Top 9 Organic Web Search Ranking Factors

Organic Web Search Ranking Factors - you already know that search engines use complicated secret formulas, called ranking algorithms, to determine the order of their results. Now we’re going to wrap what you already know into an organic optimization cheat sheet that you can peek at the next time someone asks you, “What do search engines care about, anyway?

But first, a disclaimer: There are radically differing opinions within the SEO community about what works and what’s important. The SEO profession is an upstart one, with no degrees to be earned or widely accepted canon of literature (and if there were, it’d change every five months anyway). 

So we’re all trying to figure out this stuff on our own, using different test cases and chasing morphing search engines. We've distilled what we believe to be the best-of-the-best advice and present it here in a simplified form.

Here’s the lowdown on the most important factors:

1 - Inbound links 

Inbound Links (Quality, Quantity, and Diversity) Coming in at the top in our list of search engine ranking factors is inbound links to your website. 

Why are inbound links so important in the search engine ranking algorithms? Because they can indicate a page’s quality, popularity, or status on the Web and site owners have very little control over their own inbound links. 

2 - Inbound link anchor text

Anchor text, also called linking text, is the text that is clickable when a web page links to another web page, and it is an important factor in search ranking algorithms. Anchor text that contains your page’s targeted keywords can help boost your page’s ranks. Combining this keyword-rich anchor text with relevant text surrounding the link can amplify this good effect.

3 - Site authority

Site authority is a blanket term meaning “how important the search engines think your site is.” Many SEO wonks speculate that individual pages belonging to websites with higher authority will gain higher ranks, even if the individual page does not have high ranking factors. 

It’s as if the search engines are thinking, “This page is from a good family let’s give it the benefit of the doubt.” Authority can be general (Wikipedia is an example of a site with general authority), but it’s more illustrative to think about authority in terms of a single topic. 

For example, has very high authority on the topic of home electronics, but it has low authority for topics like or

Several sitewide factors are combined to measure a domain’s overall level of authority on a particular topic. This may include inbound links, age of the domain, and any of the other factors we have listed in this chapter.

4 - HTML page title

The HTML page title is an Eternally Important factor in search engine ranking algorithms. Unlike most of the link-related factors, it’s relatively easy to optimize HTML titles because you have control over the content on your own site. 

As a bonus, optimizing your HTML page titles is one of those activities that will quickly affect the way your listings look in the search engines.

5 - Visible HTML text on the page

It seems obvious, but you would be surprised at how many site owners miss this simple point: In order to rank well for a particular set of keywords, your site text should contain them. True, there are examples of pages that rank well for words not actually appearing on the page, but this is not something you want to leave to chance.

You may see SEO articles insisting that you need a certain number of words on a page, and that a certain percentage of those words must be your target keywords (SEO folks call that percentage keyword density).

However, we believe that keyword density is an outdated concept. As long as you have robot-readable text on your page (a great first step that many of your competitors, believe it or not, may have missed), you should use as many keywords as you need to state your message clearly and as many opportunities to insert keywords as makes sense within the realm of quality writing. Your marketing message is much too special to be put into a formula.

6 - Age of domain

Newer domains have a tougher time making their way up the ranks than older ones. The exact mechanism behind this may be the search engines’ measuring the actual length of time that a website has been live, or it may be primarily indirect factors, such as the fact that inbound links tend to accumulate over time. 

Take this factor into consideration if you’re purchasing a new domain or considering changing an old, established domain name (proceed with caution!). Otherwise, unless you’re a spammer or a fly-by-night operation, this is a factor that you don’t need to think about a whole lot.

7 - Primacy (being the primary source/original publisher of content) and freshness (publishing new or updated content)

We know that Google News has methods of determining which news publisher is the primary source of a particular story (as a simple example, if publishes an article earlier than several similar articles, and those articles link back to the article on  Google News will probably deduce that is the primary source of that story). 

Some SEO pros believe that Google now applies this same consideration to pages in its organic index. Sites that republish other sites’ content (including affiliate websites) may have a disadvantage compared to primary sources of the same information.

Similarly, as Google makes continued advances into finding and displaying the freshest content on the Web, there is some agreement among folks in the SEO industry that new or frequently updated content is getting a bit more attention from the bot than static pages.

8 - Site speed

No mysteries to unravel here: Google stated in its Webmaster Central blog that site performance is a factor in its ranking algorithm. In other words, the speed at which your site loads for an average user can affect your ranks. 

However, according to Google spokespeople, this factor is only at play in fewer than 1/100 of search queries, so (and we are quoting a distinguished Google engineer here) Don’t panic.

 If your site has everything else going for it but it loads significantly slower than the average site, you should look into improving site speed. If your site loads at an acceptable speed, you’re probably safe focusing on other SEO factors.

9 - Lesser factors

There are a large number of additional, lesser factors that can influence your rankings. Google, for example, probably includes hundreds of factors in its algorithm.

Things like keywords in your page URL, image ALT tags, and meta tags all have some degree of influence, as do factors that may be harder for you to control, such as the click-through rate or bounce rate of a page (as measured by the search engine’s own tallies) or how often it is updated. 

For a comprehensive list of ranking factors, including commentary from several knowledgeable SEO professionals.


  1. apart from the on page and off page seo, few important factors are:
    User feedback via social media e.g. LIKE or +1 or blacklisting.


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