Google Ranking Factors – This is how SEO works

It doesn't matter with we're in 2016 or 2017 - the sum of actual Google Ranking Factors are always the same. I'll tell you why!

Every result from Google is like a “Top-List” of websites. The higher the ranking of your page, the better it is – and the more visitors and potential costumers you can get. Because those who are looking something up in Google have – in the most cases – need for information and in many cases also need for (private) consumption, shopping or other (business) procurement.

Accordingly, good SEO rankings (SEO is short for „Search Engine Optimization“) often directly affect the turnover of a company. This fact makes the rating criteria – so called “Google Ranking Factors” so important for us marketers, entrepreneurs and bloggers. Even if they are often kept under wraps.

First things first

The losers of Google Updates

The losers of Google updates are mostly websites, which do not offer enough additional value compared to their competitors. Later in the text we will learn that this additional value is inter alia measured on unique content.

Apart from that, updates of the search engine continually punish websites who do not comply with the rules or try to higher their ranking in unconventional ways. The so called “Spam” – which is filtered by Google – includes most importantly websites that:

  • buy links (single or large quantities of it) without marking them as advertisements.
  • use invisible content (that can only be seen by the search engine but not by the visitors of the site) to trick the search engines. This does not include the meta-data, which counts to the accepted invisible content.
  • are infected with malware (viruses, Trojans, phishing offers), show adult content or differ from the “well-behaved” norm in any way.

Ineffective (former) ranking factors

Furthermore, I would like to mention the still used „Keyword“. Even if the single search term smoothed the content a few years ago (more on this later), some marketing experts still hold on to the keyword as a ranking factor for Google.

To cut a long story short: It is no longer like that! A keyword in the invisible meta-area of a website is something that nobody needs and which is also not ranked by any of the relevant search engines.

The „competitors“ using Google AdWords advertisements

Lack of visibility or range in the natural Google-Search is often compensated through advertisements. These Google AdWords-Advertisements could not replace the natural search results; they rather form a symbiotic relationship with it, because: without advertisements no search engine. And without natural (not purchased) search results, no demand. Google is living through the turnover of AdWords and through the demand of non-advertised, high quality results:


Google is constantly experimenting on more effective marketing and positioning of the AdWords advertisements. However, less users click on the advertisements than on the natural results – even if the ads have been removed from the sidebar and are mentioned first in Google’s results (so, many people recognize the ads and are smart enough to know, that they don’t necessarily mean a good result for their search query).

Eyetracking Studie der Google SERPs Wahrnehmung

This is not to say that the advertisements in Google AdWords are unnecessary or redundant. Rather, one should use both channels for marketing in the search engine. AdWords in particular, to show up where one cannot yet be found through natural ways (through SEO). Furthermore, you can use advertisements and the thereby purchased range to learn more quickly where things go well and where you can still find SEO optimization potential.

The AdWords advertisements are not solely ranked by the budget, but also by a quality factor. Roughly, the logic behind that is the almost the same as of the SEO: if advertisements (Snippets) and the target- or landing page are good, they can show up much higher in the result list even if they have a lower budget. As a result of this, you can learn more quickly what is working not so well in your search engine marketing (brief: SEM) concept. We name this kind of principle “Fail faster”. Thereby, you can also learn more quickly where the potential for optimization is and you will save money you would have to spend for awaiting the SEO success. Sometimes, this way is worthwhile itself more than to await the results of the SEO.

Thus, AdWords has a positive effect on the search engine ranking – but not a direct one. Only if you learn something out of it.

Turning to the Google Ranking Factors

This is how Google works

The task of the search engine is to provide results as relevant as possible. Only if the results are good, the user will visit the website again and will click on the advertisement.

So when you think about it, you will come to the conclusion that the main success factor of the SEO is not the single ranking factor but rather the individuality of the own content and the user orientation. If you understand your target group and you are structured and creative you will come to success with the Google SEO:

  • You need creativity to gain added value to the competition. You can be inspired by many different things and should not only see what others are doing (I may also have written an article about concrete ranking factors, but this would have been not unique enough). The creativity so refers to design and content.
  • The understanding is needed to recognize the need of your target group and to enter into a dialogue with them. Of course, you should also understand the principle of the ranking factors, but in the foreground is always the human. This again affects the content, but also the user-friendliness of the page.
  • Structure is important so that your target group and Google can understand and interpret the content of your page (sender- and recipient principal). This starts with each single paragraph in the text and ends with the technical processing of an email or shopping basket confirmation page.

Thus, it is all about user friendliness and confidence.

By creating real – which means unique and useful – added value for your target group you give users and Google damn good reason to take you and your page seriously. Therefore, the search engine can provide unique and good search results (no copies or so called “Duplicate Content”) and the user stays longer on your page. In ideal case they recommend your content over their own communication channels like Social Media and via Email. With good content you improve your reputation and your range in the internet.

If you keep on building this added value, you can gain something like a “position of trust” and it will be much easier for you in the future to rank in Google, than it would be without this position of trust. Therefore, the selection of the domain, respectively, the reliability of the domain as well as its content plays a big role in the Google SEO. We call this: domain authority.

4 Sources for ranking factors

Of course there are also some „hard facts“ to keep in mind with SEO. Overall, there are about 100-200 ranking factors known in the SEO. This number is varying a lot, as Google does not disclose all factors. Matt Cutts (it is recommended to follow him) – Google employee and former Head of Web Spam – names some ranking factors and “non-ranking-factors” on this Google+ page. More factors are determined by testing.

Especially for not providing poor imitation of others content and knowledge, I would like to offer three more sources to check on Google ranking factors:

  • Searchmetrics: their SEP Tool is amazing and the firm is also smart and creative – they offer a „Ranking Factor Cards Game”. The ranking factors are reliable as they are based on facts; but they are less recommended to look something up very quick. They are more recommended for a reading or a poster. (??? :D)
  • NORTHCUTT: interactive and with an additional valuation of myths and facts. They are very appropriate for concrete researches.
  • Link Assistant: briefly and concisely showing the 13 most important ranking factors.

Of course, it is fantastic that SEO tool providers, consultants and agencies offer this data to everybody. But very often disillusionment occurs on the user side because: as a non-consultant; a non-technician or a not-daily-user – what should you do with all this information and data?

As you can see, there is no point for the user in this SEO Ranking Factor Lists. It is a question of understanding how Google is ticking to follow the road to success in SEO (the rest will be done by all the experts and SEO Tools).

For this reason I would like to explain to you one of the main thoughts regarding Google ranking factors.

The most important SEO Ranking Factors

No matter which sources you investigate regarding SEO, you will always jump to the following two ranking factors:

  1. Onpage Optimization
    • Easy user-friendliness of the page – so that the user and the search engines could easily find their way around. This is important for desktop versions and for mobile versions (smartphones and tablets) as well. The mobile sector has the most known Google Updates. This is because now a days more than half of the accesses to the internet is made via mobile terminal devices and this costumers are taken very seriously from Google – especially in the B2B area.
    • Correct and appealing metadata (as mentioned above – without keywords)
    • Fast loading time of the page – so that all content is available very quickly and the waiting time is as short as possible:
    • SEO Speed
      Source: Searchmetrics
    • Consistency of content and relevant information – so that the user could easily find everything he is looking for. This is also shown in an analysis of the best-ranked sites in Google!
      Content Länge / Length Google Ranking
      Source: searchIQ

      In average, the top 10 SEO results consist of about 2.300 words. For comparison: a regular sheet of paper consists of about 300 words. Accordingly, it is important not to simply fill the page with words, but also to loosen the layout with attractive pictures and to have it “easy reading”. Internal links between the website content is also very important and can easily be added to the texts.

    • Encryption with SSL for safe internet surfing on the page.
    • Distinctive design; an own kind of visual vocabulary and a consistent style of the text – to stand out and to be recognized
  2. Offpage Optimization / Reputation building
    • Reliable backlinks with real traffic (good content):

      Quelle: Searchmetrics
      Source: Searchmetrics
    • Real Social Signals (likes, shares, evaluations and other kind of reactions in social networks).
    • Other kind of so called „mentions“. They do not have to be combined tot he own firm with links or hashtags. They are also used as “brand signals” for the SEO relevance ranking.

Optimization always has to be treated with caution as well.

It does not matter what you are optimizing – websites, cars, or processes – you always have to check the individual situation and to try out some measures. You will gain positive and negative experience. This fact values  – in my opinion – for the use of SEO tools (like we are offering it) or to hire an SEO consultant. They have “best practices” of all different kinds of cases.

On the bottom line, good content, attractive design and real added value must be skilfully. Those who can`t afford this and include the ideas of his competitors too much is risking a cheap imitation and not to develop real added value fort he own page.

This „Anti SEO Factor“ often crosses my way – especially with empolyees of big companies. And this „Anti SEO Factor“ can lead to failure.

There are, of course, exceptions of the rule: Those who already have an established website, blog or online portal often can perform using “snitched content” much better than the source of this “snitched content”. Measurements of SEO experts have shown that.


Ranking-Factors – all well and good – but important is to understand the logic behind it. High demands on the own web presence and on the own online communication are the top basis for practicing successful SEO Marketing.