SEO Ranking Factors – What Matters and Why

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  • Post last modified:September 24, 2020
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SEO Ranking Factors are wide-ranging. And trying to learn (and understand) every facet of these factors is all but impossible—however, a multitude of bright minds spend their professional lives understanding this very subject—no need to reinvent the wheel.

This article is a follow on from the previous, On-Page SEO: What You Need To Consider. In that article, I talked at length about the 13 aspects of On-Page SEO.

So, in continuation, I will explain the other on-page SEO Ranking Factors you can employ right away.

SEO Ranking Factor #1 – Readability

Readability, in terms of SEO Ranking Factors at least, requires crafting your content to meet specific criteria. The challenge is to write your content with the reader in mind first and foremost and following ‘the rules’ where possible.

 It’s all about mind-set. The reader comes first—always. When you create content that gives the reader the information they came to your site looking for, Google will recognise this and reward you with better rankings in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

What Makes up the Readability Score?

The readability score derives from 7 criteria:

  1. Flesch Reading Ease
  2. Passive Voice
  3. Consecutive Sentences
  4. Subheading Distribution
  5. Paragraph Length
  6. Sentence Length
  7. Transition words

Flesch Reading Ease

In simple terms, The Flesch Reading Ease test measures the readability of a text. It uses two variables to determine the readability score:

  • The average length of your sentences (measured by the number of words).
  • The average number of syllables per word.

A score between 0 and 100 is calculated and indicates how your content stacks up.

A score of 100 means your copy is easy to read, and a score of 0 means your text is difficult to read.

90-100very easy to read, easily understood by an average 11-year-old student
80-90easy to read
70-80fairly easy to read
60-70easily understood by 13 to 15-year-old students
50-60fairly difficult to read
30-50difficult to read, best understood by college graduates
0-30very difficult to read, best understood by university graduates

As far as SEO Ranking Factors are concerned, the passive voice makes your writing weaker and less direct compared to its counterpart, the active voice.

And, by the nature of passive voice writing, sentences become too wordy and tedious making the sentence structure complex.

I’ll rewrite the previous sentence in a passive voice so you can see what I mean:

This sentence was written to highlight how tedious and wordy passive writing is. The sentence structure was also weakened, making the point lost.

The key takeaway is always to try and write in an active voice. As a general rule-of-thumb, no more than 10% of all sentences should be in the passive voice.

Consecutive Sentences

In most cases, using the same word to start consecutive sentences leads to awkward and repetitive writing, and breaks the rhythm of your text while putting readers off.

And while avoiding consecutive sentences should be avoided, sometimes it can be tricky. An example might be when you add lists to your content. Lists are a powerful tool when pointing out the benefits of a product or service. Try to be creative, and it may well be an opportunity to expand on what you are saying.

Subheading Distribution

Subheadings are a crucial part of your content structure. On the one hand, they help break sentences up into acceptable passages (more on this below)

On the other hand, subheading help guide the reader in understanding what your subject matter, sort of like a road map.

Subheadings matter a great deal also in regards to SEO Ranking Factors. An H1 Heading is specific to the page title and must not be used in your copy. The reason is that Google (for example) looks for the H1 Heading and uses it to determine the pages content subject.

Heading Structure

That leaves the H2, H3, H4, H5 and the H6 headings to add structure to the content. In having said that, one must understand that the headings have a specific role to play.

The H1 is the most crucial Heading and can only appear once. The H2 is more important than the H3; the H3 is more important than the H4 etc. In terms of SEO Ranking Factors, how you use headings matters.

Here is an example of how to use headings correctly:

Heading Usage is Important

The above is an H2 Heading.

Why Are They Important?

The above H3 Heading and is in a logical place within the copy because this paragraph is directly related to the paragraph of the parent H2 Heading.

Now, I’m going to change the subject in the next passage, so an H2 Heading is warranted.

Paragraph Length

Correctly sized paragraphs play an essential role, making your text readable and scannable. Large sections of words are not easy to read and tend to scare away your readers.

Paragraphs help break down your text into bite-size and easy-to-understand chunks, which puts your readers at ease. Every time you end a paragraph, your readers have an opportunity to relax and think about what they’ve just read, which helps them make sense of the entire text.

As a general rule-of-thumb, no more than 25% of all sentences should contain more than 20 words.

Sentence Length

Sentences length is another one of the SEO Ranking Factors that will kill your page’s success of ranking. Longer sentences are generally more challenging to read than shorter ones and readers are quickly put off.

The result likely being that the reader will leave your site. Again, a general rule-of-thumb is no more than 25% of all sentences should contain more than 20 words.

Transition Words

Transition words are words like ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘so’ and ‘because’. They show your reader the relationship between phrases, sentences, or even paragraphs. When you use them, you make it easier for your readers to understand how your thoughts and ideas are connected. What is more, they prepare your reader for what’s coming. 

SEO Ranking Factor #2 – Schema

SEO ranking factors image

Schema helps search engines understand your website and your content. Once added to a webpage, schema markup creates an enhanced description (commonly known as a rich snippet), which appears in search results.

Unfortunately, adding Schema to a website can be tricky primarily if you haven’t worked with code before. Schema comes with its own set of rules, and Schema comes in many forms to suit various outcomes.

The image shows how Schema markup yields a result in the SERPs.

SEO Ranking Factor #3 – Social

The final aspect of on-page SEO Ranking Factors is leveraging Social Media. Having (at a minimum) Schema specific to Facebook and Twitter means anyone who shares your pages will automatically positively represent your brand.

Facebook, for example, expects specific criteria (These are the bare minimum):

  • A working URL (the page address)
  • Page type (article, web page, item page etc.)
  • Page title (not exceeding 50-60 characters)
  • Locale (country of origin)
  • An image (not exceeding 1200px by 620px)
  • A description (160 characters)
  • Site name

Twitter has a similar set of requirements.