Seo Tips

How Understanding Google Ranking Signals Can Help Your Business

The holy grail of SEO is understanding Google’s mysterious ranking algorithm and the “signals” used to determine the ranking of search results. Google keeps the precise details of how they rank websites close to the vest. If they didn’t, spammers would have a heyday gaming the system, and web searchers would find it impossible to find quality on-target information.


However, Google does reveal, in general, how they rank pages. They do this to encourage legitimate website owners, like people running small businesses, to employ good common sense “white hat” (non-spammy) SEO methods that improve the search results’ relevancy. Of course, their goal is to provide the best, most credible results for the searcher’s query. For example, suppose someone is searching for a surf shop in Santa Barbara, California. In that case, Google wants that user to find the best surf shop in that geographic region at the top of their listings for that search term. However, if you owned a surf shop in Santa Barbara but did not have the words “surf shop” in your page title and you don’t have your Santa Barbara address on the page, Google would have no way of ranking your site at the top of the listings for that particular search, even though that would be best for their users and you.

When many people approach SEO, they think of Google as a combative opponent they need to somehow trick into listing their website at the top of the search results. However, it would be far more effective for you to view Google as a cooperative marketing team member. Suppose you learn the basics of the primary Google ranking signals. In that case, you can use these “white hat” methods (that Google encourages) to ensure your website is listed toward the top for relevant keywords.

Here are the top Google ranking signals you need to know:

1. The Link Score

This is the most important Google ranking signal, so you should take it seriously. It is essential to develop by looking at how many websites link back to your website (and webpages) with one major caveat: the QUALITY of the websites that link back matters a lot. So, for example, ten links from ten shady websites with thin content will not help you as much as one link from a high-quality website that Google recognizes as an authority site. For example, a link from a local newspaper or an active chamber of commerce directory would improve your link score. An article in a popular online magazine or an academic publication published on the institution’s website that links to your website would strengthen your link score.

According to Jeff Bickley, CEO of [white hat], “Ethical [white hat] link building is one of the most powerful ways to help build site authority. The more quality links you can get back to your site, your rankings for your targeted keywords will grow. They also have a long-lasting benefit and trickle-down effect, as most never cease existing.”

2. Is the Website or Page Mobile Friendly?

We probably should have put this first because if your page isn’t mobile-friendly, Google will not even show your pages in mobile searches. Mobile searches account for over half of all searches, so you MUST ensure your pages are mobile-friendly. Very shortly, Google has hinted that they may use whether or not a webpage is mobile friendly as a serious ranking factor in ALL mobile and non-mobile searches. If that happens, you should consider mobile-friendliness as the most important ranking factor in Google, even more important than your link score. Talk with your web designer and SEO expert about how to make your website mobile-friendly.

3. Anchor Text Relevance

Anchor text is the text that someone clicks on in a link. Sometimes, the text is particular, like “the best Santa Cruz surf shop.” Other times, the wording is rather generic, like, “Click here to visit the shop’s homepage.” In many instances, the link will be the URL of the web page linked to. Google analyzes the text in all the links pointing to a webpage as one factor in what keywords your webpage should be ranked for. Before you go, ask all your friends for keyword-specific links; don’t! Google is very good at detecting unnatural patterns in the anchor text. If you have an unusual number of keyword-optimized links for the same phrase, you may have your rank lowered.

4. Content Signals

Generally speaking, the more content you produce on your site, the better. However, within that context, you do need to think about several factors. First, what are the most important keywords and phrases you want to include on an individual page? The title of the page and the top headers are the most important for keywords, but you should consider keyword usage throughout the text. Second, the number of words on a page is important. Pages with fewer words and sparse content may not get ranked as high as pages with more detailed content. Third, the “comprehensiveness” of your content is also very important. This concept is best explained through an example. If you have a tennis site and attempt to optimize a page for “tennis equipment,” it would not be a comprehensive page about tennis equipment if tennis racquets were not mentioned! Likewise, if you have a page optimized for “Things To Do In Memphis, Tennessee” and fail to mention the Elvis Presley Mansion or the Pink Palace, Google would not likely see this page as comprehensive, and you may receive a lower ranking.

5. Page Speed

This is a measure of how fast a page loads. If a page takes an unusually long to load, your ranking may be dinged a bit. On the other hand, if you make sure your pages load fast, you may be rewarded with a rise in rank. Scripts, videos that automatically start playing, and extra-large graphics can slow down a page.

6. Click-through Rate (#CTR) For Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

When Google searchers type in a particular keyword, Google keeps track of which of the results these searchers click on the most and rewards them with a higher rank. The logic is that the searchers are the best judge of relevancy, and the results they click on the most often must be the most relevant. Given this, you need to be aware of how enticing your link and description are to a searcher scanning through search results. In other words, don’t just use titles and descriptions optimized for keywords. Please ensure a real human finds their wording attractive to click on.


As you can see, Google ranking signals make a lot of common sense if you place yourself in the searcher’s shoes, as Google tries to do when developing and tweaking its ranking algorithm. Remember, Google’s primary purpose is to provide relevant results to its users. If you partner with them on this purpose when planning your SEO, you’ll likely do better with your search rankings than if you treat Google as an adversary.

About author

I work for WideInfo and I love writing on my blog every day with huge new information to help my readers. Fashion is my hobby and eating food is my life. Social Media is my blood to connect my family and friends.
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