It seems like every year, Google rolls out some new SEO ranking factors rules that make the industry dance a bit. Some people get a bit annoyed, but if you know how to dance within Google’s rules then it just becomes great fun to dominate on SERPs.
For those who need a reminder on how to dance with Google, here are the best SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking factors so that you can move your way to the top of page one in the SERPs.
List of top 10 SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Ranking Factors for 2021
1. Create and Post High-Quality Content
The age-old saying, “Content is King,” means more than it ever has.
The web is full of highly competitive pages but the content that is truly optimized for certain keywords and topics will truly take the ranking cake and it is one of the most important SEO ranking factor in 2021 for creating quality content with satisfying the user intent.
At the end of the day, Google is trying to serve its searcher a page with the most relevant content, that contains valuable information that answers user query. Web pages that have this type of high-quality content will successfully minimize bounce rate and increase time on a page which will increase domain authority (more on this later).
But many still wonder how to create highly relevant content?
The answer is simply by paying more attention to what your audience or community is searching for and talking about. This can come from keyword research and even looking within community forums like Reddit or Quora.
By understanding your audience’s search intent and creating content around topics for topic clusters informed by your keyword research, you’re doing more than half of the competition out there.
2. Your Site Must be Mobile Friendly
Google announced last year that it will be “mobile-first indexing” which means its crawler will place a priority on crawling your mobile site first as opposed to your desktop version. This isn’t a big surprise since many of us simply perform searches or ask questions on our mobile device.
What this means to businesses and brands is that their site must have a couple of mandatory things such as:
- A mobile-responsive site capable of resizing to all device dimensions
- Clear and readable fonts, especially on smaller devices
- Easy to navigate design with clear menu options
3. Create a Secure and Accessible Website
A big part of the SEO game is to create a website that allows the Google crawler to navigate easily. To accomplish this, we can first start with the URL and optimizing certain parts of the site for Google’s bots.
Adding a robots.txt file, otherwise known as a Robots Exclusion Protocol, will give instructions to the Google bots and let it know where it can find certain site information.
One thing that will help web bots is including a sitemap that lists all the pages on your website. To generate a sitemap, you can use the plugin Yoast SEO or an online sitemap generator.
Another thing to note is that about half of the internet is using Google’s browser, Chrome. And you may have noticed that the Chrome browser makes it apparent that a particular website is either ‘secure’ or ‘unsecured’. Although any website can rank regardless of its security status, you can bet that the bounce rate is affected when a user sees in ‘unsecured’. Thus you can conclude that enabling SSL security is a SEO ranking necessity in 2021.
4. Always Improve User Experience
Most SEO’s are aware that Google uses artificial intelligence called Rankbrain to rank web pages. To do this, Rankbrain looks for specific user experience signals and then runs it through an algorithm to judge positions on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Some of these SEO ranking signals include click-through rate, time on page, bounce rate and many more.
Click-through rate is based on the percentage of users who click on your page after a search is performed.
Time on page is exactly how it sounds. Also referred to dwell time, the longer a user spends reading and browsing your website, the better. This informs Google that the user is consuming relevant information and finds your website valuable.
Conversely, if the content isn’t relevant or the user experience is poor, then you can expect the user to jump back to the search results. This contributes to a website’s bounce rate due to a user “bouncing away” from your site. You can also explore eCommerce SEO checklist to dominate on SERPs.
5. Optimize Your Pages Speed
Another big google SEO ranking factor that contributes to user experience but gets its own bullet point is page speed.
For years, SEO’s have commented that page speed easily helps rankings. With Google’s move into “mobile-first indexing,” it officially has placed ‘page speed’ as a ranking factor.
It seems pretty obvious, but the slower your website’s pages load, the more visitors you lose out on. The more visitors you miss, the more your revenue potential is impacted.
There are several free tools, including Google’s PageSpeed Insights where you can check how well your website performs.
6. Domain Authority
The longer you’ve been playing this game of Google SEO ranking factor, the better off your domain worth and credibility. And yes, that means that the age of your domain matters as it correlates with ‘domain authority.’
Research has shown that domains that have been indexed for at least 3 years rank a little bit better than a newer domain of equal content.
When you keep building on great content, have a great user experience and bring on off-page SEO signal (points 7 and 9 below) then you’re on your way to increasing your domain authority.
Just realize, like any good thing, building your authority takes time, effort and patience.
7. Relevant and Authoritative Links
Whoever said linking is dead, just doesn’t know much about the evolution of off-page and on-page SEO.
The web is built on links, and that’s how Google crawls the internet. So you must be aware of the different types of linking out there; interlinking, out-bound linking and inbound linking. Even this strategy works to improve the rankings in SaaS SEO as well in 2021.
Interlinking is when you link relevant pages from your own site, within your own content. This helps Google identify that the content you produce is within a similar topic thus reinforcing the niche you want to be known for. You can think of it as creating your own “web” surrounded by a particular topic within a large niche.
At the same time, Google also loves it when websites link out to the greater internet. The best way to go about this is by linking to other authority sites like Wikipedia.
Lastly, inbound links or backlinks give loads of link authority back to you. Let’s say a website with loads of domain authority links to a post of yours within the same topic. That sort of link juice will give your site a domain authority boost and helps you to rank higher in google SERPs as it is one of the most important SEO ranking factor in 2021.
Keep in mind that you should be wary of who backlinks to you. Getting inbound links from low-quality pages could actually hurt your domain authority.
8. Technical SEO aka On-Page Optimization
Aside from interlinking addressed above, there are other factors that you can do On-Page that will help you rank on google.
This includes paying attention to what you place in your title, headers, and descriptions.
Having a proper header hierarchy will help reinforce the content you post. An extra tip is to add in keyword phrases into your headers as this plays a strong role in informing Google about the topic your writing or creating content for.
Next is what will show up on the google search results. Yes, your ‘Title’ may be different on the results page compared to what’s on your actual website. By using the SEO Yoast plugin, you’ll be able to figure out a proper title and meta description that will show up and perform well in the SERPs.
Lastly, the use of a proper schema markup will further help Google understand the content you’re producing and information on who you are. This information can show up in rich card snippets that Google will pull automatically.
9. Social Signals
This can fall into “inbound linking” above, but as social media plays an even bigger role in people's lives in 2021, so you can understand why it deserves its own section.
Although Google has made it aware that social shares aren’t a direct ranking factor, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to it. Some of the highest-ranking pages did not get to where they are on the SERPs without a bit of a social push.
If your content is highly relevant and valuable, then naturally your page will get shared. And it might even get relinked from an authoritative domain who didn’t know about your site if it weren’t for a Facebook share or a re-tweet.
By putting your content out there, you never know where it might be taken and who’s eyes might land on it.
10. Google My Business
Lastly, if you are a real business then it is for your benefit to let Google know! Especially for those businesses that operate locally, this is huge for your local SEO.
What information you need to plug in are things like:
- Name, address, phone number
- Adding this information on Google My Business and other platforms
- Receiving reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare
And there you have it. If you apply these SEO tips to your content marketing strategy, you can definitely tilt the scales in your favor.
I hope you find yourself dominate to page one in the SERPs. Good luck!
Related: Google Shopping Best Practices.