Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

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No doubt, paid search ads have transformed the marketing mix in recent years. However, there’s nothing like organic growth. Brands crave organic results as it highlights their credentials without having to advertise it. On the other hand, using both these mediums simultaneously can help achieve tremendous results. 

No agency can tell you how search engines work. They can offer bits and pieces but not the exact blueprint. And as a marketer, you don’t want to be fixated to set rules as every brand is different. Thus, the information that you get is a blessing in disguise. 

SEO experts at SmartMetrics have devised a three-step strategy to help you rank better organically. This three-step strategy focuses on three major ranking factors – On-page, Off-page, and technical, that will help you get in Google’s good books. 

The On-Page Ranking Factors

On-Page Ranking Factors are related to content optimization, keywords usage, and overall quality of your pages. When looking to improve the on-page SEO, you need to focus on these elements: 

Keyword Targeting

Using keywords is an effective strategy to help the search engine understand the terms you want to rank for. SmartMetrics Analytics experts suggest that keyword research will define the site’s direction and drive new traffic to your website. However, you cannot just stuff your blog with keywords that can be penalized.

Google Ranking Factors, Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

Image Credit: Raven Tools 

With frequent algorithm updates, search engines are smarter than ever. When writing content, ensure that you’re doing it for the user and not the search engine. 

For every article that you want to write, identify 4-5 keywords that you want to rank for. Incorporating these keywords naturally will help the search engine determine that emphasis. When targeting keywords, refrain from keyword stuffing and statements that sound unnatural as it can be penalized. 

Content Structure

The structure of your content is pivotal when it comes to rankings. Broadly, content pieces can be divided into three parts – Response posts (1000-1500 words), Staple posts (1500-2500 words), and Pillar posts (3,500+ words). 

Google Ranking Factors, Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

The numbers can vary based on your niche, and the content structure might differ based on your content goal. 

For instance, if you’re trying to rank a blog that is a buyer’s guide, it’ll most probably be a pillar post. On the contrary, if you want to answer a specific query posed by your TG, you can use a response post to do that. 

Title Tags 

The title tag is the most prominent element in SERP, plays a vital role in ranking. Search engines use these tags to understand the subject matter on the page. 

Google Ranking Factors, Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

As a publisher, you would want to add a title tag that is catchy yet concise. 

Meta Description 

A meta description is like a summary that describes an individual webpage. For every reader who’s typing in a query, he’ll likely see a title, URL, and meta description. 

Google Ranking Factors, Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

Meta description, though displayed in search results, is not a significant ranking factor. However, CTR can be improved if you add valuable information in less than 160 characters.  

Image Alt-text 

Every image that you download from Google comes with a unique SEO component. This includes the image’s original upload title, caption, and alt-tag. 

Google Ranking Factors, Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

While the caption can be ignored, the alt-text shouldn’t. Here’s why image Alt-text is essential: 

  • When an image fails to load, the end-user will see the alt-text.
  • When scanning your site, the search engine uses alt text to index your images. 
  • Optimized alt-text can improve image visibility, thereby improving the overall ranking. 

URL structure 

URL structure may seem simple as most Content Management Systems (CMS) do it automatically. However, a few years ago, you were required to edit the URL structure manually. 

Google Ranking Factors, Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

This was done to avoid jumbling URLs that may impact search engine visibility. Nowadays, titles are converted to URLs automatically. However, you must ensure that if the title is too long, chop some words to keep the URL concise. 

The Off-Page Ranking Factors

Off-page ranking factors involve steps that you need to take off of your website. These include social media platforms, blogging partnerships, guest posts, backlinks, and other practices that help catapult your website’s rank in the search engine. Unlike on-page SEO, off-page SEO is quite self-explanatory even if you’re not well-versed with CMS. 

Technical Ranking Factors

The technical ranking or technical SEO as a term feels daunting. However, there’s not much to the technical side. As a marketer, you need to be accustomed to the website structure and CMS dashboards. As for fixing technical SEO errors, both marketing and web development teams use tools to overcome issues. However, you can fix them yourself as most of the technical aspects include elements such as: 

Site and page speed

In an era where there’s a continuous reduction of attention span, a slow website is the last thing you’d want. No user would stick on a site that takes more than 6 seconds to load. Having your website load quickly is a core component of SEO. 

Google Ranking Factors, Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

If left unfixed, the bounce rate will increase tremendously, and users won’t return to your site for the same query. Thus, it’s essential to focus on site and page speed. You can audit your site to get an SEO overview that’ll help you improve your website’s speed. 

Usability on mobile

Google’s mobile-first indexing rule means that they use the mobile version of the website first when they are evaluating any given page. Mobile usability or responsiveness is a term used to indicate if the website is mobile-friendly. 

Google Ranking Factors, Top 10 Google Ranking Factors of 2021

Your desktop version can be flawless. However, if it isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re possibly losing out on 60% of your audience. Your site should be optimized for mobile devices and whenever you check a page for content and design, try to preview it in various resolutions across different devices. 

Internal links

ply cannot stress the importance of interlinking enough. Internal linking, in my opinion, is far more significant than backlinks when it comes to rankings. With interlinks, you give your website a structure that allows users to flow from one page to another in a seamless fashion. 


Remember, SEO takes time and effort. There’s no single perfect way, and you have to keep trying and testing. Ranking any content takes time, and unless you’re a well-established site, the chances of you landing on the first page won’t happen magically. 

The optimization process is never-ending due to its problem-solving nature. As a site owner, you need to keep your site fresh, relevant, quick to load, and filled with quality content. Focus on the end-user and use their glasses when judging the site, and you’ll see a better ranking. 

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