What Factors Affect Search Engine Rankings

To drive more traffic to your website, you need to show up and rank in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) ranking refers to your online content’s position on the SERPs when people type in a search query.

Appearing on the top three results is ideal, as almost half of the clicks on SERPs fall to these positions. Being on the first ten results is also helpful because 95% of searchers never make it to the next search results page.

How Google’s Search Ranking Works

While there are multiple search engines out there (Bing, Yahoo), Google makes up over 90% of all searches in the world. This is why many website owners follow Google’s guidelines in optimising their website.

Google ranks webpages based on multiple factors. This ranking algorithm helps the search engine to determine a page’s SEO ranking.

Have a look at some of Google’s top-ranking factors for 2019:

  1. Website Accessibility and Security
  2. Page Speed
  3. Mobile First
  4. Backlinks
  5. Quality Content
  6. Technical SEO
  7. User Experience
  8. Domain Power

#1 Website Accessibility and Security

Google gives priority to a website with the right kind of URL — one that its bots can easily crawl or search. There are different ways to help Google bots find and understand your page:

  • A website built through a well-coded site builder
  • Having a robots.txt file — which will help Google tread through your site content
  • Having a sitemap that lists all your pages

Having an SSL certificate is also a “lightweight ranking factor” that will add credibility to your website.

#2 Page Speed

A slow website does not fare well in most search engines. Google could penalise sites that don’t load fast, especially on mobile devices.

You can use Google’s mobile testing tool to check any issues with your site speed.

#3 Mobile First

A mobile-friendly website can directly improve its search rankings. With the implementation of Google’s mobile-first indexing, web designers are encouraged to build mobile versions first, desktop later, to enhance user experience.

Backlinks are considered one of the strongest ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm. Backlinks — also known as inbound links — are links to an external website. They are especially valuable for SEO, as this signals search engines that other websites vouch for your content.

#5 Quality Content

Google prefers more in-depth content that provides real value to the searcher. There is no clear rule about the ideal word count for an article — but a more comprehensive content usually attains higher rankings in SERPs.

Google’s search algorithm relies on keywords — the terms that people use when searching for information. An ideal SEO practice is to use keywords in your content.

Learn more about keywords through these helpful guides:

#6 Technical SEO

Getting the code right helps optimise your content better for higher search rankings. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Use keywords or keyword phrases in page titles — which is the first line in a search entry result
  • Use header tags (h1 for titles, h2 or h3 for subheadings)
  • Add alt tags within images
  • Add a meta description

#7 User Experience

Google uses artificial intelligence to better rank web pages base on the following signals:

  • Click-Through Rate — the percentage of people who click the link to your website in a search result
  • Bounce Rate — the number of people who “bounce away” immediately after landing on your site
  • Dwell Time — the average time people stay on your site once they arrive

Webpages that have more visitors that stick around will rank higher in search results.

#8 Domain Power

Exact-match domains still influence a webpage’s search ranking. For example, people searching for “cars” may find “” as a top result.

Domain age is another ranking factor. Domains that have been around longer are shown higher up the SERP than newer domains.

Ranking Takes Time

Getting on the top search results will not happen overnight. However, these factors will help guide you in achieving that goal over time.

Get started in making your website with our Sitebeat Supreme Guide.

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