It's a lot like a blockbox how search engines like Google and Bing rank websites. The number of ranking factors or what bearing each of them has remains largely unknown.
A few ranking factors, however, are "officially" acknowledged by search engines. SEO suite providers also analyze their databases to identify the ones that seem to influence ranking.
If you only optimize your website for these top SEO ranking factors, you should see an increase in your search engine rankings and better search visibility. So let's see what these most powerful search engine ranking factors are and how you can make your site more search engine friendly by optimizing for them.
Search engines ultimately want to offer users the content they seek, so quality content is the single most critical ranking factor. So when you add a page to your website or a blog post, make sure that it sufficiently answers the search queries it targets.
"So, for example, if you describe your page as a recipe, provide a complete recipe that is easy to follow, rather than just a set of ingredients or a basic description of the dish." — Google
That's pretty much what quality content is to search engines — answering the search query and doing so well.
While having a blog is great, even a 10-page website can help you rank at the top (and maintain your search engine rankings) as long as your copy is thorough and helps users with their needs.
In addition to creating copy and content that matches users' search intent, make sure that it's:
Also, remember that keywords are the "essentials" of optimized copy and content.
Keyword saturation is another high-impact ranking factor. To rank for a certain keyword or keyphrase, your webpage or post needs to have it in a few places within the page and post body. More or less, this is on-page SEO! Google itself recommends using your target keywords in the:
Images, too, should use your keywords in alt text fields if they're relevant.
If you don't place your target keywords in the right places, your content won't rank. But be wary of keyword stuffing.
In addition to the use of your primary keywords, use a bunch of secondary and tertiary keywords too. These axillary keywords help you boost your search ranking potential for your target primary keyword(s). Similarly, use lots of synonyms and variations of your keywords to ensure that on a contextual level, your content (becomes and) appears relevant for your target terms. When you write good, well-researched content, these terms naturally occur in your content/copy in good frequency.
In general, if a page or post ranking in the top 10 ranks uses a certain word length for a certain keyword/keyphrase, you, too, need to produce a comparable piece.
Site architecture is believed to be one of the many search engine factors that influence ranking. It helps both search engines and users quickly understand how the information is structured on your website and navigate it easily. It also offers context into how the different pieces of information (pages, posts, and other files) are related.
So plan your site architecture well and design a navigation menu that logically links to all the pages and sub-pages of your website.
Speed is one of the key search engine ranking factors as users love blazing-fast websites.
So, first, test your website using a site speed tool and see how many seconds your website takes to load on both desktops and mobiles. If the results look bad and your website feels slow, speed it up. Here are a few things you can try:
Talk to your web design agency on how they can deliver a website's that on-brand and also fast.
Mobile friendliness is one of the topmost search engine ranking factors that influences your mobile search rankings.
"We're boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results," noted Google in its mobile-friendly algorithm release update. "Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling."
Use these two methods to test your website for mobile friendliness:
First, run your website through a tool like Google's Mobile-Friendly test and see if your website is mobile-friendly to the search engines.
Next, try to complete a set of things that you expect your website users to do. If you're a local service provider, for instance, try booking your service only via your mobile. This is the real mobile-friendly test, if you ask us!
If your mobile website experience feels slow or non-intuitive, consider a redesign.
Search engines want to send users to safe websites, and that's why site security is a factor when ranking websites.
Users too care about having safe and secure website experiences; after all, they have to enter their credit card and personal information when buying from you or requesting a service.
So make sure that your website uses the secure "HTTPs" version and not plain HTTP. Many websites go beyond using just the HTTPs measure and list several ways they bolster their website's security with trust signs and seals. You, too, could do that to inspire confidence in your customers so they can make a purchase.
Backlinks are another one of the known search ranking factors. In fact, they're the most important off-page SEO factor that search engines consider when ranking you for a particular keyword.
So, for example, if you run a local corporate catering service and have a hundred backlinks to your website from a bunch of high-quality websites for relevant terms, search engines will more likely show you for your target keywords over your competitors that have no or fewer or low-quality backlinks.
Search engines see backlinks as "votes" and the best backlinks are generated organically. These could be honest third-party reviews, mentions on popular websites, or backlinks from customer testimonials, among others.
But like most businesses, even you'd need to try and build quality backlinks. Here's a guide on the same.
Post-click behavior also appears to contribute to your search engine ranking potential. If new users repeatedly land on your website and bounce back within a second, search engines might tend to think that your website isn't relevant for the searched term.
If you look at your website's analytics data, your users' post-click behavior will become clear. If you find that searchers land on your landing page for a relevant keyphrase but bounce back quickly, you need to investigate. Free tools like Hotjar can also give you meaningful insights into how your users engage with your website and discover things (like a bad navigation menu, broken links, thin content, etc.) that make them abandon it.
Users can also leave your website within seconds of landing on it if they don't like how your website feels.
If you're a local service provider, this is one of your single most important search ranking factors.
"To improve your business’s local ranking, use Google My Business to claim and update your business information." — Google
So set up a complete profile on Google My Business, and verify it! Also, make sure that your contact information and address are correct.
Google My Business also lets you post updates about your business, offers, and other news. Make use of that.
Also, follow Google's best tips for optimizing your Google My Business listing for better results:
Finally, keep asking your happiest customers to leave you ratings and reviews on your Google My Business listing. And don't worry even if you get negative and moderate reviews publicly, as these make your business come across as more genuine; no business has ever only received 5-star reviews!
Google's Page Experience update — which is currently being rolled out — uses a mix of core web vitals for ranking websites along with a few existing factors like mobile friendliness and safe website experiences.
Here are Google's page experience signals:
Core Web Vitals are performance metrics that aim to deliver good page experiences. The LCP metric, for instance, is about how fast your page's key element (text or image) shows up.
Your website design and development play a significant role in getting these right. So talk to your design/development agency about this. You can check how you're doing currently on these using Google's PageSpeed Insights tool. Below you can see this website's score:
If you review these top search engine ranking factors, you'll realize that half of them (mobile friendliness, site architecture, user experience, speed, and security) tie directly to your website.
So start there.
Get a good website.
A good website simply means you've all the SEO fundamentals right. You can build upon that with ongoing SEO activities like posting fresh content consistently, running link-building campaigns, and making user experience enhancements.
At 2Point, we keep all these factors in mind when planning, designing, and building websites for our clients. As a result, our clients get a head start when it comes to SEO. Let's discuss how we can help you improve your search rankings for these essential ranking factors. Get in touch.