Computer screen showing a search engine concept

Search Engine Ranking Factors

Table of Contents

13 Critical Search Engine Ranking Factors You Need to Know in 2024

Search engine optimization (SEO) is constantly evolving, but certain core ranking factors remain crucial for achieving top positions in search results. As an SEO agency, IncRev has identified the most impactful ranking signals in Google’s algorithm. Understanding and optimizing for these key factors can dramatically improve your website’s visibility and organic traffic.

1. Content Quality

High-quality content is the foundation of SEO success. Google aims to serve users the most relevant, valuable content for their queries. To rank well, your content should be:

  • Thorough – Comprehensively cover the topic and answer users’ questions
  • Useful – Provide actionable information that satisfies search intent
  • Well-structured – Use headers, short paragraphs, and formatting for easy readability

Our research shows longer, in-depth content tends to outrank shorter pieces on average. Focus on creating comprehensive resources that add unique value.

2. Content Uniqueness

To stand out in search results, your content needs to offer something new or better than existing top-ranking pages. Regurgitating the same information as other sites won’t help you climb rankings. Look for opportunities to:

  • Present a unique perspective or insight on the topic
  • Include original research, data, or case studies
  • Offer a more comprehensive or up-to-date resource

At IncRev, we help clients develop content strategies to create truly differentiated assets that earn top rankings.

3. Mobile Optimization

With mobile searches dominating, having a mobile-friendly site is crucial for SEO. Google explicitly uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. Ensure your site:

  • Has a responsive design that adapts to any screen size
  • Loads quickly on mobile devices
  • Has easily tappable navigation and buttons
  • Doesn’t use intrusive interstitials

Use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check your pages and get recommendations for improvement.

4. Page Speed

Site speed is a direct ranking factor, especially for mobile searches. Faster-loading pages provide a better user experience and tend to rank higher. Key speed optimization tactics include:

  • Compressing images and using next-gen formats
  • Minifying CSS, JavaScript, and HTML
  • Leveraging browser caching
  • Using a content delivery network (CDN)

IncRev’s technical SEO audits identify specific opportunities to dramatically improve your site’s loading speed.

5. Backlink Quality and Quantity

Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors. High-quality, relevant links from authoritative sites signal to search engines that your content is trustworthy and valuable. Focus on earning links through:

  • Creating linkworthy, shareable content
  • Strategic outreach and relationship building
  • Guest posting on relevant industry sites
  • Getting mentioned in industry news and publications

Our link building strategies help clients earn powerful backlinks to boost rankings across their sites.

6. Domain Authority

Your overall site authority impacts rankings for individual pages. Building domain authority takes time, but pays dividends across your entire site. Key factors include:

  • Age of domain
  • Overall backlink profile
  • Topical relevance and expertise
  • Brand recognition and mentions

IncRev’s holistic SEO approach focuses on building lasting domain authority to support long-term organic growth.

7. On-Page Optimization

Proper on-page SEO helps search engines understand your content. Key on-page factors include:

  • Strategic keyword usage in title tags, headers, and content
  • Optimized meta descriptions
  • Internal linking structure
  • Schema markup
  • Image alt text

Our on-page SEO audits identify opportunities to better optimize your content for target keywords and topics.

8. User Experience Signals

Google uses engagement metrics to gauge how well pages satisfy users. Key UX signals include:

  • Click-through rate from search results
  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Pogo-sticking (quickly returning to search results)

Creating engaging, user-friendly content that matches search intent is crucial for strong UX signals.

9. Content Freshness

Google favors fresh, up-to-date content, especially for queries where recency matters. Regularly updating your content helps maintain and improve rankings over time. Key freshness signals include:

  • Publication date
  • How often content is updated
  • Rate of new link acquisition
  • Changes to main content

IncRev helps clients develop content update strategies to keep their pages fresh and ranking well.

10. E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)

Google aims to promote content from credible, authoritative sources. E-A-T factors include:

  • Author expertise and credentials
  • Website’s reputation in its field
  • Content accuracy and depth
  • Transparency (author bios, about page, contact info)

We help clients showcase their expertise and build trust signals to improve E-A-T.

11. HTTPS Security

HTTPS is a confirmed ranking factor. Secure sites protect user data and build trust. Ensure your site has valid SSL certification and resolves to HTTPS.

12. Core Web Vitals

Google’s Core Web Vitals measure key aspects of user experience, including:

  • Loading performance (Largest Contentful Paint)
  • Interactivity (First Input Delay)
  • Visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift)

Optimizing these metrics can provide a ranking advantage, especially in competitive niches.

13. RankBrain and AI

Google’s machine learning systems, like RankBrain, play a significant role in rankings. These AI components help Google better understand search intent and content relevance. While you can’t directly optimize for RankBrain, focusing on creating highly relevant, comprehensive content that satisfies user needs is key.


Mastering these critical ranking factors is essential for SEO success in 2024 and beyond. At IncRev, we leverage our deep understanding of these factors to develop customized SEO strategies that drive sustainable organic growth for our clients. Contact us to learn how we can help improve your search visibility and attract more qualified organic traffic.

X / Twitter