What are Ranking Factors?

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Everyone uses Google for its original purpose — search — probably at least once every day. Google’s world has expanded dramatically beyond search, but search is still the identity of the company. 

Despite its omnipresence in our lives, how Google generates the results it returns to a query is still mostly a mystery. The famed Google algorithm is said to have over 2 billion lines of code, but no one really knows all the values and criteria behind search results. 

Mobile search has passed desktop search in terms of numbers, but the searches are often different. This is especially relevant to medical and legal practices. Mobile search tends to seek quick answers, such as a nearby restaurant or shop. Desktop search can be for those issues, as well, but it is also used for more involved search, such as for a medical procedure or a legal dispute. This is because you need much more information than most people want to work through on a phone. 

You may have heard the term “ranking factor.” This is an intriguing area of Google mystery. A ranking factor is a variable that Google (and other search engines) use to decide the order of relevant, indexed results returned to answer a search query. 

For the most part, ranking factors in the Google algorithm are kept secret. It’s not even common knowledge how many ranking factors there are. Occasionally, Google will confirm a public perception about a certain potential ranking factor, such as page loading times, but this is the exception. It’s in the company’s best interests to keep ranking factors proprietary to maintain Google’s edge versus competitors such as Bing or more recently DuckDuckgo. 

Still, there are major parts of Google’s ranking that are well known to all. Here are a few of those areas. 


In the early days of website design, the common belief was to limit the amount of text on webpages. It was assumed page visitors weren’t interested in the amount of copy they would expect, say, in a brochure. Just give readers a bunch of bulleted lists was the thinking. 

Those days are gone — Google views content as critical to a good website. Google’s bots are continually crawling all over your website, figuring out what it’s about, what you want to be known for, and how it would successfully answer a searcher’s query. 

For your practice, that means having a three-bullet list description of your radiofrequency-assisted liposuction doesn’t cut it. You need quality, descriptive content about the procedures you want to be known for. If you extract wisdom teeth and want to be known for that, despite being a general dentist, you want content about wisdom teeth, why they need extraction, and how the procedure is done. 

Any content should be at least 300 words, and the writing should be good. Don’t have your office manager write your site’s content unless that person has been a writer in his or her past. Google rewards good grammar, writing that is free of typos and misspellings, and is easily understood and eminently readable. This all contributes to a better user experience, and Google definitely ranks for that. 


Links are both internal and external. When a Google bot is crawling your site, it starts on the home page. Then it hits links onto secondary pages, following those links and understanding what the site should be known for. Your link structure needs to be clear, making it easy for Google to understand your site’s structure. 

External links are also known as backlinks. These can be your site linking to other sites, such as a university medical school or a seminar site where the practice owner is keynote speaker. Stuff like that. 

How well your site is built 

Site navigation is important in ranking. If pages load slowly, if there are dead links, if people hitting your site instantly click back to Google (meaning they couldn’t find what they wanted on your site), those types of problems all result in lower organic search rankings. 

That’s the reason you shouldn’t have your nephew, the video game expert, design and build your website. 

This mobile isn’t hanging above a baby’s crib 

Mobile search is now the king of search in terms of raw numbers. While it may not be true of medical, dental, or law practices to the same degree, it is critical for businesses that can provide instant solutions. If you’re out and about and looking for the new “grain-free” dog food, you’ll search on your phone and the store that shows up first will probably get the sale. 

Research shows that search on more complicated issues such as banking and health is still the domain of desktop search. After all, a person researching tummy tucks isn’t going to do her research while sitting in the park and then walk the two blocks to the practice and have the procedure. 

That said, mobile search is critically important, so your site has to be mobile friendly. If it isn’t, sites that are mobile friendly will outrank you. 

When thinking of your practice site, you need to remember what Google is trying to do. Google wants to know all the information in the world and provide access to the precise information you’re looking for when you put in a search query. It’s really that simple, although executing that goal is incredibly complex. The better your site answers questions Google has that pertain to what your practice offers, the higher you will rank and the more patients you’ll garner through search. 

Fortunately, MyAdvice is expert at all the above categories, so you don’t have to be. You’re an expert at being a surgeon or a dermatologist, a dentist or a gynecologist. We’re experts at providing clear, readable, informative content. For over two decades, we’ve designed, built, and optimized the web’s most beautiful, functional websites. It’s easy for Google to understand what our client practice websites are all about, making it easy for Google to match your expertise to the relevant searcher. And we build every site to be mobile friendly from the outset. Then we monitor your site to be sure your content stays fresh, your links are current, and everything functions smoothly. 

Have questions about how Google is ranking your practice website? Contact your MyAdvice representative. If you’re not yet a MyAdvice practice, why not? Fill out the contact form above and let’s talk about how we can help your website rank more highly in the areas you want to be known for.

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