What Are The Top Google Ranking Factors In SEO

Find out what are the top google ranking factors in SEO and how to optimize your site for better results.

Top Google Ranking Factors In SEO

Most of the lists of Google ranking factors are quite long. They focus on listing every factor under the sun rather than the ones that really matter.

The Top Google Ranking Factors In SEO 

Even worse, because no one knows them all, most of them contain a lot of legends.

So today, we'll take a different approach. Instead of listing over 200 ranking factors, we'll talk about the top google ranking factors in SEO that we think are worth your attention.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Backlinks
  2. Freshness
  3. Topical authority
  4. Search intent
  5. Content depth
  6. Page speed
  7. HTTPS
  8. Mobile-friendliness
  9. User experience

1. Backlinks

It can be said that backlinks are the most important ranking factor. Backlinks are hyperlinks that connect one page on one website to another. 

You have a backlink if someone has linked to your site. When you link to another website, you give them a backlink. 

2. Freshness

Freshness is a query-dependent ranking factor, which means it is more important for some queries than others.

For example, all the results of "eu News" are very recent. Google is also showing the Top Stories feature with results for the past few hours.

Top Google Ranking Factors In SEO

This happens because Google knows that people want to see recent news. For other queries, freshness still plays a role - but it is less important. Take the query "best office chair," for example.

Since companies only release new office chairs from time to time, a good recommendation from last month is still a good one today.

Google knows this, so they are very happy to return results that are a few months old.


Look at the search results to assess the importance of freshness to your target keywords.

  • If freshness is a big issue, either refresh the page frequently or publish new articles on the topic constantly to keep up with the demand.
  • If freshness is important but not important, update your page regularly and update when ratings start to drop.
  • If novelty is of little importance, focus all efforts on creating the best evidence on the topic.

3. Topical Authority

Google wants to rank pages from trusted sources - and that goes beyond backlinks.


Don't post content about anything and everything. Maintain a narrow focus and establish a reputation in one area (eg laptops, not just technology).  You can always branch out later.

4. Search Intent

For each query, Google does not rank the same type of content. For example, a person who searches for “buy clothes online” is in the buying position. 

They want to see what products they can buy. That's why Google displays eCommerce category pages.

On the other hand, someone who searches for “how to write a letter of recommendation” is in a learning position. They want to know how to write one, not buy one. That's why Google displays blog posts.

Top Google Ranking Factors In SEO

Analyzing the current top-ranking results of the "four C's of search intent" is an excellent way to understand the basics of how to improve your query.

The four C's are:

  • Content style: Content style is the dominant style of content in search results. Mostly web pages, but sometimes videos. For example, take the search query "iPhone X unboxing": It would be nearly impossible to rank a web page on the first page of this query. If you want to rank, you'll need to create and improve a video.
  • Content-Type: Content types always fall into one of four groups: blog posts, products, categories, and landing pages. For example, the highest-rated pages for "Buy a Smartphone" are all e-commerce category pages:

Search Intent and Content Type

For "Buy an iPhone" it's mostly product pages:

Search Intent as Top Google Ranking Factor In SEO

  • Content Format: Content formatting mostly applies to informational content. How-tos, articles, tutorials, news articles, and opinion articles are all examples of popular formats. For example, the results for "money-saving tips" are all listings:
  • Content Angle: The content angle is the main selling point of the content, and there’s usually a dominant angle in the search results.

The top results for "how to play golf," for example, are geared toward beginners: 


Make an effort to align your content with the intent of your search.

5. Content Depth

Google will rank the most useful result for the query, so the key is to cover everything searchers want to know. 

However, this isn’t about content length. Longer content isn’t always better. It is about covering what is significant to the searchers and what they expect to see.

Consider the query “best camera brands.” If you want to rank this query, you should probably talk about these things as well.

This is not about imitating others. It is about looking at the commonalities of the high-ranking results to understand what is important to the researchers. 

Here are some significant secrets to getting on the first page of google.


  • Take clues from the top-ranked pages to create useful content. 
  • Find other questions that researchers want answers to and include them where it makes sense.

6. Page Speed

Page speed has been a ranking factor since 2010 when it impacted 1% of desktop search queries. That changed in 2018 when Google expanded its ranking factor to mobile searches.

However, so far, this factor only affects a "small percentage of queries" and is mostly a problem for pages that "offer the slowest user experience".

This is an important point. Beating rivals by a few milliseconds is not the game here. It's about making sure your site is fast enough so that it doesn't have a negative impact on users.


Ensure your pages load fast.


HTTPS improves security for visitors by encrypting data between the browser and the server.

In 2014, Google announced HTTPS as a very light signal affecting less than 1% of global queries. Since then, Google has beefed up its commitment to HTTPS, and now displays a "Not secure" warning in Chrome when you visit an unencrypted page.

If you have unsecured pages with input fields, you may have also received a warning email from Google Search Console. Despite all this, HTTPS remains a lightweight ranking factor, as emphasized by John Mueller in early 2019.

Advice For Using HTTPS

To make your website more secure, install an SSL certificate. Get one free from Lets Encrypt.

8. Mobile-Friendliness

Roughly two-thirds of searches are done on mobile, so it's no surprise that Google made mobile compatibility a ranking factor for mobile searches in 2015.

Later, in July 2019, when Google moved to mobile-based indexing, they made it a ranking factor for desktop searches as well.

How can you tell if your website is responsive to mobile devices?

Go to Google Search Console and have a look at the Mobile Usability report.


Ensure that every page on your website is mobile-friendly.

9. User Experience

Google wants to rank for content that offers visitors a positive experience. Not only is this obvious, but the actions of the search giant over the years prove it.

For example, in 2016, Google announced that pages with intrusive interstitial ads (ie pop-ups) may not rank as highly as those that provide a better user experience.

You should create a website to benefit the users, and any improvement should be geared towards improving the user experience. But what kind of things contribute to a good user experience.

What Makes A Good User Experience?

Here are some suggestions from Google:

  • Easy-to-read content;
  • Well-organized site;
  • Interesting and useful content;
  • Responsive design;
  • No intrusive ads;
  • Site designed around users’ needs.

There is a lot of debate in the SEO community about how Google measures user satisfaction. Popular theories include analyzing metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), dwell time, time on page, and bounce rate.

Google has filed several patents describing how CTR and other behavioral signals can be used to influence search engine rankings. However, the company still insists that these factors are too noisy and unreliable.

Many SEO professionals disagree, but their guides are anecdotal at best.

Nobody knows how Google measures user satisfaction, but they probably have their own ways. So instead of chasing arbitrary metrics like dwell time, concentrate on providing an excellent overall experience for visitors.

  • Make your site easy to use. 
  • Eliminate distractions, 
  • organize content logically, 
  • write for easier reading, 
  • Do research. 
  • Do your best to reach the best result for your target keyword.

Final Thoughts

Everything above can be boiled down in eight steps:

  1. Give researchers what they're looking for.
  2. Make sure your location looks correct on every device.
  3. Ensure that visitors enjoy being on your site and reduce distractions.
  4.  Exactly explain everything visitors want to know.
  5. Building expertise in one subject; Don't be a jack of all trades.
  6. Get recommendations from other sites in the form of backlinks.
  7. Update and update content regularly (as needed).
  8. Do all of the above quickly and safely.

  • Is any of this advice new? 
  • Nope, that's the point.

Google ranking is rarely about the most recent tips, tricks, and buzzwords. It's all about creating content that searchers are looking for, providing a good user experience, and proving to Google that it's the best query result.

Ali Al-Talhi
By : Ali Al-Talhi