Everyone wishes there was a simple recipe to guarantee you’ll rank at the top of the search engines, but Google’s Gary Illyes says there is no such thing. In fact, there isn’t even a consistent top-three ranking factors for all content.

Instead, Illyes explains that the top-ranking factors for web pages vary depending on the query being searched. Going by that thought process, factors like links might be used to verify that something is newsworthy, while page speed, content quality, and keyword usage may be more useful for some types of content.

John Mueller, also a big figure at Google, joined the discussion to suggest that worrying about optimizing for specific ranking factors is “short-term thinking.”

Surprisingly, Illyes takes it even further by saying that links – often viewed as one of the most important signals for a website – are often not a factor in the search results at all. Long-tail search queries, in particular, are likely to pull up content with few to no links.

While this can be discouraging to brands or businesses looking for specific ways to improve their site and rank higher, the overall message is clear. A holistic approach that prioritizes people’s needs and desires is bound to benefit you, while myopically focusing on specific factors is bound to eventually leave you left behind.

As Mueller suggests – if you build something awesome, Google will come.

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