Google's 9 Confirmed Ranking Factors in 2022 Explained [Bonus Tips!]

Itay Malinski
Founder & CEO
November 11, 2022

Search-Engine Optimization has been one of the most sought-after implementations in the last decade. It is the heart of every marketing campaign, and without it, your message would largely go unnoticed in the long run. 

Over the years, Google has changed how it indexes its content, improving it with every subsequent year that passes. However, as Google refines its ranking process, it does so to reduce spam and promote quality content. With that being said, the criteria that Google utilizes to index content over the internet has always been very ‘vague’.

But, with what we know and what the industry has observed, there are NINE definitive details that you need to keep an eye out for when it comes to writing content. These are more or less directly related to the quality of the content you produce. If you’re wondering how to get your article on the first page of Google, you have to start working on intent.

Key Takeaways

  • Utilize backlinking to boost your search-engine rating; a good balance of quality and quantity.
  • Research the keywords for your niche and produce relevant content.
  • Improve your website’s security by moving to HTTPS.
  • Take mobile browsing into consideration when developing your website.
  • Work on improving your page’s load times to increase retention.
  • Give your Core Web Vitals a thorough look, and address each issue accordingly.
  • Avoid intrusive interstitials (between-the-page ad) to create a better experience for the user.

Creating a Sustainable Ecosystem of Backlinks

If you’re reading this article, you’re most probably a content writer, editor, or an aspiring entrepreneur that has finally evaluated a budget for your monthly marketing expenses. In that case, you have most likely heard about the term backlinking. While the concept is easy, acquiring quality links to your site is easier said than done.

What kind of content you’re linking to, its relevance and your overall efficiency with link building are only a few of the factors that come into play when determining how ‘good’ your content is. To put this into perspective, one of the three most important ranking factors that Google uses is backlinks.

Bonus Tip: How Do I Build Links?

That’s a good question. You can choose to manually add links to another website. Examples are commenting on blogs, posting to different forums, and/or creating listings in public directories. While this is easy, the very accessibility of this method means that these backlinks are low-quality and can thus be defined as ‘spam’ by Google.

If you are using a guest posting linking strategy, make sure to filter the websites to ensure the quality of the backlink (Yes, we wrote an awesome guide for this).

A second, better method would be to simply ask for links from other website owners. However, this leans towards your skills in business communication, as other websites are less likely to give you any space on their digital property without any compelling reason.

If nothing seems to be working out, you could always go the extreme route and buy yourself a few links. Now, to be completely clear, this isn’t something Google likes, and if discovered, you face the consequences. A lot of people in the marketing biz actively buy links to keep themselves above the competition.

Keep Content Relevant, Find Out What Your Customers Need

Intent is important. You have to answer a question that your customers are asking a lot. Let’s say that you’re handling lead generation for a firm that exclusively deals in real estate private equity. With that in mind, when I go ahead and google the phrase, I get results that show me guides on how to select the right investment firm.

What that Google search told me was that my target audience is interested in finding out the factors that would ultimately lead to the highest returns. Hence, they’re researching to gather as much knowledge as possible before approaching anyone to hand over their money to.

In this instance, you can draft up your guide with keywords that cater to those exact requirements and consequently increase the relevance of your content. Be transparent with the audience about your process, and guide them through the entirety of your investment strategies in a more general tone while making sure that you’re answering a question that nobody else might be answering or very few people might have answered.

Bonus Tip: Understanding Search Intent

We’ve used the word ‘intent’ throughout this article a lot, and it’s best to go over what it is. As individuals come up with a question, there’s always a reason as to why they put it in their Google search bars. Maybe they’re curious and want to learn more, or they’re just confused about making the final move on a product that could potentially be from your store.

Google will aim to provide the best search results for a query. SEO has come a long way in the past 10 years, and to rank high, you will need to create content that is in accordance with your audience’s search intent. 

The best advice we can give you is to avoid shoehorning irrelevant keywords to hope for good results. Users need relevant information, blog posts that answer in detail, charts that show comparisons, and quality content that stands out instead of being rephrased for the 100th time.

You can also use tools like Ahrefs’ SERP Checker to find the top 10 results for a list of keywords. By analyzing the keywords obtained, you can create a sense of direction for your content and take it from there.

This brings us to the next point; the freshness of your content.

Update Your Content Regularly

Nobody likes to use their grandpa’s surfing board unless it’s one of those magic boards, of course. Similarly, if your blog’s information is becoming increasingly outdated, chances are Google isn’t going to let it come anywhere near the first page.

This doesn’t always have to be the case, though. Questions with definitive answers that don’t change over time won’t necessarily require regular updates.

A search query similar to “Best TV shows to watch on Christmas” would have to be somewhat regularly updated in accordance with new media released every year. On the contrary, the answer to “How to subscribe to YouTube Red” will generally remain the same.

If your targeted keyword has information that is subject to change regularly, then make sure to create new articles and update older ones to satisfy demand.

Bonus Tip: How to ‘Refresh’ Your Content

Considering your blog is readily releasing new information on a given topic. Most information can be subject to change with time, and people will generally look towards more up-to-date content to answer questions, while your older blog might have become irrelevant as it’s answering a question that nobody really wants to know the answer to anymore.

Depending on the scale of your website, the efforts to update old information required may grow exponentially. However, it’s well worth it. By getting your writers ready to go, you can start by researching new focus keywords while simultaneously ensuring that the information you’re providing is more accurate with updated facts and relevant statistics.

The key is to fulfill search intent. If other websites are ranking better than you, there’s a very good chance that their structure provides a much better experience to the user. So, ask yourself this, what’s missing from your content that other sources rank better than you? Once you’ve figured that out with respect to your niche, you can and should prepare for a major overhaul.

Are You Secure? Make the Move to HTTPS

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is used as a security measure that provides an additional layer of safety when sending data between a web server and a browser. The absence of this on your website will affect your credibility, as a “Not Secure” warning will pop up in the browser. Google actively checks websites for their security and uses it as a signal for their search ranking algorithms.

Any data sent using HTTPS will provide users with encryption, integrity, and authentication. Other than that, Google will have a reason to push you up its index. Any data that is sent without a referral value is considered direct, which is labeled as ‘dark traffic’.

Securing your website will not only provide you with Search-Engine Optimization but also protect you from any DDoS attacks, software vulnerabilities, heartbleed, logjam, SSL, TLS vulnerabilities, etc.

To implement the protocol, you will have to get a security certificate and promptly install it on the server, which may be different depending on the hosting environment and server setup.

Think About Everyone: Create a Mobile-Friendly Website

Mobile-friendliness initially became a ranking factor in 2015 exclusively on mobile, but then made its way to desktop as well in 2019. 

In August 2022, it was found that 62.06% of individuals using the internet were using a mobile to do so. This makes it very important that online creators and entrepreneurs tend to optimize their website’s when it comes to mobile.

Having a layout that is easy to navigate for your customers using a mobile is going to help you out in the long run. If it isn’t perfect, then have a professional look at it and iron out any problems that might otherwise be hindering the overall user experience.

A general overview of the situation would be that you need to take into account how different mobiles have different resolutions and sizes. Not everyone’s using the same browser, either. Your website needs to have a responsive layout that makes it optimal to browse through. If it’s hard to navigate, then most people will simply pass up to the next best source of information for their query.

Improve Your Page Speed: If Your Page Snoozes, Your Website Loses!

Every website is built a little differently. At first, your website’s loading times might not be as fast as they need to be in order to ensure a good ranking. Google evaluates a fast website based on two metrics; time to first byte distribution and load time distribution.

Your page speed is going to directly impact a user’s experience and, thus, your overall analytics. Not to mention the adverse effect it will have on your SEO ranking. It’s worth it to address page speed with a developer, as it will improve your conversion rates and organic traffic. You don’t have to make your website the fastest, but just fast enough.

You can check your page speed by heading to Google’s own PageSpeed insights

Analyze Core Web Vitals, Where Do You Stand?

Through Core Web Vitals, Google analyzes a page’s performance, visual stability, and/or URL performance which is measured by LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and First Input Delay (FID). Core Web Vital metrics have been used for ranking pages ever since 2021, and you can view the metrics for your website by using Google’s search console.

You’ll be able to identify how your pages are categorized and work on the problem accordingly. Keep in mind that the metrics are different for desktop and mobile.

But are they really worth addressing? There are hundreds of factors that will impact your overall ranking on Google. Core Web Vitals isn’t the most important one, but it isn’t so insignificant to be ignored. In some cases, it may be a tiebreaker compared to other websites and end up giving you the edge.

Avoid Intrusive Pop-Ups: Don’t Be THAT Guy

Have you ever been browsing what could potentially be your next surfing wetsuite? Now, how would you feel if all of a sudden, the website decided to throw an ad for buying their latest skateboard deck in front of you? That’s right, you’re here to get equipment for your next rumble with the waves, and they want you to roll your way through the skate park? That’s outrageous.

Websites that throw up a page that covers your entire screen, obstructing your view lead to a negative experience, and thus Google views them as what you would normally call ‘intrusive’. Intrusive interstitials were then made a negative ranking factor in 2017.

This means that if you’re planning on using pop-ups to divert your attention, make sure they’re relevant and don’t block your user’s entire view. Here are some pointers:

  • Don’t block the entire page’s view.
  • Don’t send them to a separate page.
  • Don’t make it extremely frequent.

If you fail to follow these instructions, your users will not be satisfied with your website. Any roadblocks that slow down browsing are a no-go. Make sure to work around the visitors and not against them.

Keywords in the Right Places

Once you have acquired a comprehensive list of all the keywords that you’ll need in order to begin the optimization process, it’s important to make sure that each of these keywords are placed rightly:

  • Meta title that shows up in the SERP.
  • Your H1 title.
  • Some of the H2 headings.
  • A short and clean URL.
  • The first 100 words and spread out throughout the article.
  • The meta description.

While these are important, they will only work in conjunction with high-quality content. Spamming content away that doesn’t add value to the original discussion will prevent it from ranking well. However, the reverse is applicable as well. Even if your content is good, the lack of the right keywords will prevent it from getting the organic traffic it should be otherwise receiving.

Most people trying to perform SEO will sometimes go for the more ‘blackhat’ tricks to get the deed done. Keep in mind that when you’re stuffing keywords throughout your content, this can have some negative consequences. Google’s automated process will analyze the contents of your site on the basis of what visitors will see. It does not and will not care about a long list of keywords that have no relevance to the content.

Be Efficient With Images

The current era of the internet is a more visually dominant one, and thus, you’re probably using a bunch of images on your website as well, just to get your point across. Google uses alt text, titles, and a few other attributes from the images on your website when it comes to indexing. As you upload more and more content to your online hub, it’s important to keep the following things in mind.

File Size

Try to keep the size of your images between 70 and 100 KiloBytes. This is because a larger file size would contribute to the page’s late loading time. As we have discussed previously in this article, it’s best to steer away from anything that would otherwise impact the website’s speed and user experience.

Use Alt Text

Alternative text can be used to describe an image, and while you’re doing so, make sure to include a few keywords or two in there. By using these, your website will be made accessible to readers that are visually impaired. This text will also show up when the images fail to load.

Provide Value

While a beautiful picture of that 100 million dollar mansion that we’ll never be able to afford is a wonderful idea for a picture. A visual cue that shows statistics relevant to the topic might be infinitely more helpful.

Conclusion

Now that you know the most important factors that weigh in for your page’s ranking, you’re better equipped to handle each of these separately. SEO is a long journey, one that can take you even more than a year. However, it’s paramount that you start acting on it now. Start optimizing your website and integrating keywords into your content. With marketing campaigns running, you should be able to garner enough traffic to eventually rank your pages well enough for orders or requests to start piling up.

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