Google Ranking Factors

We set out the full list of over 270 Google Ranking Factors, positive, negative, on-page, off-page and, of course, the myths.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Menu
Jonathan Griffin. Editor @ The Webmaster

. Hosting Expert & Editor @ The Webmaster:

In November 2010, Matt Cutts announced at PubCon that they had over 200 Google ranking factors, with each having fifty or more variations. Since then, Google has certainly not been sitting on the hands.

We have divided the Google Ranking Factors into the following categories, with labels for Ranking Factor, Important, and Myth ranking factors:

  • Domain Factors
  • Page-level Factors
  • Backlink Factors
  • User Interaction Factors
  • Brand Signal Factors
  • On-Site Webspam Factors
  • Off-Site Webspam Factors
  • Other Algorithmic Rules

We suggest that you initially focus on the Important ranking factors when reviewing your website, and actively ignore anything we have marked as a Myth.

You should keep in mind the remaining ranking factors when creating new content or adding new features to your site. However, you are probably better off spending your time creating new great content, rather than weeks or months reviewing every minor ranking factor.

Domain Factors

#1. Domain Age

Myth

Using an older domain is NOT a ranking factor, although new domains may be supressed for a couple of months for anti-spam reasons.

  • Domain Age is not a ranking factor.
  • New domains may be dampened for a few months to help fight spam.
  • Old domains may positively correlate to better rankings due to other factors.

Source(s): John Mueller (April 12, 2017), Matt Cutts (Oct 26, 2016), John Mueller (Jan. 15, 2016).

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Page-Level Factors

#2. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Myth

AMP is NOT a Google Ranking Factor, although implementing AMP may get you more visibility in the SERPS via special carousels.

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is not a ranking factor.
  • AMP does not count toward your quality score, or Panda UNLESS you are using AMP as your main mobile website.
  • Implementing AMP pages may get you more visibility in the Search Results through special Carousels.

Source(s): John Mueller (Jan 24, 2017), John Mueller (Feb 26, 2016), Google (Dec 9, 2015)

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#3. Formatted Words

Ranking Factor

Using formatted words is a Google Ranking Factor, as it has an impact on the Information Retrieval Score. That is, it affects how relevant that search term is to the page.

  • Larger fonts, bolded or italicized text may be weighted more.
  • There is no difference between the <strong> / <b> and <em> / <i> tags.

Source(s): Patent US 8818982 B1 (Granted Aug, 2014), Matt Cutts (Oct 21, 2013).

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#4. Keyword Density

Ranking Factor

Keywords can have a positive impact on your rankings as they show relevance, but Google has moved on from a set density. Google now looks for what is normal for that topic using TF-IDF.

  • Keyword Density is a Ranking Factor, in that it should be normal.
  • Google has moved on from a set density, and now calculates it by using TF-IDF.
  • A keyword density that is too high, or stuffed, can significantly hurt your rankings.

Source(s): Quality Raters Guidelines (2018),John Mueller (Oct 24, 2014), Moz, Matt Cutts (Aug 18, 2011).

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#5. Keywords at the beginning of the URL

Ranking Factor

Placing your keyword or key phrase at the beginning of your URL of your page has more weight than putting the keywords at the end of the URL. Google indicates that the weight diminishes past the fifth word.

  • Keywords at the beginning of an URL have a positive influence on rankings.
  • The benefit will only be very small.
  • Matt Cutts suggests producing great content is a better use of your time.

Source(s): Matt Cutts (2009), The Webmaster (May 2017).

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#6. Keywords in the URL

Ranking Factor

Adding a keyword to the URL slug is a Google ranking factor, but Google has said that it will only provide a small benefit, and it is better not to restructure your website to implement.

  • Keywords in the URL are a ranking factor.
  • Having keywords in your URL will only provide a small benefit.
  • It may not be worth restructuring your website to implement.
  • John Mueller stated that ‘Keywords in URLs are overrated for Google SEO.’

Source(s): John Mueller (Jan 26, 2016), John Mueller (Jan. 15, 2016).

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#7. Keywords in the title tag

Important
Ranking Factor

Google has confirmed that using keywords in the title tag is an important ranking factor.

  • Keywords in the Title Tag is a ranking factor.
  • Titles are important for SEO, but solely adding keywords to the title tag will not make you rank 10 places higher.
  • Google tries to recognize when a title tag is stuffed with keywords as it is a bad user experience for users.

Source(s): John Mueller (Jan 26, 2016), John Mueller (Jan. 15, 2016).

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#8. Page Speed

Important
Ranking Factor

Page Speed is now a ranking factor for mobile search results. This ranking factor penalizes slow mobile pages, rather than giving a boost to faster pages. It is very important to ensure that your site loads reasonable fast on mobile devices.

  • Page Speed is a ranking factor for the Mobile Search Index.
  • Page Speed only affects the slowest websites, but the affect is incremental.
  • Page Speed can affect the GoogleBot Crawl Budget.

Source(s): John Mueller (Nov 26, 2016), John Mueller (Jan. 15, 2016).

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User Interaction Factors

Brand Signal Factors

On-Site Webspam Factors

Off-Site Webspam Factors

Other Algorithmic Factors

Google Ranking Factors Glossary

Jonathan Griffin. Editor @ The Webmaster

. Hosting Expert & Editor @ The Webmaster:

There will be a lot of concepts and terminology when discussing the various Google Ranking Factors. While many of the terms will be defined in the articles themselves, it may be useful to have a grasp of some of the more basic concepts.

You will find below some of the most frequently used terminology. It is not intended to be an all encompassing glossary, just a primer on the most important terms or concepts used throughout our tutorials and guides, that may not be properly defined elsewhere.