Search engines like Google use more than 200 ranking factors to generate search results. Your key to improving your rankings, traffic, and revenue from search starts with optimizing your site for these search engine ranking factors.
To get you started, we’re revealing the top search engine optimization (SEO) ranking factors:
What are the top SEO ranking factors?
The top SEO ranking factors in 2023 are:
- Page experience
Learn more about these factors below:
Links, in the form of external backlinks and internal backlinks, play an important role in your SEO:
Summary: Backlinks serve as a powerful endorsement of your site’s trustworthiness.
Since Google’s start, backlinks have been a focal point in its search engine algorithm. The company originally got the idea to use backlinks as a Google ranking factor from peer-reviewed academic papers — citing another paper endorsed the cited article as reputable and trustworthy.
From Google’s perspective, backlinks on the web could serve the same purpose for search engines.
Overall, this strategy has worked well for Google.
While some black-hat SEO practices arose initially with link farms and spammy anchor text, an algorithm update put these tactics out of business and encouraged companies to instead lean into white-hat practices for attracting backlinks.
Summary: Internal links support crawlers and users by providing valuable context about a page.
If your website is a city, your internal links are the roads users and web crawlers use to traverse your site. Through internal links, crawlers and users gain context for a page, like road signs providing context for drivers.
For example, if someone on your site clicks text that says, “apple pie recipe,” they’ll expect to arrive on a page with an apple pie recipe. This example is like someone that follows road signs for Las Vegas —they’ll expect to arrive at Las Vegas.
Like backlinks, internal links have been an effective SEO ranking factor for search engines.
Summary: Content includes multiple SEO ranking factors, including quality, authority, and helpfulness.
Content is one of the most important search engine ranking factors. In the past few years, it’s only grown in importance with the launch of Google’s E-E-A-T and Helpful Content Update — two updates emphasizing the importance of original, helpful, and authoritative content.
Besides trustworthiness, as a top SEO ranking factor, content includes on-page optimizations. These optimizations include everything from title tags and meta descriptions to structured data and keyword insertion.
For Google, content has become a challenging ranking factor to manage.
That’s because content gets produced rapidly, including AI content that Google has stated is not against its guidelines. However, AI content produced solely for manipulating search rankings is against the company’s spam policies.
Even with these challenges, content is going nowhere in search engine algorithms.
3. Page experience
Summary: Page experience includes site security, mobile-friendliness, and speed.
Over the years, page experience has risen through the ranks of SEO ranking factors. This shift has happened due to the growth of on-the-go devices, like smartphones and tablets, and the need for users to get information faster.
Search engines like Google have several page experience ranking factors for search, including:
- Page speed
- User experience
Good content isn’t good enough for SEO in 2023. You need to deliver great content and a great page experience. And let’s be honest, you wouldn’t read the best content on the web if the experience were slow, unsecure, and hard to wrangle.
How to optimize for the top SEO ranking factors
Now that you know which factors are involved in search engine optimization (or at least the most popular ones in Google’s search engine), let’s explore how to optimize for these top SEO ranking factors for your website:
Learn how to optimize your external backlinks and internal links below:
Backlinks, which are a part of off-page SEO, are considered one of the most challenging parts of SEO. That’s because backlinks require your business to have the visibility, impact, and timing for another site to link to your content.
You can optimize your company’s chances for success with these tips:
- Create content with an original (or hot) take on a topic
- Share original research, like from a Twitter poll or SurveyMonkey survey
- Produce original visual content, like an infographic or video
- Build an original tool that helps solve a problem
- Post original content on other sites to build your company’s reputation
Do you notice a trend with the above strategies? They emphasize original content.
Your business needs to bring something new to the internet to get noticed — and get backlinks. Otherwise, what’s the point? If content already exists on the topic, what’s persuading a site to use your content instead of the other one?
If you struggle with backlinks, you can partner with an SEO service provider to build a backlink strategy.
As a search engine ranking factor, internal links are easier than backlinks to manage. That’s because you have full control over your internal backlinks. You choose which links appear in your content, footer, navigation, and anywhere else you can add a link.
There are some best practices you can follow, though, to optimize your internal backlinks:
- Build a site architecture, like /blog/ for your blog content or /products/ for your products
- Place the most important URLs closest to your root domain or homepage
- Link to a URL at least three times to help crawlers and users reach that URL
- Use descriptive anchor text (this is the clickable text for a link)
- Limit anchor text to less than eight words, as anything longer can appear spammy
- Fix broken links and 301 redirects
Internal linking can require collaboration between departments, like web developers, SEOs, and leadership. That’s because some internal linking optimizations influence your site’s overall structure vs. whether one page links to another.
Learn how to optimize your website’s content for SEO below:
On-page optimizations include dozens of areas in SEO, including the following:
- URL slug
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Header tags
- Keyword usage
- Schema markup
As an SEO, you’ll become an expert in this area because it is impactful in search engine optimization. If you’re just getting started with this search engine ranking factor, here are some of our favorite tips for getting started:
- Use the target keyword in your title tag, meta description, and header tags
- Use the target keyword in the first 100 words of your content
- Use the target and related keywords throughout your content
- Use relevant schema markup to help search engines understand your content more
Before on-page optimizations, you should also evaluate your keyword targeting. Since keywords help Google rank your content in the most relevant search results, it’s vital to research your keywords before targeting them.
Here are some tips for keyword targeting:
- Target long-tail keywords or keywords with three to four words
- View a keyword’s search results to determine if it’s relevant
- Find three to five related keywords to target alongside your target keyword
Plenty of SEO tools help with on-page optimizations and keyword targeting, like Google Search Console, Semrush, Ahrefs, Keywords Everywhere, and more. Spend some time learning these platforms and then work them into your workflow!
For content helpfulness, remove your SEO hat for a moment and think about the following:
- What aren’t the top-ranking URLs talking about for this topic?
- Would I share this content with a friend, family member, or co-worker?
- Does this content share anything besides the obvious?
- Is the content clickbait?
- If I was my target audience, would I feel satisfied after reading this article?
The best recommendation we can provide for this SEO ranking factor is to review Google’s documentation on the topic. They’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask when evaluating how helpful your content is to users.
E-E-A-T stands for the following:
As a Google ranking factor, E-E-A-T (or Double-E-A-T) is used by search raters as a part of Google’s search rater guidelines. What Double-E-A-T aims to do is encourage content creators to produce content backed by their experience, which intertwines with expertise, authority, and trust.
You can lean into E-E-A-T by:
- Sharing your first-hand experience on a topic, like importing a vehicle
- Highlighting your experiences, like your certifications, years working in an industry, and more
- Emphasizing your brand’s trust, like your awards, reviews, and more
If your site focuses heavily on You Money, Your Life (YMYL) topics, optimizing for this SEO ranking factor is even more critical. That’s because your content influences how people spend their money and their significant life choices, like choosing one medical treatment over another.
3. Page experience
Learn how to optimize your page experience below:
Years ago, businesses would need to invest significant funds in creating a desktop and mobile site. That’s not the case anymore. Almost all website builders create a mobile-friendly version of your site, and most web designers will create a mobile version by default.
What we’re saying is it’s easier than ever to embrace mobile friendliness, like by:
- Build your site’s mobile version with a website builder or professional web design agency
- Visiting your site on mobile to confirm there are no visual or functional bugs
- Optimizing your design for mobile
If you have trouble with mobile friendliness, you’ll want to speak with a web developer.
You’ll also need a web developer to assist for this SEO ranking factor (which improves your site’s security). Because migrating from HTTP to HTTPS requires several important steps, we recommend using Google’s documentation which outlines the process.
Once you’re migrated to HTTPS, all you have to do is maintain your SSL certificate, which is easy!
Unlike HTTPS, optimizing your page speed for Google’s ranking factor is more involved.
Google evaluates page speed using the following Core Web Vitals:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures how fast your page loads.
- First Input Delay (FID), which measures how quickly your page is interactive.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which measures how much your page’s layout shifts.
You can see how your content scores in Core Web Vitals through Google Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report. Alternatively, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see your Core Web Vital rating and how to improve it.
Implementing page speed improvements will likely require your web developer’s help.
Optimize your site for these top SEO ranking factors with SEO experts
Congrats, you’ve learned which factors are involved in search engine optimization and how to optimize for these top SEO ranking factors. Now, are you ready to get started? If not, our award-winning team of SEO experts can help.
Complete our contact form today to learn how!
FAQs about search engine ranking factors
Learn more about search engine ranking factors with these FAQs:
What is ranking in SEO?
“Ranking” in search engine optimization describes where a URL appears (or ranks) in organic search results. Ranking has value in SEO because it correlates to how much traffic a URL receives from a search. Typically, a higher ranking will equal more traffic than a lower ranking.
What are ranking factors?
Ranking factors are the elements search engines and their algorithms use to rank the search results for a given query. Search engines like Google use more than 200 ranking factors, which are not equal in value. Some ranking factors have a higher weight than others in SEO.
How many SEO ranking factors are there?
There are more than 200 SEO ranking factors. They’re typically classified into these seven categories:
- User interactions
- Brand signals
Since search engine ranking factors are weighted differently, focusing on the biggest ranking factors is often more helpful than all ranking factors. That’s why our guide opted to walk through the most important ranking factors instead of breaking down all 200+ aspects.
How do search engines rank search results?
Search engines rank search results using the following process:
- Crawl the web with spiders or web crawlers
- Index the information brought back by web crawlers
- Evaluate the information against the search engine algorithm’s ranking factors
- Deliver the most relevant and reliable information based on a search query
You can learn more about how Google’s search works by visiting their documentation.