17 Google Ranking Factors: Surprising Case Study

Being a website owner, you might always tend to have a query how do I rank higher on Google and what the Google ranking measurements are?

Every skilled content creator goes through a lot and has their own SEO checklist and follows while writing.

But, how correct is that? Not sure, isn’t it?

According to SEMrush study with more than 6,00,000 keywords worldwide ranking websites. They have come to a conclusion on how does Google rank the websites.

Though, Google never reveals their algorithm behind it. But, they have come with a case study of how Google ranks the web pages.

And it’s interesting to see SEMrush Analysis on Google Ranking Factors. Few are absolutely known and many are surprising elements too which you might haven’t thought Google could give it so much weight in a short span of time.

Want to know it closely? I am sure you don’t want to miss and optimize your website to rank higher.

17 Important Google Ranking Factors: SEMrush Case Study

SEMRush strike first into the mind, when it comes to the SEO tool. No wonder, it is one of the best SEO tools in the industry.

But, here we are not about to talk about the SEMRush Tool features, in fact, we are about to discuss its case study on Google ranking factors.

Image Source: SEMrush

SEO Checklist by SEMrush

This looks like an Amazing SEO checklist to follow.

1. Direct Website Visits

Surprisingly and always Direct Traffic always into the top squad of Google Ranking Factors Checklist.

2. Time on site

That means, there is no other way now, Clickbait images and Title won’t work. Along with those, you should have better content on your website.

Tip: Helpful Content in the form of words and along with that great visual content(Images and Videos)

3. Pages per Session

Not, only time on a page, page per session has got almost the equal importance of ranking the pages.

Tip: Internal linking for better navigation will enhance the user-experience and apparently rankings too.

4. Bounce rate

There could be several reasons for the increase in bounce rate.

  • You provide too many offers to your visitors as they step in.
  • Too Many Advertisements or wrong placements can be a turn-off.
  • Click Bait or Unrelevant Titles and Images.
  • Driving Unrelveant traffic
  • Bad Website Design and more,

Tip: Simply, avoid Doing it!

By looking at the first four ranking factors from the checklist, we can realize that Google is more into making the user experience the best.

Are Backlinks Important?

Links are and always be playing a vital role to boost the rankings. So, it did prove in the SEMrush Case study as well. And found the second place after user experience.

those are been categorized,

5. Total Referring Domains

This is one of the factors which is popular in the SEO industry. What does referring Domains mean?

The answer is pretty much simple the number of domains are attached to your website. It good for your website if it is being referred to by domains globally.

To get it in simple words, other domains are recommending your website to google. And if your website is linked to well authorize domains, Google considers it and improve your page rankings.

Referred by the diverse domains throws more trust signals to Google about your website.

6. Total Backlinks

Backlinks are the backbone of your website. The more backlinks to your website and better. Doesn’t matter Do follow or No follow, all works great if you look into the SEO perspective.

Both have their own advantages.

7. Referring IP’s

This indicates, where your website is linked from. The more referring IP’s you have, the better your website stands in the SEO perspective. Links should come from various IP, instead of few.

It tells Search engines, where your website is popular and help them to show in the SERP’s.

If your website is having a huge number of links from a single IP from multiple domains, Google considers that as Blackhat SEO strategies. And might think of PBN(Private Blog Network) attached to it.

And Google never encourages such a strategy at all, and your website might get penalized. So, it’s quite wise to analyze.

8. Total Do-Follow Links

Do-follow links, the most used word by webmaster and SEO Gurus. And a valid reason behind it, as it passes the link juice directly from other websites.

And if the links are strong with high authority, then your website will just fly away on top. You will find your web pages in the Top search results, hence more revenue.

Tip: Make sure you build backlinks from Authoritative and relevant websites.

9. Content-Length

A lot of debates goes into it, as it is one of the aspects to get ranked. But, what is the actual content length for getting better rankings?

SerpIQ has already written an article on their practical study what is the length of content which ranks in the top 10.

Content length
Image Source: SerpIQ

It is interesting to see why longer than 200 words are ranking well on Google. That means the more information you provide to the user, Google will rank you better.

If you think in other way several aspects can be connected with content length. Especially user experience and backlinks.

The longer content, the user spends more time on site, bounce rate decreases isn’t it. OnPage SEO improves. And all comes into consideration for better rankings.

In addition to it, longer content tends to get more backlinks from other websites.

10. HTTPS as a Ranking Factor

In 2014, Google has officially confirmed the HTTPS as a ranking factor. So there is nothing to say about here just get that green padlock for your WordPress website.

If you have installed one, here is the step by step guide to install cloud flare SSL for your website for absolutely free.

What is the Role of On Page Now?

OnPage SEO will always there. As without proper strategical content with a keyword, cannot be ranked well. Let’s us dive in and see what the SEO strategy which needed to follow while creating a post.

11. Total Anchors

Having more and more Anchors will be beneficial and provides SEO boost. Doesn’t matter whether the linking is internal or external. Multiple anchors texts, always help.

Tip: Use Synonyms of your main focus keyword.

12. Keywords in Anchor

It is old days when people use Keywords in the Anchor all over. Now according to the SEMrush case study, most of the domains which are ranking on the top are having multiple anchor texts. Not just the focused keyword.

Anchor texts are less considered comparing to the other backlinks factors.

Tip: Better not linking to the same Anchors text everywhere.

13. Keyword in body

Compare to the above, on page SEO got less importance. But, still has a significant role and on the list of 17 prominent ranking factors.

OnPage SEO is not just about inserting a lot of keywords in the content. Keywords density boosts your ranking to the certain level, but when the pages contain only keywords, it will look creepy and ranks will drop considering the above bad user experience.

Tip: Plan the entire content strategically using synonyms for a focused keyword.

14. Keyword Density

  • Decent Keyword Density 1 – 1.5 % would be enough for the focus keyword. It’s highly recommended to use synonyms or Auto-suggest by Google.
Google Autosuggest

You may also look for Google’s People also searched for the feature in the bottom of the search page. alternatively, tools like Uber Suggest and LSI Keywords will work great

  • Always inter-link a new blog post with older relevant posts.

15. Keyword in Title

Keywords in the title play a vital role in rank boost. But, according to the study, for low search volume, the pages which contain the keyword in the title remains at the same position.

On the other hand, the keywords which have a higher search volume and included in the title ranks just climbs higher.

Tip: It’s always advisable to include the keyword in the title. 

16. Keyword in Meta

Meta descriptions are always important for any blog post. And according to SEMrush study, the pages which are ranking for the high-volume searches had a keyword in their meta description.

Though only 15% of the pages have included keywords in meta, which are ranking for lower searches volume.

Tip: It’s recommended to add a keyword in your every page.

17. Video on Page

Apart from that, embedding a video in the blog post will make the rankings better. I think the reason behind, the time on site. People are more into the visual graphics these days, instead of going through the wall of text.

So, placing a video helps out in ranking, which proved in SEMrush case study too. If you using WordPress, then embedding responsive videos are simple.

But, if your blog in on Blogspot, then you might want to follow this tutorial to embed responsive videos into the posts.

Hence, now you know the perfect SEO checklist for your website, might wondering what gave them these results.

Now, you might be wondering how did they compile the whole list, what is the methodology behind it.

How do Google Search Rankings Work: SEMrush Methodology

Curious? Obviously, in fact, every webmaster will be.

So. what kind of methodology they have used to know top Google Ranking factors.

SEMrush states that they did it with the help of Random Forest a machine learning system. And able to categorized and put them in order. And those are the factors according to its weight, which matters for Google to show up in SERP’s.

Check out the Methodology behind the Analysis.

Methodology of ranking factors
Image Souce: SEMrush

As discussed above they have compiled 600,000+ keywords. And then gathered Top 100 search ranking positions for each keyword.

That huge!

And after extracting the huge data, they deeply analyzed on,

  • OnPage Factors
  • Traffic
  • Backlink Profiles

Source: SEMrush

Recap on SEMrush Rankings Case Study

This study has definitely, put a lot of lights on ranking signals and few surprise elements too. User-experience and security are being one of the main factors. Content tends to be always the king, and OnPage SEO will always going to matter.

Low quality and thin content websites, need to take a U-Turn to modify things accordingly. Certainly, the website which provides good information is absolutely safe.

Hope this helps! Considering sharing for better reach if it does.

Affilaite Disclaimer - The post you are reading might contain few affiliate links, that states if you buy any product clicking on those links I may receive a small commission out of it, no additional cost to you at all. This way you are helping me running this site effectively. I share unbiased view-point from my personal experience. Full Disclaimer

Man Behind the Blog - Navin Rao

Blogger | WordPress Savvy

Navin Author
A WordPress Savvy, Content Strategist and creator of this blog. At QuestionCage we talk about Technology, SEO, WordPress to make your blogging venture much successful and eventually let the passive money to flow in.

Along with QC, I maintain my personal blog NavinRao.com as well, where I share my experiences and tips only on WordPress.

31 thoughts on “17 Google Ranking Factors: Surprising Case Study”

  1. Thanks for sharing this case study Navin!

    I find that reading articles like this help me refocus on what really matters for my online business.
    Thanks again:)

    • Certainly Nikola, Everyday is a new day and a blogger should work on what really matters for the search engines and Users too. Seldom I feel, if we follow google algorithm, then we are automatically making it better for users too. As search engines like google change the algo for the better user experience.

  2. It is another well written and interesting article I enjoyed reading, thank you. Now I will have to make time to go through this and apply it where I can.

    • Yes, Divesh blogging is not just about writing, it more than it. understanding how Google ranks the websites are similarly important to rank the web pages higher and to get more footprints in.

  3. great article bro.
    everyone wants to rank their articles on google.
    but some people study about how this google actually ranks the article
    reverse engineering.
    I come to new things via this article

  4. Hey Navin

    Awesome article. With the new updates in algo Google looks and verifies a lot of things and then let you rank for a keyword or phrase.
    Thank you for such an informative article.

    • Hey Andy,

      Yeah, algos will and should be kept on changing. And i do feel that is when a blogger will dig and learn more things. After experiencing ups and downs has a huge role to be successful.

  5. Hello Navin,

    We have been using SEMRush to do our keyword research for our business and it has been performing exceptionally well.
    Your report is really through and one should really pay attention to small things as they are the ones which can bring a big difference.

  6. Hi Navin,

    These are the ranking factors that a blogger must focus on. It is necessary to keep an eye on the changes of Google updates as well. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Rich, Good to see you!

      Certainly, none of the above points could be ignorable for a better blogs SEO and stand strong in the search engines. UX and UI do matter a lot all the above.

      Have a great day ahead!

    • Exactly! and if as considering the whole 200 ranking factors can be a bit tedious task so these Semrush case study could help a lot.

      User experience, Awesome and thorough content, Backlinks are the key as of now and it would be.

      Thanks for expressing your thoughts, I appreciate it…

      Have a great day ahead!


    • Not Exactly, if it not well optimized.

      Saying optimized doesn’t mean only inserting the keywords. Making it readable, using synonyms to the seed keyword too, to make good understand the content is traveling around a certain zone. I hope this helps!

  7. It is another great article I enjoyed reading.

    Thanks Navin for your valuable ideas.

    Just tweeted this excellent guide to my twitter friends and followings.

  8. Hey Navin,

    Great Post. SEO is very dynamic world. Google changes its algorithm frequently and we have to adapt it for better ranking. HTTPS is definitely a part of ranking factors. If you search something in Google, You will find that 90% of the site that are within top 5 pages are of HTTPS. So, its definitely a ranking factor. Thanks for sharing these great insights.

    Have a great day 🙂

    • I agree, Vishwajeet, Its observed the most of the ranked website on top is having an HTTPS protocol…

      Inspite that, I am always astonished when still I see few websites haven’t had one. Though, as proved Content is going to master the web.

      Have a great day ahead!

  9. Some people still don’t believe that https might be a ranking factor. А few years ago Google made an announcement, and I decided to move all my websites to https protocol.
    But I see, a lot of online marketers till don’t use it, because, as they say, they don’t collect personal information.
    Well, from my personal experience, it’s not that important ranking factor. But it still is a factor!

    • As you said its pretty strange few sites still haven’t installed an SSL, which is so easier. As Google announced on HTTPS site to get rank higher already. And as above SEMrush study to make it in the limelight, HTTPs is as Ranking factor. It quite reasonable to believe so.

      Have a great day ahead!


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