With the hype around ChatGPT and the recently-released Google’s Apprentice Bard, the chances are that you are worried about your SEO projects and clients.
AI influences aside, even Google’s Algorithm received several updates in 2022. There were two updates in December alone: the link spam and helpful content updates.
With all these changes, you might be thinking:
- Will your previous bankable SEO strategies still work in 2023?
- Can you still get your money sites to the top pages of search results?
I have a simple answer, “Yes, they will,” and “You can.”
However, a little tweaking might be required. Again, this leads us to figure out the RIGHT Google ranking factors in 2023.
Without further ado, let’s see the 10 Top Google ranking factors in 2023.
Top Google Ranking Factors in 2023
1: Content & Keyword Research
Content is king – as widely claimed. But without relevance and purpose, your content won’t even be the “subject,” let alone a “king.”
In other words, your content should be around what is relevant to your audience. What are they talking about? What hype is trending?
Use Google Trends to check trends in your niche and their peak period.
How can you educate the audience about the trends? If they (the audience) are educated, how can you allay their fears?
Those questions will set your content on the right path to rank. But even then, you need more.
This will fine-tune your content for relevance and target the phrases your audience typically looks up on Google. You can use tools like Ahrefs and Semrush.
People Ask Panel
Check the People Also Ask panel on Google for insight.
I advise you to look at “depth” in terms of “providing all necessary information” about a topic instead of the “length of the article.” Why?
“Fluff” content will be lengthy but won’t satisfy readers’ needs. Some people might even bounce off your page as they land on it. Unfortunately, that will dent your SEO efforts.
In short, prioritize quality and audience-focused content. That will set a SOLID bedrock for your site to rank on Google.
2: Keyword Optimization
Still, on content, you can further make the “bedrock” even more solid by optimizing it with related keywords (also known as “secondary keywords”).
Overall, make your content keyword-optimized.
Spoiler alert: keyword-optimized content is not the same as “stuffing your articles with keywords.” Your readers will sniff your antics and bounce off.
Even Google might detect the maneuver and not rank your content.
So, what is the right way to keyword-optimize your content?
- Naturally: Use keywords when they fit into your content in the most natural way possible.
- Strategically: Place keywords in strategic places in your content – like titles, headings, introduction, and conclusion.
Pro Tip 1
Outside the content, optimize other vital elements such as title tag, meta tags, and URL.
NOTE: Manually placing keywords might be a breeze with short-form articles. However, you might be out of depth with long-form articles. You might be best served with a content optimization tool.
In that case, we’ll recommend Surfer.
The KEY benefit of using tools like Surfer is that they scrape the sites already ranking for your desired keywords and show you what they are doing.
But don’t copy them; do better!
Pro Tip 2
Don’t focus too much on reaching a 90+ score on Surfer ratings. That might be over-optimization.
As we said before, first provide value, then optimize. If you can get your content score to 75+ after that, you have provided the needed solid “bedrock.”
So, what next?
Focus on other SEO factors outside content – such as link building, site authority, and user experience.
3: Internal Links
Linking your pages helps Google understand the pages of your site and how they relate to each other. And the better the big G understands your site, the higher your site’s chances of ranking high on search results.
That said, “just” linking to related articles across your site won’t help. Create a sitemap.
- What is your landing page like?
- What pages will branch out of the landing page?
- Will you link to top-performing blog posts on the landing page?
- How should you navigate your service pages?
A well-designed site map will guide you in building a top-notch internal linking game.
Regardless, link back to your money pages from the URLs, content, or posts with the most traffic.
4: External Backlinks
External backlinks are like internal links in the mirror. They follow the same idea of leveraging the traffic of top pages. The main difference is that the former links your site to other sites.
As a result, you leverage the traffic of the external source and their authority for your page. And since your pages are already internally linked, there will be a somewhat combo effect.
However, linking to any site won’t benefit your rankings on search results. You need sources that are in your niche. And they must be trustworthy. How?
- The sources must obey Google’s link spam rules
- They must not be link farms or PBNs
- They must be managed like typical sites
Overall, don’t get links from just any site for the sake of it. Besides Google finding out and penalizing your site, you would lose credibility with users.
Side note: Link building is undoubtedly the most vital factor for ranking. It leverages other sites’ authority and maximizes your efforts to rank your URLs.
However, the processes of link building can be cumbersome.
Now, let’s head back to more content-related ranking factors!
5: Topical Relevance
Indeed, content and link building can get your site the attention it needs. But even then, that might not be enough to rank in 2023.
You must establish yourself as the go-to source for your niche: topical relevance. Why?
In the era where AI tools can mass-produce content within minutes. It is no longer just about “content.”
Are the posts consistent? What do you talk about? What niche? What brand?
More importantly, what content do you produce: roundups, listicles, or how-tos?
Niche down your content strategy. That way, your site will pop up for any search query in that niche.
For example, if you sell wine, write content about choosing the prime choices or how to detect one. You’ll gain topical relevance and easily rank for queries around that.
Another example is our blog at Outreach Solutions. We regularly populate it with digital marketing topics and link-building guides. As a result, we’ll rank higher for terms in that niche.
Besides, gaining topical relevance means Google bots regularly crawl your content. In other words, they will suggest your content at the slightest related query – even when the phrases searched don’t match your keywords.
6: Content Updating
BTW, we are not saying evergreen content is out of vogue. Undoubtedly, there are super-informational articles still ranking on Google that were published 7-10 years ago.
So, by all means, create evergreen content.
However, information and technology are improving every day. What was relevant a few years ago might already be outdated.
For example, imagine a listicle about Google’s Algorithm written in 2021. Since then, there have been several updates.
Such articles, while relevant, are not up to date and must be revisited and updated. Some of the “updates” on the list might need to be rewritten or even removed.
Depending on your niche, regularly updating your content can be a “ranking holy grail.” Entertainment and news fall into this category.
Furthermore, if you have words like “new” in your keywords, the articles written around such must be rewritten when a new product is released.
Pro Tip 3
Rewriting your content after every new product launch can be daunting. Instead, update it quarterly or seasonally.
Even when a topic needs no rewriting because there is no recent technology, it can be revisited for a fresh perspective.
That way, Google bots will notice the URL, recrawl it and send traffic to it.
“Content update” brings us to the last content-related ranking factor. Now, let’s see more technical issues!
7: Domain Authority
Domain authority works similarly to “topical authority.” Like the latter, the former is an accumulation of tiny efforts. In this case, the link-building efforts.
Remember, we said external backlinks leverage other sites’ authority to rank your pages. Well, the benefits do not stop at just that. How so?
If authority sources are pointing to your site, your site will become an authority too.
Think of the entire process as gaining authority by association. That is more reason why you shouldn’t associate with “bad” apples — the link farms and PBNs.
But what’s a high DA relevance to your site and its rank on Google search results?
Higher DA attracts credibility not just from Google but from users and competitors. And according to Backlinko, sites with such features are usually higher on search result pages.
8: UI & Page Experience
Text-based content is not the only thing that influences users’ experience. Videos and graphics are also critical.
Beyond all that, the site design, speed, and responsiveness are also vital to users’ satisfaction.
If your site has top-notch content but has an odd structure, it’ll be a turn-off for users. They might never see beyond the lack of “structure” to appreciate the content.
Structure and design aside, site speed also affects SEO. If the site loading time takes forever, the bounce rate will increase.
And last and most importantly, how your site responds to different devices matters. Whether users access your pages via smartphones, tablets, or PCs, they should be able to acquire the information they need.
If there is no consistency in the design and loading time across the devices, your site’s bounce rate might skyrocket. Unfortunately, that won’t be good for your SEO.
Pro tip: Google Analytics reports and recommendations will help maintain a user-friendly site.
Like with “design,” no user will trust a site where their data is unsafe — regardless of how informational the site’s content might be.
And as always, Google dances to the tune of its users. It will disregard an unsafe site.
Unfortunately, you can’t do much about security without hiring an expert.
Nevertheless, ensuring HTTPS protocol for data encryption is within your means. If you do it, you can allay the fears of users.
NOTE: If you own eCommerce sites where card details are stored, HTTPS protocol is only one of many security measures you must enforce.
If you have issues with the following details, check with an expert:
- Core Web Vitals: this is a 3-in-1 test that details the UI/UX and how users react to it.
- Indexing: for a URL or content to rank on search results, it must be crawled and indexed (stored). Without that done, other ranking factors, even when optimized, can’t help.
You shouldn’t be fazed about trends in SEO if your strategies are white hat. For you, ranking factors in 2023 won’t be changing. They are what you already use and will always work.
If your strategies are off (grey and black hat), revisit them. Prioritize high-quality content, structured link building, and smooth browsing experience.
Do those things and follow the other tips in this article, and your rankings won’t be affected regardless of any new algorithm update.
We hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions!