Google Ranking Factors Overview

We’re talking about Google ranking factors because Google is by far the dominant search engine; however, these same factors apply to other search engines as well. All of the major search engines today use the same tools & factors to rank websites. The difference is how much weight they put on each factor, how much data they have on those factors, and their ability to remove spam from the results.

When we talk about ranking factors, we’re talking about things that directly influence how the search engine ranks a page of your site. Thus we are not talking about tactics, which are the methods you use to influence a factor.

Thus links from social media is not listed because it’s not a meaningful ranking factor; however, leveraging social media to make a ranking factor happen (like getting a link from a news site whose editor saw your tweet) is a viable tactic.

The goal of this section is to give you a good overall sense of what the ranking factors are. Later we’ll talk about how to optimize each of these factors, and how much attention to spend on each.

Broadly speaking, there are three categories of ranking factors:

  • Topicality (is the page about the topic the user searched for?)
  • Authority (which topically relevant page does the democracy of the web think is best?)
  • User Metrics (which page do users seem to like the best, based on their behavior?)

These three factors combine in uneven proportions to determine relevance. Google’s goal is to deliver the most relevant search result.

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