These are the top search engine ranking factors for content in 2020

6 min read

google ranking factors in 2019

Google continues to make improvements to its infrastructure and SEO is rapidly transforming than ever before, so SEO experts must remain informed on the key ranking factors. Just remember that even as Google’s ranking factors continue to shift, their main purpose is in serving its user, so changes in the ranking factors isn’t necessary a “bad thing.”

This is important to remember because even as the individual ranking factors change each year, any SEO that is working to serve the user will eventually be rewarded.  

Yep, this means that Google changed its algorithms again..

But no worries! The SumoDash team is here to keep you updated with the latest ranking factors for Google and other search engines!

For this article, we will provide you with ranking factors that will most efficiently move the rankings of your website in 2019.

As we go through each of these factors, consider how each ranking factor is building a better user experience. This will allow you to become more successful not only in 2019 but in the coming future as well. 

Let’s get things rolling!

Signals in ranking factors

Most people may have noticed, but it can be quite challenging to outrank certain articles from popular websites like Fobes, even if the article put out is way better then there’s and user-friendly. The reason for this? It’s because they have a much stronger site with much stronger domain authority and literally have hundreds of thousands of high-quality backlinks. 


Direct traffic

One method that Google utilizes to tell if the website is a credible brand is by searching through the amount of direct traffic received on a website. Direct traffic comes from users typing in the exact website URL or accessing the site from a bookmark.

Direct traffic is vital since it significantly affects the top 10 positions on Google. In some ways, direct traffic signals that users are aware of a brand and visit the site often to discover information, products, services or logging into an app. It’s an indication of trust and brand awareness by consumers. 

One the other hand, authentic direct traffic can go awry a bit.

Google Analytics reports traffic as “direct” if it has no data on how the user came to the website.

Employees who are accessing the website using the URL can also make cause direct traffic to go awry, so exclude an employee IP address from Google Analytics. This should give a much clearer understanding of your consumer base and how many actual users are returning to the website. 


Brand queries

Another method Google uses to distinguish unknown websites from a brand website is by searching through the number of brand queries. The more times people input the name of a business, the stronger the brand becomes in Google’s system. Moz conducted a study that revealed that having a larger number of brand queries is very important. 

Dwell time

Once you’ve managed to attract an audience to your website, you need to encourage them to remain as long as possible. If Google realizes that people aren’t spending too much time on your website. It will think your results aren’t useful. 

Overall, Google hasn’t claimed that Dwell time is a ranking factor, though they’ve stated that they are utilizing machine learning to determine what the best results for the user are.

One way Google manages to pull this off is by assessing how much time is spent on a website before clicking back on the SERP page, so dwell time is still vital for SEO. 

A lower bounce rate is always good for any website, but more importantly, how much time a visitor stays on your site is extremely important as well. This is one of the key ranking factors.

Now, you may be wondering why dwell time is considered important?

Google wants to know that the content and information is provided by the page are valuable for users.

For instance, if your dwell time is less than that of a competitor, this tells Google that the content you are providing may not be satisfactory to a user’s needs. This can lead to the website ranking decreasing.

While dwell time does come down to the type of page being viewed, it may be a good opportunity to reassess any long-form content that holds an average time on the site. 


Site speed

Website speed is another one of those ranking factors that continues to remain important.

As mentioned previously, Google’s main goal is to serve the user with the best possible experience, so if your site doesn’t load rapidly, you’ll be missing out on some prime ranking.

Even so, slow site speed results in poor user experience and this is proven to have a direct impact on ROI. Amazon has conducted  research that revealed that for every extra second it takes their website to load, they lose $1.6 million in sales. So make sure your website manages to load quickly and efficiently. 


Domain authority

This one is inescapable. As brands continue to become increasingly popular, it only makes sense that Google would care about the authority of a website domain. Consider who your biggest competitors are.

The ones that are always higher on the ranking list no matter how much better your content becomes, have better domain authority. Improving domain authority isn’t something you can do rapidly.

Although, if you’re planning to play the long game, it’s still possible. 


Cultivate connections

Concentrating on developing relationships rather than the link will help you scale much quicker. Take the time to make connections with others who are in the same space as you, but are also consumers.

They can become some of your largest advocates, especially if they have their blog, podcast, or YouTube channel. Communicating with influencers is another solid strategy to get people to engage with your brand as well as earn those valuable backlinks almost effortlessly. 


Offer quality content

Content has become known as being the king of quality among websites. Although, one thing to consider is what happens when there are already so many blogs online and filled with the content of their own? Google chooses the content that is the most valuable to the user.

Nobody is going to give your site a 5 star ranking just for publishing another piece of content that says something already said on another blog. 

Some of the best practices for quality content are long-form type of contents.

That’s one thing that Google never changed in its ranking factors.

High-quality long-form content always ranks higher than short-form informational content. There’s a place and time for both type of content, but long-form always rank better.



The number of backlinks that connects to your website continues to play a vital role in ranking factor in 2019. For example, the top link in Google’s results has doubled the referring domain as the content in position ten. 


Backlinks vs Referring domain

From a study conducted by Ahref’s, referring domains are strongly associated with more organic keyword rankings. 

Simply put, a referring domain is when the number of websites that are centrally vouching for the quality of your website, specific content on your site or the products and services you are offering. It’s somewhat like having a network of people you know.

Most people tend to have a massive network of experts, such as CEOs at big companies, are usually a great source of information. 

Google searches through your website’s network by analyzing the other websites that mention and link to you. If each referring domain is similar to that of a friend, Google sees the most authoritative person.

As the one with the biggest network ( in this case referring domains). While it’s possible to have multiple backlinks from a single referring domain, they should both grow in a kinda linear fashion, although it’s most likely you won’t get the same ratio of backlinks to referring domains each time. 

What you need is a good combination of referring domains pointing to your site, including high and medium authority websites. Once you’ve gained a single backlink from a domain, do you require more?

Do multiple backlinks from the same domain even help?

Multiple backlinks from a referring domain do indeed help, though there are diminishing returns for each additional backlink from the same domain. 

Secure site

Creating a website used to be a very complicated process reserved for those who had grand knowledge over coding. So it wasn’t uncommon to find a website that wasn’t fully secure, and even today’s growing internet, many sites still remain unsecure. 

If you’re unsure of what we mean by secure, check your URL, it should say secure with a padlock next to it. 

Google has made it incredibly easy to check whether a website is secure or not by placing a green padlock next to the words secure in the address bar. Clicking on the bar should give you more information about the security on the site. By August 2014, Google had announced that HTTPS is a ranking signal, meaning your site’s security is vital towards increasing its rank, so make sure it’s actually secured. 


Content creation

One of the most concerning parts for ranking factors in 2019 all comes down to content creation. From increasing direct traffic to increasing user interaction with your website, developing high-quality content is vital. Always consider the requirements for strong content that increases ranking in mind. 


Content length

While content length isn’t considered a vital part of the ranking factor, there is some correlation between longer content and higher rankings. The main idea here is to build a long-form content, not something that prattles on. A study conducted by Neil Patel in 2019 confirms that higher-ranking results are usually longer. Instead of adding fluff to a page, use the skyscraper technique to type above and beyond basic by using case studies, actionable tips, and original perspectives. 


Bullet Points

Another critical ranking factor to consider when it comes to content creation is bullet points. This affects the user experience, as bullet points make the page much easier to skim through and usually increase the dwell time. 



Once you’ve developed your incredible piece of long-form content, you aren’t fully done. This is where the real work begins. You need to ensure that you are promoting your blog post properly. 


Social platforms: Promote your content with the use of Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin and any other site that’s relevant to your website. 


Paid ads: If your audience isn’t that big, consider spending money on social ads because if people aren’t aware of who you are, the simplest way to attract them and target them is by their exact interest is to use the filters in social media platforms. 


Ranking factors will always be evolving, but for the time being these are some of the vital aspects of ranking. Each of these factors included in this article paved a path towards developing a better experience for the user, which is the ultimate goal that Google is achieving.

By taking the time to improve your ranking factors, you can dish out top quality content, improve key analytics, increase traffic, and develop a robust portfolio. 


Are you looking for high-quality customized content marketing that will double your leads and organic traffic? Reach out to us and we’ll take good care of you!

Much <3 from Team Sumo!

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