Google Search Ranking Factors 2017


You may have noticed people in the SEO/SEM industries talk a lot about ranking factors and how they work. To someone who’s been doing this for a decade or more, these things are as basic as “dog,” “tree” and “sky,” but to a layman they sound cryptic at best and like so much gibberish at worst. There really is a sound basis in statistical analysis for what we do, but explaining how all these metrics combine in the eyes of search engines like Google can be a challenging and frustrating exercise for insiders and laypeople alike.

Companies like SEMRush have been tackling this problem for years. SEMRush’s new report on website ranking factors for 2017 may be the best “at-a-glance” guide ever for explaining how all these pieces fit together. At Online Advantages, we like to educate and assist our clients to understand how individual ranking factors can influence who does, and doesn’t, see their websites. For this reason, we’ve prepared a brief guide on common SEO/SEM terms and what these actually mean for their businesses. For a more detailed evaluation of the terminology and top-level conclusions reported here, click here to see SEMRush’s full report!


  1. Direct Website Visits

Having a viewer specifically search for your website in a search engine is the single best ranking criterion around, followed immediately by click-throughs from social media, other websites and social media. Each unique visitor gives your site more views and therefore more authority, but the next two criteria also play a major role in your site’s overall ranking as well. While this is the most important, the crucial thing to remember about SEO/SEM is that everything is interrelated!

  1. Time On Site

It’s not enough to have people show up to your website. They also need to stay on your site. This shows search engines people are not just seeing your site, but are interested enough in what they find there to remain and learn more. This in turn “trains” search engines to give your website more authority and helps boost its presence in search results.


  1. Pages Per Session

If people are going to your site just to see a single page, this can actually have a negative impact on your site ranking. A broader range of pages which attract more views and time spent on the site is a huge authority booster and indicates that as opposed to a single page with great traffic, the entire site is getting more attention from readers and thus deserves it from the search engines as well.


  1. Bounce Rate

The more visitors your site gets who look at a single page and then navigate away, or “bounce,” the higher your bounce rate will be. Websites which have a higher time on site and pages per session rate will have a lower bounce rate, and vice versa. While bounce rate is not a standalone metric, because all the preceding factors must be considered, but it can be indicative of the need for a change in your site’s strategies when evaluated globally with other factors.


  1. Security

In the past, site security certificates were not given nearly the level of importance they are now. With the advent of the Internet of Things, however, more people are using their credit and debit cards online than ever before. Because of this, and the very real threat of identity theft, SSL protocols have become a lot more important to SEO/SEM. While they are not a major ranking factor on their own, they may mean a crucial difference between your competition and you, and possibly give you a huge advantage over time!


  1. Content and Keywords

Long-form content which allows for a high amount of individual keywords and long-tail search strings are the final crucial piece of the SEO/SEM puzzle. Pages which rank higher then to have more content and thus more information to offer the reader. Because of this, and because more information available allows for more places to put more keywords and thus attract more viewers, presence and content of the content on the site and individual pages allows for far more ways to draw the attention of search engines.


At Online Advantages, we strive to keep up with the latest advances and knowledge in SEO/SEM so we can deliver the best possible performance to our clients on every level. We believe that by keeping abreast of new developments, we can give our clients the edge they need to get and stay competitive in today’s challenging web-based marketplace. To learn more about how Online Advantages can assist you with responsive SEO/SEM to make your business more agile, click here!