What Are the Most Important Google Ranking Factors?

Date: October 7, 2019

Rand Fishkin Google Ranking Factors Survey Results

The SEO world is constantly evolving. As tastes and technologies change, search engines adapt to the new landscape. Obviously, it’s critical for SEO strategists to stay vigilant as Google and other companies alter their ranking factors. 

To track industry trends, Rand Fishkin, the former CEO of Moz, has released his August 2019 ranking factors survey at SparkToro. More than 1,584 SEO professionals contributed to the research in order to measure opinions about the importance of different ranking factors in Google’s organic ranking system. 

The image below lists factors with the highest average ranking down to the lowest ranking.

The top 5 Google ranking factors are:

  1. Relevance of overall page content
  2. Quality of linking sites and pages
  3. Use of query-relevant words and phrases
  4. Domain’s perceived expertise, authority, and trust
  5. Mobile-friendliness 

This article discusses four main takeaways from the survey you should pay attention to:

Websites Need Engaging Content 

For the first time since Fishkin’s surveys began in 2005, content relevance and quality are the top-voted ranking factors. For more than a decade, the top SEO ranking factors were links and keywords. 

While they remain important, the power of relevant and engaging content has risen dramatically as Google’s algorithm has made huge strides in understanding searcher intent. This means that Google has tailored its algorithm to highlight sites with great content. 

Copywriting and content production for your website is more important than at any point in the history of organic search. Research from Visual Objects shows that only 40% of small businesses publish website content consistently

It’s Time to Go Mobile

Clearly, the way people browse the internet has radically changed since 2010. 

woman using her phone take a photo on an app

This year’s survey said mobile-friendliness is now the fifth-highest ranking factor on Google. Making sure your pages are optimized for mobile viewing is now a must. Google continues to update its mobile search to better serve users, most recently in May 2019

Anchor Text Is Decreasing in Importance

For years, the use of “anchor text” on links to stand out in Google’s algorithm was an SEO staple. Now, as trends have changed, the importance of anchor text has diminished.

Anchor text is no longer in the top 10 ranking factors. In fact, it’s ranked 15. This is the first time that has ever happened. 

SEO companies are now focusing on new ways to enhance webpage authority. 

Respondents Expect Google to Expand 

Survey respondents were asked which trends would have the biggest impact on the SEO industry in the next three years. The most popular answer was Google expanding its business and competing directly with publishers, closely followed by the increased role of machine learning and AI. 

Considering Google has already expanded to areas such as Google Flights, Google Maps, and Google Play, it’s not surprising that the SEO industry expects more disruptions from the tech giant in the coming years. Respondents also gave credence to a potential rise in voice-assisted search from Google Assistant or Siri. 

Without fail, the most-predicted trends were related to Google itself or technological innovations, rather than the influence of governments or competitors. The effect of congressional investigations and EU regulations on Google ranked very poorly in the survey. 

Companies Must Continue Monitoring SEO Trends

If you want to increase search traffic and SEO, the importance of these trends is always something to monitor. At 9Sail, we’re constantly improving and evolving to keep you up-to-date on ever-changing SEO best practices. Clients looking for a trustworthy firm to help them rank higher on Google can find us on Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews site. 

Clutch’s sister site, The Manifest, offer more resources for clients to improve their business It features plenty of how-to-guides and company listings to guide you in improving your search presence.

If you’re interested in working with us to take your SEO to the next level, feel free to get in touch!