In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), there is a plethora of advice on how to improve your website’s ranking on Google. However, not all of it is reliable. With over 200 Google ranking factors, it can be overwhelming to determine which strategies are effective and which are not. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive breakdown of SEO ranking factors and rate them based on their effectiveness. This article is based on extensive testing, experience, and collaboration within the SEO community.
The author’s ratings are not solely based on Google’s guidelines but rather on practical experience and real-world results.
Content Ranking Factors
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on content ranking factors, as they are crucial for SEO success. Here are the key factors we will discuss:
Table of Contents
NLP (Natural Language Processing)
NLP refers to how Google interprets human language into code. Writing your content in a way that is easy for Google’s NLP to understand can significantly impact your rankings. By echoing back the main search query in your content and providing a clear and simple answer, you increase the chances of Google properly understanding your content. Based on testing, NLP belongs in the A-tier of ranking factors.
Proof of Ownership
Proof of ownership is relevant for product review content. Google expects content creators to provide evidence, such as visuals, audio, or other links, to demonstrate their firsthand experience with the product. However, it is not necessary to purchase every product you review. Testing has shown that proof of ownership does not directly impact rankings, making it a D-tier ranking factor.
While many assume that content should match an eighth-grade reading level, this is not necessarily a ranking factor. Google does not penalize content for being too complex. However, readability is still important for user experience. Therefore, it is advisable to prioritize your readers’ understanding rather than strictly adhering to a specific reading level. Readability can be considered a C-tier factor.
When creating content, covering relevant subtopics within your main topic can greatly improve your rankings. By analyzing the top-ranking articles on Google and incorporating their subtopics while adding your unique value, you can create comprehensive and authoritative content. Subtopic coverage has shown to deliver significant results and belongs in the A-tier.
Topical authority involves covering a wide range of subtopics related to your main topic. By becoming an authority on the subject and covering various aspects, Google will recognize you as a reliable source. Topical authority is considered a game-changing S-tier ranking factor that can significantly increase your organic traffic.
Contrary to popular belief, Google is more lenient towards duplicate content than expected. As long as you make small changes to the content, such as altering one in every twelve words, Google does not penalize for duplicate content. However, complete plagiarism should be avoided. Duplicate content is a relatively unimportant D-tier factor.
The optimal word count for an article is not a fixed number. Instead, it is advisable to analyze the word length of the top-ranking articles on Google for your target keyword and aim for a similar average. The word length of your content does matter, and it has been proven that longer content can improve rankings. Content length is an A-tier ranking factor.
Search Intent Matching
Matching the search intent is crucial for ranking on Google. Your content should align with what users are looking for based on their search queries. Understanding the different types of search intent, such as informational, transactional, or comparison, and tailoring your content accordingly is vital. Failure to meet search intent can significantly impact your rankings. Search intent matching is a make-or-break S-tier strategy.
The freshness of your content can impact its ranking. Google’s freshness update ensures that new, high-quality content has a chance to compete with older, more established content. Retrofitting and updating your content periodically can help maintain its relevance. However, fresh content is not a top priority and is only relevant in specific situations, making it a C-tier factor.
Outbound Authority Links
Including authoritative outbound links in your content can improve its credibility and provide additional resources to your users. By linking to relevant and reliable sources, you enhance the user experience and signal to Google that you are producing high-quality content. Outbound authority links are considered standard SEO practice and belong in the B-tier.
Grammar and Spelling
While grammatical correctness and typo-free content are not direct ranking factors, they play an important role in user experience. Poorly written content can lead to high bounce rates and negatively impact rankings. Therefore, it is advisable to ensure your articles are grammatically correct and free of errors. Grammar and spelling check should be part of your standard SEO practices, placing it in the B-tier.
Ranking on Google requires a deep understanding of various SEO ranking factors. By focusing on the content ranking factors discussed in this article, you can optimize your website for better organic traffic. Remember, not all advice on Google ranking factors is reliable, so it is crucial to rely on testing, experience, and collaboration within the SEO community to determine the most effective strategies.
Are all Google ranking factors equally important?
No, not all Google ranking factors are equally important. Some have a more significant impact on search rankings than others. For a more detailed understanding of the importance of each ranking factor, you might want to refer to resources such as the Search Engine Ranking Factors survey from Moz or the Periodic Table of SEO Factors from Search Engine Land.
How often does Google update its ranking factors?
Google continually updates its ranking algorithm, and these updates may affect the importance of different ranking factors. For the most recent updates on Google’s ranking algorithm, consider following the Google Webmaster Central Blog or subscribing to SEO newsletters like the Moz Top 10.
Are there any tools to analyze and improve my website’s SEO?
Yes, there are various tools available that can help analyze and improve your website’s SEO. Google Search Console, Ahrefs, and SEMrush are some of the most popular SEO tools that provide insights into your website’s performance and offer recommendations for improvement.