Top 5 Google Ranking Signals in 2017

Written by Daniel Ferrigon

August 21, 2017

Top 5 Ranking Signals

How can you rank on the first page of Google in 2017?

There are 5 factors that Google weighs heavy, and which will help propel you to the top position in their search engine. These include backlinks, content, page speed, mobile-friendliness, and user experience.

Online Marketing is part science and part art. To engage and convert customers you must be unique and creative, that is where the art comes in. However, in order for them to actually see what your message, you need to master the art of SEO. That is the science part.

Google’s algorithm consists of over 200 factors, which decide a site’s worth in their eyes. This can be quite frustrating for any online marketer or business trying to figure out what exactly they are and how to format their site to comply perfectly with all of them.

The reality, however, is that you do not have to worry about trying to align yourself to all of Google’s algorithm criteria since it has been proven by several industry studies that the 5 factors mentioned above seem to be the most important algorithm signals in ranking a site’s worth.

So without further ado, I give to you an in-depth look at the Top 5 Ranking Signals that you need to take heed of if you want a top position in Google.
Top Google Ranking Signals


In the old days, ranking used to rely heavily on keywords. These days backlinks are the number one ranking signal Google uses to score sites within their directory.

It is not solely the quantity of the backlinks that matter (how many other sites are referring your site), but the quality of those sites that weigh heavy with Google’s backlink algorithm.

There are two backlink ranking factors Google relies heavily upon link score and anchor text.

Link Score: This is the quality, or page rank, of the referring site, as well as the number of sites directing to yours.

Anchor Text: While not as high of a value metric as link score, anchor texts still hold value when measuring backlinks. Basically, your site’s backlink anchors are what tells Google what your page is about and what keywords it should rank for.

*To optimize your backlinks, I advise you to list your URL on reputable sites and not spammy ones. Your anchor texts should flow naturally with your site’s content. Again, don’t get spammy here. Google likes to see that your site is bringing value to searchers and not just trying to bring attention to itself.


If backlinks are king, then content is prince. Many Online Marketing Gurus still believe that content reigns higher though, and since Google is primarily a content-finding machine, I tend to agree with them.

The main thing to take from here is that Google is looking for quality more than anything else. Is your site’s content useful to readers and viewers?

Keywords still seem to hold the most weight in Google’s content metrics. The most important of which is using relevant keywords in the title tag. Using keywords in your meta description still hold some value but not as much as the keywords you use in the body of your text, primarily in the H1 tags.

The length of the content is another important ranking factor but do not get too hung up on this. The length of your content really depends on your site’s main purpose. Google will still look for how relevant your content is than anything else.

* Here is a simple online marketing tip you can use to gauge quality and quantity of content. Type in the keyword you wish to rank for in Google and see what appears. Chances are those sites are there for a reason. Use their content as a model for yours.


This is the most fundamental aspect of all the technical ranking factors. Google has specific requirements for how they rank a site when it comes to page speed and gives clear metrics for this: pages must load in 2 seconds or less.

Remember, slower-loading pages tend to have higher bounce rates and do not convert very well.

* To check your page speed and how you can correct any issues, go to Website Auditor and then click on Content Analysis>Page Audit.


With almost half of Google Searches coming from mobile devices in 2017, I highly recommend making your site more mobile friendly.

Point blank, if your pages are not mobile optimized they will not rank at all in Google’s mobile search. You will be missing out on 50% of the total searches for your particular niche. With Google’s continued endeavors to switch mainly to mobile indexing, you may end up missing out on 100% in the future.

*Again, to find out more about your site’s mobile compatibility, go to WebSite Auditor and click on Content Analysis>Page Audit.


It is not clearly defined on how much user rankings affect Google’s score, but given the fact that Google has publicly stated in the past that the users are the best judge of a site’s value, causes me to believe that user experience ranks pretty high when it comes to a sites SEO value.

The main factor Google looks at when measuring user experience is Click-through Rate (CTR). The metric basically identifies how much a site has been clicked compared to the number of times it has appeared in searches. It goes without saying, that users who click a site often tend to find it valuable.

Just how high is this ranking signal? Well, in a past study by SearchMetrics, sites that increased their CTRs got immediate boosts in their search engine rankings.

*To check your site’s CTR score, go to Google’s Search Console, click Search Analytics Report, and then select Clicks/Impression/CTR/Position.

If you would like to find out more information about SEO, Google Algorithm updates, or Digital Marketing in general, visit

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