Ranking high on Google SERPs is a great way to build tremendous traffic to your site. Why? Because Google is no doubt the dominant search engine among all its counterparts, Yahoo and Bing inclusive. Over 5 billion people use Google search every day! To ensure that these users get relevant results for their search, Google continuously improves its algorithm. Thus, the SEO and ranking factors you need to be concerned about change over time. However, it would be overwhelming to consider every one of the 200+ Google ranking factors. Therefore, in this article, we take a look at ten (10) of these Google ranking factors to consider in 2023.
10 Important Google Ranking Factors You Need to Consider in 2023
Here are the 10 very important factors for ranking on Google that you should consider –
We’ll now take a closer look at these factors.
1.) Premium Quality Content
Google takes content very seriously. The search engine is likely to rank pages with unique, relevant, and fresh content that helps users. Premium-quality content beats site structure and optimization. There are certain indices that determine whether your content is of high or premium quality. These include whether your content is –
Valuable, original, and unique
Your content is valuable if it answers the questions that readers are asking. When users search for answers on Google, the search engine places on the top of the results, relevant content that adequately addresses the question.
To tick the boxes for originality and uniqueness, your posts must be free from plagiarized content. Content that is duplicated and not unique to your site will not be favorably ranked on the SERPs.
Up-to-date and fresh
Frequently updated articles or pages on your site send positive ranking signals to the search engine. In addition, keeping content up-to-date boosts its relevance, especially if it is one that involves trends or research that needs to be updated over time.
Properly structured and organized
Poor structure and organization of content can make it difficult for visitors to read through and find the solutions they need. This can lead to increased bounce rates and lesser time spent on your site, which sends signals to the search engine that users do not find your content useful.
To properly organize your content, make use of appropriate headings and their subheadings (H1, H2, H3, and so on), paragraphs, bullet points, as well as number lists.
In-depth and of suitable length
There remains no exact rule for the number of words to use in your content. However, pages that have first page rankings on Google's search results have an average of 1890 words. While this may not be realistic for some topics or niches, what is vital is that the post should be detailed, in-depth, and cover all aspects of the topic.
2.) Search Intent
The key to creating relevant content is understanding what the search intent of your audience is. There is a reason – the search intent – behind every question your audience asks. Knowing this reason or intent helps you create more effective content that Google would usually suggest for that query.
It will also help in determining what format is best for the content you intend to create around the keyword(s) and search intent. This is important as Google would display images or infographics at the top of its SERPs for some queries and blog posts or even videos for others.
3.) Website Speed
Since May 2021, the loading speed of a website has been part of Google's Core Web Vitals. Google will thus examine the speed at which pages, texts, and other elements on your page including images and videos load. Quicker loading time means better user experience and this contributes to improved rankings. It is, thus, important to consider this factor in 2023 and conduct site audits to find out what may be slowing down your site and then make the needed corrections.
4.) Optimization for Mobile
Google has taken mobile responsiveness seriously since 2019 when it undertook a mobile-first approach. With billions of mobile internet users, the shift from using the desktop to mobile version for primary indexing became necessary. Websites that are not responsive or mobile-friendly are, thus, not likely to be recommended or pushed to the top search results.
To ensure that your site is optimized for mobile, a good starting point is choosing a mobile-friendly theme for building your site. WordPress has a wide range to choose from. Alternatively, you can use plugins to improve the responsiveness of your existing site to mobile devices. It is important, however, that if you decide to use plugins, you avoid those that slow down your site’s loading time.
5.) User Experience
Closely following all the above is the general user experience of your site since a good user experience boosts your rankings on Google. The following are the metrics or ranking signals which Google factors in to determine the general user experience performance of your site.
This is the index for how many users and how often people exit a page on your site without any interaction with the page or site. High bounce rates send a signal to Google that the exited page or site is not relevant or useful to users and this will take your page lower on the result pages.
Your site pages' CTR is even more crucial if your page does not seem to get past its position on the top 5 results for your keyword. The CTR is determined by the number of persons who click on your site when it comes up on the results page. Optimizing your post title and meta description are ways to improve your CTR and boost your site's rankings.
Low bounce rates and high CTRs lead to longer dwell time, which is the duration of time a visitor from Google's search results page spends on your site. Longer dwell times lead to better rankings and shorter dwell times, poor rankings. The rationale is that longer dwell times indicate that the page has value relevant to the audience. Thus, Google would push such page to the top of its results, so more users can see it.
These signals are picked and considered with RankBrain, an AI program. While there are several other signals that RankBrain uses, these three above are foremost and the best for you to start working on.
Although link building is not as paramount as it used to be, backlinks still play a huge role in rankings. They are important to Google’s algorithm as Google uses them when indexing your site. Without backlinks, Google crawler will not find your site to index it. As a result, Google will be unable to bring up your site’s pages in any search results.
Also, backlinks tell the search engine that your content is trustworthy and of value. With quality backlinks from websites with high domain authority, your collection of ‘votes of confidence’ increases, so to speak. The richer this collection, the more likely it would be for Google to place your site high on its rankings. Little wonder there is hardly organic traffic for site pages that have no backlinks, whereas higher organic traffic rates follow sites with good backlinking.
7.) Domain Authority
Your site's domain authority reflects its expertise in a particular topic or keyword within a niche. The higher your site's domain authority, therefore, the better your rankings. This ranking metric was developed by Moz and the value lies anywhere between 1 to 100.
While link-building is a great way to build site authority, an even more effective method is to create high-quality content. Not only would this result in others sharing and linking to your page, resulting in more traffic, it would also signal Google that your shareable content would be valuable to a wider audience.
Optimizing keywords has long been an obvious, effective way to boost your site’s rankings in results for searches around that keyword. The idea behind keyword optimization is simple – searchers use certain terms or “keywords” when looking up anything with a search engine. When you use these terms in your site’s content, Google will likely produce the relevant page(s) containing those terms when users enter a search query with the keyword(s).
The general rule is to create content around what your audience is searching for. However, here are more specific tips for keyword optimization.
The best practice is to place your keyword in your title tag, particularly at the beginning.
Meta descriptions that are captivating and include your target keyword help to optimize your content for search engines.
Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords are the other related terms that people may use when searching for your primary target keyword. Using these in your content shows Google a clearer picture of what your content is about.
Keyword in Headings and Post URLs
Another optimization practice for keywords is to place them or their variations in your H2 and H3 headings, as well as your post’s URL.
Image Alt Text
Adding your keyword to image descriptions in the Alt text tells Google that your image and the post in which it is found is relevant to that keyword.
Your page’s anchor text is yet another description of the content of your page. A good keyword optimization strategy would, thus, be to use keywords for page links’ anchor texts.
In addition to the above, ensure that you do not fall into the pit of keyword stuffing in a bid to maximize keywords. Keyword stuffing could mean using only your primary keyword excessively, without substituting it with its variations or placing it just anywhere, even when it impairs grammar and readability.
Either form it takes, stuffing keywords often results in your content being unoriginal and forced, and this will reduce the quality of your content or even send spam signals to Google. To avoid this, use variations of your keyword across your post and only place them where they would naturally flow.
9.) Website Structure
The architecture or structure of your site helps your rankings by making it possible for Google to efficiently crawl and index your site and its pages. This is an especially important ranking factor to consider when launching your site.
There are several ways to make your site structure favorable for high rankings. Here are two major ways –
Creating a Sitemap
Your sitemap shows the search engine all the essential pages you want it to know and show people. Google crawler can easily navigate your site, discover fresh content, and then index your web pages with the help of your sitemap.
Optimize your robots.txt File on WordPress
The robots.txt file on your WordPress site shows Google bots how to crawl your site and index it through a specified pathway. With this file, crawlers know the exact pages to crawl and which ones to leave out. By optimizing your robots.txt file, you can save crawling time and quota. Your site can be quickly indexed, thus encouraging rankings.
10.) Website Security
HTTPS has been a ranking signal for Google since 2014. HTTPS ensures site security by encrypting the data transferred between the browser of a visitor to your site and your site itself. If your site is yet to be on "https://" and still has no SQL certificates, then 2023 is a good time to get that done.
Many browsers are not likely to open pages that they perceive to be insecure. If your site falls under this category, it could result in your visitors’ browsers blocking access to your site. This can, thus, prevent traffic to your site and send negative signals to Google that impair your rankings.
Google’s 200+ ranking factors cut across domain factors, site and page-level factors, user interaction, web-spam (on-site and off-site), backlinks, brand signals, and other special algorithm rules. The comprehensive list can be a lot to keep track of and implement, especially as they continuously change. Rather than spend time trying to implement all, starting with the major 10 discussed in this article is a better, time-efficient route to improving your rankings in 2023.