Skip to main content

SEO: Google's Latest Ranking Factors

Search engines are constantly changing and improving on their algorithms. This means that what worked years decades ago is no longer relevant today.

Google search
Google search page

Google is always giving webmasters hints on how to optimize for SEO. Acting on that advice can instantly improve your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Here are 12 factors you must consider:

1. Core web vitals

Google core web vitals are the latest user-centered ranking factors introduced by Google in 2020. They’re launched to help search robots assess page experience more accurately and improve search usability.

These metrics go beyond loading speed and page responsiveness and dig deep into user experience trying to improve how fast a page loads and how soon can users interact with it.

Although there are still lots of unanswered questions around Core Web Vitals, one thing is for sure: User-experience is the future of SEO.

2. High-quality content

Content quality has always been a top priority to search engines, which explains why it is a key ranking factor. Your content needs to be valuable in order for it to stand out and rank high. It must anticipate all the answers inside your prospects’ minds and meet them where they are.

Every organic visitor is facing a unique challenge that they need help with. Thus, search results that fail to provide detailed answers to those problems shouldn’t come at the top.

Duplicate, repetitive articles are never preferred by Google or its users. That’s why you need to go the extra mile and write all-inclusive articles for your audience. You must also revisit your old content regularly to keep it updated with the latest trends and provide new solutions to your readers.

Finally, every sentence you write must encourage the visitor to read the next one. So, keep your articles easy to read and skim through by using short paragraphs and phrases. Use a modern, elegant font on your website and leave a lot of white space around your text to improve readability.

3. Keywords in meta title tags

The title tag is the most important of all meta tags because it has a bigger impact on SEO. It helps Google bots quickly identify the context of the page and understand what it is about.

Title tags are also the most visible part of any search result. They paint the first impression users have when landing on your website.

Meta title tags
Source; WordStream

Be sure to write a unique, descriptive title for each page and keep its length less than 50-60 characters. Then, optimize all titles using your main keywords to boost clicks and conversions.

4. Backlinking

Backlinks will transform your brand and increase your domain authority, allowing you to easily outrank the biggest competitors in your industry.

High-quality backlinks are a signal that tells Google that your content is worthwhile and trustworthy. Search engines will then rely on your backlink profile to rank your site high in the SERPs.

But what matters here is the word “White Hat.” Backlinking is sure to enhance your SEO progress and help your site rank faster, but it could also have the opposite effect if done illegitimately.

“Black hat” link building is the practice of attracting high-authority links to your website through unethical practices. For example, a webmaster might buy a few backlinks from another website to boost their rankings.  Such tactics can yield quick results, but the rankings it gets are very short-sighted. Once Google detects the illicit activity, your website will get penalized.

That’s why you must always stick to white hat link building in your SEO journey.

5. Niche relevancy

Expertise, authority, and trust (E.A.T.) are three crucial factors that will put you ahead of your competitors in 2021.

Search engines favour sites that specialize in a specific niche. They prefer authoritative, credible brands and businesses with long years of experience to provide the best solutions to search users.

6. Internal linking

Internal links allow you to pass link juice (domain strength) from one page to another. That helps Google better understand your site hierarchy based on significance.

Internal linking is also an excellent way to maintain an organized structure and connect all your pages together. That keeps your visitors longer on your site by allowing them to move between your pages easily.

An effective internal linking structure could look something like this:

You build links to a long-form guide on your website to boost its authority. From there, you link to smaller pages on your site to boost their page rank as well.  Then, you’ll create links from your smaller pages leading to your main page to interlink everything together.

Hire an SEO professional here

7. Visitor “time-on-site”

Time-on-site is the average time a user spends browsing a particular page on your website. It varies widely based on the audience, the search query and the content on the page. This metric is an accurate indicator of your content quality.

To increase your time-on-site:

  • Be sure to produce helpful content with targeted keywords and relevant information.
  • Keep your pages highly readable with short paragraphs and sentences to hook visitors in.
  • Lead the visitor’s eye with a simple page layout and lots of white space.

8. Mobile-friendliness

Mobile device users account for more than 50% of online traffic today. Yet, those numbers are only going up with the number of unique mobile users growing up by 2% each year.

The shift Google made to mobile-first indexing in 2019 was inevitable. Chances are, you can’t remember the last time you came across a webpage that didn’t work on mobile. That should indicate the importance of mobile responsiveness for SEO.

To test your site for mobile-friendliness, you can use the free Mobile-Friendly Test tool from Google. It will run a quick test on your site and analyze its pages to tell you if there are any issues you need to fix.

9. Page loading speed

Site speed isn’t about optimizing your pages to be a few milliseconds better than those of your competitors. Yet, you can’t neglect the effect a few seconds could have on your rankings.

As a start, you need to test your site speed to identify the ways you can improve it. Thankfully, Google has the free PageSpeed Insights tool that will generate a detailed report for that.

10. SSL

Without a solid security strategy for your website, you’ll put your business at the risk of getting hacked. Google can’t put its users at such a risk, which is why unsecured websites will never be at the top of the SERPs. Your brand will lose lots of its ranking potential if your domain doesn’t have an SSL certificate.

An SSL certificate is free and can be installed easily with a few clicks. It’s a quick way to protect your sensitive data and keep it private across computer networks.

11. Schema markup

Schema markup is a code that you add to your site to help Google extract rich information from it. It will make your results stand out compared to your competition, which boosts your organic click-through rates.

Google prefers websites that use schema markup because it improves the user experience. It allows search algorithms to provide accurate results to the searcher quickly.

Schema markup

Users won’t have to visit a website to get a direct answer to their questions when a rich snippet is served. Instead, the result is displayed in the form of a short answer, saving the user their time and effort.

12. Keywords in URL, header tags, and meta descriptions

Keywords aren’t as important as they used to be. Aside from providing context to crawling spiders, they’re no longer considered a top-ranking factor.

Yet, strategic keyword placement can still make a difference when it comes to SEO. Keywords placed differently on your page are also treated differently.

Keywords in URL and meta description

For example, placing a key phrase in your page’s URL is a lot more important than using it in your conclusion. That’s simply because search algorithms look closely at the URL to better understand your page context.

Your keywords must also be used repeatedly in your header tags, meta descriptions, and image descriptions. However, PR pros must take care of: Over optimizing your content with keywords can hurt your SEO success. Don’t overuse your keywords and keep the tone of your article reader-friendly for human users.

Culled from Ragan's PR Daily


Popular posts from this blog


I don't care to know if this letter/speech was real or not. It doesn't have to be real for the content to be believable. Every day, blacks and Africans seem to be in perpetual slavery. Via the Economy, international politics, diplomacy, civilization and so on, it is increasingly confirmed that we have willingly submitted to slavery. The same principle for taking slaves of individuals in the days of slave trade is still used for taking slaves of entire nations today: 'make the slaves sell themselves to you'. Is this not happening today in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan etc? I do wish that Africans will read this letter below. The quote, "if you don't want a n**ger to find a thing, hide it in a book" seems like a stereotype. But it is a verifiable fact. We mostly don't enjoy reading. READ FULL TEXT OF 'THEY ARE STILL OUR SLAVES' HERE Now, let's read the Willie Lynch Letter: The Making Of A Slave! This s


The list of successful candidates at the May 2016 Nigeria Navy recruitment exercise is out. Find your name in the list below and good luck as you do. Please give 5 seconds for the list to appear, and scroll inside the pdf window to look for names. Below are guidelines and a timetable for attending the interview; The candidates including those on the reserve list, whose names appear in the list, were successful at the Aptitude Test for Nigerian Navy 2016 Recruitment Exercise held nationwide on 14 May 2016. Accordingly, they are to report at the Nigerian Navy Secondary School Navy Town Ojo, Lagos for interview in 3 groups as follows:   Group A : 15 – 23 August 2016   Anambra   Enugu   Adamawa   Bauchi   Kaduna   Katsina   Akwa Ibom   Delta   Kogi   Nasarawa   Lagos   Ekiti    Group B : 25 August – 2 September 2016   Abia   Imo   Borno   Gombe   Edo   Rivers   Benue   Kwara   Kano   Kebbi   Oyo   Osun 

Sammie Okposo, Akpororo & A-List Artistes Storm Uyo For Street Gospel 2015

“The Street Gospel Project is basically a concert campaign that drives with content to reach out to people on the streets” says Pastor Runcie Mike, senior pastor of the innovation driven The Evening Church; and convener of the annual Street Gospel concert. The first edition, in 2014, held outdoors at the Ibom Tropicana Resorts. Street Gospel 2015, the sophomore edition is in collaboration with Zamar Entertainment, organizers of Sammie Okposo’s Praise Party - and fields A-list Nigerian international Gospel acts. The concept of reaching out to people on the streets is born out of renewed understanding by the Christian church, especially since the second half of the 20 th century, to keep evangelism in pace with a swift generation, so that the world is perpetually in touch with the gospel of Christ. It has kept an increasing number of Christian denominations reviewing their outreach approaches away from the conformist in search of more efficiency. The Street Gospel Project