A Comprehensive List of Google Ranking Factors in 2021
Updated: Feb 21
Do you know – 97% of people don’t click past the first age results on Google? Nearly 55% of clicks go on the first three organic search results.
Google is a popular search engine with over 5.1 billion searches per day. To rank higher on SERP, it is important to understand the ranking signals and optimize your pages to increase your chances of being listed on the first page of SERPs.
When it comes to search engine optimization, it is challenging to keep up with all the changes in Google’s search ranking algorithm.
Here are the top 7 Google ranking factors to consider in 2021 to improve your site’s performance.
1. High-quality content
High-quality content is one of the important Google ranking factors for search engine visibility. Being a search engine, Google is in the business of providing appropriate (and best) answers to people’s questions. Low quality and keyword-stuffed content will not help it achieve its goals. Google’s Panda Algorithm looks for low-quality content and penalizes websites with low-quality content. According to Google, Quality content is -
Something worth sharing
Informative that people talk about it
Engaging and hook the readers
Linked, quoted, and shared on different platforms
Google is getting smarter by updating its algorithm regularly. If your content is the best one available on any particular topic, the algorithm updated will help you climb up the search engine results.
2. Mobile responsiveness
“Mobile-friendliness” is another important ranking factor that helps mobile-responsive websites rank higher than the websites that are not mobile responsive when someone does Google search from their mobile device. The main criteria for a mobile-responsive website are –
The text should be readable without zooming
Reduced graphics and animations
Enough space between clickable links
The interface should be visible
Mobilegeddon is a mobile-friendly update based on which the users must get relevant results, regardless of the device they are using. This update is not just about organic search but is all about responding to consumer behavior.
3. Quality backlinks
Backlinks remain an important Google ranking factor to improve the visibility of a website on search engine results. The best way to build high-quality backlinks is to create content people crave and promote it vigorously across social platforms.
A relevant backlink is positioned on a website or page that talks about the same subject or niche. By linking high authority websites to your website, you will send positive signals to Google that your website is valuable and searchers would be happy to find it.
There is no simple or quick way to gain high-quality backlinks. The best strategy is to publish quality content and distribute your content wisely across social media to attract as much attention as possible.
4. Webpage Speed
Webpage Speed is a direct ranking factor that helps search engines to determine the health of a website. According to Google’s latest research, websites that takes than 10s to load have a bounce rate of 123%. Users leave a website after about 3s, which means their user experience is low. And Google doesn’t rank websites with poor user experience.
A slow site might affect other metrics like – bounce rate, content length, backlinks, referring IPs, etc. that are important ranking factors to Google. Google recently announced that page speed will be a crucial ranking factor in the mobile-first index.
Google recommends PageSpeed Insight or Test My Site to identify areas that need improvement. The most common causes of slow pages include - large images, lengthy videos, poorly designed interface, etc. To get started, open up Test My Site and enter your website URL in the search box.
5. Featured snippets
Featured snippets are the search results featured at the top of Google organic search results. They ate pulled automatically from webpages in Google index and aim at answering the user’s questions quickly. Some of the common forms of featured snippets include – lists, steps, definitions, and tables.
Websites whose content appears on featured snippets have 8% more visibility. Additionally, you will get a serious boost on organic click-through rate with featured snippets.
To identify opportunities to get featured, one should start with researching the keywords. Google has made a handful of updates to understand which content is selected and how it appears in the search results.
6. Image Optimization
Image optimization is a crucial factor that helps websites rank well on search engine results. Optimizing images gives your website an additional advantage of being found on image search. You can optimize the images on your website with some eye-catching graphics and logo.
There are several advantages of image optimization such as- faster page loading time, better user experience, and more. The image alt and title attributes help build the page’s relevancy, eventually improving the ranking.
When it comes to image optimizing, what matters the most is the file size, format and dimensions. JPEG images are SEO friendly than PNGs, GIFs and SVGs. Considering the visual needs of the website, the image should not be wider than desktop screen resolutions.
7. Search Intent
Search Intent is an overlooked ranking factor that describes the purpose of an online search. If you want your website to rank high on SERPs, you need to create content that aligns with the search intent.
There are four types of search intent – informational, transactional, navigational and commercial investigation. Satisfying the search intent of the users is the primary goal of Google. If the user finds irrelevant information with regards to the search query, they will try another search without clicking on anything.
It tells Google that the content on the website does not reflect the search intent of the user. Hence, you should align the content with search intent – eventually increasing the website rank.
While these are a few Google ranking factors - there are many more that help your website rank high on SERP. As Google continues to update its search algorithm, it becomes challenging for marketers and businesses to keep track. Understanding the above parameters will help you retain or increase your organic search presence.
Which of these ranking factors do you think will help drive more relevant traffic?
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About the author
Atasi is the founder & CEO of A2A Business Solutions. A fascinating entrepreneur and a digital marketing expert who has witnessed the dynamics of digital marketing evolve from its early days, she often pens down her thoughts, experiences, and observations in and around the domain of entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and startup ventures.