5 Ranking Factors That Actually Matter

Having trouble wrapping your head around search engine optimization (SEO) for your business? You’re not alone. Most business owners and decision makers simply don’t have the time to master SEO—nor do they have a reason to. With a marketing agency by your side, you can develop a truly impactful SEO strategy that will build and carry momentum for years to come.

There are thousands of factors that collectively determine whether your website will rank highly for commonly searched terms in your industry. For those who prefer to keep things as simple as possible, here are the five ranking factors that matter most. These are essentially the basics of SEO.

1. Metadata

Google’s job is to make its users’ lives easy, and the easier you make it for Google to accomplish its mission, the higher you will rank. Metadata consists of your page titles and descriptions. You want to have these optimized for every page on your website, not only because they are critical to SEO, but also because they serve as your first impression to users. Sloppy titles, missing descriptions, or garbled URLs make it look like you haven’t put any effort into helping your potential customers find you.

2. URL Authority

Google loves brands, because its users trust brands. It should go without saying that your URL is very important. URLs that have been active for a long time are a signal of brand equity and usually get a nod from Google in search rankings. 

If your business has not been around for long, the best way to build URL authority is to position the business as a brand: “San Diego’s personal injury experts,” “Brooklyn’s most storied charter school,” “The fertility clinic Arizonans trust,” etc. And remember, URL authority applies to every page on your website, not just your homepage.

3. Quality Content

A brand is much, much more than a logo and tagline, especially in the SEO arena. Over the past 5-10 years, content has skyrocketed to the top of Google’s ranking factors. It’s no longer enough to clean up typos on your website and post a blog every few months. There is an arm’s race for content happening in your industry, and if you’re not investing, you’re losing SEO ground by the day. Ongoing content boosts SEO because it allows you to be hyper-targeted with long-tail keywords. Learn how to create a balanced, long-term content strategy here.

4. Offsite Signals

If you have three websites on the same topic, how do you tell which is the best? It’s an indicator of authority when other websites link to your website. In Google’s eyes, a site that is linked to more widely is likely a better resource for its users. “Link building” has been a staple since Day 1, but the dynamics have changed dramatically. Check out our previous article, Low-Quality Link Building is the Past and Content is the Future, for a deeper dive into the current state of offsite SEO.

5. User Friendliness

The overall look, feel, and functionality of your site are becoming more prevalent in Google’s ever-evolving algorithm. It’s important to ensure that your website:

  • Loads quickly
  • Is easy to navigate
  • Works on mobile devices 

Having all of the above makes for a great user experience, which is Google’s core mission.

Work with a Trusted Partner

As a business owner, executive, or marketing director, the savviest way to get all of your SEO ducks in a row is to partner with an established marketing agency. SEO is one of our specialties here at Raindrop Marketing. We’ve helped dozens of clients do SEO the right way, at an affordable price, in addition to handling all of their other marketing and branding needs. Learn more about our process, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you like what you’re hearing.

By: Adam Wagner