Google ranking factors can feel like a thick cloud of mystery, speculation, and moving targets until you step through the fog. Once you gain a clear understanding of what they are and how to harness their power for the growth of your business, you’ll find they’re more like formidable tools in the hands of a skilled builder.
In this article, we discuss the Google ranking factors for 2022.
Top 10 Google Ranking Factors
Google ranking factors have changed over the years. What began with direct website visits, time on site, and pages per session has morphed into more relevant factors that clearly reflect today’s Google user experience.
We’ll list the top 10 and then dive into the relevant details of each.
Today, the top Google ranking factors include:
- Consistent publication of high-quality content
- Keyword in meta titles and descriptions
- Backlinks from relevant sources
- Keyword optimization
- Website loading speed
- Website structure
- Core web vitals
- Image alt text
- Niche Expertise
As complex as the algorithms and tech side of Google might be, it still relies on us, good ol’ fashioned humans–the users searching for specific content and the content writers who provide it. Quality content remains the bread and butter of Google ranking factors.
High-quality content is unique, fresh, and adds value to the people whose searches brought them to it. As such, it ranks higher on Google’s SERPS than content that has been thrown together and relies on the kindness of strangers (copy and pasting from other sites).
Google is a machine, which means it’s built to scan and filter constantly. While you’re reading these words, Google is scanning newly-published pieces for original content that answers questions and provides valuable insights while also offering new information.
At ARC, we have experienced writers who provide factual content to inform your audience about their most important questions. This is one of the ways by which we make sure Google finds your business’ website and brings it to the forefront of your audience’s search.
Keywords in Meta Titles and Descriptions
A meta title tells search engines, web browsers, and social media websites what the title of a web page is. When they’re done well, they provide an accurate description of the content found on the web page. Meta titles should include the main keyword for your content but also entice users to click
Each standard search result has three things: 1. Title (the meta title), 2. URL, 3. Description (the meta description).
Here’s what it looks like on Google:
Both the meta title and meta description should be optimized for best results.
Backlinks are links from one website to another.
The more visibility and the higher quality the website you receive a link from, the more credibility your page gains. The idea behind the backlink is akin to the old phrase, “Standing on the shoulders of giants.” You need quality websites to link to your website to show Google that your website is trustworthy and relevant.
High-quality content and backlinks go hand-in-hand. When your website receives valuable, well-placed backlinks, it’s more likely to rank on Google and gather more organic traffic.
At ARC, we conduct outreach to get your website backlinks from high domain authority sites. Not every backlink is created equal, and therefore a rating system exists to determine a website’s value. Domain authority ratings show SEO service providers which sites are valuable to receive links from.
Keywords are the search terms your potential customers use to look things up on Google. As such, Google search ranking factors always include relevant keywords in your websites’ descriptions and content.
To understand what your target audience is searching for, you need to have access to and knowledge of using keyword search services. At ARC, we use several keyword search services to ensure our writers strategically place the best keywords throughout your content.
There are several ways to optimize keyword searches that make this aspect of website and content writing a key player in google search ranking factors. Some of the primary ways in which we can optimize keywords to your target audiences’ search intent include the following:
- Title Tags
- Meta Description
- Image Alt Text
- Anchor Text
- Use LSI Keywords
- Avoid Keyword Stuffing
- Include Keywords in H2 and H3
- Add Keyword in URL
All of this is super helpful and will get your users to where they need to go IF your website is in optimum working order.
Website Loading Speed
We all know what it’s like to click on a website looking for some quick information on what to cook for dinner tonight and being waylaid by slow loading speed. All we want to do is grab that taco soup recipe before we run into the store, but a web developer’s errors are thwarting us. Now we’re hungry, frustrated, and on our way to a different website whose developer thought about our user experience when he was optimizing his website.
Thank you, web developer!
Here’s the deal with website loading speeds–people are impatient, and Google knows it. It pays to have your website audited for loading speed. There are ways you can do this on your own–testing your page from the Google Search Console, for example.
Better yet, some companies specialize in eliminating delay-causing blips in your website that Google itself may not be able to diagnose. ARC happens to be one of those companies.
Note that Google evaluates mobile speed vs. desktop speed. So, even if your desktop site is loading quickly you need to optimize your mobile site speed. The ideal mobile loading speed is below 2.5 seconds. You can test your site’s mobile speed with Think With Google here.
This brings us to another element Google is looking for–mobile friendliness.
Google announced mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor in 2015, and its prevalence has only risen since then.
Research shows that 60% of internet searches occur on mobile devices instead of computers. As a result, your website must be optimized for mobile users.
Let’s define our terms here–Google considers mobile devices as the following:
At ARC, we specialize in making sure your website will provide users with a consistent experience on their mobile devices so you can grow in your Google rankings. We cover all the bases using everything from a quick run-through in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool, to implementing responsive themes, securing reliable web hosts, and making sure page elements don’t overcrowd mobile devices.
Mobile-friendliness is based partially on your website’s structure, which we’ll discuss next.
Website structure is one of the top Google ranking factors for a good reason: user experience matters. Furthermore, a good website structure can significantly impact your SEO traffic and conversion.
The structure of your website can also help your company or organization engage with users and create an experience that reflects your goals, values, products, and service structure. In short, your website structure reflects you, for better or worse.
Here are some of the factors we consider when auditing your website structure:
- Site crawlability
- URL structure
- HTTP, HTTPs, HTTP2
- Internal linking
- Key content and keywords
- Duplicate content
- Navigation and user experience
- Core web vitals and user experience
- Speed and performance
We know you’re busy building your company and you’re relying–in part–on your website to attract a large percentage of your potential customers. You focus on building your company and let us focus on building your business by optimizing your website’s structure.
Core Web Vitals
Google ranking factors occasionally evolve. In 2021, Google added core web vitals as a top Google ranking factor.
Core web vitals quantify a user’s experience on your page. These vitals include:
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): how long it takes for the visible elements on a page to load.
- FID (First Input Delay): How long it takes for your page to register with the first click or tap on the page.
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): whether there are unexpected movements or disruptive elements.
We provide a core web vitals audit at ARC. When you trust us with the health, structure, and usability of your website, we can fix what’s broken, enhance what’s working, and set you on the right path to ranking higher on Google than your competitors.
Image Alt Text
Image alt text has become more important as websites have moved toward becoming American Disability Act (ADA) compliant.
The fundamental purpose of alt text is to improve accessibility by describing what an image depicts to visitors who do not have the ability to see it. However, it also helps search engine crawlers and improves SEO.
At ARC, we take ADA compliance seriously. As we SEO optimize websites, we fill in alt text in a strategic manner.
Since 2017, niche expertise has been one of the top Google ranking factors. To be a niche expert in this context, your website should include a cluster of 10 or more authoritative pages revolving around the same “hub” keyword.
To this end, ARC performs a highly detailed analysis of the SEO keywords in your niche. We then take this information to our content writers, who expertly weave those keywords into your website, blogs, landing pages, etc. to make your website popular within your niche.
These top 10 Google ranking factors serve as critical points on the map as we journey toward building your online presence and, ultimately, helping you find the potential customers that will build your business.
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