Google’s Top 5 Ranking Factors That Decide How Sites Rank

A website’s position on Google is determined by many ranking factors, but the following 5 I’ll be telling you about today are absolutely necessary if your site has a shot at making it to the top.

If you have them, you will make it more easy to get spotted by Google and rank well on it.

top 5 google ranking factors

These are the 5 most important ranking factors today:

  1. Quality content.
  2. User interaction such as comments on the site.
  3. The speed of the site, mobile friendliness of it and security of it.
  4. The meta data it has to rank.
  5. The website’s age.

How many ranking factors does Google really have for websites?

Honestly, I do not know. I’ve seen articles say there’s as much as 200 but honestly, I never pay attention to those types of claims because in all my years of doing SEO, I have found that just a select few, which is honestly the 5 you’ll learn about here are probably the most important. 

Having those in place really eliminates the need for however many others are possible to even concern yourself with, plus if you worry about the X number of factors out there, you’re going to be missing out on the KEY ones that really make your site do well in Google so I’ll cover the 5 I’ve personally seen as being the most important.

Do ranking factors change year after year?

This is a common question among SEO enthusiasts and the answer is yes, but the core basics (such as these 5 ones still remain the most important).

Because Google is known to change it’s algorithm every few months and sometimes every year, people also tend to think that when they do this, they also change their ranking factor criteria for websites. For example: Penguin is a name for an update had that worried many, but because I had the 5 factors I will be showing you here, I was fine.

But is this true that Google’s changes in it’s algorithm are confusing and constantly require people to change their approach? The answer is not really. What Google does it constantly tries to update it’s algorithm to deliver the best results for browsers.

Now this does change certain MICRO elements that help pages do well, but at it’s very CORE, the MACRO, things stay the same, which is why again, the 5 things I will explain shortly are going to be fine to abide by in the foreseeable future of SEO.

Let’s unveil what these 5 ranking factors are:

Note: I want to point out that even pages which follow these 5 things may not necessarily see incredible success, but I’m going to try and clarify each of these as much as I can because there are circumstances under which one or more of these factor may or may not be important. 

Don’t let this confuse you, just read on and I’ll explain.

1) Your domain age (website authority).

How old your page is does play, both a BIG and SMALL role in your ranking because it’s one of the ways your website’s authority is determined. I know I sound like I just contradicted myself, but as I explain this, you will understand why just a moment ago, I mentioned that there’s circumstances that affect these factor’s weight…

Typically, the age of a domain to reach “maturity” with Google is 6 months. What does this mean? It means that by month 6, your page should see a large number of articles indexed and ranked on Google. One way to tell if this is happening is by using Google’s webmaster tools. 

Now this is actually a circumstantial thing and I will explain this by offering 2 opposing examples shortly. We will compare 2 pages, one which has a great amount of content and one which does not, but both are the same age, let’s say 6 months.

Which one will do better? 

The former. And this is why I said each factor’s weight depends on other things. In the case of these 2 sites, the one which will absolutely do better in the SERPS is the one which is old enough and has enough content. 

Now if you use the other one (less or no content page), even if it has a little bit of content, it’s ranking will NOT improve because of it’s age. And I have actually proven this on the following case study on domain age and SEO.

This point about domain age ONLY works if it correspondingly has content going along with it. Therefore…

Here’s tips to maximize ranking factor 1:

As your page grows in it’s age, make sure it also grows with it’s content base. With both things rising, you will get greater attention from the search engine and better rankings. 

2) High Quality Content.

I guess I should have put this down as #1, but it’s ok, because these 5 things are in no particular order. High quality content is really the core of a website’s success, provided it also works hand in hand with keyword targeting. If nothing else, and all other factors vanish from Google’s list, quality content will still remain at the top if not #1. 

Here’s tips to maximize #2: 

Write an article (post or page) on your site every day if possible. Getting lost in writer’s block is common here 

In addition, ensure that every new piece of content you release chases a keyword in it’s title, and the keyword itself should have little competition of site’s also aiming to rank for it.

Make sure you write great content that has this many words in it. Frankly, the more there is, the better it’ll be for you.

Write engaging things on each article you write with the intention to help people out with a problem or whatever topic you’re writing about. You shouldn’t be writing boring things that get no interest or comments. Be sure to write stuff that intrigues people. Read blogs and pages where the writing attracts you to keep reading and wanting to see more and try to mimic that kind of style on your articles.

Really make sure your content is not about a wide range of things, but a specific topic or niche.

3) Comments/visitor interaction on your site.

Naturally if content is good enough to get readers and getting them actually read what you write, they will want to comment. Comments are also a very important ranking signal for Google because they are also a reflection that your writing is good and other people enjoy reading it. That tells the search engine it’s OK to rank your page high.

Tips for maximizing #3:

I have a good tutorial on getting comments here, and it’s provided me with some great responses from readers. 

Always know that GREAT content leads to engagement.

4) Meta tags (title, description).

I have a whole thing about that in this article on meta tags, but think of meta tags as an identification for an article you write. Let’s say you’re writing about the healthiest fruits on the planet and your title says that, but your permalink doesn’t. If the title and permalink do not match, it can inhibit ranking. 

Ensure that meta tags match in order to “align” your article’s identification with Google, which will help it do well.

5) Speed, security and mobile friendliness of the website.

In 2020, this became a huge thing when a Google core update hit the internet. One of the biggest things you’ll want your website to do is load fast, be secure and be mobile friendly to it’s users. Having these 3 things is really going to propel the site higher in the rankings.

If you don’t already have all 3 things, I can recommend the Wealthy Affiliate program to you because it offers hosting that provides ALL 3 of these things for users.

Putting together all 5 tips (in a mixed order):

If a website.

  • Has at least 50 articles.
  • All of which target a different, low competition, typically long tailed keyword, but all pertain to one kind of niche topic.
  • All the article’s meta tags align.
  • Loads fast, is secure and mobile friendly.
  • Has comments flowing throughout the page.

Then you can safely assume that your page will do well with Google, because those 5 specific factors are in my experience the keys to the page doing well. 

Now it is not a 100% guaranteed and there are other things I’d also recommend you check out, such as an SEO checklist I’ve provided here, but I would say those 5 things above will really put your page above 90% of competing sites out there.

Important scenarios to consider:

Is your page/s are filled with great content but not ranking well? Then add more content, more articles and ensure they are long.

Having problems getting comments? Read my tutorial on comments above and this should help you out.

Do you have a lot of content (over 50 articles), but still aren’t seeing 1st page rankings? Odds are, your page hasn’t passed that maturity age level yet. Give it the 6 month range, but do not slow down on content production or getting comments. In short, keep the page growing, you’re only going to help speed up the maturity process with Google.

Have a scenario I didn’t include here? Let me know below.

Don’t bound yourself to just focusing on ranking factors:

Like I said originally when I started this article, there’s a wide range of things that impact your rank with Google but if you focus on those tiny little things, you’re going to miss out on the 5 main things I focused on.

The main point:

Your website’s goal is to provide the very best information it can on whatever niche topic you’re focused on. If you do that, Google will notice and they will reward you and that frankly is the most IMPORTANT factor I can recommend you focus on.

If you want to build a website that does all 5 of these things, then again, the Wealthy Affiliate program will do that. The tools it provides will help your website grow in the necessary factors such as speed, security and more, while the training will help you produce the content that Google will appreciate.

44 thoughts on “Google’s Top 5 Ranking Factors That Decide How Sites Rank”

  1. Hey Vitaliy, thanks for the great tips and guidance! I am fairly new to all this and i think the tips you gave will help me a lot going forward.

    Is it beneficial to go to an even higher amount of posts(like 50+)? Will that better help your rankings or does it sort of plateau at 50?

    Thanks in advance for your reply:)

    • Hi Jarred, absolutely go BEYOND 50. Consider 50 the breaking point of the initial plateau you have with Google, from there, you can only get better rankings with more content. Aim for a limitless amount of content and articles, especially if your site is already showing signs of making good money as it is.

  2. Wow, these are some really good tips! I just started my website and I can’t even imagine 1 page a day of content. I know it will come with time and persistence. I do have some content but I feel like it definitely needs to be better so I am going back and revamping a lot.

    • Hi Taylor, I would focus more so on creating new content vs redoing it on old ones. Leave that for AFTER you create a new post. New, fresh content is what will help your site get the rankings.

  3. Hey Vitaliy, I have been trying to write a post on my page everyday, it is just sometimes you want to make sure that your website is content rich as well as having high value content at the same time. 

    Can you offer any advice of a simpler method to accomplish this. Thanks and I really enjoy reading your content it keeps me sharp and up to speed on whats new.

    • Hi Theodore, I know a ton about how hard it is to write daily and keep it at a high quality level, so one thing I always recommend is people stick to the following 2 tips which always provide them with a source of good content and keywords that will get them traffic. 

      If you have these 2 things going on, I have no doubt you’re going to be able to continue posting daily, the only real problem left at that point would be if you have the ambition to keep it going, which is where I say you need to have a great deal of passion for your niche site. 

  4. Good list. Throughout the past 3 months, I have continued to add content to my site at least 3 times a week, containing about 1,000 words. I am currently at 33 posts but I will continue to post content for as long as I can.

    My question is, do you think this formula going forward is ideal? Do you have any suggestions for something I should focus more or less on?

    • You’re doing the most important thing so far (content production). I don’t know how educated you are on keywords, but if you are targeting them correctly within your site’s title and content, you are doing everything right. 33 posts is a huge deal and I think you’re very close to hitting big rankings in Google.

      • I think with keywords I am doing alright as well, I usually just look for 5 in each article with under 100 competition that is related to the topic.

        I have heard something about matching one up with the title but I might have to start looking into that more as well.

        I did recently sign up for the Jaaxy keyword tool so I will be looking at the videos on there.

        • Jaaxy is definitely going to make this whole thing a lot easier Arie. In terms of what you said about finding 5 keywords per article, I’m not sure if have the same understanding, but I assume you mean 5 keywords which sound the same (or are relevant to one another) and all get searches correct? If so, then you are doing it right, just make sure if you find a keyword that is distant enough from the common ones you find to write 1 article one, to use that keyword in a different article, it’ll make for an extra post and extra content to keep the content growth going.

  5. This is great info about why some sites rank higher than others. Good to know about the 6 month maturity time and the importance of quality content.

    Thank you for simplifying the elements of a high ranking site into a top 5 based on your experience. I appreciate that!

    I have to be careful about staying on one topic in my niche. It’s easy to get carried away down several rabbit holes. You have inspired me to watch myself starting today. I probably need to go back and edit some old articles.

    Thanks again and I wish you all the best!

    Mike Jay

    • Hi Mike, do not edit old articles. They add weight to your overall SEO. Just keep moving forward and writing NEW content that is more niche focused. And don’t worry about branching out too far outside the niche, often times, I find that many topics you think that aren’t niche related, really are,

      BUT if you really believe your content is not niche relevant, read this article and see if you’re on the right path.

  6. Hi Vitaliy!
    Great article for a beginner in online marketing like me. I learned a lot about indexing in google and I see that I have a lot more work to do to have a better website and improved rankings. But I learn quickly and I just started so with some work and helpful articles like yours I am confident that I will succeed.

    • No problem Roland. Even though you are a beginner, as long as you follow a good guideline like I set forth here, you should do fine. The problem is most beginners seek knowledge from the wrong sources and end up failing as well as restarting all over again. If you can follow good advice and use it, you will not have to go through that loop most beginners do. I suffered from this many times!

  7. First of all… AMAZING ARTICLE!
    For anyone that is trying to do this whole online business thing, you hit the nail on the head constantly with the tips. 

    Question: Regarding Google and your site maturing. I have heard some people say 6 months to a year, others I have heard only three months. Where on search consoles can I see that I am really getting the Google love?

    • Well the estimates do vary around those periods Chris, but the time frame of a site maturing in Google really depends on how often you are posting high quality content. The more you post, the faster the “love” will come from Google. 

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for all the information. I’m trying to get my website up and rolling. You are the first person I have come across to mention the 50 articles. I like having that as a goal. I’m currently at about 9 so I have a bit of work to do, but I just like having something I can see to work towards. You have a lot of good info here and I’ll keep dropping by to try to educate myself.

    • I say 50 because usually by that time, your site is old enough and also filled with enough content to get better priority from Google. It is not a guarantee that it’ll always be 50 Jeff, but if you keyword target every article and write good content, I am certain by the time article 50 rolls around, you will absolutely see a growing number of organic traffic and generally great rankings.

  9. Awesome post! I am building my first website right now, and I was worried that I wasn’t doing the right things to get the attention of Google and my ideal readers.

    I do have a question though: When you say that a good site needs at least 50 articles, are you counting blog posts as well as other pages of content? Or are the blog posts not measured into the 50 pages? Thanks for providing solid information for us newbies.

    • Hi Theresa, blogs and pages are all places to put content in, so they all count as one. So if I have 20 articles on pages and 30 on posts for example, I will have 50 articles worth of content in total.

      As long as each page/post reaches a certain level of content, you can be sure the 50 quota will equal good results.

  10. Hello,

    Being new to online marketing your blog has pointed out quite a few areas that I need to pay better attention to.

    New to writing and finding low competition keywords, your article clarified many of the questions that I’ve wondered about, after researching the subject. I’ve been collecting and reading as much as I can on this.

    I have found many schools of thought on the issue of Google ranking content. Some say to have at least 1000-1500 words for your article. As others say as long as your content is rich with information, 800 to 1000 words will suffice. It is confusing how to proceed.

    I have written an article about President Obama’s last full day as President. He included the 3 way light bulb in the list of light bulbs to be phased out.

    The article has ranked (18- 20) on the second page of Google for roughly four weeks. My post bounces up and down but is still on the second page.

    It has approximately 850 words. I am working to write upwards of 1,000+ words for my articles making them as content rich as possible. Writing the best information for my readers to enjoy. To answer the questions they have.

    I now have two more articles ranking with Google within the first twenty pages of Google.

    My goal is set to rank on the first page of Google. Your post explains the six months mark and at least fifty-plus articles. I have a long way to go to reach fifty-plus. I will continue to work on achieving the goals you talked about in the article you posted.

    Thanks for sharing the points of what to concentrate on when creating my blogs and posts.


    P.S. Can you suggest any other articles that I could read on this subject?

    • Hi Kevin, I just linked the person below you (Theresa) to a page about how much content to write, check that out. Also on the topic of words, 1,000 or more is what I also suggest.

      What is your niche topic? You briefly mentioned an article about President Obama, so is the niche site on politics? I ask because as long as it is niche specific, the 50 articles or more will be more accurate at pinpointing around what time you will start to see those higher rankings.

      Other than that, the only articles that I would suggest would be anything I write about on SEO, the case studies I linked in the menu above and honestly, biggest of all, following the SEO advice of Wealthy Affiliate instead of looking at different places. i find the advice from there is best.

  11. I was going to write that this was a blue print to get google rankings but it is more like a blue print for website success. All the factors that you have stated make a lot of sense even if you are newbie, because it takes into account the human psyche. I think we have to bear in mind when we are blogging that the targets are living, breathing humans, with hopes, fears, and weaknesses. This is post to read and reread several times.

    • Excellent point made Everton! We aren’t writing to please Google, we are writing to inform and please our visitors, if they like our content, it shows Google that they need to rank us higher, Google follows the responses of people who visit our site, THEY tell Google through their actions on it (stay times, comments, ect…) how high quality our page really is.

  12. Thank you this article is great. I’m a new blogger and I always start with keywords having low competition, then think of the title and start to write out my blog in rough form first. I may start searching for images first also. I’m going to check to make sure that my title and permalinks match I’m pretty sure they do.

    I’m going to be reading your link about Meta tags, thanks for that. There is a lot of great information and help here that makes sense!

    • No problem Patsy, it looks like you’re doing fine on the keyword thing and most of the time, your meta tags will automatically match your title, which if it has the keyword means you’re on the right track, still helps to make sure they match though.

  13. This is great and specific information on how to rank better! I wasn’t really giving too much thought to the age of the website, but looks like it’s actually important. We’ll see what happens to mine in a couple of months when I reach the 6.

    I usually aim for more than 2.000 words per post, do you think that’s enough to be “Google-friendly”? 😉

    Thanks for sharing these interesting and helpful tips, Vitaliy.


    • Oh yeah, you’re more than fine with that amount of words Israel. I always told people in this post to go above 1,000 so your 2,000 level is twice the necessary count. As for the 6 month time span, that only starts to weight in your favor if you have content supplementing it. An empty site without enough content means nothing, no matter how old it is.

  14. What a helpful article you have written! You point out a ton of truly great info here, and even though I have been doing affiliate marketing for awhile I did learn something new today.

    Let me ask you, is there a rule of thumb about adding affiliate links? Does it hurt to add them right away, or should they be added after the post starts to get traffic?

    • Ah great question Brendon! I wrote about that specific thing a while back and I would recommend you check it out. In short, affiliate links should be added, scarcely, post rankings, but again, that article will clear it up.

  15. I found your post very informative. You advise people to write a post a day but that is really a big chore for most people don’t you think? You also mention high-quality content. This has always confused me a little.

    What is high-quality content? Is it well written, grammatically correct writing or is it original, easy to read, helpful and solves a problem for your reader? I must admit I find SEO a little hard to get my head around and understanding Google and how the rank sites is very confusing. Your post has helped clear some of the fog so I thank you.

    • Hi Margaret, I totally understand your confusion on SEO because I too shared that same confusion when I started. When I figured it out completely, I wrote an article which clarifies it in the most simplest sense imaginable in my opinion and here it is. I am sure that reading it, your knowledge of SEO and what high quality content will be answered, and if you have additional questions, do ask them here please 🙂

  16. Hi Vitaliy,

    I am a new to the blogging world I and am very thankful for your post. I didn’t realize how long it takes for Google to give your website good rankings. I started my blog only a month ago and try to find my pages daily instead of focusing on what I should which is good quality content.

    I only write one or two blog posts a week as I work a full-time job. I try to write more but I have too much going on. I hope that I can get more efficient on writing to get more posts in in the future.

    Do you have any recommendations on how to keep the creative mind flowing?


    • Hi Lindsay, right now your blog is still very new and rankings will be hard to find, I would not worry about finding them yet, get Google analytics installed on your page while it’s still early and keep writing the content.

      Now as for the speed of the content, honestly, it really comes down to the interest you have with the niche and the ideas you find which include keywords. When those things are present and the writing part is left, then it’s a matter of practice to improve the speed. If there is one article I can recommend to you about speed writing, this would be it, I hope it helps.

  17. Hi Vitaliy,

    I think that trying to make your reader’s ‘stick’ is an important ranking factor too. By having a site that can be easily navigated either through categories, recent posts, archives, or internal links within posts, lowers the bounce rate and helps with engagement.

    It may not be as big a factor as the five you have given here, but I would be interested to know what your view is. Your SEO articles are really informative and are an awesome resource by the way…thank you!

    • You’re right about the sticking around part Ray. Honestly, good content will have this happen to you and it will improve bounce rates on it’s own. But I’ll probably add these other benefits you mentioned within each of the above factors I listed, thanks for pointing this out though, you are 100% correct!

  18. Wow Wow!! It usually takes me not more that 15 minutes to go through a typical blog, but i was going through yours for forty minutes before realizing it. I am a new blogger, so you advice an observations are pertinent to my fledgling website. I presently do long hours at my regular job so one post per day is virtually impossible for me as I plan to maintain factual and quality content for my website. But after having digested your thoughts I am aiming for 3 posts per week. I think that is well within my capabilities as I am “free” on weekends.

    • No worries Everton, 3 times a week is actually quite plenty! As long as there is at least 1 blog post a week and it’s got great content, you should do fine, although it will be slower, than the ideal, once a day post, you’re still going to be moving forward.

  19. I think the most relevant factor in getting you page ranked is high quality content. Content is still king.

    So, with that said, I think as a beginner, I am thinking that instead of focusing my time on keywords, should focus more on improving my persuasive writing skills to be able to create a high quality content? What’s your opinion about this?

    • Hi Win, my flow “chart” for this is as follows:

      1) I usually find a keyword for my niche. If necessary, I study up on whatever topic the keyword is associated with (unless I already know it). Either way, this “planning” is what sets up the draft for my article because I have ideas brewing as I research this.

      2) I come up with a title for my article. Typically the keyword itself may not be enough, so I’ll add extra words to get a higher click through rate (basically make the title look intriguing but also with the keyword).

      3) And finally, once that is set up, I’ll write the article. This will typically take me the longest time to do but I don’t really worry so much about persuasive writing. When I write my articles, my idea is to:

      A) Inform people on the topic.

      B) If necessary, provide examples and a little history of the topic.

      C) Explain how people can take said topic and make the most of it and this is usually when I pitch a program or strategy. The idea is to leave people with something to do, whether it be to continue to “tour” your site or go into a program that’ll help them find a solution to their problem.

      Since my site mainly deals with internet marketing, for C, I typically take ANY topic I write about regarding it and tell people that, Wealthy Affiliate is the best to learn all of that, not just because it really is, but because most people who look at my articles are beginners and they really want to succeed at this, so by providing this solution, after “marinating” their trust in my content through A and B, I pitch C.

      Hope this clarifies things! I don’t go overly into the whole organization of my content, it just tends to flow when I look at it the way I explained it and I’ve learned to be quite natural at this over the years.

  20. Great article for getting better rankings… you obviously left the best for last (a mobile friendly website). I totally concur with your 5 factors and truly believe that with perseverance and commitment, reaching the goal of meeting all 5 ranking factors can potentially get you a ton of traffic. Do you think a minimum of 300 words in an article is enough to be considered quality content?



    • Hi Mark, it is HIGHLY unlikely that 300 words will be enough. The only case I can ever consider in which this would be plausible is if you have a huge following, on social media or on an email list and you send them to this 300 word article and they start to comment on it which would improve the whole content base, but we need to be honest, most people do not have that type of ability, so 1,500 or more is a better quota.

  21. This is a fantastic post, and extremely helpful. These 5 factors are all critical points and also reassuring for me that I’m on the right path (although I haven’t reached 50 posts yet!). I also find the links to your other articles very relevant and useful. This is one of those articles that I should refer to time and again to remind myself of your great advice– you live up to your words by creating great content here!


Leave a Comment