SEO Ranking Factors: The Illustrated Guide

Rumour has it, there are over 200 ranking factors involved in Google's algorithm. Including varibales and the ever changing nature of Google's ranking algorithms, the figure goes a lot higher. Everything from Title Tags to having trusted pages e.g. Terms and Conditions works in your favour and will help Google to rank you higher.

With so many ranking factors, how do you know what to target? Well, we've broken down the 35 or so most important factors in one gorgeous PDF poster. Print it out, stick it on your wall, and follow along with the chart to get your site ranking better in the long run.

For the button-averse, the low quality chart is posted here.


Now, let's break the factors down:

Keyword Factors

  1. Titles - Your keywords should feature in all your titles e.g. blog posts.
  2. Title tags - Your title tags are your main way of telling Google what your site is about. Your keywords, then, are the basis of your Title Tags. Use Google's Keyword Planner to research relevant keywords and get an idea of traffic and competition to pick the keywords you're going to target.
  3. Structure - Your keywords should appear throughout the structure of your post e.g. in headings, content, the opening paragraph.
  4. Meta descriptions - Always fill in your meta descriptions. These are the lines of text that appear under the title of a post in search engines.
  5. Link Anchor Text - If you're linking something, make sure the keyword is in the anchor text. Don't just link something like 'click here'. There's more SEO value to be had in anchor text with legitimate, relevant keywords.
  6. Domain - This isn't too important any more, but it helps to get a keyword into your domain name.
  7. Research - Do keyword reserach!
  8. URLs - Get your keywords into your URLs. If you're writing a post on Wordpress or a similar CMS, ALWAYS retitle your post. A post with the URL isn't doing anyone any good!
  9. Content - Your keyword density is the percentage of times your keyword appears in a post. 2% is a nice natural number, though there's no real standard. Just don't go over the top or hit anything past the 4.5% mark.
  10. Header Tags - Get your keywords into your heading tags e.g. H1, H2...
  11. Image Alt Text - Fill them in! If you've an e-commerce site with a lot of products, this gets annoying fast, but it needs to be done. Make sure you vary your the descriptions and alt text for your posts. You might have to get creative, but it has to be done!
Content Factors

  1. Keywords - Keep 'em relevant and present in your content.
  2. Social Signals - The more social shares you have, the more trustworthy Google thinks you are, and the higher you'll rank. Get sharing!
  3. Dwell Time - The longer people spend on your site, the more trustworthy you seem.
  4. Fresh Content - Updating your content over time shows Google that you provide relevant, up-to-date info and that's what Google's onus is.
  5. Length  - Longer pieces generally are better for SEO because social signals are higher and the keywords are present in a natural manner.
  6. Click-through-rates - Higher click-through-rates mean your content/site is relevant and therefore more trustworthy.
  7. Mixed Multimedia - Mixing your media up is good for SEO and diversifying your content. Keeps things fresh, relevant, and encourages shares.
  8. Spelling and grammar - A small factor, but a relevant one. Good spelling and grammar means your content will have a higher comprehension level.
Link Factors
  1. Incoming links - Also known as 'link juice'. Every relevant link coming into your site has a certain link mojo/juice that adds a little extra to your SEO efforts.
  2. Page Rank of links - The better the link is, the more mojo it carries. So, say  you have a link from Buzzfeed, that's worth a lot more than a random link in from a tiny company.
  3. Social shares - Social shares act a little like link mojo. Every share is a boost. Pinterest is particularly good for SEO boosts.
  4. Link location - A link within content i.e. a contextual link is worth more than a link in an author box.
  5. Outgoing links - Outgoing links to trusted sources tell Google that you're legit, which is exactly what you want.
  6. Age of the links - Usually older links are more trusted and therefore worth more.
  7. Diversity of the links - A .edu link is worth more than a .com. Diversifying your incoming links will do great things for your SEO. Likewise, the first link you get in from a site is worth more than any subsequent links in from the same source.
  8. Relevant directories and citations - Submit your website to relevant directories and citations. Emphasis on relevant! There's no point submitting your Irish children's toys e-commerce site to a Vietnamese business directory. Be sensible!
Misc. Factors

  1. User Experience - A site that's difficult to use means you'll have a higher bounce rate and lower dwell time, both of which are detrimental to your SEO efforts.
  2. Trust Pages - Terms & Conditions pages, for example, tell Google you're more trustworthy and give you a small SEO boost.
  3. User Reviews - Reviews work two-fold: they're a great user-generated source of content marketing, but they also provide SEO in fresh content, keywords, and longer dwell time on the page.
That's a quick run-down of the SEO factors we judge as being the most important. If you incorporate all the above, you should see an SEO boost. Be sure not to go overboard and do any keyword stuffing or duplicating content as it'll get you in trouble!


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