Search engine optimization (SEO) should be the cornerstone of any online marketing strategy, as 68% of all online experiences start with a search engine. This means your clients are invisible to a vast pool of potential customers if their websites aren’t optimized, no matter how good their other digital assets are.
However, you can’t just make random improvements or create content without direction. You’ll end up investing a lot of time and effort into initiatives that likely won’t give returns.
Before doing SEO, you first need to know about ranking factors.
What Are Ranking Factors?
Ranking factors are website elements or qualities that search engines look for when determining their rank on results pages.
The companies that own the search engines have never confirmed any ranking factors. After all, it could present dishonest website owners with opportunities to cheat the system or exploit a vulnerability in their algorithms.
That said, we have confirmed some ranking factors by monitoring analytics and seeing how they change after trying out various strategies on numerous websites. Here are some of the most important.
Search engines understand what users want based on the terms they use. If they search “how to sew a dress,” the search engine will likely show a guide blog.
However, what is relevant also depends on the type of query. Search engines will deem fresher content more valuable for some search terms.
For example, the average cost of a home constantly fluctuates. If someone looks it up, search engines are more likely to show new or newly updated pages.
Any piece of content can be relevant, but relevance doesn’t necessarily make it helpful to users. That’s why search engines also look for quality.
Provide as much value as possible on the topics you write about and avoid duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and creating pages with little information.
Search engines also use backlinks as an indicator of quality. If other authoritative websites link to yours in their articles, it indicates that you’re trustworthy and provide valuable information.
Search engines prioritize their users above all else, so they favor websites that perform well. Google measures this through your Core Web Vitals, three metrics it uses as page experience signals. These include:
- LCP (largest contentful paint): How long it takes to render the largest content element
- FID (first input delay): The interval between a user’s interaction with a website (ex. clicking a link) and the website’s response.
- CLS (cumulative layout shift): How much a page’s elements shift
54.4% of global website traffic came from mobile devices by the end of 2021. Many of your visitors come from mobile, so your website needs to be optimized for it. Otherwise, they’ll go to competitors that offer a better user experience.
Search engines, Google, in particular, know this too and will rank mobile-friendly sites higher than those that aren’t.
Become an SEO Expert
Want to learn more about SEO and become an expert? Join our live KEX+ webinar on November 17, 2022 at 10 AM ET. We’ll discuss the pillars of SEO and the foundations of a successful campaign!
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