How Does Google Rank Websites? Ranking Factors | Kaweb

How does Google rank websites?

If you want to rank at the top of Google’s listings, and beat your competitors, there is a whole host of processes in SEO that you need to implement.

But how do you know where to start?

How does Google rank websites?

Google core updates and algorithms can quickly change the game and there is so much involved in the practice of SEO.

So, we’ve compiled some of the crucial factors to help you begin to see some of Google’s ranking factors.

How does Google rank websites?

When Google ranks your website, it tries to find two things: some authority, and some relevancy.

Before ranking you anywhere, Google’s ‘spiders’ will find, access, index and then assess your website.

It uses the algorithm, which is a number of indicators set by Google that determine a website’s relevancy.

It then decides how good your website is.

But what does ‘how good your website is’ really mean? In other words, when Google looks for ‘authority’ and ‘relevancy’, what’s it really looking for?

  • Authority can be improved with a growing level of website traffic, strong internal linking, and a high quality backlink profile
  • Relevancy can be worked on by having different types of high value content on your website that meets the user’s search intention

Together, authority and relevancy build your website (and brand) up, and over time work hand in hand with a high class SEO strategy to get more organic traffic, and more results.

Stumped? What is SEO? Find out here in our breakdown of off and on page SEO.

Next, let’s look at what Google search really loves to see in order for you to rank higher and get more traffic. Hit each ranking factor and you’re set up well. Just ensure you’re clued up when it comes to Google’s algorithm and updates.

Google loves content

It’s old news that keywords are important in SEO.

But what’s becoming even more of an indicator that Google recognises as high relevancy, is genuinely valuable content.

That means making sure every single page actually meets the intention of the user’s search query; be it information-only or a bottom of funnel ecommerce purchase.

If your user doesn’t find the content that they’re looking for, they’ll get lost, and leave. This then leaves you with a bounce, or exit, rate.

Make life easy for your user.

Ensure that every page of your website can be easily accessed, loads quickly, and then has digestible content on.

  • Use bullet points to break chunkier text up
  • Add headings to give your copy easy flow
  • Write simple, engaging text to avoid confusing or boring your audience
  • Include relevant imagery to inject some white space

This is called ‘rich’ content because it’s jam-packed of the right stuff, and it’s got your user in mind.

If you create content that people are searching for that’s designed for them primarily, Google should reward you.

Next time you come across a keyword that’s got potential for a new piece of content, ask yourself what people want to find as a result of their search.

Is it a product or category page, a visual infographic, a useful ebook they can download and share with their team, or a demonstrative video? It’s worth doing some research to work this bit out too.

There’s nothing worse than aimless content.

Google loves optimised stuff

Every page should have a purpose, and that means it should have an allocated target keyword you want it to rank for.

You need to implement the best practices of optimisation to give Google a signal as to what the page is all about.. “So, I can just stuff my pages with my ideal keyword and then it’s really obvious, right?” Wrong.

While Google wants to know what keyword you want to rank for, it rewards content that targets the user intent. That means if you ‘keyword stuff’ your pages, they won’t read naturally at all, and that’s not good for your user.

So, the real question is, how do you optimise your pages for your target keyword?

  • Add your primary keyword to your H1
  • Thread it throughout the copy and in your headings where it sounds natural
  • Include it in your meta title, and meta description if you can
  • Drop it into the alt text of your images, if it fits
  • Ensure that the URL for that page has your primary keyword in
  • Make sure the URL is correctly placed in the sitemap as an indexable page
  • Create internal links to that page on other pages on your site
  • Check that the anchor texts on your internal links include the keyword for the page you’re working on

Top Tip! Don’t just have one primary keyword. Do some keyword research and find a few more, depending on the length of your content, and find opportunities to rank for different, relevant keywords too.

New to organic search? Learn what keyword research is for SEO.

Extra Top Tip! No idea how to go about internal linking for SEO? Find out here.

Google loves top quality backlinks

Backlinks are a big part of Google ranking factors.

A backlink is a link that comes from an external website to your own. Google will look at how many backlinks you’ve got and the quality of them to gauge how trustworthy and authoritative your website is.

For example, if you have less than 30 links and they’re all links from websites that have a low DA (which means domain authority in SEO), this isn’t good.

But if your backlink profile has lots of links from medium to high DA websites, Google will notice you as a better website, and can rank you higher.

It can be a case of quality over quantity when it comes to backlinks, so much so that one super quality backlink from a high DA can have greater impact than lots of backlinks from low DA sites.

There are ways to build up a good portfolio of healthy, high DA links, including:

  • doing outreach for unlinked mentions (or where your competitors are mentioned, but not you)
  • trying the skyscraper approach (to create super valuable content and gain a natural backlink)

Google loves the technical stuff

What’s the technical stuff? Technical SEO can refer to off page aspects of organic search.

Basically, it’s not just the visible content on your page that makes a difference. It’s the behind the scenes stuff too, and how easy Google (and your user) finds it to navigate around and actually use the site.

Generally, Google ranks websites that don’t break, and if they’re mobile friendly.

For example, here are some key parts of technical SEO you should check are working correctly:

  • page speed – if it loads super slow (slower than 3 seconds), it’s not user friendly, so Google won’t like it (find out more about why site speed matters in SEO)
  • excessive redirects – the more redirects you’ve got, the more of its already limited crawl budget Google uses, so ideally make it easy for Google to see the pages you’ve got and avoid too many redirects (it can affect your page speed too if it’s stuck in a redirect loop)
  • cannibalisation – if you’ve got more than one page targeting the same keyword, Google will get confused, and this may cause you ranking problems
  • canonicalisation – if you have two duplicated pages (eg, URL parameters) and you don’t canonicalise the one you want to rank, Google will see this as duplicate content, and won’t like it

To keep Google on your side when it comes to the technical bits, make sure you’re following the best practice for the above. It can get quite technical, so feel free to get in touch with our SEO services team if you’d like some help.

To summarise, how does Google rank websites?

Well, that’s the tip of the iceberg of the big question. We’ve covered some of the crucial basics that you absolutely need to know if you’re just starting to get to grips with understanding and implementing SEO into your business marketing strategy.

New to Google search? Why not get ahead of the game and discover the top 10 link building myths in our infographic, or find out for yourself.. is SEO worth it for businesses?

Frequently asked questions

How do I get noticed by Google?

Make sure you have a sitemap with the pages you want to be crawled and indexed. Optimise your pages for the right keywords and remember to do keyword research for this.

Ensure your website runs quick enough, is mobile friendly, and has relevant backlinks and engaging content on.

Why is it important to rank high on Google?

The higher you rank on Google, the higher the click through rate (CTR) is. That means more people land on your website, so you see your website traffic increase.

The more traffic your business website gets, the more conversions you can get. That’s why it’s important to rank on Google.

Why doesn’t my site appear on Google?

It could be that Google hasn’t indexed your website yet or it doesn’t see your site as relevant to rank for the keywords you want to rank for.

Another reason might be that you’ve blocked the googlebot crawler in your robots.txt file. You might have done this by accident, but this can cause Google to not crawl your website, so it won’t and you won’t rank.

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Written by Katie McDonald in Digital Marketing