5+1 Top SEO ranking factors

6 Aug, 2021 | Branding & Marketing

Georgia Spanoudaki

Department of Foreign Languages Translation and Interpreting


Our title is: “5+1 Top SEO ranking factors”. While SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” it is not only about search engines, but it is also about people. It is about finding what people are searching for and delivering it in a way that search engine crawlers can find it and rank it highly. As most searchers never go past the first page of search results, it is crucial to rank on the first pages of Google. Well-optimized sites get more traffic and thus more leads and sales. But which are those SEO practices that will lead your site to be ranked as highly as possible by Google?

Keywords used to be the top determining SEO factor, but in this sentence, the keyword is “used to”. Back in the day, Google was ranking a page highly in its results just because it mentioned a specific keyword more times than others. Nowadays, Google focuses on user experience and the quality of each site. That does not mean that keywords have ceased to be important, however using a specific keyword as many times as possible, won’t get you anywhere. There are many other techniques that will help you rank higher on Google. Below we have gathered the 5+1 top SEO ranking factors that you can follow to set the stage for your site to increase its visibility in search engines.

1. Backlink profile factors

A backlink profile is the collection of links that direct visitors of other sites to yours and provide your site with relevance and diversity of your domain’s backlink profile. If another company links your website to theirs, that means they trust your site and your content enough to link to it and they are demonstrating that to both search engines and their readers. It is also important that you choose trustworthy sites to link with, as search engines crawl and reward or penalize site ranks to avoid leading users to a spam. So, backlinks are like a vote of confidence for your website as the more relevant and trustworthy a site is, the more links it will have earned.

What a backlink is?
Backlinks are important!

2. Website security

To make the internet a safer place for users, in 2014 Google updated its safety policies. Since then, websites are divided into the ones with “HTTP” in their URL and the ones with “HTTPS”. The second one indicates that the website is secure, thus Google is in favor of them as it concerns ranking. If your website is not secured and something is wrong with it, Google is going to notice and this will not only affect your position at SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), but it also will turn users away from your site the minute they realize it is not secured.

“Not Secure” warning shown by browsers
Browsers alert users if they view insecure web pages by displaying a “Not Secure” warning.

3. Content length

An article’s length is one of the first things searchers notice when entering a website. But, how many words are required to be written to improve SEO rankings? There is no correct answer to this question. While according to HubSpot, the ideal number of words that a post should contain, is about 2,100-2,400 words, as this is the average number of words used in the top-ranked blog posts, Google does not rank sites only because of their word count. Also, according to a research by SEMrush, pages that rank higher in search engines have longer content on average, as long as their content is well-written and on point. So, your main goal is to focus on user experience and provide quality, relevant and optimized content, especially if you target high-volume keywords, but also provide a satisfactory amount of text.

4. Website visits

One of the ways to indicate your website’s popularity is its number of visits. Visitors can find your website through many ways, such as organic search, paid ads, social networks, direct visits, referring domains, emails, etc. The total amount of your website’s traffic does not have a decisive role in your search engine ranking; however, traffic is still an important SEO practice that must be taken into consideration. According to a survey carried by SEMrush, the number of a website’s direct visits shall be proportionate to the page position on the SERP. Thus, it seems that Google ranks higher domains with more authority and consequently with more direct traffic. However, this does not mean that you should only be focusing on organic rankings. Building a strong image for your brand can draw a significant amount of direct visits to your site, it’s equally important as putting efforts into SEO.

5. User behavior signals

User signals are behavioral patterns of users, which help Google determine the rankings of your website in the search results. Some examples of these signals are bounce rate, the time that the user spends navigating on your website, and how many of the website’s pages the user opens per session. The pages with a low bounce rate seem to rank higher in search engines, as this indicates that users trust your content, while lower-ranking pages are less relevant to what the user is searching for. As it concerns the time that users spend navigating on your website, it seems that as higher-ranked websites are more trusted, users tend to spend more time there than in lower-ranked pages. Similarly, the number of pages per session depends on whether or not users trust a site enough to navigate to more of its pages. Taking into consideration how Google translates these signals you can understand which pages on your website perform well and which do not and act according to the results.

The +1: On-page SEO elements

But, why 5+1 top SEO ranking factors and not 6? Even though the importance of keywords has been overrated in SEO practices, and that’s exaclty what we were trying to point out, using keywords in your on-page elements will never cease to be a crucial piece of the SEO puzzle. As mentioned before, using a specific keyword as many times as possible on your page, won’t get you anywhere. That is an outdated tactic that no longer fools search engines. Using keywords wisely in your pages’ titles, meta descriptions, and bodies is beneficial but don’t strongly impact rankings. It is more important to diversify the semantic core of your text and make it relevant to the target keyword rather than copying it according to the SEMrush survey. In some cases, there is also a need for visual support (videos, images) and even though their presence won’t help you directly rank higher in search results, they will help in supporting your content and thus make your website more trustworthy in the eyes of users.

Remember, the world of SEO continuously changes! You should follow its lead, or else you will find yourselves in the bottom pages of search engines with no idea how you got there. Follow these contemporary SEO practices and your rankings will go from unseen to the top of the list!

For further reading about SEO and more practices that will help you rank higher in search engine results, you can visit semupdates, read this really useful Beginner’s Guide to SEO and SEMrush’s research about the ranking factors mentioned in the article above.

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