What really matters when it comes to SEO rankings


Key points on this page:

  1. Good content matters most.
  2. Make your headings make sense, but don't overthink them.
  3. Your backlink quality matters more than the sheer quantity.


When it comes to SEO, what should you really be prioritising to rank higher in Google?

There is no denying it, when it comes to the internet: Google is King.

Brands rely heavily on the popular search engine to bring them traffic, and when Google likes a website enough to rank it highly, it will flourish. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) consists of a series of methods and tools, which can make a website more search engine friendly.

New technology and changes in metrics can mean it is an art which needs to constantly evolve, and it can be hard to keep up when the rules continue to change.

Good content beats keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing occurs when you try to fit as many keywords as possible into a single page. This is done to try to trick Google into giving a higher ranking, but can just end up looking like spam. Whilst keywords are still important, quality content is what matters most.

Not only will overusing keywords work against you in terms of ranking and increase your likelihood of being banned, but it will also irritate your readers. Design your content with your audience in mind and keep those keywords relevant and easy to read.

Your heading tags are important, but it’s not life-or-death

Heading tags are not entirely irrelevant, but there is no need to overthink them. Follow heading hierarchy, try to use keywords in your headings, and make sure they’re appropriate.

Headings are good for your readers, as it helps to break up text and split your ideas into sections. Unless you have pages of text, just start with a simple H1 tag, and follow with H2 tags.

One high-quality backlink is better than a thousand bad ones

One way to gain authority in the major search engines is by having your links featured on quality websites. In the past, it was normal for websites to buy low quality links in bulk and feature them anywhere, and everywhere they could.

Times have changed and this method of boosting your ranking will no longer work. Or, if it does, it won’t work for long. It is much better to get listed on one high authority website rather than a thousand bad ones. Gaining multiple links at an unnatural rate is a red flag for Google, and can result in your website being penalised.

Keyword anchor text no longer matters

Previously, when trying to boost the ranking of a website in Google, it was important to focus on specific anchor text and link combinations. The more times your website was linked to a specific key phrase, the higher it would rank for that search query. It was common for SEO professionals to manipulate rankings by placing hundreds of links with the exact same anchor text on multiple sites.

Google has since changed its algorithm to combat this tactic, and this strategy can now lead to websites being penalised. These days it is better to use natural anchor texts such as a brand name linked to their homepage, generic anchors such as “click here”, or variations of keywords to avoid duplication.

You don’t need a new page for every keyword

Google has learnt to interpret synonyms, and you no longer need to create a page for every single keyword variation. Instead of having six different pages optimised for similar terms, it’s more effective to combine them into one longer page.

In simple terms, a page can rank highly for key phrases which don’t appear as an exact match on the page. Closely related content can be enough to get you results, stick to one web page per topic.

The best way, ultimately, to rank well in Google is to create quality content in your niche. Attempting unethical SEO practices can massively hurt your rankings, even if you do have an initial peak, and are not worth it in the end.