Most SEO Professionals are fairly sure that Google uses 200 or more ranking factors which they take into consideration when showing a website in their search results (SERPS).  If only Google would just let us know what these 200 + factors are our job would be so much easier! 

In this post we will share what we believe to be the top 5 ranking factors used by Google. These ranking factors have been determined by way of a poll of the top SEO agencies, including WSI IMS.


Here is the consensus view:

Google’s Top 5 Ranking Factors

1.     Using your keywords as the anchor text from External links 73%

73% of the poll results regarded this as being the most important.  We always understood the importance of using your keywords as the anchor text but didn’t fully appreciate that so many other SEO agents felt this was the most important factor. 

For any SEO strategy to work then the anchor text used to create back-links must look natural. If you are likely to use the same anchor text repeatedly this will look ‘spammy’ and you should vary your anchor text and use alternative keyword phrases in the same way that you should for onsite optimisation.

2.     External link popularity 71%

This was voted to be the 2nd most important ranking factor. Your link popularity refers to the quantity and quality of the backlinks to your website. Our view would be that  link quality is more important than link quantity but you will certainly need a good number of quality links.

3.     The diversity of link sources 67%

This was voted as the 3rd most important ranking factor. Link diversity is a very important area for you to focus on.  It is not enough to get backlinks from directory sites or blog comments – you do need  a diverse source of back-links.  These could include:

  • Social Media (Web 2.0 sites)
  • Article sites
  • high profile sites  
  • RSS promotions
  • blog comments
  • Online PR

If Google decided tomorrow to devalue certain back-links then this could severely affect your SERP if you were relying on this type of back-link only.  Diversity will help mitigate this risk. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!!

4.     The inclusion of your keyword in your title tag 66%

This was voted 4th most important ranking factor.  The title tag is a key area for your on-page optimisation. Your title tag is your ‘headline’ in your search engine entry and it also helps the search engine spiders and robots to understand what your page is (supposed to be) about. If you do nothing else in terms of on-page optimisation this is the one crucial  area you must get right

5.     Trustworthiness of the domain 66%

This, perhaps surprisingly, was viewed as the 5th most important ranking factor. It has not yet been clearly defined as to what constitutes a ‘trusted domain’ however it is important that Google trusts your domain in order to get higher rankings.

There are many areas that can affect how trustworthy your domain is– such as the age of the domain. The older it is the better as it is less likely to be a spam site.

You can improve the trustworthiness of your domain by attracting back-links to your site from already trusted sites which have a high page rank. These websites have already earned their trust and if they link back to you then Google will pass this trust to your site.

The number of web pages you have attached to your domain can also count.  Websites with a large number of pages – 100 or more – are viewed as ‘authority’ sites by Google and by implication an authority site will be on a trusted domain.

There are, of course, many more ranking factors. We have only named the top 5 in order of perceived importance. We have not determined the order that they are in exclusively but they have been voted by reputed search engine marketing professionals such as WSI IMS in this order of importance.

It is important to understand that concentrating on the above factors alone will not necessarily deliver you a page one ranking with Google. As mentioned at the start of this post Google uses over 200 ranking factors in total, split between onsite and offsite factors. 

Do you agree?  Please leave a comment or visit WSI IMS – WSI Digital Marketing Services in Surrey, Sussex, Kent & throughout the South East of England

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