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6 Important Factors That Affect Your Website’s Ranking on Google

As you probably already know, Google uses over 200 factors to rank a website on its result pages. The exact number doesn’t really matter. Their sheer magnitude is intimidating, especially for those who have barely started working on their site. The good news is that not all ranking factors are equally important. As a matter of fact, there are only a handful that have the power to push you all the way to the top of Google’s result pages.

Moz’s experts have put together an impressive list of ranking factors and explained the influence of each in Google’s algorithm. Let’s take a closer look at the most important ones to fully understand how they will impact your site’s organic standing.

1. Domain-Level Backlinks

Quantity, quality, and trust metrics of all links to the website

Backlinks, or inbound links (IBLs), represent the links directed towards your site. Their number and quality indicate the popularity and authority of your website. Websites with a large number of high-quality, relevant backlinks are given more credit by the search engine and will make the page (or domain) rank better than others.

The main reason why backlinks represent the most important ranking factor is because they are difficult to manipulate. Unlike on-site SEO, which depends solely on the webmaster, creating backlinks requires a certain level of interaction with other bloggers or webmasters, as well as their trust.

Below are the most important domain-level link-authority features:

  • The quality of unique linking domains.
  • The relevance of unique linking domains.
  • The popularity of domains measured with PageRank, MozRank etc.
  • The trust of linking domains measured with PageRank, MozRank etc.
  • Relative importance and authority distributed between linking domains.
  • Inbound links from domains in your site’s geo-targeted area or language.
  • Link sentiment.

2. Page-Level Backlinks

Anchor text distribution and spamminess of linking sources

As the name suggests, page-level backlink factors refer to the quality, quantity and sentiment of links pointing to a page (as opposed to domain-level backlinks which refer to the sum of IBLs pointing towards the domain). Pages with relevant and powerful backlinks will rank better than those with few or poor backlinks.

Below are the most important page-level link-based factors sorted according to their influence:

  • The sheer quantity of links perceived as valuable that point towards your page.
  • The relevance of pages linking towards your page.
  • The relevance of domains linking towards your page.
  • Anchor text diversity.
  • Quantity of links coming from trusted brands and online entities.
  • Quantity and quality of unique linking domains.
  • The position and content of the inbound link.
  • Popularity and page authority measured with PageRank and MozRank.
  • Link sentiment.

Anchor text distribution and spaminess of linking sources are both page-level link metrics. The latter is a negative factor. According to Google, link-building profiles should be created organically. Therefore, anchor texts should also be organic. SEO experts believe that authoritative websites should have a healthy mix of exact match, phrase, branded, KW branded, and URL anchor texts.

3. Page-Level Content Quality/Relevance 

Content length, readability, uniqueness, and other on-page keyword factors.

Page-level content quality refers to relevance scoring, keyword usage, on-page optimization (focused keyword in meta-description, title, article body, URL etc.), readability, length, uniqueness etc. With the release of the Panda algorithm, Google made it very clear that content quality is a vital ranking factor for websites. Furthermore, thanks to the Hummingbird algorithm, Google can now analyse websites at their page-level to evaluate their relevance. Here are the most important page-level content features:

  • Uniqueness of content across the website.
  • Content freshness.
  • Keyword present in the main content area of the page.
  • Content relevance.
  • Content readability.
  • Content length.
  • Thin content on page (negative factor).

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4. User Experience Metrics

Visitor traffic/usage signals and Click-through rate of SERP listing on both domain and page level.

Google ranks websites differently according to traffic type. It uses data from Google Chrome to rank websites with direct traffic better. Repeat traffic is also considered a sign that visitors trust the page.

The click-through-rate of a keyword will also give your page a SERP boost for the given keyword. On the domain level, the organic CTR of key-phrases are perceived as a sign of positive user-experience (high CTRs will result in better rankings). Other user-experience metrics include dwell time, bounce rate, and engagement level.

Note: You can analyse this data from your Google analytics Behaviour & Acquisition tabs.

5. Domain-Level Content Quality/Relevance

Content length, readability, uniqueness, and other on-page keyword factors.

Domain-level content features are closely related to the keywords that are used on your domain and how they relate to the content on your pages. Google gives priority to niched websites (for certain keywords). In addition to this, all the page-level content features on your page will factor into your domain’s strength. Although EMDs aren’t as powerful as before, it seems that Google still gives preference to them for specific keywords (probably also due to the prominence of keyword usage and anchor text).

6. Page-Level Social Media Metrics

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Quantity/quality of tweeted links, Facebook shares, Google +1’s etc.

According to Moz, page-level social metrics are the least influential o, but obtaining positive signals from third-party sources such as Facebook, Google+ Twitter, etc. will help you improve your standing on SERPs. Sorted by influence are the most important social media metrics:

  • Level of engagement with content on social networks.
  • Number of +1s, tweets, Facebook likes and comments on the page.
  • Social links and citations sentiments.
  • Number of Pinterest pins.
  • Number of upvotes on bookmarking and social sites.

This concludes our list of factors that affect your ranking on Google. For more detailed information check out Backlinko’s complete list or Moz’s survey.

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Posted in All Posts, Search Engine Marketing.