Top 8 Search Engine Ranking Factors

The number of ranking factors that the major search engines consider when ranking content is very extensive. However, the reality is, not all these factors carry the same weight.

Because of the general level of ignorance surrounding many of these ranking factors, a lot of myths have been built up, over time.

This brings up to this article. In this article I will be talking about just the ranking factors that you should know. The ones that ultimately, will determine where you rank in the search engines.

  1. Site Security

Back in 2014, Google specifically came out and discussed site security as a ranking factor for their search engine. Today, it’s a ranking factor consistent amongst all the major search engines, and is one you should be hip to. Site security is basically the use of HTTPS encryption. A website that uses HTTPS encryption is one that has a SSL certificate which creates a secure connection between the website and website user. It adds an additional layer of security which protects data exchange from the user to the site.

Search engines are keener today than ever before to send their visitors to the most secure websites, and HTTPS encryption is one way of expressing that. If you have a website that starts with HTTP and not HTTPS, that means you have an insecure website, and should consider investing in an SSL certificate.

  1. Site and Page Speed

You wouldn’t find a single soul that didn’t dislike sites that take an age to load up, and this reality is consistent amongst the search engines too. It’s for this reason, having a site that loads up seamlessly and quickly, is an important aspect of SEO.

If you have a website that takes too long to load up its pages, it will usually result in, increased bounce rates, which will negatively affect your ranking. Visitors want their browsing experience to go as smooth as possible, which is why page speed is a ranking factor on virtually every search engine out there. This is something you should be cognizant of, especially when doing your auditing for SEO improvements.

There are tons of different tools that you can use to test the speed of your website. Google PageSpeed Insights is amongst the most popular, but you could also try GTmetrix. Both of these tools are free to use, simple, and provide you with the necessary information you need to make speed improvements to your site.

  1. Mobile-Friendliness

Mobile-friendliness simply refers to how your website appears, when someone attempts to visit it through a mobile device. When a website is mobile-friendly, it essentially uses a theme that is responsive, one that adjusts to the screen size of the device it’s being viewed on. Because more people search the internet using a mobile device than a desktop unit (currently at 52%+ of internet traffic), a mobile-friendly website is even more important today than it has ever been. It’s also why search engines now prioritise these kinds of sites in their rankings.

To determine whether or not you have a responsible website, you can submit it to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This test will determine whether there are any issues with your site, and report back to you.

  1. High-Quality Content

One of the most effective ways to improve engagement to your website, and thus, appeal to the major search engines, is to publish only the best quality content on your website. Content, is without a doubt, one of the most important ranking factors of your SEO efforts. Search engines want their rank listings to feature the best possible content, which is why they prioritize quality content over low quality content. So be sure to put together in-depth, well-research and crafted content for your site.

When you add new content to your website, it gives the major search engines something to crawl, which in turn improves your sites search engine visibility, as it has more valuable content to share with its visitors. So it’s a no-lose situation for you.

You can use content mapping to draw out a plan for your site. This plan should also include any ongoing content along with landing pages for products and services.

  1. Backlinks

A backlink is basically a link to your site from an external website. Google introduced the PageRank algorithm update, way back in 1996, which ensured that where a web page ranked would be determined by the number of high quality links pointing to it. Today, after several decades have gone by, we can clearly see that, at least Google, still prioritises backlinks over all other ranking factors. So be sure to put a great deal of time into acquiring links.

  1. URL structure

It may not seem important, but the truth is, the way your page URLs are structured, does have some impact on how it ranks in the search engines. When you have a jumbled up URL structure, you lose out on a great deal of SEO juice. You want a setup that makes it easier for the visitor to determine what the page is about, just by looking at it.

In short, you want your URL structure to be simple, and concise, something that incorporates your main keyword, while making it SEO-friendly.

  1. Domain Age

This is another ranking factor, which may not be something that you have a whole lot of control over, but is something you should definitely consider, is the age of your domain, or age of your site. While the major search engines, such as Google, don’t come outright and state that this is something they look at, from research conducted, we can see that the oldest domains tend to do better in the rankings.

So if you buy a brand new domain for your new site, keep in mind that you may have to wait some time, possibly weeks or months, before your SEO efforts start to bear fruit. However, over time, your continuous SEO work, should start to pay off, as you witness your site starting to rank higher and higher in the search engines.

  1. Title and Header Tags

Once you have some idea of the keywords you would like to rank for, the next step is to insert these keywords into the content of the pages you hope to rank them on. The major search engines use these little tags in order to determine what a page is about.

It’s the title tag that your potential site visitor will see first. So you should make it enticing, interest, something you think others would feel inclined to click on.


Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website

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