What are the most important search engine ranking features today?

Did you know that Google has around 200 ranking features in their algorithm?! Luckily for you, we’ve picked out ten of the most current and important search engine ranking features. Five dos, and five absolutely don’ts!

DO…

1. Focus on technological performance

Search engines, like Google and Bing, can accurately estimate your website speed.Therefore, the performance of your website is crucial to how well you feature among search engines, especially when you take into account that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load! And believe it or not, the average website takes 7.25 seconds to load.

Another way to ensure high technical performance is to ensure that your site architecture is well structured with strong internal links. Search engines ultimately want to rank websites in order of how topically apt they are, by internally linking to different pages within your own site you are vouching for the strength of your website.

2. Create high-quality content

Search engines are becoming stricter and stricter on what they consider to be ‘high-quality’ content. These days it means text that is rich, topical, and clearly written by a human – not a robot! The content also has to be in context and relevant to your website. Content that is text heavy and updated regularly definitely ranks higher than sporadic, short pieces. However, multimedia content is also a key feature that search engines approve. As we all know, pictures are worth a thousand words, and videos are worth a million — include these within your content to ensure higher search ranking.

3. Place keywords carefully

Keywords can make or break your ranking among search engines. Here at Keyword Eye, we know that keywords must be dealt with strategically — your keyword density has to be just right. Keyword features that search engines prefer are: titles that begin with the keyword, the keyword being the most-used word in a content piece, and keywords featuring in the description and title tags. Check out our features page to see how you can find more unique keywords and analyze on-site content trends to ensure high ranks amongst search engines.

4. Make yourself trustworthy

It’s just as important to let search engines know how trustworthy you are, as it is to let your users know. To improve your trust you can implement pages like Privacy Certification, Terms of Business, and even a ‘Contact’ page. The Google Quality Document states that they prefer sites with an “appropriate amount of contact information”.

Another feature that will improve your ranking and site trust is linking to sites that are already highly-trusted, of a high-quality, or have a clear relevance to your site. It’s important to filter through and check the sites that you are linking to as some estimate as much as 60% of the web’s pages to be spam.

5. Think of your user

It’s been rumoured that search engines have begun measuring user signals as a ranking feature. To ensure that your site reflects on search engines as one that users visit often or frequently interact with you need to make your site easy for your user to…well, use!

Navigation is a key factor for users. Studies show that 40% of users will not return to a site if their first visit was a negative experience. Page layouts that users prefer use breadcrumb navigation, and are displayed in a way that makes the main content instantly visible. Bullet-pointed lists can also make your site more user-friendly, as it breaks up the content in a way that is easier to digest.

As for user interaction, the pages that get the biggest Google ranking boosts are those with repeat visits from visitors, and lots of input from users, such as comments or reviews. You should also check out your site reviews on external review websites. If users negatively review your site on a giant website like, Yell.com, then your search engine ranking could become seriously damaged.

DON’T…

1. Duplicate anything

Duplicate content can not only send you right to the bottom of the search engine pile, it can get you knocked off it altogether. Take a look at this snippet of information from Google:

Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information. However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results‘.

(Read the full article here).

At Keyword Eye, we would advise against duplicate content, even if it has been slightly modified, as this could still have a negative influence on your search engine ranking.

2. Don’t do grammar wrongly!

Okay, we broke our own rule there! But, all jokes aside, search engines do examine the reading levels of webpages and use this as a determining factor on quality. Reading levels are broken down into three simple categories: Basic Reading Level, Intermediate Level, and Advanced Level. You can easily check the reading level of your site by Googling it, and clicking ‘search tools’, then, ‘all results’, and finally ‘reading level’. This generates a clear chart that breaks down your reading level into the three categories. As seen below:

Check out your own reading level and let us know how you did in the comments box below!

3. Get clumsy with links

As mentioned above in the ‘Dos’ section, technological performance is a very important search engine ranking feature. Weak or broken links may give the impression that your site is untrustworthy, neglected, or even abandoned. Internal links need to be relative, varied (a big mistake is linking to the same site multiple times!), and from authoritative sources. Similarly, outbound links can hurt visibility if they connect you to ‘bad neighbourhoods’, such as pay-day loan websites. You can use online tools to scan your site and flag up links to these ‘bad neighbourhoods’. Click here to test one out.

4. Annoy visitors

Probably the most well-known fact about the internet? Everyone hates spam! Don’t annoy your visitors with useless, overbearing, irrelevant messages, or else you will be so low down on the search engines that no one will ever be able to find you again. Other features that annoy visitors (and search engines!) are:

  • Re-directs: Especially sneaky ones that no one asked for.
  • Invasive pop-ups: It’s important to get the attention of your users, but more often than not, pop-ups just irritate people. If you must include pop-ups on your site, make them easy to get rid of.
  • Ads: By themselves, ads are fine. But, too many loud and distracting ads tell search engines that your site is of a low-quality. Also, ads above the fold — big no-no! Read Google’s own Page Layout Algorithm for more detailed information.

5. Spread viruses!

This one sounds like a no-brainer, and we’re not trying to insult your intelligence here, but viruses can happen to anyone, anywhere — and your site could be spreading them without your knowledge! To prevent this from happening you should check your website for malware regularly, if you wait for the search engines to find it first, you’ll be heavily penalised.

There are lots of companies out there that can clean up your website if it has been hacked, or better yet, prevent it from happening. This short explainer video by Sucuri, talks you through website recovery, and the most important factor, getting your website removed from search engine blacklists once it is cleaned!

We hope this blog helped open your eyes to the most important search engine ranking features of today. The internet is an ever-changing medium and keeping up-to-date is a continuous challenge. But, here at Keyword Eye, we’ll be updating our blog weekly with relevant industry advice. So stay tuned, and thanks for reading!


Written by Jackson Miller

Jackson is a 10-year veteran of the SEO industry with expertise in in-depth keyword research, content marketing, and social media marketing. He shares his knowledge on the KeywordEye blog. Read more of Jackson's articles.