Top 5 SEO Ranking Factors You Need To Know

Statistics suggest that 68% of internet interactions begin with a search engine. It’s the most effective way users can get the answers they need and gain information on the World Wide Web. The best part is that it only requires you to type the main keywords, and you’ll get a list of relevant results.

What does this mean for your online business? You’ll need to adopt strategies for your business to be more visible online and generate traffic to your website, one of which is optimising your site to improve ranking on search engines. Essentially, ranking high on search engine result pages (SERPs) can give you a great opportunity of attracting potential clients.

It’d be good to note that only 0.63% of Google searchers click on links on the second results page, as many consumers are likely to change their search terms rather than browse the rest of the pages. In addition, a study by Ahrefs shows that 90.63% of content doesn’t get organic search traffic, while 5.29% of pages get at most ten monthly visits.

With all these in mind, ensuring your website stands out in the sea of competitors online has been essential for your business’s success.

This article will explore the main SEO ranking factors and how to use them to enhance your position on SERPs.

How Do Google Rankings Work?

Google uses a complex algorithm to determine web pages’ ranking in its SERPs. And while the search engine giant has never provided the specific details of this algorithm, experts have analysed the SEO performance of millions of websites over the years and recommended some best practices.

These best practices and Google’s occasional updates comprise the list of SEO ranking factors you see on various guides today.

What Are SEO Ranking Factors?


SEO ranking factors determine the position of a site on its search results page. For instance, the relevance of your content to a user’s query will determine where your webpage will rank in SERPs.

It’s worth noting that SEO ranking factors can either be off-page or on-page. The following sections will cover each category, highlighting the main components.

On-Page Elements 

These ranking factors are present on your webpage and are within your control. That means their contribution to your SEO performance largely depends on how you implement them.

Here are some on-page ranking factors:

    1. Content Quality 

Content is king! This cliché phrase has been famous in the digital marketing industry for many years and still has the same impact. It’s one of the main on-page factors impacting your site’s ranking since search engines favour high-quality, original content that provides value to users. That said, well-written, informative content that satisfies user search intent is more likely to rank higher.

Here are some considerations to help you create good content that attracts users:

      • Uniqueness: The information you provide should be original to stand out from millions of content on the internet while offering unique and relevant ideas to your audience.
      • Engaging: It must be easy to read and cover complex matters in a way that resonates with the users.
      • Tone: The voice of the content should correspond with your brand’s culture and the desired message.
      • Relevance: You must create content that matches your potential client search queries. It should also be timely and up-to-date.
      • Future-proof: The information you provide on your website should remain relevant for many years.
      • Grammar and spelling: Many web admins and content creators overlook this factor, but grammatical errors can reduce your ranking because they make you look unprofessional. The poor responses from readers may influence how Google perceives your website.

The online world is dynamic, and creating such content can be demanding, especially without the necessary skills. As such, one of the solutions you can adopt is to invest in freelance content writing and content marketing.

Does Content Length Matter?

Content length also plays a vital role in your SEO success. Of course, this has been one of the most controversial subjects in digital marketing. One of the main factors contributing to this debate is the idea that the human attention span is constantly narrowing.

However, a study by HubSpot in 2021 suggests that the ideal blog post length is between 2100 and 2400 words. It shows that lengthier content can rank higher than shorter content considering they can be more valuable and comprehensive in giving consumers information

Although, that may not be the case always since the ideal content length varies with the type of blog. Some articles perform better with less than 1,500 words, while others perfectly match the above statistics. For instance, long-form content allows you to cover how-to and case study topics in detail, while short-form blogs work best with news articles and landing page content.

In addition, it’s also important to note that the content’s length is an insufficient metric to consider to rank high, especially since the quality of the content is also crucial. Search engines can differentiate between high and low-quality content based on user engagement metrics like bounce rates and social shares.

    1. Keyword Optimisation 

Keywords are another vital SEO ranking factor since a user’s interaction with search engines involves using specific key terms. For instance, a prospective homeowner may search queries like ‘houses for sale in Melbourne’ or ‘one-bedroom properties for sale in Melbourne’.

As you can see in the example above, the top-ranking results have pretty much all the keywords used in the query. So, if your content contains any of the mentioned key terms or phrases, Google will include your page in the results.

Here are some tips for keyword optimisation for on-page SEO:

      • Conduct keyword research: The first step in this project is to identify the most relevant key terms and phrases for your niche and audience. You can use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs to find high-traffic words with low competition.

      • Include keywords in the page title: The page title is one of the most important on-page SEO elements. So, including the targeted keyword here can help enhance your content’s visibility.
      • Consider the meta description: The meta description summarises the results of the page appearing in search engine results. Therefore, including your target key phrases can boost your search engine optimisation. However, ensure that the keywords fit naturally into the context.

      • Optimise the headings: To describe every section, use targeted keywords in the content’s headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.). Doing so makes it easier for users and search engines to understand the structure and topics of the page.
      • Use specific phrases: Our initial phrase above, ‘one-bedroom properties for sale in Melbourne’, is more specific than just saying ‘one-bedroom properties for sale’. When a user adds ‘Melbourne’ to their query, it prompts Google to provide results within that specific city. So, it’s easier for your content to rank for such key phrases because they have the lowest competition.

However, despite being the majority in the search industry, phrases attract the lowest search volumes because of their uniqueness. According to Ahrefs, these long-tail keywords account for 95% of keywords, and most of them receive less than ten monthly searches.

Of course, the example above also shows the importance of local SEO in your keyword research. But there are many ways to create long-tail keywords apart from adding a city name.

You can use adjectives, prepositional phrases, and other relevant words to modify short-tail keywords. Common modifiers include ‘best’, ‘cheap’, ‘free’, ‘near me’, ‘review’, ‘how to’, and ‘discount’.

    1. Website Structure 

The structure of your website also plays a vital role in your SEO success. A well-structured site can help visitors easily navigate your content and increase lead conversion chances. It also enhances the work of search engine crawlers, making it easier for them to understand your content.

Below are some of the top web structures features:

      • URL structure: Your site should have a clean and straightforward URL structure. This way, it’ll be easier for search engines to understand the website’s hierarchy and the relationship between different pages.

Using keywords in the URL can also help improve the page’s relevance for specific search queries. There is no clear answer as to whether URL keywords are part of Google’s ranking factors, but their contribution to your SEO performance is undeniable.

      • Internal Linking

Internal linking refers to linking pages within the same website using hyperlinks. When done correctly, it can help improve your website’s SEO in several ways.  Here’s an example:

First, it can distribute your website’s authority and ranking power across all your pages. If you have a particularly high-ranking page, you can use internal links to pass some of that ranking power to other parts of your site.

In addition, internal linking can help visitors navigate your site more efficiently, leading to longer visit durations and increased engagement. This, in turn, can help improve your website’s bounce rate, which is a crucial SEO ranking factor.

To make the most of internal linking for SEO, it’s best practice to:

      • Use descriptive anchor text: Make sure the text used in your links is descriptive and gives users an idea of what they can expect to find on the linked page.
      • Link to relevant pages: Only link to pages pertinent to the content on the current page.
      • Use a reasonable number of links: Too many links can look spammy and may harm your SEO. So, ensure you only include links where they are genuinely helpful.
      • Use a logical site structure: Try to group pages by topic or theme and link between them in a way that makes sense.

Navigation: Navigation is how users and search engines move through your website. It includes menus, links, and other elements that help users find their desired content.

From a user experience perspective, good navigation can help visitors find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. As a result, it enhances their overall experience of engaging with your site and encourages them to return.

As for search engines, a sound navigation system allows bots to crawl and index your site more effectively. It also makes it easier for them to determine the most relevant pages for given search queries.

That said, you can improve your site’s navigation by using clear and descriptive labels for menu items. You can also use a sitemap and organise your content logically by theme or topic.

While at it, avoid using JavaScript or Flash for navigation. Search engines may have difficulty crawling these types of navigation. Also, in some cases, when a user disables JavaScript on their browser, it can cripple the central navigation system. So, it’s best to use HTML links instead.

Off-Page Ranking Factors 

Off-page ranking factors are the external measures that influence a website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) that are beyond the control of the website owner or webmaster. These factors are related to the online reputation, authority, and popularity of the website and include:

    1. Backlinks

Backlinks are at the heart of every successful SEO strategy. They’re links from another website to yours. For instance, a publisher may link to one of your pages as a reference in their content. Readers can then visit your site to read more on the subject or purchase your products and services.

Importance of Backlinks for SEO

      • Authority and trust: Search engines like Google use them to evaluate the authority and relevance of a website. High-quality backlinks from reputable sources can help establish your website as an authority in your niche, improving rankings and user trust.
      • Referral traffic: Backlinks allows you to tap into other publishers’ traffic. They can drive visitors to your website from the linking sites, increasing your overall visits and potential for conversions.
      • Indexing: Search engines discover new web pages through backlinks. Therefore, it’s easier for them to find and index your site if it has many incoming links through this channel.
      • Improved Rankings: Google’s algorithm considers the number and quality of backlinks when determining the ranking of a webpage. Each is like a vote of confidence that your content is valuable and relevant. Therefore, more quality backlinks can lead to better search engine rankings.

Optimising Your Backlink Strategy

Not all backlinks are natural, as some websites use manipulative tactics like link exchanges, buying links, or participating in link schemes to improve rankings. However, these tactics can hurt a website’s SEO efforts and result in search engine penalties.

That said, building natural and high-quality backlinks is essential to optimise your backlink profile as an off-page ranking factor. Here are some best practices to help you get started:

      • Create valuable and relevant content that other websites will want to use as part of their references.
      • Consider reaching out to reputable publishers for guest blogging opportunities or collaboration. It’s best to approach web admins within your niche to increase your chances of receiving qualifying leads.
      • Participate in online communities or forums to establish relationships with other website owners in the same niche.

Backlinks should be used with other strategies mentioned in the article for better SEO performance.

  1. Social Media Signals

There are over 4.76 billion social media users, representing 59.4% of the global population. As such, it’s understandable why many brands today invest in their presence on social channels.

But does social media directly impact SEO? Many will argue against it. However, it can affect ranking factors like traffic, indirectly contributing to SEO.

Social signals such as likes, shares, comments, and other interactions go a long way in improving your site’s visibility in SERPs since they indicate that people are actively engaging with and sharing your content.

Importance of Social Signals for SEO

  • Drive traffic: People sharing your content on social media can drive more traffic to your website. The more traffic your site receives, the more likely it is to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Enhance engagement metrics: Social signals can improve the bounce rate, time on site, and pages per session. Search engines use these engagement metrics to determine the relevance and quality of a website, and this improvement can result in higher rankings.

  • Improve brand awareness: Social signals can help increase brand visibility and recognition and build a loyal following. This improvement can lead to more social mentions and links to your website, boosting your SEO.
  • Great source of backlinks: Social media is also an effective way of building backlinks to your website. Sharing your content on social media increases the likelihood of other websites linking to your site.

However, it’s important to note that social signals are not a direct ranking factor in SEO, and the quality of the social signals is more important than the quantity. In other words, having a few high-quality social signals from relevant and authoritative sources is better than many low-quality social signals from irrelevant or spammy sources.

Wrapping Up

Google’s ranking system is complex. Generally, the giant search engine considers many factors when positioning your website on the search result pages – these elements can be off-page or on-page but work towards the same goal.

Some of the most effective on-page SEO contributors include mobile-friendliness, content quality, and page speed. Generally, on-page factors are under your control. On the other hand, it can be impossible to control off-page SEO since factors in this category include backlinks, influencer marketing, and social media signals.

By understanding SEO ranking factors, you can be better positioned to remain relevant and visible in today’s competitive digital world.