General SEO

Why Ranking In Google is No Longer A "Factor" Based Game

by Tom Buckland Updated On May 16, 2019

Why Ranking In Google is No Longer A _Factor_ Based GameRanking in Google in 2018 is no longer a tick each box game.

You don’t just build some citations, build some links, do some on-page and just rank magically.

The reason why is because Google now wants to see that a business or website is an authority. This is why authority style sites are doing a lot better when related to organic rankings than mini niche sites that might be slightly more relevant to the actual content or query. Google views authority as the primary factor and relevancy second.

This is why when you write a post that might have no competition and is perfectly optimised on-page for a specific keyword that you get no organic traffic or rankings.

You have to first tick Google’s authority box. If you do not then you aren’t going to rank however well or relevant your page is.

It’s About Creating A Picture To Google

This is the same reason why some sites with seemingly 0 links rank highly for what is a very competitive (usually local) keyword. Just because they do not have links, does not mean they do not have authority.

You tend to see this all the time in local rankings.

When someone looks at a very hyper locational keyword in a medium sized city. Usually an “industry + city” style keyword, everyone thinks it will be very easy to rank. Oh on-page, build some citations, Google business page and local links and BOOM ranked.

Although that is how easy it is for us nowadays, it is very much not the case for the majority as they miss a very very key element.

They do not build a picture for Google.


Timing your link building or SEO efforts are so important nowadays.

2 sites that do the exact same optimisation elements but at different times or in different orders will likely have 2 very different results when it comes to organic rankings.

This comes back to building a picture for Google. Is it more likely that you build your social accounts out first OR that you start guest posting? It would be a bit weird if you were guest posting on a? bunch of sites before you even had a twitter and FB page set-up. Google knows this. I know this and you will to.

Instead of just throwing everything up at once and hoping it works, think about the order of which you complete tasks.

For example it’s more likely that you set-up a Google business page before you start building citations. So do it in this order.

Ordering and timing of tasks is insanely important.

If you start building links before you even have traffic this is another red flag to Google. Focus on building traffic initially first (just pay for it from Google or FB) and see what converts. This will not only help a lot in the future (funnels, conversions etc) but it will also help you rank organically.

Google is trying to get closer and closer to integrating quality into user metrics and UX. For example if you have a really low bounce rate, high time on site, this would intercate that the site is quite trustworthy and that Google should rank you higher for your keywords as a result. There’s a good post on the benefits of this inclusive style marketing by sellerschoice for anyone struggling.

Non-linkable mentions

Diving into competition analysis nowadays is quite tough. We use tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs to help, but really they have no idea and are nowhere near as smart as Google and honestly they don’t need to be. They only need to show us an example.

The problem as it relates to rankings is that people think that because a site doesn’t have many links, it is not authoritative. The issue is that is just not the case for a number of reasons.

The most common reason is due to non-linkable mentions – This is where a website, lets say “Bob’s archery fun” is mentioned on the web, usually on local forums, directories, social, blogs etc but is not linked.

Google used to not value these mentions all that highly, BUT if these mentions meet Google’s picture and they are 100% natural. They are incredibly powerful!

This is also why you need to be very careful when you just track metrics, as they are totally useless.

The best metrics to track are search console – Internal links to site, organic traffic (inside GA) and most importantly in my opinion; organic impressions from the SERPS.


Google is getting further and further away from ranking sites on individual metrics and closer to a simple question (answered by AI): “Is this site relevant and trustworthy?” – If you past that first initial filter or “BS TEST” as I like to call it, then we get into the inner ranking metrics, On-page keywords, LSI, links to site etc etc. But if you fail that initial BS test then you won’t rank no matter how many links, how good your on-page is or how much you spend on “great content”

Thanks for reading.



About Tom

Hi, I'm Tom, Founder & Director of HQ SEO. I live and breathe SEO. I hope you enjoy my findings. Interested in SEO?
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