The 8 Most Important SEO Ranking Factors
Seeing as Google uses over two hundred ranking factors to determine how well your content performs, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the monumental task of SEO.
Thankfully, the vast majority of these ranking factors have very little weight in SEO and are simply used as tie-breakers between similar sites. In fact, there’s only eight major signals you need to be concerned with when optimising your search engine strategy.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
For some time now, backlinks have been the most important ranking factor for websites and pages. Even though Google is planning to move away from backlinks in the future, they still act as a digital seal of approval for your content.
If you’re new to the world of backlinks or simply want to increase your share, a good strategy is borrowing ideas from your search competitors. Popular tools such as SEO SpyGlass will analyse your competitors’ backlinks, find gaps in your profile and identify outreach targets.
- Semantic saturation
In the old days of SEO, it was a case of stuffing as many relevant keywords into your content as possible. Although semantic saturation adopts a similar approach, you should aim to write natural-sounding copy in an informative style.
Once again, it helps to look at your competitors to find out which keywords to use, where to put them and how many of them are needed. Don’t forget to do the same with things like images and videos.
- HTML tags
HTML tags are extremely important as they tell Google which bits of your copy to pay attention to. For example, title and meta description tags are what users will see in search results, while heading tags split your copy into sections for easier comprehension.
Choose to overlook or ignore HTML tags and there is every chance that hundreds of pages on your website won’t be properly optimised for search.
- Core Web Vitals
This is one of Google’s newest ranking factors. Despite the fact Core Web Vitals haven’t properly come into effect yet, they could significantly impact how webmasters tackle SEO. That’s because they measure the first impression the user gets when visiting a page, especially how fast it loads, how soon it becomes interactive, and how stable the layout is.
In anticipation of the rollout of Core Web Vitals, Google has published recommendations on what tools you should use when measuring metrics, as well as a set of optimisation guidelines.
- User behavior
It’s unclear whether Google actually uses behavioural metrics to rank pages, which has split the SEO community about whether to focus on it or not. But it makes sense to bear user behaviour in mind regardless, as improving these metrics will directly correlate with more engaging content.
The metrics in question include click-through-rate (CTR), bounce rate, session depth and session duration. High-quality copy with plenty of visuals and internal links should keep users on your site, send them down your sales funnel and increase the chance of conversions.
- Structured data
Structured data can do wonders for your SEO. After all, it has the potential to create links between entities, pin your location and enhance search snippets with rich elements.
The only problem with using structured data to tag authors, ratings, product features, locations etc. is that it requires quite a technical mindset. Your best bet is to use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, which will enable you to choose a type of markup and submit a link to the page you want to enhance.
- Google My Business listing
When it comes to local SEO, your Google My Business listing should reign supreme. Along with helping you claim your business as an entity, it can also act as a launchpad for greater brand awareness, stronger customer relationships and better search performance.
First of all, visit Google My Business and either create or claim your profile. After verifying your ownership, go to the Google My Business dashboard and enhance your listing as much as possible – adding a description, business hours and photos at the very least.
- Mobile optimisation
From September 2020, Google announced that all websites without exception will be judged on their mobile version, not the desktop version. If your website is to stand any chance ranking favourably in search results, you must ensure mobile users are provided with a good experience.
Google’s mobile-friendly test makes it easy to see how your website stacks up. If all is well, you will be given the green light. If not, Google will offer up some suggestions on what to improve.