No, you will never know about all of them. But there are some
that you have to remember to have any success with SEO.
But itâ€™s more complicated than that. Google is continually
changing how they rank websites and pages in their search results.
Every year, the importance of specific ranking factors may vary. A
single ranking factor may be relevant for a while, but then
everything can change, and you will lose rankings because you
focused too much on that one factor.
In this article, I will give you the 10 most important ranking
factors of 2020, and describe how they work.
But before we go there, letâ€™s start with a definition.
What are Google Ranking Factors, and why are they important?
Google ranking factors are the signals and content properties
that Google collects and measures to use them to create a ranking
of pages for their search result pages.
How does that work?
Google is a search engine that, when it entered the market,
completely changed the search engine business. Why?
Contrary to other search engines, Google ranked web pages,
always trying to place better results first. The result was: Better
content would rank higher in search results, and bad content
disappeared further down in the list.
Back then, there was only one ranking factor: Links.
Today there are over 200.
Now that you know what a Google ranking factor is letâ€™s start
with the 10 most important ranking factors in 2020.
The 10 most important Google ranking factors for 2020:
Here are the 10 most important Google ranking factors for
- Quality Backlinks
- Social Signals
- Webpage Content and Content-Length
- Page Speed (including advanced measurements)
- Mobile Usability
- User Experience (UX)
- Domain Age
- Images and Image Optimization
- Structured Data, Schema.org markup
- HTTPS vs HTTP â€“ Secured Sites
Letâ€™s go over them in detail:
Iâ€™ve said it before: Links were Googleâ€™s first ranking
factor, and they remain essential even today. Backlinks are links
that other website owners have placed from their site to your
content. The idea that backlinks are crucial to rate the quality of
your content is built right into Googleâ€™s DNA.
However, what has changed since the beginning is that the focus
on the quality of a link is a lot higher. In the beginning, it was
possible to have hundreds (or 1000s) of spammy links. Some SEOs
built 1000s of low-quality pages to place links their money making
These link networks donâ€™t work well anymore. High-quality
links are priceless â€“ lowest-quality links donâ€™t work.
Social Signals are pages and posts on social networks, which
means that social signals are essentially links on the
Google crawls the pages of social networks just like any other
page on the web. But the folks over at Google know that social
signals mean that people are talking about your content.
Google indexes social sites just like any other page on the web.
They can use this to measure social signals.
This is why social signals are an important Google ranking
factor. If people are talking about your content and sharing it
over social media sites, they value the content.
Webpage Content AND Content-Length
Google has one interest only when showing search results: To
show their users the content they want to see. In most cases, that
means showing the most informative and well-written content on the
But how is content quality measured?
Thatâ€™s a tough one, even for Google. But that doesnâ€™t mean
they cannot try. They can make assumptions about information
density, structure, how well the content is written, how easy it is
to understand, the writing style, the number of words, etc.
Word Count vs Traffic â€“ Source: Hubspot
So, how do you get this right?
To optimize your content for this Google ranking factor here are
the steps to take:
- Do your research and cover all aspects of a topic.
- Structure your content into multiple sections with around 300
words each. Include a subheadline for each section.
- Write long articles. All research data suggests that long-form
content does perform better in search results.
- Use spell-checking, grammar checking, and style checking tools
to ensure that your content is up to the highest editorial standard
you can achieve. USE GRAMMARLY! Here is a free workbook on
how to write great blog posts!
You can optimize your blog posts in Grammarly â€“ click here for a FREE
Page Speed (Including advanced measurements)
Page loading times have been an important Google ranking factor
for a while â€“ and they increase in importance every year.
So what you have to do is to work on how fast your website loads
â€“ and identify bottlenecks using tools like GTMetrix, and Google
Pagespeed Insights. You will also get
warnings in Google Search Console when you have problems because of
your page speed.
The core web vitals report in Googleâ€™s search console will
show you whether you have trouble with site speed and related
But this year, things got more complicated: Google included some
differentiation between different aspects of page speed as
- First Contentful Paint (FCP) â€“ Time to drawing of the first
text or image in browser
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) â€“ The time after which the
largest block of text or largest image is painted
- First Input Delay (FID) â€“ Time delay between the first input
of a visitor to a response by the browser
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) â€“ The time after which a
browser stops moving elements around
Google Pagespeed Insights will help you to improve the core web
vitals metrics for this Google Ranking Factor.
These now have to be optimized individually.
You can identify Problems with this Google ranking factor
through Pagespeed Insights and Google Search Console.
This Google ranking factor essentially means that Google indexes
the mobile version of a site instead of the desktop version.
Usually, this only makes a difference if the mobile version is
either not existing or has problems.
But if you seriously have a website that is not designed with
mobile in mind in 2020, itâ€™s time for a redesign.
The key design aspect to look for here is responsive design.
When your website runs on WordPress, the easiest way is to use a
modern theme that already comes in responsive design. When you do
this, everything should be covered.
User Experience (UX)
This ranking factor is a tough one. Letâ€™s first discuss this
by defining what good user experience is:
A good user experience gives the website visitor satisfaction on
- They get the information they were looking to find.
- The website is easy to navigate.
- The content reads well.
- They are not hindered by intrusive actions by the site (popups
and other interstitials, for instance).
- Unexpected results do not follow the steps they take.
So how can this be measured? Very important in this regard is
how long users stay on a website, whether the site uses
interstitials and how the website uses them. Also related to this
is how good the actual content is (see content quality and length).
Anything a user experiences on your site may affect this ranking
Here is an example of what Google views as intrusive popups that
result in bad user experience:
A good user experience can easily influence your rankings in
Googleâ€™s search result pages.
This one is surprising â€“ and Google themselves do not say that
they are taking it into account. On the other hand, there is a lot
of evidence that a domainâ€™s age plays a significant role in
whether you can rank with your website.
And it makes absolute sense: Short term domains often publish
content that is not up to the standard needed. Itâ€™s a known fact
that Google is after what they call organic link profiles. You can
only achieve an organic link profile over time â€“ a domain that
has just been registered and instantly has 1000s of links wonâ€™t
So with every year your domain exists, things will become
easier. However, this should be seen as a good thing, as it also
means you are fighting a downhill battle, and things become easier
Images and Image Optimization
This one is critical. The first part is easy. If you use images
in your post, you will rank better. Descriptive images help with
the user experience (â€œAn image can say more than a thousand
wordsâ€) and make it easier to understand. It makes your post and
your page look better.
Just take a look at how blog posts with images look compared to
just endless walls of text.
But there is more to it: Vary your images and donâ€™t just use
stock photo after stock photo that doesnâ€™t connect to your
Use graphics, create images from statistics, and so on.
Try to create some original images and donâ€™t just reuse
existing photos or graphics.
(And if you use stock photos, stay clear of rights violations.
Read this: LINK how to find images)
But now, for the important part, how do you optimize images?
Luckily, that is easier than you may think! There are two types
of optimizations that you should do, speed optimizations and
descriptive optimizations that help the search engine understand
what your image is about.
Here is what you have to do:
- Optimize the file size and use a web-friendly format like
Googleâ€™s WebP. Luckily, this can be done on the fly if youâ€™re
using a CDN like Cloudflare.
- Use a descriptive file name (including your keyword, for
- Use a descriptive alt-tag.
- Add a title to the image.
- Use a caption for the image.
Here you can see where you can add title and tags to your images
WordPress allows you to edit your image tags in various
Structured Data, Schema.org Markup
If youâ€™re just starting, then you probably just said,
Structured data in the form of Schema.org markup is a massive
ranking factor. But what the â€¦ does that mean, exactly?
Structured data in the form of Schema.org markup is a way to add
a machine-readable context to your post. For instance, if your post
includes a step-by-step how-to, you can mark the steps with this
code, and the search engine can read the steps.
There is Schema.org code for many use-cases â€“ not just
tutorials: Reviews, products, FAQs, and so on. And this is
important because the better a search engine can identify your
content and parts of your content. This can result in snippets,
site links, being highlighted as an answer to a specific question,
and so on.
This optimization can send you a lot of extra traffic through
Googleâ€™s services and search results.
Google uses structured data to highlight How-Tos in their search
How do you add Schema.org markup to your post or page?
If youâ€™re working with WordPress â€“ including the new
Guttenberg editor and the Yoast SEO plugin, this is easy. Yoast
includes several Schema.org blocks for Guttenberg that will allow
you to do this!
Securing your site: HTTPS vs. HTTP
Itâ€™s nothing new that Google favors HTTPS secured sites over
non secured sites transmitted via HTTP.
What this means is that you need to get an SSL certificate and
secure your site. There are several ways to do this. For WordPress,
you can find a tutorial here.
More Google Ranking Factors
There are hundreds of Google ranking factors â€“ above were just
the ones that currently seem to be the most important.
To give you an overview of the variety of Google ranking
factors, here are some examples.
Other ranking factors include:
Backlink Google Ranking Factors:
- Number and quality of no-follow links
- Links from .edu, .gov domains, links from Wikipedia
- Links from competitors
- Backlink age
Site Google Ranking Factors
- Trust Rank
- Site update frequency
- Breadcrumb navigation present
Page Google Ranking Factors
- Keyword in URL
- Keyword in Title
- Keyword in H1 Tag
- Keyword Density
- How often is the page updated
User Interaction Google Ranking Factors
- Bounce Rate
- Number of comments
- Time on site
- Amount of direct hits
- Amount of bookmarks in chrome browsers
And many more ranking factors exist.
I hope this article was able to give you an overview of
important Google ranking factors in 2020.
Which ones are you already optimizing? Which ones are entirely
new to you? Let me know in the comments!
The 10 Google Ranking Factors YOU need to know in 2020!
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