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Facebook Ads Not Converting? 9 Common Reasons (+How to Fix)

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9 Super Common Reasons Your Facebook Ads Aren’t Converting (+What to Do About It)

That sweet, sweet feeling of setting your Facebook ads live. You sit back, relax, and watch the conversions roll in. But…what if that isn’t the case? What if what you see is little-to-no conversions?

How it feels to see your Facebook ads not converting. 

If your Facebook ads aren’t converting, know that you’re not alone. This happens to more businesses advertising on Facebook than you might think.

It’s no secret that there are many intricacies within the Meta Business Manager. From your audience lists, to your Meta pixel, to your ad creative and everything in between, identifying the culprit behind your lack of conversions can feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re staring at the screen asking “Why aren’t my Facebook ads converting?” Instead, look at this handy list of reasons why your Facebook ads aren’t converting and the steps you can take to get back on track!

Why your Facebook ads aren’t converting and how to fix it

Facebook ads not converting for your business? Here are some reasons why and how you can fix them.

1. Your landing page isn’t optimized for conversions

The first place to look when your Facebook ads are not converting is your landing page. You could have the best-performing Facebook ads in the world, but if your website isn’t optimized for conversions, you’ll struggle to see results from your campaigns. When you see your Facebook ads are generating clicks but no conversions, you can assume something went wrong in that transition through your buyer’s journey.

How to fix it:

Try to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. Compare your ad and your landing page side by side to ensure you’re maintaining consistency in your messaging. You could also use a page speed test, mobile site test, or a website grader tool to ensure your site is loading fast and providing an optimal user experience across devices.

Most importantly, check to see that the conversion actions you’re looking for users to complete are clearly communicated on the page. Plus, all actions should be quick and easy to complete. Even if you’re leveraging Facebook lead ads, where a viewer doesn’t have to click to a landing page to convert, you’ll want a simple, short form to make conversions as easy as possible to achieve.

This Facebook ad and its coinciding landing page both promote the same offering:

1687534547 838 Facebook Ads Not Converting 9 Common Reasons How to1687534547 523 Facebook Ads Not Converting 9 Common Reasons How to

2. Your Meta pixel isn’t set up properly

Your Meta pixel (formerly known as Facebook pixel) is the hub for all things tracking and reporting for Facebook ads. It’s what connects your Facebook ads to your data sources, such as your website, so your campaigns know which actions to track.

How to fix it:

To check how your Facebook ads conversion tracking is currently set up, navigate to the Events Manager section of your Meta business manager account. There you can see what “events” (a.k.a. conversion actions) you have set in place. From there you will be prompted to fix any conversion tracking issues.

facebook ads not converting - screenshot of meta pixel

3. Your ad copy is unclear

For every Facebook ad you run, it’s important to have a clear action for your target audience to take. If you’re not leveraging clear call-to-action phrases, your audience may not understand what’s supposed to come next once they see your Facebook ad. This could easily lead to a lack of Facebook ad conversions.

How to fix it:

To avoid your Facebook ads not converting due to poor ad copy, try including power words that inspire users to take action.

Don’t be afraid to spell out exactly what conversion action your ad is looking to achieve. You may even need to revisit your goals for Facebook ads to redirect the purpose behind your ad copy. You could also check out other Facebook ad copy examples to draw inspiration for more powerful and purposeful ad copy.

facebook ads not converting - facebook ads copy example

An example Facebook ad with strong copy across all portions of the ad.

4. You’re targeting the wrong audience

The people who you think would likely convert off your Facebook ads might be different from the people who will actually become customers of your business. It’s important to understand your audience, what resonates with them, and the best way to reach them in order to drive more conversions from your Facebook ads.

How to fix it:

While you may have done some initial research on your target market, try to dig deeper and use a more creative Facebook ads audience targeting strategy.

For example, if you’re marketing your higher education program through Facebook ads, you may want to target people whose interests include entertainment like live events. Even though this interest doesn’t directly connect with higher education, young adults looking to continue their education likely also enjoy going out to sports games or concerts.

5. Ad fatigue

I think we can all probably understand why ad fatigue might cause your Facebook ads to not convert. Have you ever seen the same ad over and over again to the point where you’re sick of seeing it? The last thing you want is to oversaturate your target audience with the same Facebook ad.

How to fix it:

You can check to see if this might be the case in your Facebook ads campaign or ad set report view. Select the delivery column option to see your frequency metric. Frequency is the estimated number of times your average audience member has seen your ad. The higher your Facebook ads frequency, the more often your audience members have seen your ads on more than one occasion.

When your ad frequency creeps up to about 5 to 10, it’s usually time for an ad refresh. However, in situations where your targeting is a bit more restricted, like if you were targeting a remarketing list, a higher number for your ad frequency is more common.

facebook ads not converting - ad frequency in facebook ads screenshot

To avoid this Facebook ad conversion killer, try switching up your ad copy regularly once you see your frequency start to creep up. You could make small changes, like A/B testing ad copy, creative, or CTA buttons.

Another option to avoid a high ad frequency is to, of course, switch up your targeting so your ads appear to new users. It’s best to have a variety of Facebook ads targeting strategies in your account. For example, you could serve one set of ads to a custom audience and another set to a behavior or interest-based audience. That way, you can trade off different types of ads to different people.

6. Your campaign objective doesn’t align with your goals

Believe it or not, the Facebook ads algorithm can help you get your campaigns to convert. You just have to tell it what to do. Your campaign objective indicates to Facebook’s machine learning how to best serve your ad.

How to fix it:

If it helps, think of your Facebook ads campaign objectives like you would a Google Ads campaign goal or Google Ads bidding strategy. When you select your Facebook ads campaign objective, you’re telling it what you want to optimize for. Facebook ads manager even states that “your campaign objective should align with your overall business goals.

There are tons of different campaign objectives to choose from, so there is no right or wrong answer as to which you end up with. However, it may take some trial and error with a few campaigns to see which objective brings you the most Facebook ads conversions.

facebook ads not converting - campaign objective options screenshot

7. Your budget or spending limit is set too low

The common saying “you have to spend money to make money” definitely applies to Facebook ads. While you want to keep your Facebook ad costs in check, you also don’t want to limit your campaigns with tight budgets or strict spending limits that could cause your ads to not show.

How to fix it:

If you’re using Facebook ads daily budgets with a campaign spending limit, for example, you could run out of budget too quickly each day—limiting your chances for conversions.

Meanwhile, Facebook ads lifetime budgets can cause your campaign to run through its allotted budget before you’ve maximized your conversion opportunities within a certain timeframe.

You can usually tell this is the cause for a drop in conversions when your budgets and spend limits don’t align with your Facebook ads average cost per click. For example, if you have a $10 daily budget, and your average cost per click on Facebook ads is $2, you’re only allowing yourself a few chances for someone to click and convert each day.

I know having huge marketing budgets allocated to Facebook ads isn’t always feasible, and that’s okay! However, it’s best to have flexibility with your Facebook ads campaign budgets.

facebook ads not converting - spending limit

8. You haven’t given your ads enough time to convert

I always joke that the hardest part of PPC is patience! Every Facebook ads campaign goes through a “learning period” as it begins to perform. During the learning period, the Facebook ads algorithm is testing how to serve your ad in different ways for maximized results. This can lead to a fluctuation in your results at first.

How to fix it:

The length of your learning period can vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your campaign. That said, the typical learning period is known to take up to two weeks. Ideally, I try to give campaigns up to 30 days to collect as much data as possible before I make a decision on what may or may not be working.

facebook ads not converting - learning phase explanation in facebook ads

Source

Aside from the learning period, you may find that you have a longer sales cycle. This can, of course, cause your conversion rates to go down as your audience members may need to see an ad multiple times before they take the leap to become a lead. On top of this, we know that people need to see something from your business at least seven times before they commit to a purchasing decision.

9. Your Facebook ads are converting…indirectly

This last reason why your Facebook ads are not converting can be tricky to resolve, but it’s helpful to be aware of. Your Facebook ads very well could be effective in moving your prospective customers through your sales funnel, however, they end up converting off another touchpoint down the line.

There’s a high likelihood that viewers absorb your Facebook ad but jump to other platforms like Google or YouTube to learn more about your business and ultimately convert.

How to fix it:

Obviously, tracking conversions across platforms is no easy task. However, if you check in on your PPC reporting across platforms regularly, you could take note of any increases in conversions from other marketing channels. If that increase correlates with the dates of your latest Facebook ads campaign, you can assume your Facebook ads are influencing your customers.

Additionally, you could set up privacy-first Facebook ads tracking for offline conversions and other conversion types that fit your unique business.

facebook ads not converting - offline conversions column example

Facebook ads not converting? You can fix it!

Finding out that your Facebook ads are not converting is never a fun experience. However, using a handy list like this can help you pinpoint opportunities to improve your strategy and promote your business through the power of Facebook and social ads.

To recap, here are the top nine reasons your Facebook ads may not be converting:

  1. Your landing page isn’t optimized for conversions
  2. Your Meta pixel isn’t set up properly
  3. Your ad copy is unclear
  4. You’re targeting the wrong audience
  5. Your audience has ad fatigue
  6. Your campaign objective doesn’t align with your goals
  7. Your budget or spending limit is too low
  8. You haven’t given your ads enough time to convert
  9. Your Facebook ads are converting...indirectly

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8 Fast Takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

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8 Fast Takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

Similar to last year, Google Marketing Live provided a torrent of AI-fueled advances for advertisers. In all, nine presenters announced 30 products and features over the 90-minute keynote event.

In the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll examine each of these new products and features in-depth and share what marketers and advertising experts think of them as they roll out.

But for now, here’s a quick recap of the most important announcements from Google Marketing Live 2024.

Contents

8 biggest takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

The GML keynote was a fast and furious hour and a half. Here are the biggest announcements from the event.

1. Automatic ad placements in AI overviews

Just last week at Google I/O, Google announced the wider release of AI overviews in search results (formerly known as SGE or search generative experience). Now, Google is testing automatically placed Search, PMax, and Shopping ads in AI Overview boxes.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI overview ad

The ads will show up in a block labeled “Sponsored” to separate them from the organic and AI-derived content.

These ads will show up automatically when they match the intent of both the query and the AI Overview; advertisers don’t need to take any action to target those placements.

2. AI-powered, personalized recommendations and advice

In another experiment, Google is using AI to speed along shoppers’ decision-making process for large or complicated purchases by offering personalized product recommendations.

Google used the example of someone shopping for storage space.

The user would search for “short-term storage” and click on a relevant ad. They would then enter a guided shopping experience where they could answer questions and provide a photo of what they wanted to store.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI guided ad.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI guided ad.

Google’s AI reviews the details and suggests the right-size storage unit and related items like packing materials. The user then clicks through to a product page on the business’s website to finalize their purchase.

This ad feature is currently in the testing phase. If it’s successful, it will soon be available to other verticals.

3. AI creative asset production for PMax campaigns

Google announced more features and tools to help advertisers create PMax campaign assets faster and at scale. These new features include:

  • The ability to add brand guidelines for colors, fonts, and imagery.
  • Image editing is used to add and extend backgrounds, add objects, and alter image sizes to fit multiple ad placements (think of adding a plant and expanding the wall for a furniture ad).
  • Auto-generation of ads from a product feed.
  • Asset-level conversion metrics.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of PMax ad creation.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of PMax ad creation.

4. AI-enhanced Shopping Ads

    Shopping Ads got another layer of AI treatment with several upgrades to create a more immersive shopping experience.

    Virtual try-on for apparel

    Google is expanding its virtual try-on (VTO) experience to apparel ads. Beginning with men’s and women’s tops, users will be able to see how individual styles look on different body types.

    3D product images

    Using Adidas brand sneakers as an example, Google showed off new 360-degree shoe views that can be featured in ads. Google generates the 3D images using images provided by the seller.

    In-ad, short-form product videos

    Advertisers can now incorporate short product videos—created by the brand or by influencers—into ads. The videos will be clickable and interactive, letting shoppers view related products and get styling suggestions.

    The ads will include product details under each video.

    5. New visually immersive ad formats and features

    Google shared that it’s expanding its demand-gen video ad campaigns by adding new options for advertisers. These features include:

    • Clickable stickers created from existing image assets.
    • The ability for users to swipe left to a branded YouTube landing page.
    • AI-generated animations based on static images.

    6. Cohesive first-party data management

    In a move to improve the quality of data used to guide AI outputs, Google announced that its Ads Data Manager platform is coming out of beta testing and is now widely available.

    Google Marketing Live - screenshot of Google performance dashboard.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of Google performance dashboard.

    Ads Data Manager lets advertisers aggregate first-party data from sources like YouTube, Google Ads, HubSpot, and Shopify to make it more visible and actionable. The platform also acts as a “check engine light” to help make sure marketers are using data safely and responsibly.

    7. Visual brand profiles on search

    Sellers can now create a brand profile for Search, including branded imagery, product deals, videos, and more.

    Brand profiles will also include reviews pulled from Product Listing Ads. It remains to be seen how much control advertisers have over which reviews are shown.

    8. New profit optimization goals in PMax

    Advertisers will be able to optimize ads for profit goals in Performance Max campaigns.

    Google says advertisers using the new profit goals saw a 15% uplift in campaign profit compared to revenue-only goals.

    What we didn’t see at Google Marketing Live 2024

    There was a lot for advertisers to be excited about in this year’s GML keynote, but a couple of topics stood out by their absence.

    No B2B-specific products or features

    Once again, the 90-minute Google Marketing Live session focused on the rollout of products designed to help business-to-consumer brands generate more return from their Google Ads investments.

    There wasn’t a single mention of a B2B company, example, or use case. For obvious reasons, we’d have loved to see some.

    No (or too few) small-business case studies

    By number, the vast majority of advertisers on Google are small businesses. Yet just about every example, case study, and customer story featured big brands using Google’s newest features to attract new customers.

    Additionally, the majority of example use cases for the new features announced at Google Marketing Live 2024 were for travel and ecommerce–industries that typically thrive in the search ads environment. Meanwhile, the typical small business wouldn’t be able to reap the same benefits from these new features.

    “Google Ads and YouTube ads for well-established brands should work. If it didn’t, it would be alarming. Show me a local business with impressive stats,” tweeted Julie Bacchini, President of Neptune Moon and Managing Director of PPCChat.

    Google Marketing Live - screenshot of a Tweet about Google Marketing Live.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of a Tweet about Google Marketing Live.

    Source

    Our hope is that Google will use AI to make advertising easier for smaller businesses with smaller budgets.

    What it all means

    We’ll dig deeper into all these announcements and new AI features in an upcoming post, but for now, the takeaway is clear: Google is investing heavily in AI across the board. We get the feeling that not all users are quite as excited about AI as Google is, and regardless, there are bound to be some hiccups, as with any new technology. But we’ll be here to help you all navigate the changes.

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How to Navigate Your Google Ads Suspension

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Google Ads Account

Are you facing the dreaded red bar of death in your Google Ads account? If so, you may be the victim of a Google Ads suspension.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Google Ads accounts are suspended for various reasons, leaving businesses puzzled and eager to restore their campaigns.

Whether you’re new to the concept of a Google Ads suspension or currently grappling with one, this article will explore Google’s policies, to help you understand common suspensions, and will offer guidance on resolving issues if you find yourself fighting a suspension.

Understanding Google’s Approach to Suspensions

Google says it prioritizes user safety and credibility over generating revenue from advertisers. With billions of ads and millions of advertiser accounts to manage, Google has implemented robust policies to ensure a largely secure online experience for users.

These policies are designed to uphold legal requirements and the safety of users. The challenge arises when legitimate advertisers unintentionally get caught in the same net as bad actors who are deliberately violating policies.

Google’s policies cover a wide range of areas, from preventing scams and illegitimate businesses, to safeguarding users against misleading ads and harmful websites. In the past year alone, Google flagged over 5.5 billion ads and suspended around 12.7 million advertiser accounts.

While these measures protect users, they also pose a significant challenge for businesses aiming to reach their audience through Google.

Common Reasons for Google Ads Suspensions

While the reasons an account has been suspended can vary, some are more common than others. Circumventing Systems, Suspicious Payment Activity, Unacceptable Business Practices, and Counterfeit Goods are among the top suspension types.

None of these suspension types are impossible to recover from. The team at StubGroup has worked with numerous accounts struggling with these types of suspensions and have successfully gotten them reinstated.

Types of Google Ads Suspensions

Google rarely provides detailed explanations for account suspensions. If you get flagged for a certain policy, Google does not give more information than that. Here’s a few of the most common suspension types and their potential causes:

Circumventing Systems

This suspension type flags tactics like cloaking, sneaky redirects, and creating multiple accounts to bypass Google’s system.

Obvious things that can cause this type of suspension are redirecting users to a different final URL than the one displayed in the ad, maintaining multiple accounts to run similar ads, malicious software, or using cloaking techniques to show different content to Google’s review systems and actual users. There are, however, many other, less common and often unintentional triggers for Google to suspend an ad account for circumventing systems.

Suspicious Payment Activity

This suspension involves issues with your payment method used for the Google Ads account.

Common causes include: Using virtual or prepaid cards, having multiple accounts with a history of suspension linked to the same payment method, or discrepancies in the payment details provided.

Unacceptable Business Practices

This suspension revolves around practices deemed unethical or harmful by Google, such as misleading claims or deceptive offers. It’s common to see this suspension type in verticals that are more heavily restricted by Google’s advertising policies.

Common causes include: Failing to deliver promised services, using misleading information in ads, or engaging in practices that violate Google’s guidelines on transparency and honesty.

Counterfeit Goods

Google issues this suspension if it suspects the account is advertising counterfeit products or unauthorized replicas. Businesses with original products and services can also be hit with a counterfeit good suspension if something about their business confuses Google’s algorithms.

Common causes include: Selling or promoting fake goods, using brand names without authorization, using misleading wording that could lead Google to think a product is counterfeit, or listing products that violate Google’s trademark policies.

The Technical Perspective

From a technical standpoint, most suspensions stem from insufficient or incorrect information on the website. They can also come about as a result of landing page issues, security concerns, and inconsistent payment details.

Google’s emphasis on user safety and positive experiences shapes its algorithms. That renders these issues of top importance, and the first to get flagged.

Navigating Your Google Ads Suspension Effectively

If you find yourself dealing with a suspended account, don’t panic. Instead, use these trusty tips to get through it.

  1. Don’t Panic: Everyone’s first thought is to create a new Google Ads account. Don’t be lured into this trap. Creating a new account is seen by Google as an attempt to circumvent their system and ignore the underlying problem. That new account might hurt your chances of restoring your suspended Google Ads account.
  2. Identify the Issue: Understand the specific reason for the suspension. Review the policy Google says that you have violated and compare the policy with your account or website for anything that could appear misleading or flag Google’s system. Finding the cause behind your suspension is crucial for an effective appeal.
  3. Review Everything: Conduct a thorough review of your website, landing pages, ad content, and payment processes. Check anything and everything that could seem malicious.
  4. Address Any Technical Issues: Promptly address any technical issues you find. If you don’t have someone in-house, work with experts to ensure everything is taken care of.
  5. Construct a Clear Appeal: When submitting an appeal for your suspended Google Ads account, provide a clear and concise explanation of the actions taken to resolve the issues. Google does not respond well to complaints against them or angry appeals. The best road to action is a calm, comprehensive appeal, outlining the resolved issues.
  6. Documentation: Keep detailed records of changes made to your website, ad content, or payment processes as evidence of your compliance efforts.
  7. Monitor and Iterate: Keep a record of your appeal. After submission, wait for an email from Google and monitor your ad account.

What if Google Rejects My Appeal?

If your appeal gets rejected, you may need to go back to the drawing board. Re-evaluate and scan for anything that could still be triggering Google’s system or reviewers, including the status of connected accounts and the payment methods used.

If Google provides feedback, use that as you audit your account, website, and any linked accounts that might be affected.

Analyze Google’s Response

When Google rejects an appeal, they reply with an automated email as to why it was rejected. From time to time, however, there will be clues as to why they rejected your appeal to help steer you in the right direction.

Making Changes

Depending on Google’s feedback, you may need to make more changes to your ad account, website, or the documentation you submitted with the appeal.

This includes reviewing and updating any payment method information to ensure it is current. Check there are no outstanding balances that could lead to account suspension.

Resubmit with Updates

After each change, review and revise your appeal. Ensure it addresses the concerns raised by Google and its policies. Once you are confident in your modifications, resubmit the appeal.

Persistence and Patience with Google

Google’s review process can take time, so patience is key. While you are suspended, explore different channels you may have overlooked before. There are many different ways to advertise, digitally and in print, who knows where you may find success.

Consider Expert Assistance

If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of rejections and suspensions, consider seeking expert assistance like the suspension team at StubGroup. Professionals with experience in dealing with Google suspensions can provide valuable insights, identify blind spots, and guide you through the process more efficiently.

When choosing a professional to work with, be cautious and thoroughly research the companies to choose a reliable and transparent company that will keep your information safe and maintain an open line of communication with you.

Strategies for Preventing Google Ads Suspensions

  • Stay Informed: Google is always updating their policies. Regularly review and stay updated on those policies to ensure ongoing compliance.
  • Comprehensive Compliance Training: Educate your team about Google’s policies and best practices so they are aware of what to avoid when operating both your website and ad account.
  • Audit Your Online Presence: Conduct regular audits of your website, landing pages, social media, and ad content to identify and address potential issues before any bigger problems can arise.
  • Security Measures: Prioritize website security. Implementing HTTPS and conduct regular security audits of both your ad account and website. Keep your software updated, and address vulnerabilities promptly.
  • Ad Campaign Monitoring: Actively monitor the performance of your ad campaigns. Look for signs of policy violations or content issues and address them. It’s crucial to maintaining smooth and efficient Google Ads campaigns that you adhere to Google’s policies to prevent suspensions and achieve desired results.



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The Top 10 Google Ranking Factors (+Optimization Tips)

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The Top 10 Google Ranking Factors (+Optimization Tips)

Where’s the first place people go when they need an answer, idea, product, or service? Not to the Yellow Pages. Not into town. Not even to family and friends at this point. They go to the Goog. And most of them do not go past the first page of results.

And it is for this reason that SEO, or search engine optimization, is a multi-billion dollar industry. SEO is the practice of getting a website to align with Google’s ranking factors. So what are those ranking factors and how can you optimize your site for them? Read on to find out.

search engine optimization - google ranking factors

Table of contents

What are Google ranking factors?

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank as high as possible in organic search engine results (and yes, you can aim for the first page). When talking about search, we use the term “organic” to refer to search results that are unpaid. This is different from paid results, which come from PPC advertising.

Organic rankings on Google are determined by an algorithm that takes into account various characteristics and SEO metrics —and these are your ranking factors.

There are over 200 Google ranking factors, and while we will never know all of them, we do know many. We also know that while ranking factors and algorithms may shift, the characteristics Google is trying to parse out through them are expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T).

google ranking factors - meaning of E-A-Tgoogle ranking factors - meaning of E-A-T

E-A-T is not a ranking factor; rather, ranking factors are a way for Google to measure of E-A-T.

Types of Google ranking factors

Before we get into the top 10 Google ranking factors around which you can optimize your website pages, let’s first go over the different types.

  • On-page ranking factors refer to the quality of the content on the page and the keywords its targeting.
  • Off-page ranking factors are like endorsements from other pages on your site or other websites, and primarily involve backlinks.
  • Technical ranking factors measure your site’s ability to be crawled, indexed, and render content quickly and safely for searchers.
  • Local ranking factors involve all three of the above, with a special focus on reviews, reputation, and listings.

There isn’t one single ranking factor that will make or break your SEO. It’s the combination of all your technical, on-page, and off-page efforts that work together to help you rank higher on Google, get more traffic, and build trust.

The top Google ranking factors according to First Page Sage are as follows:

search engine optimization - google ranking factorssearch engine optimization - google ranking factors

On-page Google ranking factors

The above technical search engine ranking factors have to do with your website as a whole, while these next ranking factors are more page-specific—hence the term on-page SEO.

1. Relevant, high-quality content

The single most important Google ranking factor is the quality of your content. This correlates to the consistent publication of high quality content, user engagement, and niche expertise in the chart above. So what makes relevant, quality content?

  • It’s trustworthy. The information is in-depth, accurate, useful, and free of spammy links and/or comments.
  • It’s readable. That means organized logically, written conversationally, and not stuffed with keywords (Google will actually penalize you for this). Incorporate it naturally into your page and use it interchangeably with related keywords.
  • It’s fresh. Even the most evergreen content loses relevancy over time. So in addition to writing net new content, you should also be updating outdated pages with new information and new keywords that are relevant to today. This is the key to maintaining a good freshness score.
  • It matches the intent of the keyword. In addition to using keyword research tools to find out what your ideal audience is searching online, make sure to search the keyword on Google itself to make sure you understand what users are seeking when they perform that search.

In a recent survey conducted by Directive, 78% of marketers identified keyword research as a high-impact practice for driving new traffic. The research process allows you to better understand what your audience is searching for and create content that directly addresses these search queries.
google ranking factors - impact of keyword research on driving new trafficgoogle ranking factors - impact of keyword research on driving new traffic

2. Keyword placement

Once you know which keywords you want to rank for, it’s important to insert them into specific places on your page. This includes:

  • Title tag: aka meta title; the title that appears on the SERP
  • H1 title: title that appears on the page
  • H2 headings: aim for at least two
  • URL: keep your URL short and clean as well.
  • Naturally in the body: and also in the first 100 words
  • Meta description: the blurb that appears below the title tag/meta title. Make sure it accurately sums up your page and gives searchers a reason to click. Google doesn’t always use the meta description you provide, but it’s still important to include.

keyword placement checklist for on-page seokeyword placement checklist for on-page seo

Keywords in the title tags are, by far, the most important, followed by H2s and URL.

3. Image optimization

This is an important one—not only because of Google image search but also because regular search results are getting more and more visual—especially on mobile. Here’s how to optimize your images for SEO:

  • Assign alt text: This is the text alternative of an image, and the only way that Google can “see” them. Be short but descriptive and include the keyword. This also makes your website accessible to visually-impaired readers who rely on screen readers to browse the internet, and will show if the image fails to load.
  • Compress and resize: Use an image compressor (tinypng is my favorite) to keep your image file sizes to 70-100KB or less if you can. Often, saving as JPG instead of PNG helps. Also, images rarely need to be more than 1,000px wide. Though a responsive website will resize the images automatically, the less requests your site needs to make to the server, the better for page speed.
  • Add value: If you can, avoid using empty stock images and graphics in your blog posts and instead use screenshots, examples, charts, and illustrations that depict concepts. This improves the quality of the content and keeps users engaged longer.
  • Include the keyword: Not just in the alt text, but the file name. And replace spaces with dashes in the file name, otherwise your CMS will replace them with “%20” which creates an untrustworthy-looking image link.

google ranking factors - a properly saved, tagged, and compressed image in wordpressgoogle ranking factors - a properly saved, tagged, and compressed image in wordpress

A properly saved, tagged, sized, and compressed image.

4. Niche expertise

It’s not just the quality of your content that indicates expertise in your niche, but also the quantity of that quality content. For example, WordStream has been publishing high-quality content about PPC for a long time now, so Google has come to see us as a trusted source in this niche. But if we were to publish a super high-quality post about, say, robotic process automation, our chances of ranking for that keyword are slim.

To build out your niche expertise, you can use the hub and spoke method (also known as pillar page and cluster content). With this method, you create a hub/pillar page on a particular topic, usually a broad, high-volume keyword. This serves as the main resource for that topic, and your various H2s cover different child keywords within that topic.

Then you have your spokes, or cluster content, which are the additional pages that dive deeper into each of the aspects (child keywords) covered in the pillar page.

google ranking factors - hub and spoke content clustersgoogle ranking factors - hub and spoke content clusters

In addition to demonstrating your expertise within this niche, this method also helps with your site structure, which we’ll talk about later. Since the cluster pages link to and from the pillar content, as well as to each other, this keeps all of your links tightly organized around the same topic.

✅ Is your site optimized to rank on Google? Get an instant SEO audit with our free website grader. ✅

Technical Google ranking factors

Since it involves knowledge of website structure and content management systems, technical SEO is commonly a joint effort between marketing and development teams. But although this may seem complicated, once your website is in good working order, there’s not a lot of ongoing maintenance required in terms of SEO. Here are the technical strategies for improving your rank:

5. Page speed

Users expect a pain-free browsing experience, which is why page speed is an important ranking factor. If your pages take too long to load, your bounce rate will increase and your ranking will decrease. You can check yours with GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights.

google ranking factors - gtmetrix homepagegoogle ranking factors - gtmetrix homepage

6. Mobile-friendliness

Back in 2019, Google told us it would be using mobile-first indexing on all new sites. This means that it makes its ranking assessment based on the mobile version of a site rather than the desktop. Then, in 2020 it told us plans for this to be the case for all sites, and as of 2021, all sites are now subject to mobile-first indexing.

In other words, even if the desktop version of your site is flawless, your search engine ranking could take a major hit if it isn’t optimized for mobile. Most content management systems allow you to make preview and adjustments for mobile/smaller screens. You can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

google ranking factors - google's mobile friendly test homepagegoogle ranking factors - google's mobile friendly test homepage

In addition to these tests, you should still always preview and test your web pages on an actual mobile device because there are some things that code just can’t pick up.

7. Core Web Vitals

While SEO trends ebb and flow, ranking factors don’t often change. But in 2021, Google did introduce a new ranking factor—Core Web Vitals—as a part of the page experience update. Core Web Vitals quantify a person’s experience on your page, which dictates whether and how they engage with it. They include:

  • LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): how long it takes for the visible elements on a page to load.
  • FID (First Input Delay): How long it takes for your page to register the first click or tap on the page.
  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): whether there are unexpected movements or disruptive popups

You can improve your Core Web Vitals with lazy loading, code minification, image compression, and more.

core web vitalscore web vitals

8. Website architecture

As mentioned earlier, search engines work by crawling and indexing different pieces of content on your website. Internal links refer to any hyperlink that points to another page on your same website. The more organized and tightly-knit your internal linking structure is, the more points of access you create to any given page, and the easier it is for search engines (and users) to find what they’re looking for.

Ideally, any given page on your site should be accessible in three clicks or less.

google ranking factors - internal linking structuregoogle ranking factors - internal linking structure

To do this, you must be mindful of what pages you’re linking to each time you create a new page or a new piece of content.

It makes it so that search engines can easily understand and index the content. Topic clusters are also beneficial from a user experience perspective. It makes your content easier to navigate and readers will realize that they don’t have to go to multiple sites to find what they’re looking for.

It’s likely that your website already undergoes regular maintenance to check for things like bugs or server errors. For SEO purposes, it’s a good idea to do a technical SEO audit of your site every couple of months to check for things such as 404 errors, redirect loops, and broken links.

9. Site security

Ever wonder what the s stands for in https (as opposed to just plain old http)? Well it stands for secure. And the way you get your site to be an https site rather than an http site is to get an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. There are a few different routes to getting an SSL, and the cost depends on the level of security you need as well as your hosting setup. HubSpot, for example offers free SSL through its CMS.

Off-page Google ranking factors

Off-page ranking factors have to do with entities outside of your website, such as social media platforms, influencers, and other websites, but there is one focal point to any off-page SEO strategy:

10. Backlinks

Last but most definitely not least, we have backlinks. A backlink is a link to your page that comes from another website. A page with a lot of links pointing back to it indicates to Google that the particular page is providing exceptional value, and is coming from a credible website.  But one link from one quality domain is much better than multiple links from several low-authority websites.

google ranking factors - how backlinking link juice is transferredgoogle ranking factors - how backlinking link juice is transferred

From our page on link building

So how do you get backlinks? Here are four link-building strategies.

  • Original, quality content: If your content is high-quality, unique, and provides value to your audience, it will generate backlinks on its own. Go for the irreplicable content like thought leadership content and original data-driven pieces.
  • Cold outreach: It takes years to build this kind of authority, so you’ll also want to build backlinks by finding related content and pitching your pieces to the author for a link.
  • Guest posts: Another method for building backlinks is by guest blogging. Rather than just asking for a link, offer to write a post for that site. You can include a backlink to your site in the post or in yoru author bio.

The top 10 Google ranking factors [recap]

With a strong presence in both paid and organic search engine results, you can increase your visibility—and no matter what kind of business you run, having visibility on search engines is critical if you want to earn trust, build brand awareness, increase traffic to your site, attract customers, and drive revenue. The top 10 Google Ranking factors include:

  1. Quality content
  2. Keyword placement
  3. Image optimization
  4. URL structure
  5. Page speed
  6. Mobile-friendliness
  7. Core Web Vitals
  8. Site architecture
  9. Site security
  10. Backlinks

Just remember, when it comes to real SEO, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet. The most important note to keep in mind is that climbing the search results pages takes time. If you optimize your website for several ranking factors today, it’s not going to magically appear in the number one spot tomorrow.

The optimization process requires ongoing effort to keep your site as fresh and relevant for your audience as possible. As long as your website is functional and optimized with your target buyer in mind, you’ll start to see organic growth.

For more opportunities to optimize for Google’s ranking factors, follow our easy 10-step SEO audit, or you can use our free Website Grader tool to do it for you. Or, check out our full range of digital marketing solutions to learn how we can help with your SEO.

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