How Does Google Rank Websites and Provide Search Results?

search results
August 11, 2021

Have you ever wondered how certain web pages make it to the top of Google search results? What are they doing that you’re not?

Google has hundreds, if not thousands, of factors that influence the positioning of web pages according to an individual search query. Of course, you don’t need to focus on every single determining factor, but there are some you need to know about to improve your Google ranking.

We’re going to strip back Google and take a look into how the ranking system works, drilling it down to the most basic methods that will help you rank higher in Google.

Why Is It Important for Your Web Pages to Rank High?

It’s not necessary to have all your web pages visible on the first page of the search results. For instance, your homepage, about page, and cornerstone content should all be optimized as a priority.

Why do you need to do this? Backlinko discovered that the first result on Google’s organic search results has the highest click-through rate of 31.7%. They also found that the top three Google search results get 75% of all clicks.

How Does Google Search Work?

Google follows three basic steps to generate results from web pages:

  • Crawling
  • Indexing
  • Serving (and ranking)

To put it simply, Google uses web crawlers to rank websites that scan and index pages. Google rates these pages based on their authority and relevance to the user’s query. Then, using a series of algorithms, Google orders them on the search result page.


The first step—crawling—is finding out what exists on your website. Once you submit a sitemap (a list of all your web pages), Google will be able to crawl them using search engine ‘spiders.’ Then, when Google has a better understanding of your site, it can match it to people seeking your content.


The next step—indexing—is determining what your web page is about. Google will analyze content and non-text content, such as visuals, to determine the relevancy of your page before it determines the page ranking. These pages are stored in the Google Search Index.

Finally, for Google to answer a search query, it needs to find the most relevant solution from its index. Therefore, Google will serve the highest quality result, taking into consideration many factors, to provide the user with the best experience and the most knowledgeable answer.

Does Google Change How It Ranks Websites?

Of course! The ranking systems are made up of a series of algorithms that are updated regularly. Minor algorithmic updates occur daily, but sometimes Google releases much bigger core updates that websites need to prepare for.

What Are the Main Factors That Google Considers When Ranking Websites?

The main factors that determine website rankings in the search result pages are:

  • How useful your content is
  • Its relevance to the:
    • Search query
    • High quality
    • Usability
    • Functionality
  • Your websites’ authority

We can break these factors down into On-page and Off-page.

On-Page Factors

Let’s break down the on-page factors.


Is your content fresh and original? Make sure you include your own ideas and keep up-to-date with current topics. You can research what other websites mention around your keywords and look for a gap—what content is missing that you could provide the users?


Does your content answer the users’ query? Ensure that it’s clear from the start what you set out to achieve in the post so that Google can determine if it matches the users’ search intent.

Throughout the post, the content must be interesting, informative, and offer the user a solution. Google most certainly pays attention to how people interact with your website. If it appears that people usually get what they’re looking for from your page, you can expect your rankings to improve.


Long-form content regularly ranks better in Google. Of course, not every page can have over 3,000 words, but your cornerstone content can. More words also mean more opportunities to include your keyword and related phrases.

Easy to Read

You should include a meta-title, meta-description, and headings on every page, including the keyword and related keywords.

This is important as Google will have a better understanding of what the page is about to rank it accordingly. It also makes the page easy to read, especially when using headings to introduce the next section.

Off-Page Factors

Let’s break down the off-page factors.


How many websites link to yours? Are these links relevant to your industry and messaging? To increase your website’s authority and individual pages, you need to have a backlink strategy in place.

The number of backlinks that direct users to your site give Google an indication of how popular or important your website is. Google tends to give more credit to websites that have a higher number of quality backlinks.


Having high-quality links pointing to your site from a high authority domain is more important than having hundreds of bad links from irrelevant sites.

These high-quality backlinks let Google know that you are the experts. Being the authority in your field means users will trust you, which is also a ranking factor for Google.


Google favors sites that are easy to crawl and index. As your website grows, the site structure must continue to support all of the new pages.

They shouldn’t be buried too deep within the site so that the search engine spiders can crawl them and index them according to key phrases. Other technical features include page speed, HTML markup, and redirections.

What Factors Can Impact Your Search Rank Position?

Let’s take a look at two ways factors can impact search rank positions.

High Bounce Rate

This is a clear sign to Google that your content is not serving its purpose, and users are clicking out of the page almost immediately. A way to improve this is to push your important content to above the fold area.

This is what visitors will see first, so make sure it is aligned with search intent. For example, why not add a contents list so users can click to the most relevant section rather than scroll to find it and click away when they lose interest.

Slow Page Speed

A slow page speed is anything above three seconds. This can have a huge impact on how Google’s algorithm ranks your page. In this digital world, users want to access your page instantly, so if anything slows the page down, they will lose their patience and leave.

This is particularly true for mobile users. In this day and age, your website should be mobile friendly—meaning fast-loading content and imagery. If users don’t engage with your page, Google will not deem you relevant and rank you lower down in the search results.

Get an Expert on Your Side

We know how time-consuming these strategies and techniques can be to run an optimized and successful website. It’s a lot to take on as well as running a business. That’s why ContentFirst.Marketing is here to provide you with the expert help you need.

We can help grow your business through proven SEO techniques, high-quality content, and measurable results. Let us handle the digital marketing for you while you take care of what you do best.

Schedule your free strategy call today and watch as your website crawls to the top.

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