Ranking Factor: What It Means to SEO & How to Rank Better




Updated 2/3/2024

Learn about SEO ranking factors as we know them. These include content quality, page speed, UX metrics, and others. Understand the essentials.

ranking factor cover - checklist and plants

Ranking factors help search engines decide how to prioritize each web page’s relevance and value, and they ensure that the most relevant and high-quality pages appear at the top of the search results. This guide covers what you need to know.

What is a Ranking Factor?

A ranking factor is a variable that search engines (often concerning Google) use to determine the relevance and importance of web pages in their search results.

These factors are algorithms or criteria that analyze a website’s content, structure, and quality to determine its ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Importance of Ranking Factors

The importance of ranking factors is evident when you consider the vast amount of information available on the internet. Without ranking factors, sorting through all the available information and finding the most relevant content would be nearly impossible. Ranking factors ensure that the most useful and valuable information is presented to users, making search engines a vital resource for people looking for information online.

Key Google Ranking Factors

While the myth is that Google uses over 200 factors in their ranking algorithm, here are the most critical ones, in broader categories.

1. Content Quality

High-quality, relevant, and informative content that matches the searcher’s intent will produce better engagement and results. Google evaluates content quality based on originality, relevancy, readability, and keyword use.

2. Mobile-Friendliness

With the rise of mobile usage, Google places a significant emphasis on mobile optimization. Mobile-friendly websites tend to rank higher in search results, especially on mobile devices. Google has many ways of determining this, such as layout analysis, speed reporting, etc.

Backlinks, or inbound links from other websites, are seen as votes of confidence by Google. Websites with a larger number of high-quality backlinks often rank higher. However, the relevance and quality of the linking sites also matter.

4. Page Speed

How quickly your webpage loads is a crucial ranking factor. Both Google and users favor websites that load quickly. Slower loading pages may rank lower and lead to higher bounce rates.

5. HTTPS (Secure Sites)

Google prefers websites that provide a secure browsing experience. Websites that use HTTPS encryption are generally considered more trustworthy and rank higher than non-HTTPS websites.

6. User Experience

Google’s Core Web Vitals initiative emphasizes page experience metrics, including loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability of pages. These factors aim to measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page.

How to Optimize for Ranking Factors

Now that we understand the basics, let’s go into how you can utilize that knowledge to optimize your site.

1. Create High-Quality Content

Regularly publish original, informative, and engaging content that matches your users’ intent. Make sure to perform keyword research and include relevant keywords in your content.

2. Improve Mobile-Friendliness

Ensure your website is responsive, meaning it adjusts to fit any screen size. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check if your site is mobile-friendly.

3. Enhance Pace Speed

Optimize your website for faster loading times. This can involve compressing images, minifying CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files, and leveraging browser caching. Google’s PageSpeed Insights can provide specific recommendations for your site.

4. Secure Your Website

If you haven’t already, migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS. This involves purchasing and installing an SSL certificate. That process will vary depending on your web host and many other factors. See GoDaddy’s SSL guide for their instructions.

5. Enhance User Experience

Optimize for Core Web Vitals and ensure your website is easy to navigate, has a clean design, and offers a satisfying user experience.

Bottom Line

By understanding and optimizing for these ranking factors, you’ll improve your website’s visibility, increase its chances of reaching the top spots in SERPs, and offer a more satisfying user experience. SEO is a long-term game, so be patient, persistent, and consistent. ?


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