Google Ranking Factors: SEO Signals

Google Ranking Factors: SEO Signals

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These are not in any particular order or of importance. Not all the Google ranking factors or SEO signals you comply with depending on your content. But if you are giving it your best effort, here’s a list to go by.

The Most Important SEO Google Ranking Factors:

  • Domain Signals
  • Core Web Vitals
  • Page Signals (on-page)
  • Site Signals
  • Backlink Signals
  • User Interaction Signals
  • 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 enough to?”

On-Page and Off-Page website signals summary

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

Often overlooked things

  • Mobile optimized, Mobile Use, and Friendly
  • Youtube – Yes! Have a Channel, make some videos, and optimize them! Check out ours here at the link.
  • 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.”
  • Use Google Analytics and Google Console – If you don’t know how to, call us now!
  • Google or Facebook Reviews – Careful about scammers selling you these. If you are caught with fake ones, Google will penalize you.

Domain signals

  • 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.
  • Keyword in a subdomain – this is good for large blogs.
  • Public vs. Private Whois – Go public since it matters for your contact page.
  • Country Code – in Molecule theme, or any good theme already on WordPress.
  • Domain Authority and Page authority – Saving this for another post, but important!

Page signals – technical stuff

  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, be 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. 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.
  9. Content recency – Updating old content – show the post’s date!
  10. Keyword Prominence – A keyword should appear in the first 100 words of a page’s content.
  11. Spelling and Grammer…. Heh, Grammar. Get it? Google knows language.
  12. Hidden content – Toggles and Accordions, too much of these may not get your webpage indexed.
  13. Multimedia – That is images, embedded objects, and video. Because they all help search ranking.
  14. Internal link Quality and Strategy – Don’t link a page about cats to fish. Cats eat fish, we’ve heard.

Really technical things here

  1. Broken links – Too many will be bad.
  2. Readability score – Is it difficult to read or grammar errors? Keep your sentences short, and use those transition words.
  3. HTML/CSS Validation score – Good code matters!
  4. URL length – keep them short and in order.
  5. URL Path. – Do don’t
  6. Keyword on the URL string – Use keywords on your Categories and Tags! Then keep them in the URL ( It’s ok to have your category pages in your sitemap.
  7. Tags! WordPress uses them, so should you.
  8. URL Strings: cell phones > Brands > Apple is ok!
  9. UX signals: How does “insert question” work? type of content. This is directly addressing needs, and again, it’s about speed.
  10. Bulleted and numbered lists in content – This helps the search engine see things of importance.
  11. User-Friendly layout – Basically your website design doesn’t suck and is updated. Can I easily navigate through it and find things?

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).

  • The number of linking domains (root) – you want to link to you, not though, that is ok, but the root URL looks awesome to Google.
  • The number of linking pages – How many of your pages are linked to?
  • 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 you’re cheating.
  • Links from .gov or .edu – Really hard to get, but if you do, celebrate!
  • Authority of linking pages to you – If Forbes links to you, good. If NYT then better!
  • Link from “expected” site in your industry – McDonalds links to you, but you don’t sell hamburgers, you’re a photographer.
  • 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.
  • Contextual links. – Don’t link “click here.” Link in the content skyscraper link building technique for example.
  • Too many 301’s – Redirects are ok, but 100’s of them are not.
  • Links higher up the content – look at applying links above the fold.
  • If you have a keyword in your title, put it in the link too. Nuff said.
  • – Use it. It’s super helpful in making you look sharp on the Google search results page (SERP).

User interaction signals

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:

  • 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.
  • Bounce Rate – Not a good metric to freak out about, unless you are seeing it on all pages above 70%.
  • Direct Traffic – They know you, therefore, they Googled you not a service or keyword.
  • Repeat Traffic – They came back. Are you capturing them?
  • Bookmarks – Users adding your site to their bookmarks shows interest, and builds for Google a profile. So yea, it matters.
  • Guest posts – Just ask, but make sure they can write interesting things.
  • Comments – either on your site, or others.
  • 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.

Content Signals

  • Content Freshness – When was the last time you blogged?
  • Word count and quality. – Biggest challenge. Frankly, hire a copywriter. It’s worth it. Or ask us nerds.
  • Dwell time – How long did they stay on that page or post? Better yet, that paragraph or image? Want to know these things?
  • Alt tags on anchors and images- same as the links.
  • Content Diversity – Are you beating the same drum too much?
  • Featured Snippets – These are coveted in the SERP, but really hard to get.
  • 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?
  • 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!
  • Image results – Don’t forget that images are searched too. What images of yours are on Google’s results?

Brand signals

This is when someone Googles your business’s name – that’s a simplistic answer, but you can read here about getting better-Branded Search results.

  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.

If you’re thinking about a marketing or SEO strategy for your business, contact us about brainstorming on your strategy. We’ll brainstorm with you for free, then with your budget and goals clear, and we’ll execute that strategy.

I'm the Co-founder and 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.