Search engine optimization (SEO) is constantly evolving, and it can be challenging to keep up with the latest ranking factors that Google uses to determine search engine results page (SERP) rankings. In this ultimate guide to ranking factors for 2023, we'll explore the major categories of ranking factors and provide educational tips and strategies for each category that you can use to improve your own SEO strategy.
Be sure to download the free SEO checklist to make this work for your website or digital marketing agency to ensure maximum SEO success.
Technical SEO ranking factors include elements of your website's structure, coding, and performance that affect search engine crawling and indexing. Here are some key technical SEO ranking factors to consider:
Site speed is a critical technical SEO ranking factor that affects user experience, bounce rates, and search engine crawling and indexing. To improve your site speed, consider optimizing your images, using a content delivery network (CDN), and minimizing HTTP requests. Explore website metrics in more depth here.
After all, people are 5x more likely to leave a mobile website that loads slowly and isn’t mobile-friendly. Check the speed of your mobile page with the PageSpeed Insights tool, or run a quick RunningSEO audit which includes PageSpeed and more.
Mobile-friendliness, the precursor to mobile-first, is another important technical SEO ranking factor, as more and more users are accessing the web on mobile devices. To ensure that your website is mobile-friendly, consider using responsive design, optimizing your font sizes and buttons for mobile screens, and avoiding pop-ups or interstitials that can interrupt the user experience.
Looking for more tips and insights on ways to create a stronger mobile experience? Explore tips from Think With Google.
Site architecture refers to the organization and structure of your website's pages and content. A clear and logical site architecture can improve user experience and make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site. To improve your site architecture, consider using a clear hierarchy of pages, creating a sitemap, and using internal linking to connect related pages.
Content ranking factors include the quality, relevance, and uniqueness of your website's content. Here are some key content ranking factors to consider:
Quality content is one of the most important content ranking factors. Google's E-A-T guidelines were updated in late 2022 to include emphasis on "experience" turning it into E-E-A-T. Along with experience, the importance of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in creating high-quality content is critical to the searcher journey. To improve your content quality, consider using reliable sources, providing original insights and analysis, and using clear and concise language.
Explore Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines: An Overview here or see the full guidelines here.
Relevance is another important content ranking factor, as search engines strive to provide users with the most relevant and useful results for their queries. To ensure that your content is relevant, consider using target keywords and phrases, creating content that aligns with your audience's interests and needs, and using internal linking to connect related content.
User engagement is a content ranking factor that measures how users interact with your website's content. Metrics like bounce rate, time on page, and click-through rate can indicate whether your content is engaging and valuable to users. To improve user engagement, consider using multimedia elements like images and videos, including calls to action and interactive elements, and analyzing user behavior to identify areas for improvement.
Backlink ranking factors include the quantity, quality, and relevance of external links pointing to your website. Here are some key backlink ranking factors to consider:
The quality and relevance of backlinks are critical backlink ranking factors. Backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites can signal to search engines that your website is a valuable and trustworthy source of information. To improve the quality and relevance of your backlinks, consider reaching out to relevant websites and asking for links, creating high-quality content that other websites will want to link to, and avoiding paid or spammy backlinks.
Anchor text refers to the clickable text that appears in a hyperlink. Anchor text can signal to search engines the relevance and importance of the linked page. To optimize your anchor text, consider using descriptive and relevant phrases, avoiding keyword stuffing or exact-match anchor text, and using a mix of branded and non-branded anchor text.
The diversity of backlinks is another important backlink ranking factor. A diverse range of links from different types of websites can indicate to search engines that your website is a valuable and authoritative source of information. To improve the diversity of your backlinks, consider reaching out to a variety of websites and sources, creating content that appeals to different types of audiences and interests, and avoiding relying on a single source of backlinks.
Local SEO ranking factors are particularly important for businesses that rely on local customers or foot traffic. Here are some key local SEO ranking factors to consider:
Your Google My Business listing is a critical local SEO ranking factor, as it provides key information about your business to potential customers and signals to search engines that your business is relevant and trustworthy. To optimize your Google My Business listing, consider providing accurate and up-to-date information, using relevant categories and keywords, and encouraging customer reviews and feedback.
Local keywords are another important local SEO ranking factor, as they signal to search engines that your website and business are relevant to local searches. To optimize your local keywords, consider using location-specific phrases and keywords, creating content that addresses local interests and needs, and using local events and news to generate backlinks and social media engagement.
Behavioral signals like website traffic, engagement, and social media activity can also influence local SEO rankings. To improve your behavioral signals, consider creating high-quality and engaging content, using social media to connect with your audience and promote your content, and using local events and promotions to drive traffic and engagement.
SEO is complex and constantly evolving, but understanding the major ranking factors and implementing strategies to improve them can help you achieve higher search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website. By optimizing your technical SEO, creating high-quality and relevant content, building high-quality backlinks, and focusing on local SEO, you can position your website for success in 2023 and beyond.
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