Top Google Ranking Factors in 2021

search engine optimization
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There are only a small handful of Google ranking factors. 

If you can master them, then you can improve your search engine optimization

That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. But, it does mean that the target is simpler than many think. 

search engine optimization

The Obvious Google Ranking Factors

The content on your site has to be high-quality. 

Everything else comes from that. 

You can be great at every other Google Ranking factor. But, low-quality or even mediocre content will be like an anchor on your rankings, weighing them down. 

To make your content high-quality, focus on providing value. 

Then, after that, work on well-researched keywords. 

If you have a high-performing piece of content, keep it “fresh.” 

That doesn’t mean changing a word or two here and there every year or so. Instead, update it thoroughly from time to time, even annually. 

If it’s a page about bankruptcy law, for example, put in new screenshots, link to changes in the law, relevant cases, and the like. 

If you aren’t sure what needs to be updated, then it’s probably time for a content audit. We tend to perform them quarterly. That way, we’re not updating them too often. 

Another obvious ranking factor: mobile optimization. 

In the last six months, Google has instituted “mobile-first” indexing. 

That means Google indexes your mobile site first (should you have one) over your desktop site. 

Google even recommends that your site be more responsive, as responsive web design is “the easiest to implement and maintain.” 

Great content and mobile optimization/responsiveness are what your site needs to have a “fighting chance” to climb the Google Rankings. 

What you Can Control On Your Page 

Google Ranking factors include page experience as well as page speed. 

Your site should look good, yes, but it also has to be easy to use. 

A good rule of thumb: with precious few exceptions, a user should be able to get to anything on your site in a maximum of three to four clicks. 

The site architecture of your page can’t be overlooked. 

Struggling with keeping folks on your site? Consider changing URLs to a subcategory page from a tag page. That way, they could take a more prominent site architecture position. That’s just one strategy.

Bottom line: the easier your site is to navigate, the better. Think of it like the table of contents from a book: when you take one look at a table of contents, you know exactly where to go for everything you need. Can you say the same about your site? 

Beyond simply “site architecture,” Google’s page experience also ranks your utilization of the Core Web Vitals as well as your site’s security. If you haven’t switched to an HTTPS site, now is the time to do so. 

Google takes the speed of your page very importantly (as does just about anyone who clicks on your page). 

If you haven’t tested your speed recently, now is the time. The faster you can make your page speed, the better for your ranking as well as for your business. 

search engine optimization

On-Page Optimization that’s On Target 

When users see information about your site in the SERPs, odds are they’ll see your title tag as well as your page descriptions. 

That’s just one more reason that on-page optimization is so important (beyond the fact that it’s a Google ranking factor). 

Google may end up changing your titles and descriptions, but you always want to write the best ones that you can. 

Schema markup may be the kind of thing that not every user is going to notice, but Google sure is. For example, they assist Google in putting rich snippets into search results. When you’ve done the schemas properly, search engines can more easily find the information they need on your site. Remember: you can put schemas into your header, too. JSON-LD (among other tools) can help. 

The Power of Links in Search Engine Optimization 

Speaking of helping search engines to better find pages, that’s what your internal link structure should do. (Of course, it should also help users in better finding pages on your site as well.) 

In fact, your internal linking should focus on users first. Then, once it’s user-centered, you can focus on driving traffic to the pages you want it to be most driven to. 

Beyond that, your internal linking structure should, to better rank, make for a simple map in terms of content topics, manage link flow properly, and prioritize particular pages’ indexing. 

Of course, internal linking isn’t the only kind that Google ranking factors for. 

Indeed, for the best Google ranking, you want to have external links as well. 

For many businesses, they want to rank high locally, in their community. 

Google has laid out exactly what they’re looking for in terms of local ranking: relevance, distance, and prominence. 

“Distance” is self-explanatory. In this context, it’s synonymous with “community,” “neighborhood,” “area,” etc.” 

“Relevance” can be assisted by completing your Google My Business listing among others that are directly connected to your name, address, and phone number. 

“Prominence” tends to be defined more here about how your business is perceived by others. Google explains their definition of “prominence” as meaning “information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories. Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices apply.” 

Essentially, Google takes into account as much as they can for your “prominence.” 

search engine optimization

Our Agency Can Help with Your Search Engine Optimization

Continuing on the topic of your “prominence,” as that’s so all-inclusive, it’s important to work with a full-service digital marketing agency. 

You’ll note in that definition Google doesn’t just look at your Search Engine Optimization, nor does it look just at your review count, your links, articles, and so forth. It looks at all of that. 

Working with someone who’s able to help you with all of that, all at once, can make it easier for you to succeed online. 

Indeed, the above are just the most important Google ranking factors. There are others. The more your business succeeds at all of them, the better you’ll do online (as well as on your bottom line). 

To schedule a free consultation with our SEO agency, call us at (888) 477-9540.