10 Most Important Google Ranking Factors (Updated for 2018)

What will happen to those children in the Series of Unfortunate Events? What’s exactly there in Area 51? Why aren’t you still able to teleport?

There are so many mysteries to be solved.

What does it take to rank higher in Google? What are the different factors that it considers while deciding which website to rank first?

These are some of the greatest questions of the modern era. And the SEO-industry.

But all joking aside, it is really puzzling to see so many people still guessing what works and what doesn’t. And kudos to Google for still keeping things so mysterious. It’s really hard to keep something a secret for almost 20 years now.

Or must I say, they did a good job. But now the secret is out. Because I have tested these factors on several clients in different niches, even on my own websites. And the results were consistent.

Unlike other so-called “SEO-blogs” here at Website Rescue, we actually test things for ourselves before writing about it. That gives us important data that we can leverage and dominate our competition.

But the worst part is yet to come ladies and gents.

If you are not already on page 1 of Google, then you are losing a ton of sales to your competitors. Research has shown that almost 97 percent of the people NEVER click past the first page of results.

I bet even you don’t remember the last time you clicked past the first page. Unless you were doing some research for your university where you desperately needed some unique information for your thesis.

Then congratulations. You come in the 3% of the people who clicked past the first page.

Almost every business is now trying to get their website on the first page. Ideally, most of them would love to be in the top 3 spots of the organic listings. But that ain’t a child’s play.

And all of that desire has now led you to this very article where you will uncover the most important ranking factors that affect your rankings in Google.

But before we dive into the factors, we first need to know how Google works. Only then we will be able to truly understand why it needs those factors to rank your website on page 1.


How Does Google Work?

Let’s just say that over the years Google has improved a lot. And it’s not as easy to rank a website as it was in 2005.

At this point in time, Google takes almost 200 factors into consideration before deciding which website to rank where.

And if you thought that was amazing, wait till you learn this.

The algorithm is constantly changing, adapting and is smart. It uses all the data available out there to adapt in order to give the users the best experience. This also prevents some black hat SEO tactics that people use to manipulate the searches.

Quite honestly, you should stay away from those tactics because they are very temporary. And I’m assuming that you would want something that would keep your website ranked on page 1 for years to come.

So, why does Google does all that hard work just for a single search?

That’s a good question.

The reason it does that is because a search term can easily have a ton of different meanings. Let’s say that you search for the word “best restaurants,” Google does not know what you are really looking for. There are some of the possible results:

  • Finding the nearest restaurant
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Chinese restaurants
  • 5-star restaurants
  • Brand new restaurants
  • Multi-cuisine restaurants

By considering over 200 factors, what Google is doing, is trying to figure out what your intent is behind that particular search. And over time as you keep using Google, the algorithms will have identified and adapted to your types of searches. This lets it know our intent behind your searches.

These intents are basically divided into 4 sections:

  1. Know queries: The query where the user wants more information about something. Ex: “Why do people love In & Out?”
  2. Do queries: The query where the user wants to know about the subject and is ready to take action. Ex: “Best Italian restaurants in Downtown Manhattan.”
  3. Website queries: The query where the user wants to go to a particular website. Ex: “Netflix”
  4. Visit-in-person queries: The query where the user wants to locate a particular address and visit it. Ex: “Best dentist in San Jose.”

When a user is searching from a smartphone, then the algorithm adapts and produces data based on the intent where the user might need to go, do buy or know.

But this smart search algorithm goes beyond that. It also uses your historical data and combines that with the ranking factors that it considers in order to provide you with the best results possible.

And now that you have this information. It will help you tailor your SEO strategy and seeking out the intent of the people searching for a particular keyword.

You can then create content based on their intent.

Let’s say that I search for “electricians,” and in the top results, I see the different electricians in my local area. This means that Google has learned my intent for searching that. Its understanding is that I’m searching for an “electrician that can fix an issue for me.”

I see a ton of SEOs that rarely think about the intent of the searcher. That is the reason why their content is so disconnected from what people actually are searching for.

In Total, How Many Ranking Factors Are There?

SEOs have been testing different factors ever since they realized that they could make money by just ranking websites. After years and years of testing, they have now arrived at 200 different factors that Google’s algorithm uses to rank websites.

Now you must know that every factor holds different weight. And in this article, I am only going to list the factors that I know for a fact that they hold the most weight.


Most Important Google Ranking Factors Every Beginner Should Know in 2018

Below are some of the major factors that I believe will predict where your website will rank in the search engines. All these factors are based on the latest Google’s algorithm update in 2018.


  1. Title tag should have your keyword.

The title tag is one of the first things that lets Google know what your website is about. I even talked about it in my previous blog post about why it could be one of the reasons why your website isn’t ranking anywhere in Google.

Yes, it is THAT important to have your keyword in your title tag.

The best way to take advantage of this tag is to try to have your keyword at the start of the title tag. Pages that have their keyword closer to the beginning of the title tag are ranked higher compared to the pages that have their keyword toward the end of the tag.


  1. Having keyword in the meta description tag.

It is important to have your keyword in the meta description because at the end of the day if people don’t click on your website, there’s no use ranking on page 1. I agree that it doesn’t hold as much value as it used to, but you still want people to visit your website. So it’s better to optimize your meta description so that you gain visitors from all the hard work you are doing.


  1. Keyword in the H1 tag

It doesn’t matter what people might say in these SEO forums. It is always a good practice to include your keyword in the H1 tag. This lets Google know that your blog post is structured around that topic and you are explaining things in detail and in different sections.


  1. The length of the content.

Gone were the days when you could just write a 500-word article covering the basic details about the topic. And that would suffice to rank on page 1. But that is not the case now.

In fact, searchers want more information these days. They want to know everything that is there to learn about the subject they are searching for.

So it makes sense to have longer content because that increases the chance of you covering more topics and in-depth. So, if you are writing that next blog post on your website, don’t shy away from writing a 3,000-word post that covers everything about that topic.


  1. Avoid duplicate content at all costs

If you are putting all this time and effort on your website and trying to get it ranked on page 1, you might as well invest in unique content on your website. Having duplicate content negatively affects your rankings.

So, make sure that you do have duplicate content on any of your pages.

Better to be safe than sorry.


  1. Use Canonical tags

If you have a bigger website, it makes sense that there might be times when you would have to write content that is similar to something that you have written in the past.

In those cases, Canonical tags help you tell Google that both URLs are equivalent and that even though they are 2 separate pages on your website, they should be considered as one.


  1. Image optimization

I see this countless of times. People invest so much in their content. They literally have 5,000-word blog posts on their website but they forget to optimize their images.

Remember, Google cannot see. You have to describe the image in text so that Google knows what it is about and how it is relevant to the article.

You can use the alt text, caption and the description of the images to achieve that.


  1. Fresh content

Google loves fresh content. And it is better if you incorporate a content marketing strategy along with your SEO strategy. This will help you rank for even more keywords over time.

And if you have commercial pages such as product pages, then Google recognizes that and so they don’t need to be constantly updated.


  1. Outbound links

Having outbound links to authoritative websites will tell Google that you want the user to learn more about the subject from trusted sources. And believe me, this is a huge trust factor.

I have literally seen websites jump from mid page 3 to top of page 2 just by using this factor.

But the key is to use this in moderation. Because having too many outbound links will diminish the value of your website.


  1. Internal links

Having internal links is just as important as having outbound links. These links will help the user easily navigate through your website and learn more about the topic that they are interested in.

And anything that can improve the user experience is a ranking factor that Google considers.


So, if you just optimize for these 10 SEO factors, you will see your website jump rankings in no time.

Remember the 80/20 rule (Pareto’s Principle). You always get 80% of the results from 20% of the effort you put in. But that 20% is the most important percentage that gets the job done. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to achieve your goals. In this case, page 1 rankings.

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