Google SEO Ranking Factors [infographic]

In order to rank web pages in its search engine, Google uses an algorithm that contains over 200 factors. What that means is that when a search is entered into the search box, Google quickly scans its index of pages to find pages that may match that query. It then ranks them from one to millions in terms of which pages to display to the searcher first. Search Engine Optimization is the art and science of influencing the rankings so your page ranks higher.
The following infographic shows how the Google uses the ranking factors to assess a site (and what those factors are). Below the infographic, I explain it in more detail.

The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors

Below is the table of ranking factors from Search Engine Land. It’s one useful framework for understanding the importance of the different factors. Click to see a larger version.

Search, SEO ranking factors chart

Click here for the full SEO Periodic Table with explanations to download.

Source: Search Engine Land, The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors, used with permission

The Ranking Factors explained

Content:

Your blog (or website) content is the most important factor. Is it high quality and targeted towards your target market? Do you use keywords that your potential customers actually use? Google will also consider if people are spending time on your page and staying within your site (versus looking and quickly clicking away). Lastly, are your posts recent or about current “hot” topics?

Keywords in the Right Places (called “HTML” in the chart below):

Are you including your keywords in the right places? Key places include above your URL (what’s called the Page Title), in Headers (such as the headers on this post) and in the Page Description that search engines can read. There are WordPress plug-ins such as the All in One SEO Pack and Yoast SEO to help you include these important components in your posts.

Site Architecture:

This one sounds complicated, but some of the factors are fairly simple. Does your site load quickly? If you use a quality web host, that helps quite a bit because you’ll be running on better or more optimized servers. Also, do you have short URLs (your web page addresses) with the target keywords in them? Can the search engines easily navigate your site? One way to help them is to include links to all of your key pages from other pages in your site or from your sidebar.

Links to your site:

The next factor is links from other sites to your pages or posts. One of the sincerest forms of flattery online is to link to quality pages from your own pages. Are people linking to your site? You can find out at this SEO Tools List (see Backlink Analysis Tools). Google will rank your pages higher if links come from quality sites, you have a large number of them, and if people place the links on top of text that includes your target keywords (see how I linked the SEO Tools List above – that’s an example).

Social Media:

Search engines are increasingly looking at how your content is shared via social media to help them assess the quality of your content (and site). Is your content being shared a lot? Are respected people sharing your content online?

Trust:

Has your site been around a long time? Are there other factors that increase or decrease your trust value such as links from trusted sites or shares from authorities? The search engines consider these things as part of their ranking algorithms.

Personal:

These factors are related to your website’s situation. What country or area are you from? Do you have regular visitors?

Violations and Blocking:

Have you been caught trying to trick the search engines by stuffing keywords with no regard for your readers (or in hidden places in your site)? Do you put links to your site all over the Internet in a spammy way? Are you trying to trick people by redirecting them to pages they’re not intending to visit? Have people blocked your site in their search results? These factors will lower your rankings.

Conclusion:

This gives you a basic overview of what Google and the other search engines look for to determine how high to rank your pages. The reality is that the more specific your industry, locality or niche are, the less of these things you need to have in place to rank well. For example, there aren’t that many Ford dealers or Yoga Studios in San Mateo (compared to all the United States). If you include local keywords and specifics about your business in your website and blog, you have a great chance to rank in the search engines. Looked at the opposite way, ranking in highly competitive markets requies that most of these things be done almost perfectly in order to rank.

Learn about useful SEO Tools here.