Search Ranking Factors in 2023

Search engine optimisation is an ever changing game, and search ranking factors change over time with the Google algorithm. So which ones actually count in 2023?

1. Site speed

The speed of your website remains more important than ever. Not sure how fast your site is? Get a free check using Google’s Page Speed Insights feature. A lot of our SEO work goes into optimising new sites for mobile speed, because that’s what Google cares about these days.

If you’re a web client of ours and you’ve noticed a slow mobile speed on your Page Speed report, you may be thinking ‘what gives, BA?’

Before you panic - check your website for the three main factors that drag down our clients’ site speed after launch:

  • Apps.

Shopify has gazillions of easy-to-install apps that make your website amazing. The downside is that these can easily add tons of script to your site, weighing down its speed and damaging your search rankings (not to mention your landing page quality for any Google ads you might have running). We recommend keeping the bare minimum amount of apps and removing those you don’t use regularly. WordPress and BigCommerce clients, same goes for you - check your apps and plugins.

  • Videos.

They look cool, but they’re huge. Compress ‘em, embed ‘em and lazy load ‘em. 

  • PNG images.

A lot of our clients love using PNG images on their homepage heroes and their blog. PNGs are super high quality images, primarily because they are truly massive files.

We’ve coded most of our sites to convert PNG images into the more web friendly WebP format, but this only compresses image sizes down a little. If you want to upload beautiful imagery without impacting your site performance, we highly recommend uploading pre-compressed JPG images instead. Use sites like for easy compressing ahead of upload.


2. Mobile friendliness

Not only should your site load quickly on mobile, but it needs to be easy to use on a smaller device. Check the following about your site:

  • Does it have responsive images and text to fit a smaller screen?
  • Is your font still legible on mobile?
  • Does your navigation work well on smaller screens?

Addressing these issues will not only help your rankings but reduce your bounce rate and increase your conversions.

3. Overall user experience

Site speed counts towards this, but so do factors such as:

  • Your organic click through rate
  • Your bounce rate, which measures if your customers are clicking away after only looking at one page. Don’t freak out if your bounce rate is 50% - that’s a pretty normal figure. Something over 75% is something to worry about.
  • Time on site. If your customers are engaged by your content on a page, Google will see this as an incentive to rank you higher in the SERPs.

4. Keywords in your domain name

One of our digital marketing clients sells organic collagen in Australia. Their brand and domain name? Organic Collagen Australia. Having a domain name that matched their audience’s Google searches shot them straight to first place within days of launch. Y’all are smart.

This approach only works if you have plenty of relevant content on your site - look out for low word count pages.

5. Keywords toward the beginning of your title tags and metafields

Quiz time. Let’s say you sell vintage baby clothes on Shopify, with a collection that sells dungarees. Which title tag is better for ranking for a relevant search term?

  • Ava Collection
  • Ava Vintage Baby Dungarees 

Pretty obviously, the second title tag has much more chance of ranking for ‘vintage baby dungarees’ or ‘baby dungarees’.

Next quiz. You’re an online store called Jameson & Jameson, and you sell health foods. You want more people to discover your store through non-branded search.

Which one is a better title tag for your home page?

  • Premium Health Foods | Jameson & Jameson
  • Jameson & Jameson | Trusted Sellers of Health Foods

Google reads left to right, and in active voice, so the first example is more likely to rank for ‘health foods’. 

What’s active voice, you ask? Your high school English teacher is out there somewhere, and they’re very disappointed.

Active voice refers to a subject of a sentence doing something. E.g. Linda dumped Jamie when she grew tired of his extensive porcelain frog collection.

This is the opposite of passive voice, where something has happened to the object or subject of a sentence. E.g. Jamie was dumped by Linda when she grew tired of his extensive porcelain frog collection. 

Active voice is generally simpler and easier to understand. If you use passive voice then Google might get confused as to what your page is actually about - and your rankings will drop as a result.

6. Backlinks

It’s said there are three pillars of SEO: content, technical SEO and backlinks.

Backlinks are essentially links on other websites that point to yours, which gives you sweet, sweet site authority. Google loves authoritative, trustworthy websites.

Brand new businesses typically don’t have a lot of backlinks, which is why it’s typical for your site not to show up as the first result for brand search right away. You’ll need to build your backlinks over time, which you can do with our handy guide here

7. Domain registration time

The longer your domain has been registered, the less likely you are to be a spam site, in Google’s eyes. If you’ve had a registered domain for over 12 months, enjoy your mini rankings boost.

8. Site security

As said above, Google really doesn’t like spam. Having a HTTPS URL, a robots.txt file and a sitemap will all help its bots crawl your website quickly and easily, making you accessible and boosting your search rankings.


9. High quality, helpful content

Google loves content that is written with effort. AI-written, keyword-stuffed content is easy to spot these days, so make sure you put plenty of time and effort into creating content that you think will help your target audience in some way.

How-to and List posts (like this one) are always good ways to rank for search terms, because they’re useful answers to questions that people search.

If you’re in fashion, think about making guides to picking out the right dress. If you sell art supplies, talk about how to make a certain art piece and the tools your customer will need.

Even if some of your blogs don’t rank, this helpful content will help your site authority overall.


10. Technical SEO

Technical SEO is a big old umbrella term for a whole bunch of small stuff. Tech SEO includes:

  • Headings and Subheadings. Are you using H1s, H2s and H3s in the proper silo format?
  • Ensuring your title tags and meta descriptions contain your target keywords
  • Ensuring your images have alt tags to ensure accessibility for people using screen readers
  • Making sure your pages don’t have duplicate content
  • Resolving 404 errors
  • Fixing orphan pages (pages that aren’t linked to anywhere else on your site)

11. Business information online

Having a Google Business Profile will help Google to identify you as a legitimate business, which will in turn help out your rankings.

Make sure you’ve got a name, address and phone number. Social media profiles also help, as do reviews on sites such as Yelp.

Need more SEO advice?

Your old mate BA can help. Reach out to enquire about our SEO services.

Back to blog