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There are few constants in life, and Google’s search engine algorithm definitely isn’t one of them. Aside from the near-daily changes that tweak the algorithm, Google occasionally rolls out bigger updates that redefine what it means to be search engine optimized.

Years ago, an SEO expert would focus on amassing keywords and accumulating links of any quality. Now tactics like these can actually harm your SEO score. In an effort to help business owners and SEO experts (including ourselves) stay sane, we’ve compiled the top 5 factors that determine a site’s rank on Google- 2017 edition.

Before we begin, we’d like to give a tiny disclaimer that this list is by no means definitive. Google has never disclosed an official list of ranking factors. Instead, this article represents the efforts of our research, expertise, and general experience. If you think we missed an important part of the equation, feel free to leave a comment below! We’d love to hear what you think. With that out of the way, we proudly present our State of the Ranks, 2017:

#1 Content

We all knew it was coming. While we promise we won’t say “content is king” anymore than absolutely necessary, we can’t downplay content’s importance. In the past, this meant that the blog was the lifeblood of your site’s SEO. But recent changes have allowed you to get a little more creative with it. New mediums are proving incredibly powerful for SEO, like:

Each of these platforms allows you to prove your business’s authority and relevance to your target audience. In turn, this promotes engagement and brand loyalty from both prospective and current clients. If you’ve read our SEO content writing article, then you know we just hit every keyword that Google uses to evaluate your content- Authority, Relevance, Engagement.

Let this become your mini-mantra when content writing: authority, relevance, engagement. People don’t read blogs whose authority they don’t trust. They won’t click an article that isn’t relevant to their interests/needs. And they certainly won’t engage with an article that doesn’t provide them something valuable.

Write with this in mind and you’ll please Google and your readers simultaneously.

#2 Backlinks

Content reigns atop the SEO mountain, but backlinks are just behind it. Without backlinks Google’s search engine crawlers have little means of determining your site’s relevance and authority. If no one wants to link to your content, why would they rank it well?

Before you scramble to grab as many links as you can, remember that not all links are equal. If the site linking to you doesn’t have a high authority score, or appears unrelated to your content, then you’re actually damaging your SEO.

Link building is often one of the most difficult and time-intensive aspects of the job for newer SEO strategists. If you’re having trouble getting started, check out our quick guide to building local backlinks for your business.

#3 Mobile Functionality

The digital world has changed a lot in the past decade. Previously, web developers would prioritize desktop functionality over mobile, but as the number of mobile users has surpassed desktop, Google began to judge mobile compatibility with the highest priority.

#4 Social Signals

Social media is beginning to play a larger role in the world of SEO and digital marketing. As evidence of this, social signals have now been shown to act as a form of mini-link building. This includes signals such as:

  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Retweets

However, some social signals are worth less than others depending on how Google evaluates them. Be sure to do your research and determine which social platforms are right for your business before you commit to any one site.

#5 Page Speed

We know this may seem like sweating the small stuff, but page speed has only increased in importance for SEO. Google states that your page should load in under two seconds, anything slower will begin to negatively impact your score. If your website is loaded down with uncompressed files, clearing it out can go a long way towards improving your rank.


If you’re having difficulty improving your SEO, or just want to talk shop about digital marketing, get in touch. Our SEO experts can give your site a detailed SEO audit. We’ll identify its strengths/weaknesses and construct an actionable SEO strategy to fit your specific needs.

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