27 Most Important Search Engine Ranking Factors
SEO (Search Engine Optimization, search engine optimization) is a set of measures that are taken to ensure that the site receives as much traffic as possible from search results.
The main goal of an SEO specialist is to make sure that in search queries the desired site is shown in the top 10, or better in the top 3 results. To achieve this, you need to play by the rules of the search engines. This means taking into account the site ranking factors.
In this article, we list the 27 most significant factors for search engines. Each of them can affect your site to varying degrees. What factors are the most significant in your topic you can find out only empirically.
1 domain factors
We decided to combine all the influence of domain choice on website promotion under this name. So what are the factors influencing SEO from the side of the domain?
Age. According to the latest data, this factor plays a role only at the initial stage. The difference between the 6 and 12 month domain is not that great. But between them and the domain up to a month is very significant.
Using the keyword in the top-level domain name. For Google, this is one of the relevance factors.
Registration deadline. Again, this is mainly taken into account by Google, which believes that useful sites pay for their domain for years in advance.
Top-level domain TLD with geographic extension. Such domains (for example, .ru, .ua, .fr) can help a site rank in a certain region, but this reduces their visibility in global search.
Title – the title of the page. Title is still an important factor in internal search engine optimization. Especially if the keyword is placed at the beginning. Then the significance of the factor increases.
3. Keyword in the Description tag
Google does not perceive the meta Description tag as a direct ranking factor, however, this tag can affect the CTR, which is. Judge for yourself, where are you more likely to click? Site name or site name with a brief description of what you find there?
4. The keyword is used in the H1 tag
The H1 tag is the “second Title tag”. Along with the Title tag, Google also uses the H1 tag as a secondary relevancy signal.
5. Content length
Both Google and Yandex are interested in ensuring that users find the most complete answers to their questions. The volume of texts correlates with the completeness of the answer. Recent studies of ranking factors have shown that the length of content in Google equal to 1900-2000 characters more often goes to the first positions, and this value is not taken into account in Yandex. The first results include those documents that contain the most appropriate answers to the user’s question.
6. Table of contents
Using a referenced table of contents helps search engines better understand the structure of your content. The table of contents can also lead to pages on your site. Pay attention to such giants of the marketing industry as Netology, Tilda and others. In most articles, you will find a table of contents at the beginning.
7. LSI words in content
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) in content helps search engines to determine the degree of relevance of web pages to a topic. LSI analysis also helps to determine the desired meaning for words with multiple meanings. For example, “orange” might be the name of a fruit, or it might be the name of a marketing agency. Search engines will scan the page for additional pointers to the site’s topic.
8. Speed of loading pages
Yandex and Google consider page load speed as the main ranking factor. Each of the search engines is interested in the user getting results on his question as quickly as possible. For this, sites must load almost instantly.
It should be noted separately that fast loading is not just a whim of a search engine, but a necessity for the user. The fact is that numerous studies indicate that approximately 50% of users agree to wait no more than 3 seconds for a download. Then they just leave the site.
Google offers PageSpeed Insights, an online download speed checker. The software will analyze your site, give ratings and give recommendations. Most of the site owners who turn to optimizers want to display the cherished 90-100% on the counter. However, these figures are not a guideline. It is much more important to follow the recommendations given by the service in the list below.
9. Using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages – accelerated mobile pages) and Turbo pages from Yandex
While this is not a direct ranking factor in Google and Yandex, having accelerated mobile pages allows you to load pages quickly on any device.
10. Adaptation for mobile devices
Search engine algorithms give preference to pages optimized for mobile devices. If 5 years ago the mobile version could be neglected, today it is a mandatory attribute of the site, which is aimed at reaching the TOP of search results.
What is especially important, it is precisely the presence of an adaptive site that is required, and not separate mobile and desktop versions of the site. For example, since July 2018, Google has been showing mobile search results regardless of the type of device used, while sites that are easy to navigate for mobile users are ranked higher.
Images, videos and other multimedia elements are a measure of the quality of the content. For example, research has found a correlation between content containing at least one image and ranking in search results. 98% of the pages in the first place in the search results contained at least one multimedia element.
12. HTML / W3C validation errors
A lot of HTML errors or sloppy code can be signs of poor quality of the site and can lead to errors in the operation of the resource.
13. Numbered and Bulleted Lists
Such lists help to logically break content into logical parts, making it easier for readers to perceive the information. Yandex and Google give preference to content that contains lists, all other things being equal.
14. Availability of the “Contacts” page
It has been reliably confirmed by Google and Yandex employees that the presence of contact information on the corresponding page of the site really increases trust on the part of the search engine and site users. Make sure the contact information matches the domain owner information.
15. SSL certificate
The use of the HTTPS protocol has a positive effect on the position in the search results. Moreover, on mobile devices, Google will not allow the site at all if this protocol is not available. The same situation is with the Firefox browser – it does not allow access to the site from any device without this protocol.
Having a secure connection has a positive effect on the trust of site visitors. They are more willing to trust you with their personal information.
16. Navigation “breadcrumb” (breadcrumb)
It is a user-friendly site architecture that helps users and search engines understand exactly where on the site they are at the moment. Used as navigation elements. And Google claims that the search engine uses this markup in the body of the page to categorize information in search results.
17. Site usability
A site that is difficult to navigate can rank poorly due to indirect factors, such as users spending less time on the site, viewing fewer pages, and leaving quickly.
To improve usability, identify the main scenarios for using your resource and check each of them for difficulty in passing.
18. Using Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Yandex.Webmaster and Yandex.Metrica
Someone thinks that using these platforms improves site indexing. And this is partly true. The fact is that search engines receive more information (for example, a more accurate bounce rate, number of visitors, etc.). And you can also set the settings for crawling site pages by counters, which also improves indexing.
19. Schema.org and OpenGraph markup
Pages that support microformats may rank above non-markup pages. The markup can have a direct impact or the reason is that pages with micro-markup have a higher click-through rate in search results.
In addition, the inclusion of OpenGraph markup makes it possible to display attractive snippets of pages when sending links through social networks. It also has a positive effect on link click-through rates and will increase the number of clicks in the future.
20. Bounce rate
A high bounce rate indicates that landing pages are not meeting the requirements or expectations of visitors for a particular search query. There are two reasons for a high bounce rate: a low-quality landing page and low-quality traffic. Accordingly, there are several ways to reduce the bounce rate on the site: redesign, improve usability, reduce the number of ads (for forums, blogs and news) and change the content to more relevant.
21. Return visits
If your site is constantly re-visited by users, then the search engines automatically begin to consider it more interesting and promote it higher in the search results.
To get people to come back to your site, we recommend that you publish unique and interesting content more often. This will motivate users to come back.
22. Social interactions
Actions with “Share” buttons and comments affect the promotion. For example, pages with a lot of comments can be an indicator of content quality.
23. Time on site
Yandex and Google pay very close attention to the time people spend on the page when they come from search. Spoiler: “The longer the better!”
How to increase the time a user spends on your site? Increase the amount of content, add videos (they are eagerly watched), change the design for a more attractive one and work out the scenarios for using the site in detail.
24. Local search
If the query has a specific link to the location (for example, you made a query “barbershop Moscow”), then search engines will place local results above the “regular” organic search results. This is done to better match user expectations. You don’t expect that for this request you will see barbershops in Kazan? 🙂
25. Robots.txt and sitemap documents
robots.txt – file for restricting access to content for robots on the http server. Sitemap is an XML file with information for search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, MSN, Yandex) about the pages of the website that are to be indexed.
The first one is needed so as not to clutter the issue with technical pages, and the second one is to index your resource to the maximum.
A favicon is a small image next to the name of your site that appears on a tab in the browser and in bookmarks. A unique favicon makes your site easily recognizable among others.
27. The block of commercial factors
We decided to highlight several factors under one general name. All of them will be useful when promoting e-commerce sites.
Prices are mandatory for commercial inquiries.
Buy / order buttons.
Information about the presence or absence of goods is important for online stores.
Filtering and sorting.
A basket that provides information for an order in a convenient form and does not interfere with its implementation.
Delivery and payment information.
Reviews on the site and on individual products.
Comparison of goods and services.
Map and directions on the contact page.
Promotions and discounts on a separate page and on products.
One-Click Purchase – Approximately 50% of purchases in online stores are made using this button.
Similar, related products.
Photos of activity, office.
Certificates / awards / licenses.
These factors will not only drive sales, but will also improve behavioral factors through multiple interactions of visitors with the site.
The recipe for an SEO-friendly site is simple: thoughtful architecture and navigation, modern design, clean code, more social interactions and a positive reputation with the domain will bring your site to the TOP of search results.