What are the most important Google ranking factors for SEO?

Written by Jo Seward: Digital marketing manager.
· 4 minute read

Annoyingly, this is a question that we’re never going to have a definitive answer to thanks to the ever elusive Google, but by now SEO experts all over the world have built up a fairly solid picture of the main factors that influence SERP positions.

Of course there’s hundreds of different signals that Google will take into account, some more powerful than others, so we’re going to take a look at the 4 that we (amongst other SEO professionals) believe have the most power when it comes to building a search presence.

RELEVANCE

This goes without saying, but your website needs to include content that is relevant to the product or service you’re wanting to rank for. That doesn’t mean stuffing a load of keywords in there and hoping for the best, it means providing your audience with accurate information about your offering. This should naturally include search terms that will be picked up by search engines, at the same time as helping our your visitors.

Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many websites don’t include any content at all…

LINKS

Gone are the days of attempting to build backlinks from any old site you could, regardless of relevance or authority. Today a key ranking factor is the quality of a sites backlinks. Think quality over quantity, and if you find yourself building a link for the sake of it, think again.

It shouldn’t always have to be a conscious effort on your part to build up links – if your site’s content is impactful enough, other sites should want to link back to it, and will do off their own accord.

So instead of focussing your efforts on getting tonnes of average links, focus on creating engaging, shareable content. Coupled with an underlying outreach strategy, you will naturally start to see an uplift in high quality, relevant backlinks.

EXPERTISE, AUTHORITY & TRUST

A more recent Google algorithm update put much heavier emphasis on the importance of E-A-T factors. Otherwise known as Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.

If your business has a reputation of being an authority in its industry, then this needs to be reflected in its online presence. If Google can see this, then you’ll be rewarded organically.

E-A-T is a combination of different factors including security, relevance, reviews, authorship, credentials, unique research, and of course this all feeds back nicely into your backlink presence. Others are much more likely to then link back to your site as a trustworthy source; one that’s an expert and authority in its field… a no brainer.

MOBILE UX

The ‘mobile friendliness’ of a website was considered a top 2019 ranking factor, which is no surprise given the amount emphasis Google has placed on this is recent years’ updates.

The ‘mobile first’ update was rolled out in March 2018, meaning Google looks at the mobile version of a website first when determining rankings. July 2018 then saw a mobile speed update, which saw the introduction of page speed as a ranking factor for mobile results.

This one has caused debate amongst SEO professionals, with some believing mobile isn’t as important as we may think. Either way, it’s still considered a top ranking factor, and there’s no doubt that the impact mobile UX has on a site’s overall engagement will send positive signals to Google.

On the whole, it’s clear that businesses must focus on the output of high quality content as a priority, teamed with a website that’s built with users in mind. You’ll find that a lot of the other important ranking factors will follow…