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Google Ranking Factors 2020

Google Ranking Factors 2020

Google My Business | Google Sitelinks

You should not ignore Google ranking factors. These factors help deliver webpages by the relevance of keywords used vs what users are looking for.

Google released an update in May that many have noticed impacted their search results. It’s possible, that it’s targeting poorly written pages and pages on badly organized websites.

If you are a website owner and scratching your head about what happened, this is what we’ve been able to discern.


So what happened?

Well, since the May update, with most sites we’re seeing, it comes to content. Thus prompting these questions about your website for Google Ranking Factors.

  • How well written is it?
  • How fast does the site load with it?
  • Does your site link well internally and externally?

Content readability and organization of your website matters to users. Thus it matters to Google to keep them happy as well. So can your users find things easy and quickly on your site? Does the page load fast? Are certain pieces of content being prioritized?

With the addition of Google Web Vitals being added to the Console, incidentally above the Mobile usability reports, I’d say it’s pretty important now as a signal. Read more about Google Web Vitals here.

Basically however, please don’t have a website that makes me like this when looking through it.


Google Ranking Signals

This is me on a poorly organized website. I can’t find what you said I would when I searched! Arrgh!


How fast a page loads and it’s design

With things changing on Google, it’s about speed, content, and design. Design is often treated as subjective. But it’s moving into the objective because how Google is advancing search and tracking behavior of user searching.

Now it is about clearly placed images and messaging on the webpages. This is what legitimizes both you to search and to potential customers. Also, being mobile-friendly in your design. Is the text too small? Are there objects to close together for users to click on them, or tap on mobile, without issue?

You bet that matters and Google will tell you if you are on Google Console.

When it comes to websites, focusing on the cost alone is just bad optics. Start by googling yourself to see what you look like on the search results page. There’s a lot that can be done to shape you up.

If you look like a spammer, then no one will click or call. The search engine is an extension of your website now.


SEO is delivering information fast

Take a step out of your own shoes and into your customers. This will help you understand this more. It’s about, can you answer my question?

And can you do it quickly when I arrive on your webpage? Where is it? I got things to do!

For example:

You have a product that is nested inside other pages.

home > page1a > page1b

The reason seems logical to you. But users want what’s on page1b so

Home > page1b (this is not saying cram your main navigation with links). This is something you can see on the search engine.

Look at how Sucuri does it:

Notice the link above the title tag: sucuri.net > malware-detection-scanning

Straight to the point. I wanted more information on their “Sucuri malware scanner.” I got there and got my answer. Will I buy it? Of course not. SEO doesn’t sell. It does nurture those prospects, however.

First SEO goal is to make your website like this, organized:


Google Ranking Factors

There, that’s better. I found what you said I would from my search!

We did this for the Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce. One compliment we got from a chamber member was they could easily navigate and find the business directory. You can visit our Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce website project here.


Web Design Project Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce Louisville, KY
Web Design Project Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce Louisville, KY

It’s like the web care packages we have completely rethought them. It’s complicated and many people don’t understand what a “job” is. I can explain it until I’m blue in the face. But it’s got to make immediate sense. So you get hours of our professional time monthly for a subscription fee. Simple.

Web, SEO, and Marketing share a rule: Don’t make me think.


The Most Important SEO Ranking Factors

These are not in any particular order or of importance. Your business is like you, it’s unique. So your Brands DNA is not like others.

Therefore, not all the signals can you comply with, or afford an expert to do for you. If they say that they can, then they’re not really making money on your account, and likely you’ll see results slip eventually.

  1. Domain Signals
  2. Page Signals (on-page)
  3. Site Signals
  4. Backlink Signals
  5. User Interaction Signals
  6. Content Freshness and Local Search Signals

Let’s go a bit more in-depth so you can see how vast the number of these there are, and ask yourself, “Is my SEO expert handling this? Am I paying them enough to?”


Domain Signals

  1. Registration length of your domain – How long have you paid to renew your domain? 1 year, 2? Make it 5 to tell Google you’re here to stay.
  2. Keyword in a subdomain – keyword.mysite.com this is good for large blogs.
  3. Public vs. Private Whois – Go public since it matters for your contact page.
  4. Country Code – in Molecule theme, or any good theme already on WordPress.
  5. Domain Authority and Page Rank – Saving this for another post, but important!

Page Signals (on-page)

  1. Keyword in Title Tag, Headings, and start with a keyword.
  2. TF-IDF – How evenly distributed are related keywords on the pages?
  3. Content Length – How many words count. The typical ranking shows the more informative (not information), the better the page ranks.
  4. Keyword Density – Don’t use them too many times.
  5. LSI – LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) Keywords are conceptually related terms that search engines use to deeply understand the content on a webpage.
  6. Page and Blog Topics – Define them and stick to them. If you are a bakery, careful about blogging about things not related.
  7. AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages. This is Google + WordPress making your post load FAST on mobile devices from mobile SERP.
  8. Duplicate content – Don’t say it twice. If you have 1 page, that’s plenty.
  9. Content provides value and unique insights.
  10. Rel=Canonical use it – Related to number 12 – has to be added to links on pages if you are not wanting Google to look at those for penalty fears.
  11. Image optimization – Alt and Captions, all for Image search.
  12. Content recency – Updating old content – show the post’s date!
  13. Keyword Prominence – A keyword should appear in the first 100 words of a page’s content.
  14. Outbound link quality and theme (NOT TOO MANY)
  15. Spelling and Grammer…. Heh, Grammar. Get it? Google knows the difference – see number 23.
  16. Hidden content – Toggles and Accordions, too much of these may not get your webpage indexed.
  17. Multimedia – That is images, embedded objects, and video. Because they all help search ranking.
  18. Internal link Quality and Strategy – Don’t link a page about cats to fish. Cats eat fish we’ve heard.
  19. Broken links – Too many will be bad.
  20. Readability score – Is it difficult to read or grammar errors? Keep your sentences short, and use those transition words.
  21. HTML/CSS Validation score – Good code matters!
  22. URL length – keep them short and in order.
  23. URL Path. – Do nerdbrandagency.com/web-design don’t nerdbrandagency.com/web-design-WTH-are-you-doing?
  24. Keyword on the URL string – Use keywords on your Categories and Tags! Then keep them in the URL (mysite.com/category/awesome-post). It’s ok to have your category pages in your sitemap.
  25. Tags! WordPress uses them, so should you.
  26. URL Strings: cell phones > Brands > Apple is ok!
  27. UX signals: How does “insert question” work? type of content. This is directly addressing needs, and again, it’s about speed.
  28. Bulleted and numbered lists in content – This helps the search engine see things of importance.
  29. User-Friendly layout – Basically your website design doesn’t suck and is updated. Can I easily navigate through it and find things?

Site Signals

These are things that are done on and off of your website’s pages and content.

  1. Contact us page info matches whois info
  2. Site Architecture/Sitemap
  3. Page Loading (Google Vitals)
  4. SSL (https)
  5. Terms and Privacy pages
  6. Duplicate meta descriptions – Don’t!
  7. Breadcrumbs
  8. Mobile optimized, Mobile Use, and Friendly
  9. Youtube – Yes! Have a Channel, make some videos, and optimize them! Check out ours here at the link.
  10. Site usability – A well thought out design helps readers consume and most importantly, FIND what they are looking for. It’s all about “give me my answer, I got things to do.”
  11. Use Google Analytics and Google Console – If you don’t know how to, call us now!
  12. Google or Facebook Reviews – Careful about scammers selling you these. If you are caught with fake ones, Google will penalize you.

Backlinks Signals

Really hard to do. But you can if you have a few nerds to help, you can make it happen. This helps the Domain Authority (DA).

  1. The number of linking domains (root) – you want facebook.com to link to you, not facebook.com/some/weird/url though, that is ok, but the root URL looks awesome to Google.
  2. The number of linking pages – How many of your pages are linked to?
  3. Backlink anchor text – This matter, avoid using simple text like click here or your name only. But don’t link a paragraph. Google knows when your cheating.
  4. Alt tags on anchors and images- same as the links.
  5. Links from .gov or .edu – Really hard to get, but if you do, celebrate!
  6. Authority of linking page to you – If Forbes links to you, good. If NYT then better!
  7. Link from “expected” site in your industry – McDonalds links to you, but you don’t sell hamburgers, you’re a photographer.
  8. Guest posts – Just ask, but make sure they can write interesting things.
  9. Home page authority – All your pages are a front door, but the home needs love too. Think about its quality as you would any page.
  10. Contextual links. – Don’t link “click here.” Link in the content skyscraper link building technique for example.
  11. Too many 301’s – Redirects are ok, but 100’s of them not.
  12. Links higher up the content – look at applying links above the fold.
  13. If you have a keyword in your title, put it in the link too. Nuff said.
  14. schema.org – Use it. It’s super helpful in making you look sharp on the Google search results page (SERP).
  15. Word count and quality. – Biggest challenge. Frankly, hire a copywriter. It’s worth it. Or ask us nerds.

User Interaction Factors

People are people. You can’t make them do it, but if your content is compelling, they will click, and they will read. Thus, do the following:

  1. CTR – Click-Thru-Rate. When people click on your links from the SERP, that tells Google in a major way, the importance, and interest of your site’s worth.
  2. Bounce Rate – Not a good metric to freak out about, unless you are seeing it on all pages above 70%.
  3. Direct Traffic – They know you, therefore, they Google’d you.
  4. Repeat Traffic – They came back. Are you capturing them?
  5. Bookmarks – Users adding your site to their bookmarks shows interest, and builds for Google a profile. So yea, it matters.
  6. Comments – Yup, Please leave one for us!
  7. Dwell time – How long did they stay on that page or post? Better yet, that paragraph or image? Want to know these things? We can tell you.

Content Freshness and Local Search Signals

This takes time to figure out because of people. Therefore it’s also something we all need to work on – therefore, hard to do well.

  1. Content Freshness – When is the last time you blogged?
  2. Content Diversity – Are you beating the same drum too much?
  3. Featured Snippets – These are coveted in the SERP, but really hard to get.
  4. YMYL keywords – Your money or your life. This is not a robbery. But does your content make me money, or help me live a fuller life?
  5. Local Searches – Pretty simple, check your Google Business Page. Don’t have one? Can you log in and claim it if one appears anyway? These are important!
  6. Image results – Don’t forget that images are searched too. What images of yours are on Google’s results?

Brand Signals

These are not hard, but you’d be surprised. For example, this is when someone Googles your name + service they need.

  1. Brand name Anchor text – are your links containing your brand’s name? It should whenever you can that only makes sense.
  2. Brand + Keyword searches – NerdBrand + Web Design or NerdBrand + Branding Services. Like that.
  3. The site has Facebook Likes and Social Links – This is a given, but understand these do take people away from your site. So put them on the page, but strategically.
  4. Official LinkedIn Company page – You have to have this and be updating it.
  5. Brick and mortar location – Really helps sell Google that you are a real business.
  6. Google Business Page – Many think they have one, but realize later it was autogenerated or they don’t at all. It’s so important to have this today. Yet it’s the most overlooked piece of optimization on the web for businesses.

Cost breakdown based on what we tackle

The truth is not everyone’s SEO strategy fits into a box, just like a website, or marketing. But generally, you’re looking to start at $1500 month for quality SEO services.

Here’s the breakdown:

Domain Factors – It’s a one-time charge: (excluding Domain Authority and Page Rank those take time and planning.)

Page-level Factors – Content Marketing and Management – monthly service. 

Needs Banklink Factors to work.

Site-level Factors (on-page) –Some are 1x (#1, #4-7) others require monthly attention as the website grows with more pages/posts added. – monthly service. 

Backlink Factors – monthly service. Best to include some of the others on top. Doing one without the other is just wasting time and money. 

Note: Needs Page-level Factors to work. It can be outsourced, but need to negotiate with a provider to meet our rates for profitability.

User interaction and Specials – Needs marketing services to really work.

Brand Signals – It’s a one time charge, but must include Domain, Factors, Page-level factors. 

Totals could equal up to $2000 monthly retainer for SEO depending on our focus or your goals. Which is not unreasonable for quality SEO services.

If you are in the market for a look at your brands SEO quality, we’ll sit and be transparent about what we are doing, and visually show you what you are benefiting from having us handle your SEO needs.

Get a free ebook here while you are at it. NerdBrand is a no-spam-zone.



CEO at NerdBrand. I've spent over 12 years in digital advertising providing strategic direction for businesses to build better websites, brands, and messaging, with an eye for improving online presences and laying a foundation for future growth.