The Best Search Engine Ranking Factors
Updated: Nov 16
Hum … “the best” implies as one of many solutions. That is a tricky statement because each source claims a variety of ranking factors as important. Compounded by offering an asymmetrical number of factors in each article which can fluctuate from 5 factors to 30; all claiming to be the most significant for ranking. So where does the authority for these claims and numbers originate?
For starters, crawlers can only index what they can see. Keep in mind, crawlers do not see or read a website as humans do. If signals, such as codes and schema are missing the crawlers consider this to mean there's nothing to rank, and so they move on.
The truth be told … there are about 200 ranking factors on Google's clipboard. Thus, it makes sense to extract and summarize a select few factors, which an average human can work into their optimization goal. Basically, if you have enrolled in a Search Engine Optimization topic, or are an avid SEO reader, you are automatically exposed to some of these comprehensive ranking factors. It's a very time-consuming endeavor to digest all 200 ranking factors in a single gulp.
Some authorities suggest an easier way to keep track of your ranking goal is break it down into categories:
Inbound / backlinks
Webfx.com considers these five ranking factors to be important:
1. Responsive design, adapts to any device, such as desktop, tablet, mobile smart phone etc.
2. Page Speed, slow loading may cause a viewer to abandon the search and bounce to another faster loading site.
3. Links, the more quality external links coming to your site this gives your site authority. And internal links within your site allow crawlers to learn more about your site.
4. Optimization, from incorporating keywords throughout your content, and title tags to optimizing images for context, and size. On-page optimization requires several essential steps. When one is missed, like not optimizing the title tag for a keyword, and you could miss out on ranking. A dilemma with optimization is that over-the-top optimization (keyword-stuffing) can hurt your ranking; which is punishable by Google. Moderation is safe.
5. Accessible website, as mentioned crawlers need to index. Essential to maintain an accessible website is with robots.txt and sitemap.xml
Whereas, Backlinko considers 13 ranking factors as important.
* Technical SEO factors that are keeping your content from higher ranking
The three main components of SEO are Technical, On-Page, and Off-Page.
And since the objective to achieve higher ranking requires Googlebot to crawl, index and rank your website; thus, it makes good sense to focus on Technical SEO.
Marketmuse offers six ranking fixes, and asks ...
Q: What is preventing your post from getting ranked?
A: Two words: Technical SEO
Mobile device optimization
Excessive load time
Inactive robots.txt file / sitemaps.xml file / Convert to HTTPS
While SEO is indeed an art, it is also a science. The art is in the hands of the creative SEO Content Writer's skill-set. However, the science is housed in the recent development of the Periodic Table of SEO Factors which Google uses for ranking a post.
Google has a zero budge for moss gathering under its feet. Which literally means tomorrow it may change. This of course is not for the faint of heart. Just look at it and appreciate how science drives quality SEO. If it inspires you to geek-out at the Ph.D. level here's the link ...
* In Summary
While each source claims to have the secret sauce for ranking factors … Google admittedly offered a simplified solution as the top three ranking signals in Google's search algorithm ... ready or not, here they are:
RankBrain = machine-learning artificial intelligence system that's used to help process its search results.
Assuming that you have diligently audited all the standard SEO factors, the above simple formula is a breeze.
Well, it boils down to the initial premise of why each entity selects different approaches to ranking factors. You can control … Links and Content. So don't fuss or abuse your brain about RankBrain algorithm machine-learning.
Don't be intimidated with geeky nerdy stuff, Just know and understand the cause and effect of missing elements. Select a reliable source that suggests how to rank and just do it!
It is my hope this article offered some disambiguation on a topic that always discusses multiple pronged approaches. SEO optimization is a ritual cycle.