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What are the most important SEO ranking factors?

Our guide to the most important SEO ranking criteria

Succeeding with SEO is often presented as a complex art that is difficult for a layperson to understand.

It certainly takes skill and persistence, and the factors influencing a website’s ranking are always evolving and developing.

So, to shed light on this subject, what are some of the important criteria when it comes to SEO ranking?


How does Google rank your web pages?

When Google ranks your site, it looks for authority and relevance before working out a ranking using an algorithm and information collected by search engine ‘spiders’. These are bots that crawl websites and store data for the search engine to index.

Using this information, websites will then be displayed on results pages in an order reflecting their ranking. The algorithms are always changing in an attempt to ensure the rankings accurately reflect the relevance of each website.

Google keeps its algorithms secret, and there is no magic wand that can be waved to immediately satisfy shifting algorithms. There are, however, several sound practices that you can adopt that will increase your chances of ranking higher.


What are Google’s SEO ranking factors?

Google’s ranking factors are continually evolving, but there’s a number of consistent factors that they look for when it comes to ranking websites.

These are:

  • Purpose of the page
  • Content quality and amount
  • Information about the website
  • Information about the content creator
  • Website reputation and content creator reputation
  • User interaction with the page. How much time do people spend on your page? What’s the bounce rate?
  • Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT)


This last point is increasingly important.

Google realised that people use their search engine for just about any question they have, and sometimes the answers provided can impact on their lives. Therefore, it’s increasingly important to be confident that a website has both expertise and authority for the information it shares.

Here’s a great video of our MD, Jonathan discussing the importance of Google EAT.



How do I improve my site’s SEO ranking?

It’s no exaggeration to say that Google loves content. If you want to improve your SEO ranking, then you need to ensure your website contains relevant and updated content.

Relevant content is comprehensive. It also needs to be well-written, and make sense.

It’s no longer good enough to pour out keyword-stuffed filler in the hope that it will send you to the top of Google’s rankings. In fact, if your attempts at gaming the system are too obvious then it’s likely to work against you. Instead, try to answer the pertinent questions that a potential customer might have. Use subheadings and images to break up the content and enhance the appearance on the page.

High-quality backlinks help to build the authority of your website. These are inbound links that Google believes strengthen the importance of your site. You can increase the amount of backlinks to your site by providing content people want to share.

There are other tactics you can deploy, such as link-building, outreach, guest blogging and digital PR.

Don’t forget to optimise

An optimised website will have basic meta data, meta title, meta description and on-site H1 and H2 tags on every page.

These factors will determine how your site ranks.

You need to be sure you pay attention to the small details that make the difference.


Is mobile SEO ranked differently?

Half of internet surfers now report using their mobile device to access websites. An increasing percentage of Google searches take place on mobile devices, and the results that are returned will differ from those for a laptop or desktop.

Firstly, you have to be confident your site is mobile-friendly. Many aren’t, and the easiest way to check on the usability of your site on mobile devices is by using the Google Mobile Friendly Test tool.

By inputting your site, it will then analyse your website, and provide you with an image of how it appears on a mobile device. This won’t tell you anything about your site’s mobile SEO ranking, but it will ensure that your site is at least in the game.

There are additional factors that will be taken into account when someone makes a Google search.

It will look for:

  • A responsive web design – will the design of the website reflect the device it’s being viewed on?
  • Dynamic serving – it uses the same URL regardless of device but generates a different version of HTML for different device types based on what the server knows about the user’s browser.
  • Separate URLs – does the website detect the type of device that is being used and then redirect to the appropriate page using HTTP redirects along with the Vary HTTP header?

A content-rich website that isn’t mobile friendly will generally rank lower than a similar one that is.


Keeping your position in the rankings


So, improving your ranking is a combination of technical fixes, good practice, and informative content. You should also aim to update your website regularly, and a blog is perhaps the easiest way to do so.

That way it will always be competitive when it comes to Google’s rankings. And there you have it; a whistle-stop tour of what the most important SEO ranking factors are.

As mentioned, they can be a moving feast. The skill is keeping up with all the changes and developments.


Further reading on SEO

Aqueous Digital’s Guide to the Top 501 SEO and Digital Marketing Terms

Aqueous Digital’s Ultimate Guide to the cost of SEO in the UK

How long does SEO take to work?

What is Technical SEO?

What is Local SEO?


Link building and outreach



Want to find out more about the SEO services Aqueous Digital offer?

Call us on 0800 285 1424 or email us at to have a chat about how we can support the success of your business with our award-winning search engine optimisation.

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