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SEO has long been considered a moving target. There are a plethora of Google ranking factors that must be followed, even more so with updates Penguin 4.0 and Possum. These changes represent a more intelligent semantic search experience, one that is designed to both help searchers and petrifies even some of the most seasoned SEOs.

In an effort to help out marketers, we’ve amassed 10 of the most important ranking factors to employ.

Important Google Ranking Factors 2020

VIDEO: Google Ranking Factors 2020

1. It’s Still All About Content

If you want your content to rank highly, it’s important to provide actual value to the reader. Not only does this content mean the written word, but it’s imperative to also add visual and video content to supplement it.

It’s less about word count than real-world, actionable, and deep content to drive traffic.

How Long?

There’s no actual word count to be particularly aware of, a study by Niel Patel have shown that in-depth and longer content to be preferred – depending on the niche. Longer content seems to rank better, but be sure to not fill it up with unnecessary words or superfluous subject matter.

Top Google Ranking Factors 2020


Google’s semantic search is a great tool to optimize your keywords. To access it, click “related search” results at the bottom of the SERPs.

As an example, if you’re searching for “content marketing”, your article can reflect not only that keyword but semantic results that are close to what people have searched for that are more or less the same thing. You can use this as a greater understanding of how semantic search works.

2. Freshness Ranking Factor

While the Google Freshness Algorithm has been around for the better part of a decade, we’ve seen its importance ramp up in the past few months. It has changed marketers’ attitudes drastically. If you write a lot of articles that don’t perform all that well, you may want to go back and update those old articles. Google likes new content and this is one of the ways to achieve it without a lot of work.

For example, if you search for “best Android TV box“, you’ll find that the number one spot is occupied by the freshest content. Most of the top spots have dates updated by Google. This algorithm updates faster on average. It only seems to take a few days to see changes.

3. Still Backlinks

Backlinks are still one of the most important things about SEO. If you have your hands on a slew of high authority domains, the better the chance that you’re going to rank near the top. Google ranking factors 2020 is, in some ways, similar to when we all first started marketing. However, it’s more important than ever to understand your backlink profile. Penguin has made low-level backlinks absolutely, if not outright penalized.

4. Mobile First

In November 2016, Google rolled out mobile-first search results. This means that if your website is responsive and optimized for mobile, you’ll see a direct correlation as to where a website shows up in search. It means that it’s more important to create a mobile site before a desktop site, as people did in the past. This makes sense – people use their phones more than their desktop.

We’re seeing this a lot in the local space on mobile. Users will usually get search results that target their location. That said, we’re also even seeing this roll out on desktops, as well.

5. Speed up Your Page

Low page speed has always been a problem, though it’s even more of one when you consider mobile search. This means that pages that take too long to load will find it more difficult to get those coveted top spots. The goal here is user experience, and a slow site is exactly the opposite of that.

6. Schema code

Schema markup code is huge if you’re trying to rank higher for small business search engine optimization. Schema helps the search engine understands what your site is about, as well as pertinent phone numbers, address, and reviews associated with your business.

Local businesses thrive with schema markup because it tells Google where your business is, especially if the code is apparent throughout the whole website.


Your code should always be in Google’s best practices. If they don’t follow guidelines, it’ll be ineffective or push you down the rankings.

7. Social and Branding

Branded search has always been rather important. The more traffic you get from this particular search, the more the algorithm will love it. The same can be said from any social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and places like Reddit or Pinterest. Of course, social presence doesn’t have a 1:1 correlation, but places that drive traffic with both branding, social signals, as well as white-hat SEO tactics will bring decent results.

8. Domains

In the past, exact-match domains were a sure-fire way to boost organic search visibility. While not as foolproof as before, domains still have influence. With Google’s smarter algorithm, we do still see two major verticals of domain power:

Just a few years ago, exact-match domains were the end-all in SEO. They still carry a lot of weight, but they’re simply not as important as they were in the past. Google has gotten smarter, though we still have found two values to be worthwhile.

Exact-Match – As we said, they’re still important. Look no further than the keyword “shoes”, you’ll generally find some of the top shoe brands here. Instead, you’re finding the exact match. In this case, it’s “” instead of, say, Nike.

Domain Age – Seniority is still super important. New domains may struggle to rank for high keywords, whereas those who have an older track record will hold top positions for much longer, even if they’re not as content-rich.


This is another older ranking factor – debuting in the summer of 2014. Google stated that security is the top priority for all websites. HTTPS encryption keeps users safe, which is evident in all of their products, such as Google Drive or Gmail. A few years later, they actually sent webmasters a word about using this particular protocol that requests data from users.

It should be said that it doesn’t seem to be substantial, though its highly recommended for users and should Google weigh this top factor higher in the future.

10 User Experience

Google ranking factors don’t get any more important than this, even though it’s last on the list. It was touched on at the top of the article, but it bears repeating. As the algorithm gets smarter, you’ll have to put more emphasis on UX. It can be difficult to ascertain how important this is depending on the industry, but it should be at the forefront from a common-sense perspective.

Your website has to be functional if you want it to convert. There is a multitude of articles that go into more detail, such as Joe Natoli’s article titled “Signal vs. Noise: Removing Visual Clutter in the UI”.


If you’re trying to understand Google ranking factors 2020, understand that the updates are there to provide a web experience that provides real information for readers, as opposed to hastily put together websites that are built to make money. The company has devoted itself to tracking how users consume content. This top 10 list will go a long way to determine who rises to the top of the SERPs.

Too Busy?

There are over 200 Google Ranking Factors! Why not let a professional SEO service work to improve your Local SEO so that your website performs above your competitors on Google Desktop Search, Google Maps, and other search engines like; Bing and Yahoo!

Call 727-475-6460 or schedule a free consultation. I’m ready to get started on improving your overall search results, today!

OPM John

Author OPM John

I've been digital marketing since the Commodore 64. I specialize in providing fully managed digital marketing and local SEO services for businesses. When I'm not managing a SMB presence, I post reputation, SEO, and social media management tips for business owners.

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