5 Major SEO Ranking Factors to Consider in 2021

SEO is not going anywhere but it is constantly changing. If we look 10 years back, SEO wasn’t considered a big deal. You’d create a blog, select high-volume keywords, write a few articles, and boom!!!

Making it to the first page, in the top three, wasn’t a big deal. But over the years, SEO has evolved — and has gotten difficult. Today’s Google is hundreds of times more intelligent than it was in the early 2000s.

 Though the basic SEO factors remain the same, every core update brings new concepts to the SEO world. And if you’re an SEO, you can’t ignore these updates — not even a single factor.

Little negligence or lack of action can ruin your months of effort. So, we are in 2021. And if you’re starting a website or already have one, what are the SEO factors to consider to keep your site visible on Google?

Giddy up. This article will cover all the important factors in brief. 

Let’s start with the most important SEO factor in 2021.

1.Quality Backlinks

According to experts, backlinks are the most important ranking factor in 2021. And it’s not about the number of backlinks but the quality. There are two factors that affect the quality of backlink, relevance, and authority. 

 Google has mentioned explicitly on their ‘How Search works’ page that if a prominent website links to a page, it’s a sign that information is trusted. 


This might come as a surprise to some, freshness of content is the second most important SEO ranking factor in 2021. It’s a query-dependent ranking factor, which means it’s more important for some queries than others.

For example, go to your Google search and type ‘Bitcoin news’. You’ll get super fresh results, some of them published only minutes ago.

This is because people want information on current news. Google is intelligent enough to realize people are interested in fresh news rather than reading what happened to Bitcoin four years ago.

And freshness is not only limited to just news topics. Type ‘best gaming laptop’ on Google and you’ll see that all top-ranking pages have the current year in the title.

Of course, if you’re in 2021, you won’t want to buy a gaming laptop that was popular in 2014.

3.Search Intent

Search intent is one of the overlooked SEO factors. Content marketers research keywords and fit them in the content wherever possible, but often overlook the user intent.

For instance, if someone searches ‘How to make chicken rice,’ they want to find a recipe. If someone searches for ‘Best headphones,’ they want to see a listicle of a variety of headphones.

You can determine the search intent by looking at the top results and identifying the three Cs of search intent.

The first C is Content-Type. This includes blog posts, product pages, category pages, and landing pages.

The second C is Content-Format. This includes How-Tos, Listicles, Tutorials, and Opinion-Editorials.

And the third C is Content Angle. This is the most dominant USP of top-ranking pages.

So if we take an example of a best headphones’ search, the content type would be a blog post, the content format would be listicles, and the USP in this situation would be freshness ( top pages will be from the same year or month).

4.Topical Authority

Google ranks pages from authoritative sources. For example, if you look for SERP for ‘how to unclog a basin,’ you will see low DR websites outranking much powerful sites with significantly more referring domains.

If you dig deep and explore such sites, you will find them authority in the niche and only restricted to plumbing-related topics.

This is also mentioned by Google. If you see Google’s SEO Starter Guide, it clearly says ‘cultivate a reputation for expertise and trustworthiness in a specific area.’

5.Content Authority

Not only editors but Google also hates fluff. Content depth means hitting the talking points of a topic that researchers want to see.

For instance, if you look at the search for the best headphone brands, you’ll learn that the search intent wants us to create a listicle blog post specifically about luxury headphones. 

And upon exploring the top pages, you’ll realize all top pages have discussed some common attributes of a headphone. For example:

  • Price
  • Brand
  • Specifications
  • Use cases

Content depth doesn’t mean unnecessarily stretching paragraphs and headings but answering everything people are searching for.


These are the top 5 SEO ranking factors in 2021. You might be surprised to not find the responsiveness and page speed part of this. The thing is, responsive design, fast loading speed, UX/UI, etc., have become so obvious for SEO that Google doesn’t mention them in every core update anymore.

In recent months, Google has emphasized more on content quality, freshness, authority building, and search intent. So, these are the factors you need to look out for to boost your site visibility on Google.

P.S. SEO is a long-term process and requires expertise. Digital Gravity provides digital marketing services in Dubai in all domains, from SEO to PPC, Social Media Marketing, and everything else that you’d expect from an expert agency. How can we help you to scale your business?

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