Which Google Ranking Factors Matter Most in 2022
There are almost 2 billion websites on the internet, and every day Google receives more than 5.6 billion searches from people looking to find just the right content from among all those sites.
Google aims to deliver the best results for each search by attempting to understand and rank all the content on the internet. Knowing what factors Google uses to rank that content can help you give your website the best chance of appearing as a search result.
Google has said it uses more than 200 factors in its organic search rankings, and while it doesn’t publicly reveal exactly which factors it uses to rank website content in searches or how important each ranking factor is, it has released enough information to enable SEO experts to determine which factor is most important. That factor is content.
Most Important Google Ranking Factor: Content
When you want your website to appear high in Google’s search rankings, the single most important thing you can do for search engine optimization is create unique, compelling, high-quality content that is well-structured, easy to consume, and provides an excellent user experience.
To meet Google’s standards for website content, your content must be well-written, timely, substantive, and provide valuable information to the target audience you have identified using keyword research and other methods.
Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller has even gone on record to say the best way to solve ranking problems—even if they are caused by non-content-related factors—is simply to make your content better.
For more on how to write quality content, see our blog post How to Write Website Content That Ranks, According to Google.
Content is the overarching factor, but it includes several sub-factors.
Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T)
While E-A-T is not a specific ranking factor, it is a way of measuring the trustworthiness and quality of website content. The best way to improve E-A-T on your website is to ensure it offers consistently excellent, authoritative, and factually accurate content.
Making sure your content is aligned with your customers’ search intent shows that you understand your audience and are giving them what they want. That means looking deeper into the search terms they use to uncover what they’re really asking and use your content to provide the answers.
The more information you build into the HTML code on your site, the better Google will be able to understand the content on your site, and the more likely it will be to deliver your pages as high-ranking results for relevant searches. Build keywords into your page titles and H1 and H2 header tags, write meta descriptions that accurately describe what pages are about, and include structural and multimedia elements like images, videos, and bulleted lists to deliver an engaging user experience.
Aside from content, there are a handful of factors that play a key role in Google rankings.
Google Page Experience
Google began using Page Experience as a search ranking factor in 2021 in order to reward websites that offer the best user experience for site visitors. Google Page Experience includes all aspects of how a user interacts with a web page, including mobile usability, website security, HTTPS usage, ad experience, and Core Web Vitals, which covers page load time, interactivity, and visual stability. For more on Google Page Experience and Core Web Vitals, see our blog post on how to optimize your website for Google Page Experience and Core Web Vitals.
Your website should be organized in a clear and intuitive way, with page URLs that include keywords to give Google clear information about the topic of the page and where it belongs on your site. It helps to use the architecture analogy and think of your website like a building: all exits and rooms should be clearly marked, and there should be signs and directional cues to get the visitor where they’re going, instead of leaving them wandering around with no idea where they are.
Having good quality links on your site continues to be one of the strongest correlations to good search rank. Backlinks—links to your site from other reputable websites—give your site traffic and credibility, and show that people trust your site and consider you enough of an authority to link to your page. Internal links—links between different pages on your site—help Google understand how your website is organized, how the content on your site is interrelated, and which pages on your site are most important. Because you are providing helpful links to related content, internal links also tend to increase the amount of time a user spends on your site, which is another ranking factor.