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 11 SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Ranking Factors for 2023
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 factors in 2022 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 queries. 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. 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 optimize 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 them know where they 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’. In fact, as per statistics, 82% of consumers leave websites that are not secure. Thus you can conclude that enabling SSL security is an SEO ranking necessity in 2022.
SSL certificate or “Secure Sockets Layer” is basically used to encrypt links between a user’s browser and the webserver. It offers protection from hackers, and also makes sure that information passing between the browser and a web server remains secure and private. Not getting a website secure can make it vulnerable to security breaches that spoil a website’s reputation and hurt its SEO rankings. There are plenty of WordPress plugins that can be installed for security. Security plugins can protect a website from malware and brute force attacks.
3. 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 devices.
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
- Make sure no important content is hidden with ads
With mobile-first indexing, Google now gives priority to mobile-optimized sites over sites traditionally designed for desktops. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it will struggle to rank.
To get your website to rank better, you may want to invest in creating an AMP version of your website. APM is basically accelerated mobile pages. The plus side of APM pages is that they load almost instantaneously. It is also rumored that Google ranks websites with AMP better than websites that don’t have separate AMP versions. Regardless of whether you consider creating an AMP version of your site, you need to optimize it for mobile users.
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 them 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.
The 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 the 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. Site Age, Domain Authority, and Domain Rating
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. Domain names also matter a lot. Domains with exact-match keywords offering high-quality and relevant content can rank high according to MOZ. Though sites targeting an exact keyword in their domain name but offering thin content have been found to be penalized by Google.
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 keep in mind that like any good thing, building your authority takes time, effort, and patience. When we talk about search ranking factors, website authority matters significantly. If you can produce great content, earn relevant inbound links, and gain sizable social shares, your site is bound to get ranked high on search engines.
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. When we talk about links, there are 3 different types of linking out there
- Outbound linking
- Inbound linking
Let’s explore each of them to see what they are:
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.
In addition to internal links, 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. You’ll need to show Google that you’re creating quality content for your visitors. To build trustworthiness, you’ll need to link out to authoritative websites in your niche. This will ensure that you’re providing your visitors with the most value.
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 help you to rank higher in Google SERPs as it is one of the most important SEO ranking factors.
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 which we talked about earlier, there are other On-Page factors that you need to consider to 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 keyword phrases into your headers as this plays a strong role in informing Google about the topic you are writing or creating content for.
Next, you need to consider what will show up on the Google search results. Yes, your ‘Title’ can 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 appear and perform well in the SERPs. You should also consider implementing a proper schema markup that 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.
Another crucial aspect of technical SEO is to set the directive of your site’s robots.txt file. Although quite simple to set up, robots.txt can greatly affect how search engines crawl your website. It basically gives search engines instructions on how they should be crawling your website. Robots.txt is supported by all major search engines, including Google. While we talked about technical SEO and on-page optimization, we can’t ignore the XML sitemap. Sitemap helps search engines understand your site structure. It makes it easy for Google to find your pages. It signals Google about all the pages on your website that need to be crawled.
9. Social Signals
Social media marketing can do wonders for eCommerce. Social signals fall into the “inbound linking” category which we discussed earlier. Since social media plays an even bigger role in people’s lives in 2022, 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 that 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 whose 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
11. Website topical authority
Another major Google search ranking factor is website topical authority. A topical authority is basically your grip, your knowledge about a certain niche. Working on topical authority can help you rank on a vast variety of keywords and generate large volumes of really high-quality content around any specific topic. When you’ll have more pages capturing more keywords, and generating more links, your rankings will improve.
Here’s why you should care about topical relevance:
- When other websites want to reference a topic that you’re an expert in, they’ll link back to your website since you’ve covered so many topics in your niche.
- When users search for questions in your niche, they won’t leave your website since you’ve covered a variety of topics, answering all possible search queries.
- When Google looking for an answer to a certain question, it’ll find you as the best source.
- When Google wants to find out if you have more information to satisfy other related user intents, it’ll again determine you as the best source.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many factors are in SEO?
There are over 200 Google ranking factors that Google uses in its algorithm. Some of the factors that you should pay attention to in 2022 are:
- Domain Factors
- Brand Signals
- Backlink Factors
- User Interaction
- Special Google Algorithm Rules
- On-Site Webspam Factors
- Off-Site Webspam Factors
- Page-Level Factors
- Site-Level Factors
What is the most important factor in SEO?
One of the top SEO ranking factors is creating a website that is secure and easily accessible. This involves incorporating sitemaps and robots.txt to help Google understand your website structure and how it should crawl it. This ranking factor also takes into consideration if your website is secure. Enabling SSL on your website will not only encrypt your website traffic but will also vastly reduce your site’s bounce rates.
Is AMP a ranking factor?
AMP itself is not a ranking factor. However, speed is. When a user clicks on an AMP page, Google retrieves that page from Google’s AMP Cache, which makes AMP pages load instantly.
Are Backlinks a ranking factor?
Yes, backlinks are a ranking factor. Off-page ranking factors are measured by Google other than from your own website, and primarily involve backlinks. Backlink ranking factor also involves On-page ranking factors where Google assesses your keywords and the quality of information on your pages.
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 dominating to page one in the SERPs.
Related: Google Shopping Best Practices.