In the dynamic realm of SEO, grasping the pivotal elements influencing your website’s ranking is essential. Major search engines, including Google and Bing, utilize intricate algorithms that take into account over 200 ranking factors. Keeping abreast of these factors can be challenging due to frequent algorithm updates, but fear not—we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of SEO ranking factors.
Now, let’s explore what truly matters for SEO in the current year. Concentrating on these essential factors empowers you to formulate a competitive and ethical SEO strategy, propelling your website to the forefront of search results.
For those eager to enhance website traffic, we recommend utilizing an SEO Checker. Enter your website’s URL, and receive a comprehensive SEO audit coupled with personalized recommendations to refine your SEO strategy and attract more visitors.
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It’s worth noting that most search engines don’t disclose the exact breakdown or weight of these factors to prevent manipulation by spammers. Our list encompasses confirmed ranking factors and some believed to influence search results based on studies.
Stay tuned for the latest insights into 200+ SEO Ranking Factors, a valuable resource to elevate your website’s visibility and traffic!
The 5 most important SEO factors that you can’t afford to ignore
Navigating through over 200+ ranking factors can be time-consuming. To optimize your website effectively, understanding the primary influencers on your search result rankings is crucial. Here are the five most critical SEO factors:
- Responsive Design: A responsive website design catering to various devices is paramount. Google prioritizes mobile-first indexing, and a non-mobile-friendly site can adversely impact rankings in terms of usability and accessibility. Evaluate your site’s mobile-friendliness using Google’s Mobile-Friendly tool.
- Page Speed: Speed is a major ranking factor, acknowledged by Google. It evaluates your site’s speed from both mobile and desktop perspectives. Slow-loading pages can lead to lower rankings. Assess your site’s speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and consider speed optimization services if necessary.
- Links: Backlinks from trusted and authoritative websites send positive signals to search engines, indicating valuable content and a great user experience. Internal links help search engine crawlers explore and understand your site. Building a strong link profile requires top-notch content and outreach efforts.
- On-Page Optimization: On-page SEO encompasses various ranking factors, including keyword usage, title tag optimization, content quality, and multimedia optimization. Incorporate keywords strategically, optimize title tags, and ensure multimedia elements are user-friendly. Neglecting any on-page optimization aspect can hinder your chances of securing top rankings.
- Accessibility: Search engines need to crawl and index your site for it to appear in search results. Maintaining an accessible website through a robots.txt file and sitemap is crucial. Ensure your site is user-friendly. To enhance accessibility, submit your site, pages, and sitemap to Google via Google Search Console.
In conclusion, mastering these SEO ranking factors is essential for achieving and maintaining high search engine rankings, significantly impacting your website’s visibility and success in search results.
Go beyond 200+ SEO Ranking Factors: Helpful resources for the SEO beginner
“Before diving into the ins and outs of what Google and other search engines look for in website rankings, it might be really helpful to explore some beginner-friendly resources on SEO. These articles and guides are fantastic for answering your initial questions and bringing you right up to speed with the latest tips and tricks in search engine optimization.”
- SEO: Complete Optimization Guide
- Google SEO: The Complete Google Optimization Guide
- The Definitive SEO Checklist
- Ongoing SEO Best Practices for Beginners and Pros
- How to Learn SEO for Free (At Home!)
- What Does SEO Stand For?
- How Does SEO Work?
- How to Know If Your SEO Is Working
- SEO Help for Beginners: How to Improve Your SEO Like a Pro
Once you review (or bookmark) these articles, keep reading to learn all about search ranking factors!
SEO Ranking Factors: Domain
The effectiveness of your website’s domain significantly contributes to its SEO ranking, with search engines like Google weighing several domain-related factors when users search for topics related to your site. Here’s an overview of key domain elements that impact your ranking:
- Domain Age:
- While the age of your domain is not a major determinant in Google search rankings, its impact is relatively modest. Whether your domain is six months or a year old, the distinction is not substantial.
- Domain Registration Length:
- Domains registered for more extended periods, beyond a year, often appear more credible due to their longer existence. However, opinions on the significance of this factor vary among experts, and it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your SEO strategy.
- Domain History:
- A domain with a history of registration gaps or involvement in spammy activities may encounter challenges in achieving high rankings. It is advisable to check a domain’s history on archive.org before acquisition to avoid potential issues.
- Domain Authority of Page Host:
- New pages on authoritative domains typically stand a better chance of ranking well compared to those on less-known domains. While not a direct ranking factor, domain authority serves as a reliable predictor of a domain’s ranking potential.
- Parked Domains:
- Google tends to rank poorly the parked domains that provide minimal value to users. Such domains, lacking meaningful content, are not favored in search results to ensure a positive user experience.
- Exact Match Domains (EMD):
- Quality websites with exact match domains (e.g., hotels.com) can positively influence rankings. However, Google penalizes low-quality or spammy EMDs, emphasizing the importance of delivering valuable content.
- Country-Specific TLD or Extensions:
- Using country code domain extensions (e.g., .tv, .cn, .de) can enhance your site’s visibility in specific countries or regions but may limit global ranking potential.
- Server Flagged as Spam:
- If your shared server hosts spammy sites, it can impact your website’s ranking. Google acknowledges shared hosting but may scrutinize your site if the server primarily hosts spam-related content.
- Domain Flagged as Spam:
- A spam-flagged domain significantly harms site performance. Even after attempted restoration, Google may view it with skepticism due to past spammy practices.
- Concise URLs:
- Simple and descriptive URLs, while a minor ranking factor, aid both Google and users in understanding your page’s content. Clear and concise URLs are considered a good SEO practice.
- URL String:
- Long and complex URLs can pose challenges for users and search engine crawlers. Shorter, easy-to-read URLs, ideally between 50 to 60 characters, generally perform better in search results.
- Public vs. Private WhoIs:
- Maintaining public WhoIs information can contribute to your site’s reputation. While not recently emphasized, having public WhoIs information is advisable for building user trust.
- Spammy WhoIs Owner:
- The owner’s history, especially if associated with spammy practices, can impact a site’s ranking. The reputation of the owner may influence the performance of websites under their ownership.
- Server Locations:
- The physical location of your servers can influence rankings, particularly in location-based queries. Google considers server location when delivering relevant results to users in specific countries.
These domain-related factors collectively shape the strength of your domain for SEO purposes. Understanding and addressing these elements can positively impact your website’s search engine rankings.
SEO Ranking Factors: Site
To maintain a robust presence in search engine rankings, it’s vital to ensure that your website operates seamlessly for both search engines and users. Several key factors play a role in influencing your site’s SEO ranking:
- SSL / HTTPS:
- Incorporating an SSL certificate and utilizing HTTPS in your URL communicates to users that your site is secure, fostering trust and recognition by Google.
- Site Architecture:
- A well-structured and clean website architecture facilitates easy crawling and indexing by Google, ultimately enhancing your site’s visibility.
- Site Usability:
- Websites with user-friendly interfaces tend to achieve higher rankings. A poor user experience leading to high bounce rates can negatively impact your site’s ranking.
- Site Reliability or Uptime:
- Frequent downtime or crashes can result in lower rankings. While short outages may not be penalized, extended unavailability can impact your site’s SEO performance.
- Site Reputation or Reviews:
- Positive reviews contribute to higher rankings, but negative reviews can also have visibility benefits due to Google’s efforts to address user feedback.
- Site Over-Optimization:
- Striking a balance in optimization efforts is crucial, as over-optimizing your site can lead to penalties.
- Frequency of Site Updates:
- Google favors websites that regularly provide fresh and unique content. However, simply publishing more content does not guarantee improved visibility.
- Duplicate Meta Descriptions:
- Having duplicate meta descriptions can hinder Google’s understanding of your content, potentially affecting your site’s ranking.
- Spammy Meta Descriptions:
- Google penalizes sites with spammy or misleading meta descriptions. Crafting original and enticing descriptions is essential to encourage user clicks.
- Mobile-Friendly or Responsive Design:
- Mobile-friendliness is a critical ranking factor, as sites not optimized for mobile devices may experience lower search rankings.
- Breadcrumb Navigation:
- Implementing breadcrumb navigation makes it easier for users and Google to navigate your site, aligning with Google’s guidelines for optimal results.
- HTML Sitemap:
- While not a direct ranking factor, an HTML sitemap aids Google in thorough site crawling, potentially improving overall visibility.
- Site-Wide Content Changes:
- Major site changes, such as redesigns, can signal freshness to Google, but they should be executed carefully to avoid negative impacts on rankings.
- “Contact Us” Pages:
- Including a “contact us” page with name, address, and phone number is crucial for local SEO, aligning with Google’s guidelines on providing contact information.
- Time on Site:
- Longer user engagement signals quality content and can positively impact your site’s rankings.
- Hacked Site:
- A hacked website can significantly harm visibility, and Google may deindex the site. Promptly addressing hacking issues using Google’s resources is essential.
Paying attention to these factors collectively contributes to your site’s SEO performance, enhancing both rankings and user experience.
SEO Ranking Factors: Page
In the quest to optimize your web pages for improved search engine rankings, every detail matters in shaping how Google interprets your content. Adhering to Google’s recommended guidelines is key to ensuring that their search bots can efficiently navigate your pages and comprehend their content.
- Microformat or Structured Data Support:
- Pages utilizing microformat or structured data may gain an advantage in rankings. While there’s no generic boost, structured data aids Google in better understanding your content, enhancing its relevance to users.
- Page Loading Speed:
- Faster-loading pages tend to rank higher in both mobile and desktop search results. Google deems page speed a critical ranking factor, significantly influencing the user experience.
- Page Speed in Chrome:
- Google considers the page speed in Chrome browsers, offering insights into the typical user experience on your site.
- Code and W3C Compliance:
- Efficient coding and adherence to W3C guidelines may not directly impact rankings but contribute to a well-structured website. Google penalizes poorly coded and excessively large pages.
- Doorway Pages:
- Creating doorway pages, which funnel users to the same destination, negatively affects Google rankings and is considered a detrimental factor.
- Page Proximity to Homepage:
- Internal linking is crucial for SEO, and a page’s proximity to your homepage can influence its ranking, especially in competitive search results.
- PageRank remains a fundamental part of Google’s ranking algorithm, reflecting a page’s authority.
- Page Age:
- Older evergreen content, when regularly updated, can rank well for relevant keywords, providing ongoing value to users.
- Page Categorization:
- Organizing pages into relevant categories sends positive signals to Google, potentially enhancing rankings.
- Page Sources:
- Citing quality references enhances trustworthiness, even though it’s not a direct ranking factor according to Google.
- Page Layout:
- A clean, engaging page layout without intrusive ads is crucial for rankings, aligning with Google’s emphasis on user-friendly designs.
- The impact of content tabs on rankings is debated. While Google claims to index content hidden in tabs, studies suggest varying results, particularly for mobile user experience.
- Page Quantity:
- Google doesn’t consider the number of pages as a direct ranking factor, but additional pages can target more keywords, showcasing your site’s depth and quality.
- Page Location in Sitemap:
- The location of a page in your sitemap indirectly helps Google find, crawl, and index your site faster.
- Rel=Canonical Tags:
- Canonical tags resolve duplicate content issues and influence other ranking factors, such as syndicated content.
- Popups and Distracting Ads:
- Using intrusive ads can lower rankings, as Google prioritizes a positive user experience.
- Ads “Above the Fold”:
- Google penalizes sites with excessive ads and thin content in the upper part of pages, emphasizing user experience.
- WordPress Tags:
- While Google can usually understand your post’s topic, using tags in WordPress can help establish relationships between multiple posts.
- Page Over-Optimization:
- Over-optimizing individual pages with irrelevant or excessive assets can lead to Google penalties.
- Bounce Rate:
- Although Google has downplayed bounce rate as a primary ranking factor, research suggests it can still influence rankings, reflecting user satisfaction.
- Google demotes pages with repeat DMCA complaints, underscoring the importance of respecting copyright laws.
- Direct Traffic:
- Sites with more direct traffic are viewed as high-quality by Google, especially if Chrome users visit them, making direct visits a significant ranking factor.
- Repeat Traffic:
- Returning users can boost rankings, and encouraging repeat visits through quality content and industry-relevant updates is essential.
Remember, these factors collectively shape your website’s SEO performance, necessitating consideration as part of a comprehensive SEO strategy.
SEO Ranking Factors: Multimedia
Multimedia Strategies for Audience Engagement:
- In the current online landscape, leveraging visual content such as images, videos, and audio is pivotal for capturing user attention. However, it’s crucial to recognize that search engine crawlers may not fully comprehend multimedia content independently. To optimize your website’s multimedia elements for SEO impact, providing comprehensive titles, tags, and descriptions for your audio, images, and video content is essential. This ensures that search engine crawlers can interpret and enhance the visibility of these elements, contributing positively to your website’s overall SEO.
Image Alt Text for Improved Image SEO:
- Images play a vital role in online content, and employing descriptive and informative alt text enhances how search engines, including Google, interpret visual content on your web pages. This practice increases the likelihood of your content appearing in featured snippets and securing top positions in Google Images search results.
Optimizing Images for Search-Friendly Content:
- For images to be search engine-friendly, meaningful alt text is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s equally crucial to provide relevant file names, titles, descriptions, and captions. This comprehensive approach facilitates Google’s crawlers in processing and categorizing your visual content, simultaneously improving accessibility for all users.
YouTube Optimization for Video SEO:
- In the realm of video content, YouTube stands out as a formidable SEO powerhouse. Videos hosted on YouTube often achieve prominent rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) compared to videos on alternative platforms. Integrating videos into your website? Opting for YouTube as your hosting platform is a strategic choice. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that your presence on YouTube significantly contributes to your overall SEO strategy, considering YouTube’s status as the world’s second-largest search engine.
By adhering to these guidelines, you can seamlessly align your multimedia content with SEO practices, ultimately elevating your online presence and effectively engaging your audience.
SEO Ranking Factors: Keywords
To enhance your website’s visibility on search engine results, it’s crucial to employ a strategic keyword usage approach. Keywords, the terms users enter into search engines like Google, play a pivotal role in information discovery. Here are key considerations for optimizing keywords without overdoing it:
- Keyword in Title Tag:
- Ensure your title tags contain relevant keywords, keeping them under 60 characters for optimal results. Titles exceeding 60 characters may face truncation by Google.
- Keyword at the Beginning of Title Tag:
- Place target keywords near the start of title tags for enhanced relevance. Maintain clarity and coherence, avoiding disruptions to overall readability.
- Keyword in URL:
- Incorporate keywords directly into URLs to convey relevance signals to Google. While a minor ranking factor, it’s a good practice.
- Keyword as the First Word in Domain Name:
- Starting a domain name with a keyword can be beneficial but is not a critical factor. Branded domain names can perform just as effectively.
- Keyword in Domain:
- Keywords in domain names indicate relevance but are not as influential as before. Balancing it with effective branding is essential.
- Keyword in Meta Description Tag:
- While not a direct ranking factor, optimizing meta descriptions with keywords signals relevance to both search engines and users.
- Keyword in H1 Tags:
- H1 tags, acting as secondary title tags, offer relevancy signals to Google and users. Using multiple H1 headings on a page is acceptable.
- Keyword in H2 and H3 Tags:
- Keywords in H2 and H3 tags signal relevance to Google, although less heavily weighted than H1 tags. Include core or related keywords strategically.
- Keyword Frequency and Density:
- Use keywords naturally and avoid stuffing. Maintain a balanced frequency to indicate relevance without compromising the user experience.
- Keyword Prominence:
- Place keywords in key locations like title tags, first paragraphs, and headings to enhance prominence and improve ranking for specific terms.
- Exact Keywords vs. Partial Keywords:
- Strategic use of exact match and partial variations can effectively reflect user intent and relevancy.
- LSI Keywords:
- Integrate latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords to provide context and help search engines understand nuanced topics.
- LSI Keywords in Title and Description Tags:
- Including LSI keywords in the title and meta description, tags can demonstrate content relevancy.
- Quantity of Other Ranked Keywords on Site:
- Pages ranking well for keywords signal content quality, supporting your site’s reputation for valuable content.
- Organic Keyword Click-Through Rate (CTR):
- While not officially confirmed, CTR is considered by many as a potential influence on rankings.
- Organic CTR for All Keywords on Site:
- A high organic CTR for all site keywords may contribute to the perception of your site as high-quality, though it’s not a confirmed ranking factor.
- Keyword in Subdomain:
- The subdomain name can impact rankings, but it’s typically not a primary concern for most webmasters in their SEO strategy.
Remember, maintaining a well-balanced and user-friendly approach to keyword optimization is essential for achieving improved search engine rankings.
SEO Ranking Factors: Anchor Text
Anchor Text Context is a mechanism by which Google seeks to comprehend the context of text within links. While the current activation status remains unconfirmed, it potentially offers crucial relevance signals to Google’s search engine.
Sentiment in Anchor Text has become discernible to Google, allowing it to gauge whether a link to your website is associated with positive or negative sentiment based on the surrounding text.
Utilizing Branded Anchor Text, incorporating your brand name in anchor text, serves as a robust signal to both users and Google. However, it’s imperative to exercise moderation in its usage. Some companies actively pursue online brand mentions and subsequently seek links related to these mentions.
Spammy Anchor Text practices, such as repetitive use of the same anchor text, suspicious links exactly matching keywords, or engagement in paid link schemes, may result in penalties from Google. This SEO ranking factor encompasses activities like text ads passing PageRank, low-quality links from bookmark or directory sites, and forum comments featuring optimized links. Adhering to best practices and steering clear of spammy tactics is crucial for maintaining a positive standing in search engine rankings.
SEO Ranking Factors: Outbound Links
Outbound Link Factors:
Link Quality: Enhance your page’s credibility by including links to reliable sources. However, avoid excessive linking to prevent spam suspicions.
Link Quantity: While outbound links can benefit your ranking, moderation is essential. Overloading with links to spammy sites can result in Google penalties, so prioritize a positive user experience.
Number of Outbound Links per Page: Maintain a reasonable number of external links on a page to avoid diluting the passed PageRank.
Outbound Link Context: Ensure relevance in your links to provide Google with insights into your page’s theme, as unrelated links can impact your ranking.
Use of NoFollow: Although not a direct ranking factor, judicious use of the nofollow tag is advisable to prevent potential penalties.
Inbound Link Factors:
Quantity of Linking Root Domains: Increase your site’s ranking by obtaining backlinks from various websites, as more quality backlinks enhance SEO.
Age of Linking Domain: Benefit from the influence of older domains, as links from them can positively impact your page’s ranking.
Authority of Linking Domain: Boost credibility with links from authoritative domains, carrying more weight in Google’s eyes.
Authority of Linking Page: The authority of the specific linking page can influence your ranking.
Sudden Influx of Links: Be cautious of sudden spikes in backlinks, as they may raise suspicions and lead to penalties.
Link Diversity: Strengthen your SEO with links from diverse sources across different industries.
Link Relevance: Links from domains in a related niche can improve your ranking compared to links from unrelated sites.
Link Anchor Text: While not as critical, user-friendly and informative anchor text still provides context.
Link Location: Prioritize links within the main content for higher value compared to sidebar or footer links.
Link Age: Leverage the impact of older links as trust signals to Google.
These factors play a pivotal role in SEO, establishing authority and credibility for your website while avoiding potential penalties from Google.
SEO Ranking Factors: User
As a website owner, you may have observed that certain SEO ranking factors are beyond your control. Search engines, such as Google, personalize results based on individual user preferences and browsing histories. Despite your efforts to enhance your website’s visibility in search results, its appearance can vary for different users.
Google places significant importance on timeliness in search results, especially for time-sensitive queries like news topics. The search engine may prioritize displaying the latest updates, including tweets, which can potentially push your website down the page. Staying current and relevant is crucial in such scenarios.
Diversity in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is another critical factor. Google aims to provide varied and high-quality results, limiting the dominance of a single domain in SERPs through updates. This promotes fairness and ensures a diverse range of results for a user query.
User data, particularly when signed into Google services, influences search rankings. Google collects browsing history and considers it in presenting personalized search results. If a user frequently visits a specific site, Google is more likely to boost that site’s rankings for the user’s searches.
Search history also plays a role in personalized results on SERPs. For instance, if a user searches for “televisions” and then “reviews,” Google may prioritize websites with content related to television reviews for that user.
Brand searches carry significant weight. When a user queries a specific brand, Google tends to display results related to that brand prominently. This prioritization contributes to establishing a brand’s authenticity and credibility.
Pogo-sticking, although not explicitly confirmed by Google as a ranking factor, is a concept in SEO. It involves users clicking on a search result and quickly returning to the SERPs. While Google claims not to heavily rely on signals like pogo-sticking, many SEO professionals consider it when optimizing websites for search engine rankings.
SEO Ranking Factors: Google Algorithm
In the realm of SEO, it’s crucial to acknowledge that Google can implement updates and algorithm changes at any time, including temporary adjustments that briefly impact search engine results pages (SERPs). Here are key features and factors within Google’s algorithm that influence a webpage’s ranking:
- Google Dance: Though not an official term, the “Google Dance” signifies sudden, short-lived fluctuations in SERP rankings. Suspected by SEO experts, it suggests Google shuffling ranking criteria to identify websites using black-hat strategies.
- Google Webmaster Tools Warning: Google notifies site owners about unnatural links, and rankings may drop until the issue is resolved.
- Google Sandbox: New websites receiving an unusually high number of links post-creation may be placed in a sandbox, limiting their visibility in SERPs to counter potential link schemes.
- Disavow Tool: Webmasters can use the Disavow Tool to counter negative SEO factors like unnatural links, providing a way to disavow paid links over low-quality ones.
- Transactional Searches: Google tailors SERPs based on user intent, especially for transactional queries, displaying relevant information like departure times for travel searches.
- Shopping Results: Google Shopping results may appear in organic SERPs for transactional queries, impacting website listings.
- Image Results: Image results for common queries can affect organic rankings, emphasizing the need to optimize images for search.
- Single-Site Results: Some queries may lead to SERPs featuring only one website, favoring a specific domain.
- Safe Search: Google filters adult or profane content when SafeSearch is enabled.
- Big Brand Preference: Well-known brands may receive preferential treatment in certain queries due to their established reputations.
- Brand Mentions in the News: Brand mentions with news results may get preferential treatment in SERPs.
- Brand + Keyword Search: A branded search, such as “Apple iPhone price,” can boost a website’s ranking if it pertains to the brand in question.
- Google News Box: News-related queries trigger the Google News Box, giving prominence to recent updates.
- Local Searches: Google My Business listings in a user’s area often appear above non-local competition, impacting SERP format.
- Country or Geo-Targeting: Google favors websites with IP addresses specific to the user’s country.
- Domain Diversity: Google’s algorithms limit the appearance of a domain in SERPs to promote relevancy.
- Easter Egg Results: Google’s occasional playful elements can temporarily change or revamp SERPs.
- Google Chrome Bookmarks: Frequently bookmarked pages by Chrome users may receive a ranking boost.
- Google Toolbar Data: Google collects data from its browser toolbars, although specifics remain unconfirmed.
- Human Editors: Google holds a patent for using human editors to manually edit search results, potentially influencing algorithm changes.
- Manual Penalties: Google issues manual penalties for SEO violations, underscoring the importance of white-hat practices.
- Reconsideration Requests: Submitting a reconsideration request allows Google to re-evaluate a site after addressing penalties.
These factors underscore the dynamic nature of SEO, emphasizing the need to stay informed and adapt strategies accordingly.
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