When the goal is to claim one of the top three spots on search engine results pages (SERPs) in Google, you’ve got to have some understanding of the 200+ important SEO ranking factors. Unfortunately, only Google really knows every specific ingredient in their search recipe. Good thing digital marketing experts have spent all these years studying search algorithms to get a good grasp of what factors sit high on the list and which ones don’t.

If you feel like you’re still in the dark on the most crucial ranking factors, we’ll tell you the big ones universally accepted as the primary areas anyone should get right.

1. Crawlability

Of course, no search engine can rank a website they simply can’t find. Crawlability allows them to scan a website, review what its content is about, and determine how it should rank.

It goes without saying that if you want Google to rank your website, you’ll have to make it easy for their spiders to crawl its pages properly. For this purpose, make sure to submit a sitemap to all leading search engines. Use the robots.txt to tell search engines which pages they can access and which ones they should leave out, too. 

2. Site Security

It has been nearly a decade since Google discussed how site security qualifies as a ranking factor and it has become one of the most crucial ones on the list. It basically refers to the use of HTTPS encryption, which establishes a secure connection to allow a safe exchange of information between a site and its end-users.

For the most part, search engines want to drive users to the most trustworthy and safest sites on the Web.

3. Mobile-Friendliness

Because more searches are being conducted on mobile devices than desktop computers at this point, Google has made this one the rising star among its ranking factors. So the better your website looks and performs when viewed on a mobile device, the better are your chances to climb up SERPs.

A mobile-friendly website isn’t just about accessibility, though. Search engines think highly of a responsive design since it promotes a better user experience for a growing demographic.

4. Quality Content

At this point, it’s no surprise that publishing high-quality content on a consistent basis can get search engines smiling your way. In fact, Google often reserves the top spot on search rankings to websites that put up timely, in-depth, well-researched, and engaging content.

With search engines giving much weight on fresh content, your shot at search visibility improves the more you hinge your marketing strategies toward meeting such criteria.

5. Page Load Speed

What search engines want is for people to come in with their queries and find answers to them in the quickest way possible. With that said, they’ll typically rank slow-loading domains in the lower rungs of the ladder.

A fast page load speed is part of good user experience and you’ll have to optimise your site by means of file compression, website caching, etc. if you don’t want to frustrate site visitors who come to your site for information.

6. Structure Data

Schema Markup (or structured data), is microdata added to a backend of a page that tells search engines how they should classify and interpret any portion of the website. This is another ranking factor that helps in telling Google what a website is all about.

It’s important to note that this factor tells search engines what makes a particular page valuable. Structured data can also lead to featured snippets in search results, which actually boosts click-through rates (CTR). Yes, this metric translates to better search ranking.

7. Right Keywords

SEO strategies all begin with performing keyword research; knowing what keywords will get you the best reach helps drive your efforts in the right direction, after all. 

While some digital marketing experts will still insist on putting all your eggs in this one basket, treat this ranking factor more like a guide at this point. It’s good to identify the popular keywords that can drive organic traffic to your website but know that understanding search intent may be the wiser recourse. It’s the latter that gives you a better idea of how to streamline the sales funnel.

8. Domain Age

It might be something that is beyond your control, but it’s still worth mentioning how older domains tend to rank better than freshly launched websites. It’s likely due to the fact that it often takes time before your SEO efforts kick in. 

Sorry, mate—those 60-day guarantees (of your website ranking) are simply false promises.

9. Backlink Profile

Another signal that tells the likes of Google that a website is authoritative and credible comes in the form of backlinks. The number and quality of the links pointing to your website is a sure way to impact your rank on search results.

Because of the value that backlinks bring to the table, you’ll have to carefully plan how you do link acquisition by way of digital PR, guest posting, and other acceptable link-building strategies.

10. User Engagement

Google (and most of the biggest search engines) typically look to users to help them determine the pages that they should put high on search rankings. With the aid of an artificial intelligence (AI) tool called RankBrain, Google is able to tell and interpret which pages are quite useful to searchers.

Search engines look at metrics e.g. bounce rate, time on site, and CTR (click-through rate) to know if a website’s content is deemed valuable by its target users. Optimising site architecture, navigation, page speed, design, metadata, and content are often done to fetch better engagement numbers. And this alone tells you how important this factor is.

What Areas Do You Need to Improve?

In reality, any effective SEO campaign will have to tinker with a lot of moving parts that all come together to deliver results. Get the most important cogs working on your website and you’ll gradually win more clients, see better conversions, and close more sales.

Although there are more than 200+ factors included in Google’s search algorithm, you can take solace in the fact that you need not tick that many boxes to get your site going up the ranks. To know which area your site needs to work on for your SEO efforts to bear fruit,  contact Toprankings and we will do a thorough site audit so you can get your optimisation efforts rolling sooner rather than later!