Search engine giant, Google has confirmed that it uses over 200 SEO factors to rank web pages. Quite numerous you might think? You’re not alone!
Despite this, we’re often overtly concerned about making smart SEO moves to attract more organic traffic from search engines, no one knows for sure the order these 200 Google SEO factors are used. To make things more worrisome, Google algorithm keeps changing. However, some of these ranking factors have been a thing since like forever.
Most Important SEO Factors in 2021
Google SEO ranking factors fall into three broad categories, namely – on-page, off-page and technical SEO factors. But in this context, we’re just going to have a list of some 20 SEO factors we figured will dominate in 2021.
1. Keyword in Title Tag
The presence of the exact keyword in the title Meta tag is a very important SEO factor. The title tag is meant to provide the readers with a topical description of what your content is about. It is this same title tag that is highlighted in organic search results of search engine result pages (SERPs). It is best to have your target keyword appear at the beginning of your title tag. That helps search bots to quickly pick up what your page is about.
2. Keyword in Meta Description Tag
Your Meta description is the snippet bank of your content page. Oftentimes (but not always), Google picks up the snippet it shows in organic search results from your Meta description. Having your specific keyword in your Meta description convinces both search engines and users that your page contains information relevant to their search – a phenomenon that increases your click-through rate (CTR).
3. Keyword in Content Body
The presence of the specific keyword you are trying to rank for in the body of your content is a very important signal for search bots. Keyword density or saturation is also an important factor. Your aim should be to have adequate keyword saturation throughout your content rather than having a keyword stuffed page. Mentioning your keyword at least once in every ¼ of your content is just adequate.
4. Quality Contents
In the world of SEO, content is king. Content quality has been a ranking factor since forever. Given that both search engines are its users have developed a common preference for unique contents, no SEO should compromise on this one.
A great content is one that comes fresh, unique and informative enough to satisfy a user’s search intent. Moreover, fresh contents attract search crawlers the way sugar would attract ants. The outcome of such attraction is increased visibility for your web pages.
5. Content Length
While the ideal length for content has remained a topic of huge debate, the key is to be informative and satisfy users’ intent. Chances are that the longer your content is, the more likely you are to cover more aspects of your topic.
According to Emery Ross, an inbound marketing specialist in SEO and content writing:
There are a few reasons why longer content tends to rank better. First, more words often (though not always) means more authority. This leads to visitors staying on the page longer and not needing to go elsewhere to get the information they need. Longer content often has higher social engagement, too. All of these factors (and more) can tell Google that your piece of content is substantive and useful to visitors.
6. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content defined as content that appears in more than one place on or off your site. Having duplicate or even closely similar contents on different pages of your site can greatly hurt your SEO. This has a close relationship with keyword cannibalization and its effect can cause such pages to rank lower.
7. Image Optimization
Optimizing your images is part of the larger optimizations you need to improve your search engine ranking. Search engines can pick up relevance signals from image alt attribute, caption and description. Using the right image size is also an image optimization process that should not be ignored.
8. Internal Linking
This is the inbound links of your website. It helps to distribute link juice throughout your web pages. Above all else, it helps search bots understand what your site is about.
9. Outbound Links
This is the type of linking that point from your site to the pages of other websites. Linking to external high authority pages sends a sort of trustworthiness signal to search engines. Referencing high quality pages also passes on the signal that the content on your page is reliable as it is backed up by a credible source.
Your outbound link to an external web page is interpreted to the receiving site as a backlink. Backlinks is how web pages on the internet are interconnected. Every website has what is termed a backlink profile. The higher it is, the higher your ranking on SERPs. Backlinks pass a signal of E-A-T (Expertise-Authority_Trustworthiness) of your contents to search engines.
11. Keyword in URL
This is simply the presence of the exact match of your keyword in your slug. For example, a key word “eCommerce SEO” appears as https://seomarketingmap.com/ecommerce-seo.
This helps search engines to interpret how relevant your content is to the keyword you are trying to rank for.
12. Site Security
Site security refers to the use of an HTTPS encryption to secure web pages. Sites with HTTPS are backed by an SSL certificate that creates a secure connection between users and the website. This added security layer is a serious ranking factor for Google. So websites that are deemed more secure are ranked above the rest.
13. Mobile Friendliness
This can be described as a responsive website. A responsive website is one that displays correctly across all screen size.
Having established that over 50% of internet traffic originates from mobile devices, Google ranks websites that are mobile-friendly higher than the rest.
You can determine if your site is mobile friendly with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
14. Page Load Speed
This SEO factor seeks to rank pages with faster load time higher than those that are not. A Speed Update by Google confirmed that load speed is a ranking factor especially for mobile searches.
The idea is to improve user experience. So part of your SEO efforts should be to boost your page load speed.
15. Page Updates
Frequency of page updates is an important SEO factor for Google. How often do you update your web pages over time? Is it daily, weekly, monthly, in a couple of years or never at all?
16. Structured Data
Structured data also known as Schema Markup is a piece of micro data added to a web page’s backend which tells search engines how to classify the content contained on the page.
Structured data is a top SEO factor because it tells search engines what a page is all about and how to interpret and rank it accordingly. Examples of structured data include names, date, addresses of business.
The advantage of including such structured data is that it increases click-through rate, improving ranking even more.
17. User Engagement
The signals received from users’ interaction with your content is a very strong ranking factor for Google. RankBrain is the artificial intelligence tool used by Google to determine your click-through rate (CTR) and bounce rate. If your site visitors ditch your web pages within the first few seconds of arriving, that could be interpreted as encountering unhelpful content.
18. Domain Age
The domain age ranking factor might not be one that is within your direct control but we think you should know about it all the same.
Age of your domain or how old your site is does indirectly impact your ranking on Google SERPs. While Google has never confirmed domain age as a ranking factor, there’s been confirmation that you need to be around a while before your web pages start to rank.
19. Country TLD
While having a country Top Level Domain (TLD) such as .ca, .cn, and .co.uk can be an added advantage for ranking at country level, it might be a limiting factor when trying to rank globally.
20. EMDs (Exact Match Domains)
Having an exact match domain gives you better chances of ranking in SERPs. An example of an exact match domain is “buybusticket.com”. However, a Google update in 2012 supports penalties for low-quality or spammy EMDs.
We’ve come to the end of this article on 20 SEO factors we figured would still matter for a long time. The hard fact about SEO is that some SEO factors will be with us for a very long time. So, if they are not going anywhere, you too should be on their trail.
Whether you have been around for a while or just starting out your SEO, these 20 steps for thorough SEO gives you a head start.