Ever wondered what it takes to rank your website on Google? Well, so do we! In Google SEO Mastermind, our brightest SEOs spend most of their time trying to unravel and backwards-engineer Google’s ranking signals!
Because there is no handbook or guide to what really goes into the algorithm from a mathematical standpoint, it’s all best guess’s and testing!
Below, we have checked in with over 112,000 search engine optimizers from one of the worlds largest SEO group on Facebook and asked them to rank those signals from highest to least important! While it’s important to note that Google’s algorithms are always changing and this poll is a reflection of what SEOs see today, by next year it could be completely different!
With that said, let’s dive into what our field experts noted, from highest priority, to least:
Content Quality: Google evaluates the quality and relevance of the content on a webpage to determine how useful it is to users.
User Experience: Google looks at factors such as how fast a webpage loads, its layout and design, and how easy it is to use to determine how good the user experience is.
Backlinks: Google looks at the number and quality of backlinks pointing to a webpage to determine its authority and relevance.
Mobile-Friendliness: Google gives a ranking boost to websites that are optimized for mobile devices.
Page Speed: Google favors websites that load quickly and may give a ranking boost to faster-loading pages.
Headings: Google may use headings, such as H1 and H2 tags, to understand the structure and hierarchy of the content on a webpage.
Title Tags: The title tag of a webpage tells search engines what the page is about, and Google uses this information as a ranking factor.
Internal Linking: Google looks at the internal linking structure of a website to understand the relationship between different pages and to determine the importance of individual pages.
Relevance: Google looks at how relevant a webpage is to the search query to determine its ranking.
Image Alt Tags: The alt text of an image tells search engines what the image is about, and Google may use this information as a ranking factor.
Freshness: Google gives a ranking boost to fresh and recently updated content.
External Linking: Google may use the number and quality of external links pointing to a webpage as a ranking factor.
Security: Google gives a ranking boost to websites that are secured with HTTPS.
Social Signals: Google may consider social signals, such as the number of shares and likes a webpage receives, as a ranking factor.
Structured Data: Google may use structured data, such as schema markup, to understand the content of a webpage and give it a ranking boost.
Meta Descriptions: The meta description of a webpage appears in the search results and provides a brief summary of the content. Google may use the meta description as a ranking factor.
Domain Age: Google may give a slight ranking boost to older, well-established websites.
Page URLs or Permalinks: Google may use the structure and content of a URL as a ranking factor.
Personalized Search History: Google may personalize search results based on the user’s search history, location, and other factors.
User-Generated Content: Google may use user-generated content, such as comments and reviews, as a ranking factor.
Site Architecture: Google looks at the overall organization and structure of a website, including the hierarchy of pages and the use of categories and tags, to understand the content and determine its relevance.
Internal Search: Google may use the results of internal searches on a website to understand the content and determine its relevance.
Relational Entities: Google may use synonyms and related entities in the content of a webpage to understand its meaning and determine its ranking.
Historical Metrics & Performancee: Google may use the past performance of a webpage as a ranking factor.
Domain History: Google may consider the history of a domain, including any past penalties or algorithm updates, as a ranking factor.
Page Depth: Google may use the depth of pages within a website, as well as the overall site hierarchy, as a ranking factor.
Keyword Density: Google looks at the keywords that appear in the content of a webpage to determine what that page is about.
Domain Authority: Google looks at the overall authority and trustworthiness of a domain as a ranking factor.
Locality: Google takes into account the location of the user and the location of the business when ranking local search results.
Usability: Google may use factors such as the usability of a website, including its layout, navigation, and ease of use, as a ranking factor.
User Engagement: Google may consider factors such as the amount of time users spend on a webpage and the number of pages they view as a sign of the quality and relevance of the content.
Multimedia Content: Google may use the presence and quality of multimedia content, such as videos and images, as a ranking factor.
Page Structure: Google may use the structure and organization of a webpage, including the use of subheadings and bullet points, as a ranking factor.
User Reviews: Positive user reviews and ratings may be a positive ranking factor.
Bounce Rate or Dwell Time: Google may use the bounce rate of a webpage, which is the percentage of users who leave the site after viewing only one page, as a ranking factor.
Click-Through Rate: Google may use the click-through rate of a webpage, which is the percentage of users who click on a search result and visit the site, as a ranking factor.
User Intent: Google tries to understand the intent behind a search query and will rank pages that it thinks will best fulfill that intent.
Author Reputation: Google may consider the reputation and authority of an author as a ranking factor.
Link Diversity: Google may use the diversity of links pointing to a webpage as a ranking factor.
The above information is currently based on 2,410 Votes from SEOs!
Tenured SEOs chimed in to dispute the common polling results
In a sidebar conversation between Google SEO Mastermind’s Mike Friedman and Schieler Mew, Mike noted that “Quality Content is more important for conversions, but doesn’t mean much for rankings”, to which Schieler implied that Google’s agenda for the past few years has been surrounding Quality Content pushes through all media channels, which has probably lead to the above poll results!
While quality content can keep a reader engaged and even help them convert an on-page action such as a call or purchase, it doesn’t always mean there is a correlation to ranking.
Who’s reading it? What did they gain from it? Was the content to short, to long? Did you have to read about someone’s grandmother and their life story before getting that favorite cookie recipe you love? Maybe you had to bounce from one website to another due to the satisfaction rate of what information you were digesting being relatively low!
All in all, there’s something to be said here and long-standing SEOs are always saying it: content is important, but to what degree and how can that truly be determined?
The verdict about SEO signals
The short answer is that no one really knows, and it depends! What Google uses to determine rank for one website in one niche is most certainly different for another website in another niche!
We can confirm this because SEOs who are niched down preform the same SEO tasks, services and processes on the same types of websites day in and day out and end up with different results. Just because you ranked a company page 1, position 1 for plumbing in Chicago, doesn’t mean you can 100% duplicate the process in Miami for another plumber, and much less if they’re not a plumber at all!
As the above traverses into national and global search queries, identifying what works and what doesn’t becomes harder and harder and SEOs end up taking all of the above factors and more into consideration!
One things for certain though – he who knows best as an SEO, probably knows nothing at all, as “best” is always relative, and always depends!