Understanding Google Ranking Factors and Their Impact in 2024

    Google Ranking Factors

    Google Ranking Factors are pointers that are designed to go through billions of web pages to present the most relevant information. There are over 200 Google Ranking Factors. But a few of them have more impact than others.

    There is a vast list of pointers that come under the umbrella of Google ranking factors. This can include anything from the number of words on a page to the time it takes for images to load.

    Using these factors, Google engines identify the content and websites that can provide the best answers to the users, while also enhancing their online experience.

    How Google Algorithm Affects Searchability

    The search engine ranks its websites according to relevance and quality.

    The content that will be identified as good or acceptable by Google algorithms is categorized by the presence of certain factors.

    Google search engine consider the words used in a question, the usability and relevance of pages, the location, tags, and settings.

    However, the amount of weightage given to these factors also differs from query to query.

    If a question is about ‘recent developments in software technology’, then the focus would be on how updated and fresh an article is rather than the textbook definitions of software technology.

    But, broadly, these are the parameters that Google search engines use for listing content at the top:

    Google Ranking Factors to Look for in 2024

    Content Relevance

    Content relevance tops the chart when it comes to factors affecting Google algorithm. It means how well the information provided by a website corresponds with a searcher’s query.

    It includes content elements like text, images, or videos. Content relevance can also be achieved through the title, meta description and alt tags.

    Content relevance can be measured through several pointers –

    Language: Providing answers to questions in the same language as the query is the most basic factor for determining relevance.

    Text Body: This encapsulates how well a searcher’s query matches the text body.

    Page title: This indicates to the website’s main topic and in turn, affects the content relevance of a page.

    Images and graphics: Visual materials through the use of images and videos also corresponds to how well a searcher’s query was answered.

    Local aspect: The use of local terms and phrases also matters to how relevant that website is for a particular topic locally.

    To measure content relevance, semantic relationships are taken into account. In semantic evaluation, the relationship between two words is considered. This makes it easier to assess the keyword and content separately.

    Measuring content relevance helps in generating a score for entire texts. This score signifies the relationship between the content relevance and the target keywords that are taken into account. The higher this score is; the more relevant a website’s topic is.

    Content Quality

    Content Quality is a fundamental cornerstone of Google algorithm’s ranking factors.

    We discuss below how content quality influences the Google algorithm.

    Google’s main objective is to deliver search results that best match the user’s query. Content that directly deals with the user’s query is likely to rank higher in search results.

    Google uses several metrics to understand how users interact with search results. These include user engagement metrics such as click-through, bounce, and dwell time. High-quality content that meets user expectations tend to have better engagement metrics. This positively influences search rankings.

    Google values comprehensive and authoritative information. Such content from reputable sources is more likely to be featured prominently in search results.

    Google favors well-written, clear, and easily understandable content. Widely accessible content that caters to a broad audience will likely rank well. Factors like language clarity, sentence structure, and overall readability also matter.

    Google prefers content that offers unique and fresh perspectives. Plagiarized or duplicate content is likely to get penalized.

    A well-rounded quality content includes multimedia elements like images, videos, infographics, and charts. They help to elevate the overall quality of content. Such well-rounded quality content increases user engagement. They also add to a more informative user experience.

    Google’s algorithms favor content that is detail-oriented and in-depth. This provides users with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. It reduces the need to visit multiple pages.

    Intent Matching

    Intent Matching is another crucial ranking factor that affects Google’s algorithm. By understanding the meaning of the user’s query, Google tries to provide answers that match their intent. Here’s how intent matching influences the Google algorithm:

    Google, first and foremost, tries to understands the language used in the query. This involves recognizing the context, semantics, and nuances within the query to better understand what the user is looking for.

    Understanding the Intent behind a user’s query pushes Google’s algorithm to go beyond mere keywords. It tries to understand the broader context through advanced semantic search and natural language processing (NLP) techniques. They help to understand the meaning behind words and phrases.

    Google algorithm provides a user with various formats of search results. These include text-based results, featured snippets, images, videos, maps, and more. Such diversity allows the users to choose information that best suits that query.

    Google uses various SERP (Search Engine Results Page) features that are tailored to specific intents. For example, knowledge panels for informational queries, local packs for location-based queries, and shopping results for transactional queries. These features enhance the relevance of search results based on user intent.

    Incorporating user engagement signals helps Google understand the relevance of search results to user intent. These signals include click-through rates, dwell time, and pogo-sticking (quickly returning to search results after clicking on a result). Websites with higher rank in intent matching tend to have positive engagement metrics.

    Regarding commercial queries, Google prefers results that include product listings, reviews, and shopping options. Google analyzes the commercial intent behind the searcher’s query and tailors its response accordingly. This helps in promoting purchasing decisions.

    Google algorithm also takes into account if a searcher’s query is local or related to particular location-specific information, understanding the user’s location. This helps to provide results that align with local intent, such as local business listings, maps, and directions.

    It also understands the context of a user’s search journey. This involves considering the user’s previous search queries, the device they are using, their location, and other contextual factors.

    Google’s algorithms may rewrite queries or consider synonyms to a searcher’s query. This ensures that the results align with the search.

    Keyword Optimization

    While searching, Google looks for a targeted keyword that matches the question. For an article to rank for a targeted keyword, the content must be relevant.

    For instance, the keyword ‘marketing strategies’ provides various search results.

    Here, out of 4 articles, 3 are listicles, while one has explained marketing strategy. So the search engine identified top articles as those which talk about different types of marketing strategies, rather than one defining what is a marketing strategy.

    While keywords are critical to rank content, keyword stuffing must be avoided. Google would rank a keyword-stuffed article negatively, and bring up pages that provide relevant information that is beneficial to users.

    For best optimization, keywords should be places as below:

    • Heading / Page Title / H1
    • Body Content
    • First and Last paragraph of the content
    • Subheadings / H2
    • Page URL
    • Images
    • Post Category
    • Post Tags
    • Inbound Links

    According to FirstPageSage’s report, The 2024 Google Algorithm Ranking Factors, the ranking factor for keywords in meta titles remains at 15% in 2024.  Google Keywords in Header Tags and Keywords in URLs have also been eliminated as major ranking factors and have been added to the group of 22 factors that make up only 1% of the algorithm.

    Authority and Trustworthiness

    Google algorithm checks content that demonstrates E-E-A-T, i.e.  Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

    One parameter of E-E-A-T is an article that is back-linked to other prominent websites, showing its trustworthiness and credibility. The Google ranking puts content with credible links at a higher preference.

    Content must add value, if Google were to rank it high. Content creators should not just repeat or rehash what has already been said in another article.

    For any platform, getting expert contributors helps, because the content can highlight their credentials and expertise. This also satisfies the EEAT criteria. Additionally, the article should contain credible links that are correctly cited.

    Websites can also hire experts to write for their page as reviewers, advisors, or commenters. This also makes the content more trustworthy. Publishers must ensure users can easily see them on the page.

    According to FirstPageSage’s report, The 2024 Google Algorithm Ranking Factors, in Q1, Trustworthiness emerged as a new factor in Google’s algorithm, making up 5% of factors taken into account.

    User Experience (UX)

    User Experience (UX) is another key factor that influences Google algorithm in ranking the websites in search results. Here’s how user experience affects Google algorithm: Google uses its Core Web Vitals to measure aspects of web performance related to user experience. It is a set of metrics that include

    • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP),
    • First Input Delay (FID),
    • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

    Websites that rank well in these metrics are considered to provide a better user experience. They, in turn, will see positive search rankings.

    Page layout and design also contribute to UX. The overall user experience is enhanced by clear navigation, well-organized content, and a visually appealing design.

    Content readability and quality also factor in for a positive user experience. Well-written, high-quality content that is easy to read and understand, contributes to a positive user experience.

    Google always emphasizes a smooth and hurdle-free browsing experience. For this, Google penalizes intrusive interstitials (pop-ups that hinder the user experience) by lowering their search rankings.

    Even though not the sole focus, accessibility can impact search rankings. Accessibility of a website means that content is easily accessible to users with disabilities, contributing to a positive user experience.

    Good UX Design Bad UX Design
    Intuitive Slow page load times
    Consistency Complex Navigation
    Attractiveness Cluttered interface
    Searchability Outdated content and design
    Accessibility Poor Information Architecture


    Context and Settings

    Google algorithm takes into account factors like –

    • Location Past
    • Search History
    • Search setting

    Google uses these parameters to provide users with the most valuable and relevant content at that moment.

    For instance, if someone in the US searches ‘Top Ten Movies’, they will get results related to the Hollywood industry. On the other hand, if a person living in France puts the same question, the response generated by Google would be different.

    Search setting also optimizes the user’s language according to their location. It also helps with Safe Search (content without explicit results).  The content with relevant keywords according to the geographic area would rank higher.

    Google algorithm also provides results according to users’ past search history. They consider a user’s preferences and tailor the search results accordingly.

    Backlinks Quality

    According to Google, a website’s trust, authority, and relevance increase when pages backlink links from other websites.

    Backlinks from authoritative and trustworthy websites act as an endorsement of the content. Conversely, if reputable sites link back to a webpage, it shows the page’s reliability.

    For instance, if a website runs a fitness blog then backlink from a reputable health and wellness website carries more weight than one from an unrelated source.

    The more diverse the backlink profile, the better. The top priority should go to links coming from varied, credible sources. Such diversity means that the webpage is appreciated across various domains and not just restricted to one.

    Anchor text (the clickable text in a hyperlink) also plays a part in signaling the linked page’s content. Google perceives a natural and relevant anchor text as a positive quality.

    It must be kept in mind that Google values editorial backlinks over manipulative or spammy ones. Google can penalize websites for adding low-quality or spammy backlinks to their pages.

    Also, the position and the placement of backlinks matter. A backlink positioned in the middle of the content body is more valuable than a backlink placed at a sidebar or footer. The context of a backlink, in turn, influences its perceived significance.

    Both follow and no follow links contribute positively to the overall link profile. Follow links pass link equity, which positively impacts the search rankings. No-follow links are also valuable for garnering traffic and helping with brand visibility.

    Pages containing high quality backlinks will have a more positive impact than a large number of low quality ones.

    Page Loading Speed

    Google significantly emphasizes page loading speed for a positive user experience. With mobile devices being increasingly used for Google searches, mobile-first indexing of a website is also being prioritized. Pages with slow loading speed may face penalty.

    Google’s Core Web Vitals is important in measuring user experience related to web performance. It is a set of metrics which include

    • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
    • First Input Delay (FID)
    • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

    The page loading speed measured by LCP is crucial for measuring Core Web Vitals. Sites that perform well in these metrics may see positive impacts on their search rankings.

    Higher bounce rates (users leaving the page without interacting) and lower dwell times (the time users spend on a page) are signs of poor user experience. These metrics may also influence a page’s ranking.

    Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool helps webpages by evaluating them and suggesting areas of improvement. Webmasters use this to identify specific issues affecting page loading speed. This helps them in taking proper measures.

    AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), an initiative of Google, encourages the creation of lightweight and fast-loading mobile pages. Although not a direct ranking factor, pages with AMP markup may be featured in a special carousel in mobile search results since they provide a better and more streamlined user experience.

    Google allocates a crawl budget to each website. This, in turn, determines how frequently and deeply a website’s pages are crawled.

    Fast-loading pages are more likely to be crawled efficiently. This ensures that search engines index the fastest content promptly.

    Content Freshness:

    Google algorithm values those web pages that regularly update their contents. This includes adding relevant information, especially for those topics that require current or time-sensitive details.

    For questions related to news, events or industries users prefer fresh and latest information. Both new and returning users are more likely to engage with a website that consistently delivers up-to-date content.

    Freshness depends upon the searcher’s question. For some questions, historical answers maybe sufficient. But for some questions that deal with recent developments or new, freshness of content is important. Google analyzes the freshness of content based on the user’s intent.

    One point that must be kept in mind is clear display of the publication date and the timestamps update.

    Freshness also depends on updates and their types. For instance, some articles might need the addition of new information or some revision of outdated content. Similarly, some topics might need a fresh perspective to their already existing ones. Regularly updating content hints to Google that the website is actively maintained and committed to providing current information.

    Google introduced the concept of Query Deserves Freshness (QDF). When a topic suddenly faces a surge in interest, Google boosts the visibility of certain webpages to meet the demand. These include content that was recently published or updated.

    Google’s algorithm freshness signal considers the content’s publication date and the frequency of updates. Freshness is essential for topics like –

    • trending topics
    • product releases
    • time-sensitive information.

    Google runs a “Top Stories” section for content that revolves around news or blog sections. Pages with recently published or updated article features in this section.

    Fresh content often prompts search engines to crawl and index a website more frequently.

    Structured Data

    Structured data acts as another ranking factor affecting Google algorithm. Often implemented using schema markup, structured data helps to better understand a webpage’s contents.

    It provides additional context about the information on a page. Thus contributing to more accurate and enriched search results.

    Structured data affects Google algorithm in several ways.

    • It helps in the creation of rich snippets in search results. This includes additional information like ratings, reviews, event details, recipe instructions, etc. They give users a quick preview of what they can expect from the webpage. This improves the overall search experience.
    • Rich snippets make it appealing for users to click on such websites. This improves the click-through rates. Google’s algorithm may take into account the engagement and interaction levels with search results.
    • Google’s Knowledge Graph relies on structured data to understand relationships between entities. Structured data presents information in an organized manner, thus helping Google to connect that information. Knowledge Graph, in turn, provides comprehensive and interconnected search results.
    • Structured data also helps to boost local businesses. They highlight information such as business hours, addresses, reviews, and contact details. This makes it easier for users to find relevant local businesses.
    • Structured data formats, like FAQ schema or how-to schema, contribute to the generation of featured snippets. Featured snippets occupy the top positions of the search results (Position Zero). They provide concise answers to user queries. This, in turn, leads to increasing visibility and website authority.
    • E-commerce websites can benefit from structured data for product information. Product schema markup allows search engines to display details such as price, availability, and reviews directly in search results. This leads to attracting more clicks from users interested in knowing more.
    • Video content also uses structured data. The latter allows for the display of video thumbnails and descriptions directly in search results. This helps users identify and choose relevant video content more easily.
    • Event websites make use of structured data. They provide details such as event dates, times, and locations during the search results. This contributes to a more informative and visually appealing presentation.
    • Podcasts and audio content rely on structured data, too. They help search engines provide relevant details, such as episode titles, descriptions, and publication dates.
    • Websites displaying job postings implement structured data in the form of Job Posting schema. This enhances the visibility of job details in search results. It helps users to find and apply for relevant positions easily.

    Security (HTTPS)

    HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) acts as a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Implementing HTTPS ensures the security and privacy of data users. Adoption of HTTPS impacts Google algorithm in several ways – from data encryption to improved referral data, to name a few.

    HTTPS ensures that the information shared between a user’s browser and website is encrypted. This ensures that sensitive information, such as login credentials and personal data, remains confidential during transmission.

    Websites using Https generate a bond of trust and confidence among their users. In the URL, secure connections are visually indicated in browsers with a padlock icon and “https://”.

    Moreover, Google Chrome and other major browsers display warning messages to users when they browse sites without HTTPS. Such warnings can deter users from using those websites. By using https, websites can ensure that more users engage with their websites.

    Secure websites receive more accurate referral data in Google Analytics. When a non-secure site refers traffic to a secure site, the referral information may be stripped away. By using HTTPS, websites can ensure that referral data is preserved. This helps in accurate analytics tracking.

    HTTPS is considered crucial for e-commerce websites handling online transactions. Google understands the safety and sensitivity of a user making online transactions. And, as part of its commitment to user safety, it encourages secure connections for websites involved in financial transactions.

    Mobile Friendliness

    With the increase in the use of mobile phones, Google has adopted a mobile-first Indexing approach. It means that it primarily considers the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking. Mobile-friendly websites will, therefore, have an advantage over their desktop-only counterparts.

    According to the user’s device, websites also adapt their websites to provide a smooth experience. To cater to the needs of the mobile users, Google takes into account the following points –

    • Responsive Design
    • Easy Navigation
    • Content Readability on smaller screens

    If a platform has responsive design, their layout and content is adapted to a user’s device. These factors impact the sear ability of the page or content on Google.

    Google uses the Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console to look into issues that might hamper the mobile user experience. Using this information, webmasters can identify and address mobile usability issues, to ensure their sites rank high on Google.

    Websites with mobile-specific errors like faulty redirects, inaccessible content, or unplayable videos, may be penalized.

    Although not a direct ranking factor, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) can influence Google ranking factors. AMP is a framework that creates lightweight, fast-loading pages, particularly suitable for mobile users.

    Google emphasizes local businesses through its local searches. Websites providing a seamless mobile experience are more likely to appear in local pack listings. This helps in attracting mobile users seeking local information.

    Websites with voice search compatibility also rank higher in Google searches. This is because Google’s algorithm considers mobile-friendly websites better suited for voice search interactions.

    Other Factors

    Apart from the ranking factors outlined above, there are other factors, too. These can be divided into –

    • Domain Factors – Domain factors help assess a site’s overall reputation and trustworthiness. This reflects Google’s trust in the entire site.
    • User Interaction – Under this metric, click-through rates and dwell time fall. They help in determining how users engage with search results.
    • Brand Signals – Brand signals help assess the authority and impact established brands have in search rankings.
    • On-Site Web spam Factors / Off-Site Webspam Factors – On-site and off-site web spam factors deal with malpractices. This includes a site’s content and external backlink profile, respectively.

    These factors all together shape the landscape of Google ranking. They aim to deliver the most relevant, trustworthy, and user-friendly results to searchers.


    Google Ranking Factors constantly evolve to provide the best user experience. Although there are 200 factors, these are the factors that primarily affect search engine results. Creating high-quality, comprehensive content caters best to a user’s intent and expectations. They help drive better engagement metrics, ultimately improving search results.

    By keeping up with the latest trends and factors, websites can stay ahead of the competition and achieve higher rankings in Google algorithms.