URL help users and search engines better understand your page content.
Plus, when keywords are used wisely they can be helpful for improving user-friendliness by keeping URLs short and relevant.
Contact pages’ purpose isn’t to rank well in search engine results, but they can establish trustworthiness and inform visitors about who’s behind the website.
So make sure to include your contact info such as phone, address and links to your social profiles because they add trustworthiness to your website.
To make your SEO more effective and to improve user experiences, avoid broken links.
If you add a link but it becomes nonfunctional over time or if the website has been changed so that its URL is different from what was added, update those URLs with live ones or remove them completely
The robots.txt file enables site owners to dictate what pages and directories crawlers can access on the website. This way, you can control the information that is indexed by search engines such as Google or Bing when they crawl your website allowing only specific user agents (bots) into certain files and restricting others from crawling content at all.
Google recommends to have an XML sitemap but there are some points to make sure made right.
Your social profiles, tweets, and Facebook posts won’t affect your search engine rankings. However, you can still benefit from being on various platforms because it brings traffic to the website for more exposure; additionally they build trust among users.
Keep your URLs as readable as possible. That means you need short and meaningful URLs.
A good example: /keeping-urls-short
Adding visual content to your content marketing efforts helps keep visitors on the page longer, which is why it can also help improve SEO. This all comes down to two things: ranking and improved performance through better SEO metrics like average session time and bounce rate.
Consider adding at least several visual content, such as images or videos to your articles whenever you can.
Optimizing your website to ensure that it looks great on any device, regardless of screen size is mobile optimization.
Mobile optimization is having good user experience whether you’re viewing it from a desktop or laptop computer, tablet , smartphone etc., when in all scenarios; people will be able to access and view the content without facing difficulties due to small sized screens
To make a website more engaging and user-friendly, we must follow the best practices of web architecture. Good structure makes it easier for users to find what they’re looking for on your site while also making sure that search engine crawlers can index all pages accurately by using clear navigational links.
The ideal webpage is structured in such a way that both humans and machines are able to easily navigate through its content; however, there’s always room for improvement when creating an effective online presence since not everyone will be searching via traditional means like desktop or laptop computers!
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.
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.
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:
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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Some of the SEO ranking factors may be more important to you than others, and knowing your business goals is the best way to determine what those factors should be for your website. They all contribute in some form or another towards helping improve a site’s SEO profile, so it is important to address as many of them as possible.
One way to use this list is by creating an SEO checklist. This will help you track the items that have been addressed on your website and those that still need attention. You can also use it as a worksheet to help guide your content creation process and ensure that the factors are addressed in every piece of content you create.