Ranking Factors SEO
Ranking Factors on Google: The Ultimate Factors You Must Never Ignore!
September 11, 2019
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Most website owners always wonder why their self-hosted WordPress blogs are not ranking. Well, what you must know today is that there are many ranking factors on Google.

Implementing one of them or just a few may cause your site not to rank well.

What’s the secret, then?

Implementing all of them (if possible) is the way to go.

So, what are the ranking factors on Google?

Ranking factors are elements that enable your site to appear in search results. That said, ranking factors on Google are domain, backlink, on-site, off-site, and Google algorithm factors. Nonetheless, the most important ranking factor on Google is content quality.

However, though we have mentioned these factors, it is necessary to note that several other factors may affect ranking.

Do we ignore them because of that reason? Definitely not.

So, let’s have a look at these ranking factors on Google.

What Are Ranking Factors?

Ranking factors are the things that you can do to improve your rankings. They’re not magic, but they will help you get better results than if you didn’t use them at all.

If you want to rank higher in search engines like Google and Bing, then ranking factors are what you need to know about.

The best way to learn how to rank high in Google or any other major search engine is by learning from those who have already done it before.

These factors include both technical aspects as well as non-technical ones.

But what exactly are ranking factors? Well, let me explain.

Google has been around since 1998, so there’s no doubt that its algorithm changes over time. However, one thing remains — people always try to find ways to game the system.

That means that even though Google may change something here and there, they still keep an eye out for new tricks being played.

So, while these tips might be old news now, they could very well become outdated soon enough.

So, when I talk about “ranking factors,” I mean anything that helps your content appear higher in Google. It doesn’t matter whether this factor relates to content marketing, social media, link building, or other aspects.

Everything we do affects our position amongst competitors, some more than others.

What Are the Ranking Factors of Google?

There are various ranking factors on Google, and we can categorize them into:

  • Domain ranking factors
  • Google algorithm ranking factors
  • On-page level ranking factors
  • Off-page level ranking factors

We will discuss each one in detail to know what to focus on when optimizing your website for search engines.

Domain Ranking Factors

When discussing the domain factors, there are quite a number of things that we will be looking at.

Let’s have a look at each of them;

Age Of Domain

When I first created my site, I was told it would take a while to rank because the site was new. Even so, I would want to clarify one thing; it is not really about age.

You see, if you do all that is necessary for a site to rank, how would age make it not to rank?

We all know too well that there is no way you’ll create a site today, then expect to see it rank after two or three days.

However, within a few months, if all is said and done, your site should start making its way up on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

What do I mean?

Though, to some extent, age matters, it does not hinder ranking if you do all that is necessary for it to appear on Google’s top pages.

Keyword In Your Subdomain

You may choose to have a keyword in your subdomain. For example, you may have https://freelancewrite.com

You will note that we do not have ‘www’ in this case, right? We have used ‘freelancewrite’ as our subdomain.

This, also, is one of the key ranking factors on Google, and you need to consider it if you are yet to create your site.

Length Of Domain

Did you know that we all hate memorizing things? In fact, people will only memorize their ID and VISA card digits or any other digits that are essential to them, but not stuff they can do without, right?

That is why; you should strive to have a short domain name to ensure that even people with a weak memory recall the site name with ease.

That means; it should not be too long. At least have a minimum of 6 characters and a maximum of 10. In addition, it would be good if you avoid using complex words that are too hard to recall.

This makes it easy for those who visit your site for the first time to recall the name of the site days after leaving it.

Keyword In Your Domain

Do you have a keyword in your domain? Well, that is one of the ranking factors on Google. Which keyword am I talking about?

The focus keyword you want your post to rank for. Let me give you an example. If you want to rank for writing services, it would be wise to have something like https://www.mary-peterwriter.com.

Alternatively, you can have https://www.freelancewrite.com. For the first one, I want to use both my name and career to rank.

The second one, which is actually the best, does not have my name, but it can help rank if the site focuses on freelance writing services.

As a matter of fact, ensure that you have the keyword at the start of the domain name. That matters a lot.

Domain History

If you opt not to buy a domain instead of creating one, be careful. The history of that site may be carried forward; thus affecting your site. This is what I am talking about.

If the site has ever been penalized and if there are cases of irregularities associated with that site, the chances are that you will have trouble with Google at some point.

That is why; it is not a good idea to buy a domain name that you know nothing about. You would instead try to create yours than buy one with issues.

TLD (Top Level Domain) Extension

If you want to rank for a particular country, it is good to consider adding an extension with your country code, such as Ke., Uk., and Ca.

Depending on the country you are based in. However, if you desire to rank globally, don’t add such an extension. Use extensions such as .com and Org.

That way, with the proper optimization, your site can rank worldwide.

Nonetheless, remember that Google favors a site with a domain name extension of a certain country. Also, sites with a local IP server have a better chance to rank.

I would, however, use .com rather than use a country code extension!

Google Algorithm Ranking Factors

When focusing on the ranking factors on Google, there are several algorithm rules that you need to familiarize yourself with.

However, you should also know that Google keeps changing, and there are several algorithm updates that occur now and then.

Now, I will mention a couple of the algorithms that you need to keep an eye on. Nonetheless, since it is not possible to mention all of them, I will try to focus on the major ones.

User Browsing History

Browsing history strictly depends on the quality of your content. See, this is all about browsing history. That is, how frequent are people visiting your site?

If readers can visit your site frequently, your site has a great chance of getting a SERP boost. This is particularly possible if you have a good keyword and excellent content.

Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)

How fresh is your content? This does not only focus on the content but also the product. If you keep on publishing fresh content, you are doing yourself a favor, and chances are that your site will rank fast.

Also, reviewing products that are new in the market causes your site to rank fast. It is, therefore, good to ensure that you are considering the QDF all the time.

DMCA Complaints

Did you know that a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) disclaimer is also one of the most crucial ranking factors on Google?

Well, if you did not know and if you do not have one, you better know that now and add one at the footer of your site.

That way, you will save your site from being downranked by Google, especially due to cases of content theft.

Rich Answer

How well does your content answer the searcher’s question? Google recently added this algorithm to help readers get the best answers to their questions.

If Google sees that your content answers the question better than other sites, your content will appear at the top of the page.

In addition, the link to that article will also be displayed so that the reader can click on it to get the information they were looking for.

Query Deserves Diversity (QDD)

Some terms have different meanings. That may end up confusing Google; thus, giving you the wrong results. To avoid that, Google gives you results on different topics relating to your search. So, which sites rank for this?

Needless to say, the best sites that match your search!

That is why; you need to organically optimize both the pages and content to rank even in such scenarios.

Trending Stories

At times, some stories or products trend on social media. If your site focuses on trending stories, the chances are that it will rank when somebody types the right keyword.

For example, if the trending story is on Techno and you have content that has that keyword, your content will rank.

Well, there are about 200 ranking factors on Google. However, as a beginner, it is impossible to consider all of them all at once! That is why; I have focused on the most crucial ones.

You need to be smart enough and ensure that you take each of them seriously through implementation.

On-Page Level Ranking Factors

On-page factors refer to how you optimize your page to have it rank on the Google search engine. It is crucial to know that it calls for dedication since there are many on-page ranking factors. Let’s have a look at several of them.

Content

The most crucial thing you need to work on is content. You see, Google wants to give searchers the most accurate results of what they are looking for, right?

If that be the case, your goal when considering on-page factors is the quality of your content.

That calls for hard work because you will have to do lots of research to get pure gold content. It doesn’t stop there. 

There are a few more ranking factors Google looks at when considering the quality of your content.

Let’s have each of them under our microscope.

Keyword

Before you start writing, do enough research to have a high competitive keyword. You see, you need to distribute your keyword professionally through the article.

Isn’t that so? How then would you start writing high-quality content without having a keyword, a competitive keyword?

First things first; do keyword research.

But be warned. Adding the keyword too many times in your content will have you on the wrong side of Google.

There is always too much of anything, and it causes negative impacts other than positive results. Just to mention, do not use more than 1% of the keyword in your content.

In simple language, if you have 1000 words, the highest you can go is repeating the keyword 8 to 10 times.

Anything beyond that is stuffing. I would even add it 3 or 4 times as long as I have related kws. Nevertheless, Google’s algorithm keeps changing. So, always keep an eye on them to be safe.

Just to add, it is always a better idea to use a long-tail keyword.

In addition to adding the keyword in your content, one of the most crucial ranking factors you need not forget is adding the keyword in your URL, anchor text, title tag, Meta description, and header tags.

More on that later.

Quality

Whether in writing or not, quality is always the foremost thing to consider before investing in anything. People pay for a product because of its high quality.

In the same way, people want to access your site and spend much time on it because of the quality of your content. That’s for sure.

So, how do you ensure that you have high-quality content while every other person is striving to have the same?

You need to do lots of research to get top-notch content. Plus, your content should be original and grammatically correct. Above all, it should be informative.

It calls for pure hard work without ever giving up.

Content Length

It is funny that Google considers how long your article is, yet most people are still writing short articles while still trying to compete with sites that have long-form, top notch content.

Well, it doesn’t work that way unless you are writing news content. 

On the other hand, you need to know that Google assumes that the more the word count in your article, the more resourceful it is.

That explains why you should have a well-detailed article that has lots of information. Readers see no need to access another site if they find all they are looking for in your article(s).

Isn’t that so?

This is why, among the many ranking factors Google considers, content length is a major one.

Keyword in Title Tag

Well, having a keyword in your title tag can tremendously boost your rankings. In fact, it is best to have it at the start of your title. That boosts rankings.

Nonetheless, ensure that you have a maximum of 60 characters. This is crucial to ensure that some words won’t be cut off; thus, ensuring all words in your title tag are visible.

To ascertain if you have enough words, you can use a tool such as SerpSim.

Meta Description

You will often be told that including a keyword in your Meta description is not one of the significant ranking factors.

However, though that may be true, it is necessary to know that it boosts user clicks in the user search results pages. 

In other words, if a searcher types that keyword, Google considers your content as most relevant. As a result, your content ranks top on Google’s top pages. 

You can have at least 150 to 160 characters in your meta. Make it catchy by using terms such as:

  • Shocking
  • Deadly
  • New
  • Popular
  • Deal
  • Life changing
  • Best
  • Hilarious
  • Newest

In addition, do also add a call to action (CTA). For example, you can ask your readers or followers to “Click on this link”. That’s a CTA.

One thing, though, is to avoid internal plagiarism. That is, don’t repeat your metas. Have unique metas all the time to attract more clicks.

Also, stay true. Don’t tell people you’ve shared “new” tricks, while you’ve provided old, well-known tricks. 🙂

Keyword in H tags

If you want to rank, ensure that your keyword appears in your H1 tag. H1 tag is the main title of your article. Remember, you can only have one H1 tag in each article.

Include the keyword there. Also, include the Keyword in any of the H2 tags. At least once. 

I have comprehensively discussed H tags in one of my video lessons that outline how to write a product review.

By adding keywords in H tags, Google knows your page’s relevancy and ranks it top during related searches.

TF-IDF (Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency)

This may also be referring to the keyword because it involves checking how many times a certain word or phrase appears in your content. 

Google uses it to determine what your article is about. This is because the more a word appears in your article, the more Google can tell that the article is discussing something that relates to that word or phrase.

Table of contents

Well, how many sites have a table of contents? Is it even crucial to have one? Yes, it is. Why? It is easy for Google to understand the content of your page.

In addition, a table of contents helps your readers go directly to the section they want to read. I have seen the impact of the table of contents on my site, and I encourage you to start using it.

How do you go about this? It’s simple. Just install the Easy Table Of Contents plugin in your WordPress, self-hosted site. 

Activate it and modify the settings (if you wish), and boom! Your posts will now have a table of contents after refreshing the pages.

Speed of Page

Now, you can’t argue about this. No one likes waiting, not even you. Again, if your page takes a long time to load, people opt to open another site to save their time.

If you want to save your page from bounce rate, ensure that your page loads fast.

Not sure if your site page is loading fast; no trouble. Use Test My Site to verify if the speed of your site is good.

A good speed is approximately 3 seconds on 3G, and less than 2 seconds on 4G.

So, if yours is above that, improve it right about now!

Optimization of Images

As much as you professionally optimize your content, if you do not optimize the images, you may not make it on top of Google pages.

Optimizing images is one of the ranking factors because the moment you add Alt text, a description, and a caption, search engines trace your content fast.

Why?

This optimization sends relevant signals to the search engine; thus, making it possible to know what your content is all about.

Off-page Level Ranking Factors

Off-page ranking factors primarily focus on what others think of your content. That is, the quality of your content. How do they determine this?

If, for example, a couple of sites are linking to you, Google may assume that your content is top-notch.

As a result, they will want to rank it.

So, what are some of the off-page level factors?

Links

Do I have to say that the quality of your links matters?

Well, here are a couple of things you need to know when deciding which are the best backlinks to use:

High-Quality Backlinks

Most are the times when people strive to have many backlinks, especially if the site is new. Why do they do this? We have been brainwashed to believe that one of the ranking factors we should never ignore is having many backlinks.

But let me tell you the truth, if that were the case, most of the sites not ranking today would be ranking.

So, what’s the secret here? High-quality backlinks!

When reaching out to a blogger to exchange links, do not do it out of ignorance. If there are many links, how many of them are high-quality? Can readers benefit from content on that site?

You see, most people are using black hat techniques to rank. I bet you know that such sites end up in the “Google recycle bin!” Don’t make the mistake of co-working with such sites. You will also end up suffering.

So, start by considering the quality of the backlinks.

The Freshness of the Link

Besides the “freshness of the content,” it is crucial also to consider the freshness of the link. How do you know the age of the link?

Check when the article was published. If it is a new article with high-quality content, the best you could do is link to such an article.

The other thing to remember when adding backlinks is that having numerous links from one site may not cause much difference regarding ranking.

You would rather have backlinks from new sites than just link to one authoritative site.

In addition, you need to know that it is better to have many external links than to have many internal ones.

Anchor Text

What is anchor text? This is the text that you add a link to. Most are the times when I have had to tell trainees to stop using words like “here” and “this” as their anchor text.

For example, I see most using, “Here is an article that you can read,” then they will link their article to the text “here.” Or, “This article will give you more details.”

This is not a good anchor text. I love when your anchor text gives the reader an idea of what they should expect in the article.

For instance, you can have an anchor text like “dating tips” when linking to an article such as “First date: The Do’s and Don’ts for an awesome experience.”

The other thing you should do is add a natural anchor text. I mean, don’t just make it look natural. Let it be natural! There’s a difference, and I bet you know that.

If your anchor text is natural, Google helps your site to rank. Why? A natural anchor text helps Google in identifying the relevancy of that site.

In other words, if somebody types a keyword on a search engine found in your anchor text, your page has a high chance of outranking others.

Bounce Rate

How often do people leave your site right after accessing it? If they leave several seconds after opening it, something is not adding up.

And, that’s what we call bounce rate. What could be the issue? Several things could cause that.

For instance, they didn’t get what they were looking for or found what they wanted, but it is not of high quality, plus it could be too shallow to give them all the details they want. 

So, improve the bounce rate by creating high-value content, adding videos to your posts, and improving the speed of your site.

The other thing could be slow loading speed which we have already mentioned previously in this article.

Age of the Domain

The older the domain, the better it is. Why? Google trusts that site. Additionally, bloggers who pay for their site in advance, like say two years upfront, make Google trust their site.

Does that mean that you should worry if you want to start a new site? Not really.

The only thing you need to do is implement all the other ranking factors, and this will not cause any harm or prevent your site from appearing top on search engines.

The only thing that made me mention this is to make you know that if you buy an old domain, you can do better in terms of ranking.

Site’s Reputation

How well do others know your brand name? Do they believe in your brand? Do they leave good reviews? Answering all of these questions helps you to know if your brand name is good.

I have heard so many people (both trainees and clients) giving me good reviews after ending the contract with them.

Currently, my site has several five stars! What does that tell you? People believe in me and my services. How much more would you boost your site’s rankings just by adding links to brands that are known worldwide?

Wouldn’t that give you an automatic boost in rankings? Definitely, it would.Try it.

Social Shares

It may be pretty tricky to rank if you can’t share your site’s content on your social media or have others share it because they loved it.

So, add social media buttons on your site to share your content with the world every time you publish new stuff. It is after you share your content that you make people know your brand.

If they love it, they may feel compelled to share it with their friends. It becomes a win-win game at the end of it all. So, the number of shares your content has and likes are ranking factors that Google won’t ignore any time soon.

Not only that, but social media also increases the site’s conversation rate. You’ve, therefore, got to make use of social media.

However, there is one major trick when it comes to the shares. That is, Google is keen on who is sharing your content.

In a nutshell, if you get influencers who can share your content, the better. Think of it this way. What happens if a president who is highly esteemed by the people endorses a certain politician vying for a particular political seat?

Don’t people vote for that person? In the same way, if influencers share your content, Google begins to trust your site, thus, ranks it. That explains why you need to hook up with great influencers.

What Is the Most Important Google Ranking Factor?

Keywords and content quality are probably the most significant factors in determining where your site ranks in Google. They also happen to be the easiest ones to understand.

When someone types into Google, they expect to see certain words appear on top of the page. Those keywords are called keyphrases.

Keyphrase research involves finding which phrases people type into Google when looking for information related to your niche. Once you identify those keyphrases, you can start writing content targeted explicitly towards those terms.

You don’t necessarily have to write long articles with lots of text. Instead, focus more on creating quality content that answers questions and solves problems.

For example, if you sell dog food online, you wouldn’t just create generic pages filled with random paragraphs of text. No, instead, you would create specific pages dedicated to each different kind of dog food.

Each page would contain relevant images, videos, infographics, and more. Moreover, you’ll answer common questions such as, “How much food should I feed my puppy?” or “Is it safe to give dogs raw meat?”

What Is No Longer the Most Valid Ranking Factor?

Although given much focus by content creators before, specific keyword density is not significant as it once was. What is specific keyword density? You ask.

Basically, it refers to the number of times a particular word appears within a piece of content. In general, the less often a term occurs, the lower the value.

However, many websites use few keywords, and this is for a good reason. Keyword stuffing not only lands you on Google’s bad books but may also make your content look robotic.

Imagine having the phrase “I am going to buy a car” 10 times in your document. Would you really want to read through all that? Of course not!

Instead, think about using synonyms for your main keywords. If you’re selling cars, then maybe you’d rather say things like “vehicle” or “automobile.”

Or perhaps you’d prefer to use longer forms of your target keywords.

How Does Keyword Density Affect Rankings?

The best way to determine how important keyword density is to your SEO strategy is to test it yourself.

Create some sample content and run it through various tools like MozBar, SEMRush, or Ahrefs. Then, compare the results from all three sources. This allows you to see what works and what does not work.

If you notice any discrepancies between them, adjust accordingly. There are no hard-and-fast rules about this topic.

However, we do know that high-quality content tends to perform well regardless of whether it has low or high keyword density.

So, while it may seem counterintuitive at first glance, try to avoid focusing so heavily on keyword density. Focus instead on producing great content that provides real value to readers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Good Page Rank?

A Google page rank is an algorithm used to measure the importance of web pages based upon their popularity among other sites. It ranges from 0 to 10. A higher ranking indicates greater authority.

Google uses several factors to calculate its rankings, including domain age, backlinks, site structure, and user engagement.

Are Backlinks Still Important?

Backlinks are still important because they help build trust and credibility. They can be earned naturally overtime via social media sharing or paid advertising campaigns.

But there are now new ways to earn links without spending money. These include guest blogging, article marketing, press releases, and video marketing.

How Long Does it Take for Google to Rank Your Page?

It takes around two to six months for Google to rank your page. But how well you perform and how fast your site ranks depends on what you are offering.

This means that you should start optimizing your content right away. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on potential organic search engine optimization opportunities.

Why Is My Google Rating Not Going Up?

Your Google rating is not going up because you have too little traffic coming into your website. To increase your ratings, you need more visitors.

You could improve your visibility with better link-building strategies,such as creating quality articles and submitting them to directories.

Or, if you already have lots of relevant backlinks pointing towards your site, consider asking one of your existing partners to share those links with others.

How Do I Improve My Google Local Ranking?

You improve your Google local ranking by ensuring you optimize your Google My Business page. Make sure you fill in every field available and add photos when possible.

Also, make sure you respond quickly to reviews left by customers. Finally, consider asking people who live nearby to leave positive feedback.

The Parting Point

I may not cover all the ranking factors on Google in this article. But you can be sure of this one thing, implementing all of the above things will help your site’s rankings.

At times, it may take a while. Don’t give up. Keep doing it. Persistence causes the results to manifest within a short time.

If, however, you have a new site and don’t know how to go about all that I have discussed in this article, why not contact me?

We can do this together.

Also, why don’t you tell us if you have tried to apply the above factors, and which one worked better for you. You may also add another one if I have not included it in this post.

Feel free to do so in the comments section.

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8 comments

  1. Highly informative. I don’t remember having encountered such content on websites that target writers.

    1. Glad to see you around, George!

      I am humbled by your comment. Thanks so much!

      More coming this year.

  2. Well crafted, informative and detailed content. Thank you for this eye opening article.

    1. Impressive comment right there!

      Thanks so much, Kibaki!

  3. Thank you for this information. I didn’t know much about this. I’m now better than I was before reading this

    1. Awesome! I am so humbled!

      Now implement what you have learned.

      All the best!

  4. Thanks for this useful information