Top 10 SEO Ranking Factors for 2015

Written by: Jason Bayless | July 17, 2015

While many people have predicted its downfall, SEO still remains a powerful force in internet marketing in 2015. However, SEO is also rapidly evolving. Assumptions about how search engines rank sites that were made even a year ago no longer apply today. If you want to stay near the top of search engine results, you’re going to need to stay informed regarding new changes in search engine algorithms. Below are the top ten search engine ranking factors in 2015.

1. Quality Content

The number one thing Google now ranks websites for is quality content. There has been an effort to make Google into a service that benefits the average search engine user as opposed to the businesses who gamed it in the past by providing bad content or advertising content that didn’t exist. Overall, your website must be providing something substantive in regards to your keywords.

2. Backlinks

Backlinks have certainly been very important to SEO in the past, and that continues into 2015. However, the major search engines have certainly gotten better at weeding out those who use cynical tactics to obtain a large amount of backlinks. Make sure the links you do obtain are done so through legitimate means and sources that are trusted as authorities on your keywords.

3. Mobile Optimization

After Google’s recent and very significant algorithm change, websites that are not optimized for viewing on smart phones, tablets and other mobile platforms will now be punished in mobile search results. Seeing as how mobile internet use now dominates the market, whether or not a website is optimized for mobile viewing is now a huge factor in successful search engine optimization.

4. Update Frequency

Update frequency is another thing that is factored heavily in the major search engine algorithms. The reasoning here is easy to understand. Websites that update frequently provide users with more content, information and enjoyment. Websites that don’t update are likely to be filled with outdated and irrelevant information.

5. Strategic Use of Ads

While search engines like Google understand that internet content makers need to make a living, they also punish websites that go over board and fill their websites with spammy advertisements. For one, having too many ads above the fold will result in a lower ranking.

6. Outbound Links

While webmasters have traditionally put a lot of effort into obtaining backlinks, outbound link quality has certainly been focused on less. Check the quality of your outbound links on a regular basis. Remove dead links as well as links to sites that are likely to already be penalized by search engine algorithms.

7. Content Originality

For a page to be ranked well in 2015, it doesn’t only need quality content. It also needs original content. One thing that the Google algorithm has become very good at is detecting duplicate content. Do not create content sourced for elsewhere on the net. Do not recycle your own content on multiple pages on your site.

8. Load Speeds

How fast your website loads is also now a highly ranked factor in Google’s algorithms. This is especially the case for content like Flash animation that can seriously slow down mobile operating systems. Test your load speeds on different platforms and operating systems to make sure your website is okay.

9. Sponsored Backlinks

There are certain reasons to pay for sponsored links. For one, you may run a business and need to do so as part of your marketing plan. However, this should be done through services designed to bypass Google’s algorithm in regards to backlinks. If not, you may be penalized for partaking in a link scheme.

10. Anchor Text

Anchor text, the text that is used to point back to your website in a backlink, should also be used strategically. Google is now punishing websites that use keyword anchor text too prevalently. Webmasters now have to be a bit more subtle in how they link back to their websites.