Google Ranking Factors

Google Ranking Factors

We have put together a comprehensive filterable list of over 200 Google Ranking Factors. You can sort the list by whether it is a positive, negative, on-page or off-page ranking factor, as well as the indication of its likely impact and our confidence level of the sources confirming its role as a ranking factor.

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Displaying 276 results

Ranking key

Positive

Negative

On-page

Off-page

Domain Age (old)

Impact: Very small

Confidence: Low

Matt Cutts commented on domain age in a hangout back in October 2010. While he indicated that there may be a difference in website authority between "a domain that's six months old versus one year old [it] is really no that big at all."
Cutts said that you should not worry that much about it, indicating that as long as the website has been around for a couple of months you should show in the search results. The source for this is quite old, hence the low confidence level.
Cutts also doesn't specifically say its a ranking factor, but more about getting your site indexed, and vague reference to website authority.

Source(s): Matt Cutts

Keyword in URL

Impact: Small

Confidence: High

Placing your keyword or key phrase in the URL of your page helps establish the relevance of your content for that particular search query. While the impact as an SEO ranking factor is relatively small, there are also several other reasons why including a keyword or at least, having a descriptive keyword is a good idea.

Source(s): Google SEO Starter Guide, John Mueller, Matt Cutts

Keyword at the Beginning of URL

Impact: Small

Confidence: High

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. The impact of adding keywords to the URL is already very small, therefore, it is important that this is not diminished further.

Source(s): John Mueller, Matt Cutts

Keyword in Title Tag

Impact: Small

Confidence: High

Placing your keyword or key phrase in the Title Tag of your page helps establish the relevance of your content for that particular search query. While the impact as an SEO ranking factor is relatively small, there are also several other reasons why including a keyword or at least, having a descriptive keyword is a good idea.

Source(s): John Mueller,

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Impact: Very small

Confidence: Very high

While some indications implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages on your website may become a Ranking Factor in the future, at the current time it has no effect. That being said, implementing AMP can have a positive influence on traffic by gaining increased visibility in the News Carousel.

Source(s): John Mueller

Keyword Density

Impact: Small

Confidence: High

Using your keyword in the body of the text multiple times to increase your keyword density is important, but you must not overdo it otherwise Google may think you are spamming it to manipulate the search results. Google has evolved this algorithm to take into account the TF-IDF of the page, i.e. compares your keyword density with others to see if it is "normal". John Mueller recently said “keyword density, in general, is something I wouldn’t focus on. search engines have kind of moved on from there”

Source(s): John Mueller (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7kP7LWM87Y)

TF-IDF – Relative Keyword Density

Impact: Reasonable

Confidence: Reasonable

The Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency, or TF-IDF, compares the density of the keywords on any given page against your competitors to determine what is normal. This helps to identify spammy web pages, against a movable benchmark, which indicates what the average webmaster will use in a similar document. You can now use services such as Semrush to highlight these metrics to assist with your SEO strategy. Using a keyword too many times on a page can cause your rankings to decrease, so this is definitely something to bear in mind.

Source(s): Google Research Blog (https://research.googleblog.com/2014/08/teaching-machines-to-read-between-lines.html), Patent US 7996379 B1

Formatted Words

Impact: Small

Confidence: High

By formatted words, we mean using things like bold, italic, underline or just larger fonts. Matt Cutts has previous stated that "text that is of larger font or bolded or italicized may be weighted more than matches in normal text." While we would have expected this for the bold or italic (emphasis) styling, it is quite surprising that font size also comes into play. Of course, heading tags seem to matter more than formatting, but we have dealt with this separately.

Source(s): Matt Cutts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awto_wCeOJ4)

Keyword in Heading Tags (H1, H2 etc)

Impact: Very large

Confidence: Very high

Heading tags are designed to show the main topics within a page. They are hierarchical, so H1 tags have greater weight than H2, with H3 having less weight still. Heading tags also help provide the reader with visual descriptions of the upcoming text, and as such can reduce bounce rates, and increase conversions. Be careful not to over-optimized your chosen keyword in every heading tag, as over-optimization can cause your ranking to fall.

Source(s): Correlation study (http://cbutterworth.com/do-h1-tags-still-help-seo/)

Keywords Close Together

Impact: Small

Confidence: Reasonable

The positioning of one keyword in relation to another keyword can imply an association between the two. If for example you are searching for SiteGround Reviews, then a page with a paragraph containing "reviews" and "SiteGround" will rank better for that term, than a page containing a mention of both terms but in separate paragraphs.

Source(s): Patents: US 20020143758 A1, US 20080313202 A1

Exact Phrase Match Search

Impact: Large

Confidence: Reasonable

A patent by Google confirmed that "a document matching all of the terms of the search query may receive a higher score than a document matching one of the terms." In other words, a web page that contains the keywords being searched in the exact order being typed by the searcher will rank higher than if only one of the keywords is located on the page, or if all keywords are found on the page in no particular order.

Source(s): Patent US8818982 B1

Partial Search Phrase Match

Impact: Reasonable

Confidence: High

In a patent, Google confirmed that "a document matching all of the terms of the search query may receive a higher score than a document matching one of the terms." However, in the patent, they confirmed that you may still rank for certain phrases if they are not matched exactly with what is searched in Google. Having multiple keywords in proximity, or general topic authority provides signals to Google that can influence what Google describe as your Information Retrieval score. In other words, Google can see the intent of similar phrases.

Source(s): Patent US8818982 B1 (http://www.google.co.uk/patents/US8818982)

Internal Link Anchor Text

Impact: Small

Confidence: Reasonable

Google state in their SEO starter guide that "Suitable anchor text makes it easy to convey the contents linked", and that it "tells users and Google something about the page you're linking to." Google specifically mentions to think about anchor text for internal links, but only so as to help users and Google navigate the site better. At no point is it mentioned that it would help rankings directly, but we can imply that there may be some small benefit by showing the relevance of the page to that keyword. Google specifically warns about "using excessively keyword-filled or lengthy anchor text just for search engines", and we suspect there is some algorithm related to keyword stuffing that means overusing this technique may result in a negative effect.

Source(s): Google SEO Starter Guide (http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf)

Keyword Exact Match Domain Name

Impact: Small

Confidence: High

Exact Match Domain names, or EMD's, were all the rage a few years ago. Because they were often used by spammers to manipulate the search rankings Google rolled the "EMD Update" in September 2012. Matt Cutts said "Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality 'exact-match' domains in search results". It would appear, that if your website is of good quality, then this may still provide a small benefit. If, however, your website is of low quality, then you may be penalised for using an exact match domain name.

Source(s): Matt Cutts (http://searchengineland.com/google-emd-update-research-and-thoughts-137340)

Keyword Partial Match Domain Name

Impact: Small

Confidence: High

Unlike the Exact Match Domain name, this is where a keyword or keyword phrase exists within the domain name, but not exactly. This appears to be more beneficial than having a keyword later in the URL, but less than if it was an EMD. Unless of course you have a low-quality blog, in which case an EMD might hurt you.

Source(s): Patent EP 1661018 A2

Keyword Density across Domain

Impact: Large

Confidence: High

This relates to the authority of the site in a particular topic. While you may have an excellent article on a certain topic, you may not rank as well as someone who has multiple excellent articles on that particular topic. Krishna Bharat identified characteristics that indicated whether someone was an expert on the subject by looking at the relevancy of the site as a whole. In a similar way TF-IDF (relative keyword density) determines page relevance, we can surmise that something similar is happening at a site level.

Source(s): Krishna Bharat (ftp://ftp.cs.toronto.edu/pub/reports/csri/405/hilltop.html), Patent US 7996379 B1

TF-IDF Across Domain

Impact: Reasonable

Confidence: High

TF-IDF, or Inverse Document Frequency, is the modern concept of keyword density in SEO. No longer is it sufficient to take an arbitrary keyword density such as 2%, or 3%. Now you must look at the top ranking pages for that keyword and look at their keyword density to find what is considered normal. Your article should then fall in line with the keyword density used by others. If you fall too much outside the TF-IDF, then your rankings may suffer.

Source(s): Google Research blog (https://research.googleblog.com/2014/08/teaching-machines-to-read-between-lines.html), Patent US 7996379 B1

PageRank Distribution \ Site Structure

Impact: Large

Confidence: High

This relates to the structure of your website. This can be likened to a waterfall, where the water seems down past many rocks in many different directions and routes. Some routes allow more water down than others. Now imagine you have multiple links going to one page. That link introduces PageRank to that page, and the outgoing links on that page then pass the PageRank on to other pages. Every link loses a little PageRank. Imagine you have many links on your website linking to specific pages, and only a few links linking to others. The pages with many links pointing to it will collect more PageRank, and therefore rank higher than those that are linked very little. It is important to create a website structure that maximizes the flow of PageRank to the key areas and pages of your website. You should take a sensible approach to this, and not exclude some areas of your site totally in favour of others.

Source(s): Patent US 6285999 B1. Matt Cutts (https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/)

Domain Age (new)

Impact: Small

Confidence: Very high

New domains may obtain a temporary boost in rankings. Matt Cutts confirmed that any boost is relatively small, but it is believed to be in place to allow new websites to be discovered. This often causes concern by new webmasters who may see their website drop in the SERPS after a few months.

Source(s): Matt Cutts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pnpg00FWJY)

Keywords in URL Separated by Hythens

Impact: Very small

Confidence: Reasonable

We have already established that keywords in the URL can be a ranking factor. Sometimes, however, Google may confuse or not be able to identify those keywords when the words are combined together without some kind of separator. Matt Cutts advises that you use a hyphen rather than an underscore to separate any words, as an underscore can be confused with programming variables and as such they treat the word as one. However, hyphens or other separators can be seen as spammy, which may in turn affect click-through rate. We would suggest not using any separators in your domain name, but if you have to use one, then a hyphen will be the most beneficial.

Source(s): Matt Cutts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQcSFsQyct8)

Keywords Earlier in Tags or Content

Impact: Small

Confidence: Low

We have seen elsewhere that keywords earlier in the URL are more beneficial than having them later in the URL. In the same way, it is likely that using keywords earlier in your tags or content will provide a signal to Google of its relevance, and possibly its importance.

Source(s): Theory

Long Domain Registration Term

Impact: Very small

Confidence: Reasonable

A Google Patent expressly states that the domain registration term can indicate the legitimacy of a domain. Many spammers will only use a domain for a short time, and then when Google penalizes it, simply buy a new one and start again. As such spammers do not tend to pay for their registration for long periods of time. However, John Mueller pointed out that some TLDs do not publish expiration dates, so it would be impossible for them to compare. As such we suspect that domain registration term does not play a factor in ranking. It is still possible, though, that if a website has other signals that indicate it is spam, that this could be taken into account where available, but for the average webmaster, it will have no effect.

Source(s): Patent US 7346839 B2, Matt Cutts & John Mueller (https://www.reich-consulting.net/2015/11/04/does-domain-expiration-affect-search-engine-ranking/)

Whois Records

Impact: Very small

Confidence: Low

Google has shown that it will use Whois information to identify spammers related websites in order to identify spammy schemes. In addition, Matt Cutts has been seen speaking about whois data contributing to penalties. Furthermore, one of the webmaster guidelines question whether you "would trust this site?" How can you trust a site if you don't know who owns it? There are a lot of issues here, with the former probably only being used to penalize already dubious websites. We wonder, though, and this is just speculation, whether it could be taken into account for your website's quality score.

Source(s): Patent US 7346839 B2, Matt Cutts (https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/2006-pubcon-in-vegas-thursday-site-reviews/), Webmaster Guidelines

HTTPS (SSL)

Impact: Reasonable

Confidence: Very high

HTTPS or SSL was officially announced as a ranking factor in 2014. While a site move can result in a small amount of PageRank loss, John Mueller confirmed that while fluctuations can happen, their systems are usually pretty good and that no page rank is lost for 301 or 302 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS.

Source(s): Google (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html), John Mueller (https://plus.google.com/+JohnMueller/posts/PY1xCWbeDVC)

Schema

Impact: Very small

Confidence: High

Schema is markup that allows you to indicate to the search engines the different data entities that exist on the page. Whether this is marking up recipes, news articles, reviews or products, all this information can be used by Google to represent your web page in different ways within the search results. As such, use of schema can increase traffic and click-through rates. Matt Cutts has specifically said that you should not count on any rankings boost by using schema. Of course, he didn't actually rule it out.

Source(s): Matt Cutts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=37&v=OolDzztYwtQ)

Query Deserves Fresh Content

Impact: Small

Confidence: High

Fresh content, or the more technical term Query Deserves Freshness, or QDF, refers to content that commonly requires newer content, such as news on particular topics. This is different to domain-wide fresh content that we will deal with separately.

Source(s): Matt Cutts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNm0FZ40haU), Googleblog (https://search.googleblog.com/2011/11/giving-you-fresher-more-recent-search.html)

Freshness Factor

Impact: Reasonable

Confidence: High

The freshness factor relates to how fresh content can temporarily improve search rankings of not only the page being added, or updated, but also to pages being linked to by that new or updated page. In addition, the website as a whole may benefit from new page creation. Of course, creating low-quality pages can be counter productive and cause you to suffer from content quality algorithms or penalties (whether part of the core algorithm or something more severe such as the Panda algorithm). The Moz article referenced below as the source explains this extremely well.

Source(s): Moz (https://moz.com/blog/google-fresh-factor)

Old Content

Impact: Reasonable

Confidence: Reasonable

We have already discussed how some queries deserve fresh, or new, content. In a similar way, some queries deserve older established content. The patent states "For some queries, older documents may be more favorable than newer ones."

Source(s): Patent US 8549014 B2

Authority Outbound Links

Impact: Small

Confidence: Reasonable

Matt Cutts confirmed that parts of their search algorithm "encourage links to good sites". John Mueller recently said though, "Our point of view, external links to other sites, so links from your site to other people’s sites isn’t specifically a ranking factor. But it can bring value to your content and that in turn can be relevant for us in search. And whether or not they are not followed, doesn’t really matter." This seems like a cryptic clue that just placing a link won't help, but that Google is intelligent enough to determine whether such a link adds value, and if it does, they may take it into account. Because outbound links can cause some PageRank loss, some webmasters are of the view that they are bad. We believe that outbound links should be encouraged, when it offers value to high quality relevant websites.

Source(s): John Mueller (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FkSZIW6d48#t=1193), Matt Cutts (https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/)

Relevant Outbound Links

Impact: Small

Confidence: Reasonable

As we mentioned in our entry regarding authority outbound links, we suspect that in order to get some value from them that they also need to be relevant.

Source(s): John Mueller (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FkSZIW6d48#t=1193)

Good Spelling and Grammar

Impact: Small

Confidence: Reasonable

In the age of Google Panda, which directly looks at the quality of content it would seem that there is a risk that poor spelling and grammar may see you penalized. In a post describing what factors they take into account to determine site quality, they specifically mention spelling, quality control and whether the content is well edited. We suspect there may be a correlation between those sites with better spelling and grammar spending more time on the content and producing an overall higher quality article, so it is harder to say whether Google specifically looks at grammar and spelling as a benefit. We do think that poor spelling and grammar may risk you getting hit with Panda, though.

Source(s): GoogleBlog (https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2011/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality.html)

Reading Level

Impact: Small

Confidence: Reasonable

In a correlation study, it was found that reading level indicated the level of expertise the writer has on a particular topic. It is difficult to know whether this is a direct ranking factor or whether it is just a correlation that a higher reading level style of writing is just naturally better. Google used to have a reading level tool, so you could search between Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. It is, therefore, a possibility that they are taking this into account in combination with many other factors to determine site quality.

Source(s): Correlation study (http://linchpinseo.com/seo-reading-level-college-websites)

Rich Media

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Meta Keywords

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Mobile Friendliness

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Meta Description

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Helpful Supplementary Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

References and Sources

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Bullets and Numbers Lists

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Useful Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Breadcrumb Navigation

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Site Usability

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Content has Value and Provides Unique Insights

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Google Analytics

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Google Search Console

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Country Code TLD’s (ccTLD)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

XML Sitemaps

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Salience of Entities

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Phrasing and Context

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Web Server Near Users

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Author Reputation

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Using rel=”canonical”

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Using rel=”author”

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Using rel=”publisher”

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

URL uses “www” Subdomain

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Dedicated IP Address

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Subdomain Usage

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Number of Subdomains

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Use AdSense

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keywords in HTML Comments

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keywords in CSS/JavaScript Comments

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keywords in CLASSes, NAMEs, and IDs

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Privacy Policy Usage

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Verifiable Address

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Verifiable Phone Number

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Accessible Contact Page

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Low Code-to-Content Ratio

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Meta Source Tag

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

More Content Per Page

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Meta Geo Tag

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keywords Earlier in Display Title

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keywords Earlier in Headings

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Novel Content against Web

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Novel Content against Self

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Sitewide Average Novelty Score

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Quantity of Comments

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Site Speed

Impact: Very small

Confidence: High

There has been much speculation as to whether your website speed is a ranking factor. Google confirmed it was a ranking signal in a blog post back in 2010, although subsequent discussions indicate it would only penalize very slow websites. More recently, Google is looking to introduce page speed as a mobile ranking factor, but this is currently not implemented.

Source(s): John Mueller (https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/802420206375079936), Google (https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html)

Positive Sentiment in Comments

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Using rel=”hreflang”

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Directories \ Categorization

Impact: Reasonable

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

High Body Keyword Density

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword Dilution

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword-Dense Title Tag

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Excessively Long Title Tag

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword-Dense Heading Tags

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Heading Tag Overuse

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

URL Keyword Repetition

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Excessively Long URLs

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword-Dense ALT Tags

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Excessively Long Alt Tags

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Long Internal Link Anchors

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

High Ratio of Links to Text

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Too Much “List-style” Writing

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Javascript Hidden Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

CSS-Hidden Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Foreground Matches Background

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Single Pixel Image Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Empty Link Anchors

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Copyright Violations

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Doorway Pages

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Overuse Bold, Italic or other Emphasis

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Broken Internal Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Redirected Internal Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Text in Images

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Text in Video

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Text in Rich Media

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Frames/Iframes

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Dynamic Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Thin Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Domain-wide Thin Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Too Many Adverts

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Use of Pop-ups

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Duplicate content (3rd Party)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Duplicate Content (Internal)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Linking to Penalized Sites

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Slow Website

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Page NoIndex

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Internal NoFollow

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Dissallow Robots

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Poor Domain Reputation

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

IP Address Bad Neighborhood

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Meta or Javascript Redirects

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Text in Javascript

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Poor Uptime

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Private Whois

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

False Whois

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Penalized Registrant

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

ccTLD in Global Ranking

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Too Many Internal Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Too Many External Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Invalid HTML / CSS

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Outbound Affiliate Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Search Results Page

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Parked Domain

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Automatically Generated Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Too Many Footer Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Infected Site

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Phishing Activity

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Outdated Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Orphaned Pages

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Sexually Explicit Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Selling Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Subdomain Usage

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Number of subdomains

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

HTTP Status Code 4XX/5XX on Page

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Domain-wide Ratio of Error Pages

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Code Errors on Page

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Soft Error Pages

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Outbound Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

HTTP Expires Headers

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Sitemap Priority

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Sitemap ChangeFreq

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword-Stuffed Meta Description

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword-Stuffed Meta Keywords

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Spammy User-Generated Content

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Foreign Language Non-Isolation

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Auto-Translated Text

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Missing Robots.txt

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Only Nofollow Outbound Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Site Lacks Theme

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Weak SSL Ciphers

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

X-Robots-Tag HTTP Header

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Authoritative Inbound Links to Page

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

More Inbound Links to Page

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Authoritative Inbound Links to Domain

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

More Inbound Links to Domain

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Link Stability

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Social Signals

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword Anchor Text

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Links from Relevant Sites

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Partially-Related Anchor Text

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Partially-Related Alt Text

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword Link Title

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Keyword Alt Text for Images

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Link Context

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Brand Name Citation

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Link from Site in Same Results

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Link from Many “Class C” IP Ranges

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

DMOZ Listing

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Click Through Rate on Query/Page

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Click Through Rate on Domain

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Backlinks from .EDU

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Backlinks from .GOV

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Positive Link Velocity

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Low Bounce Rate

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Natural Ratio of Deep Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Google+ Profile

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Twitter Followers

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Twitter Sharing

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Facebook Sharing

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Facebook Likes

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Google+ Circles

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Google +1s

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Links from Older Domains

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Query Deserves Sources (QDS)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Query Deserves Oldness (QDO)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Query Deserves Diversity (QDD)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Safe Search

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Use of Adwords

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Don’t Use Adwords

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Chrome Page Bookmarks

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

User Search History

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Chrome Site Traffic

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Google Toolbar Activity

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Low Alexa Score

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

High MozRank / MozTrust Score

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Total Branded Searches + Clicks

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

High Dwell Time (long Clicks)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Submit Site to Google

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Submit Sitemap Tool

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

International Targeting Tool

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Reconsideration Requests

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Google+ Local Verified address

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Links from ccTLDs in Target Country

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Links from IP Addresses in Target Region

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Links from Iframes

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Crawl Budget

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Android Pay

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Excessive Cross-site linking

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Negative SEO

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Paid Link Schemes

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Fresh Anchor Text

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Diluted Page Authority

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Diluted Domain Authority

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Unnatural Ratio of Anchor Text

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Unnatural Ratio of Anchor Type

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Unnatural Variety of Linking Sites

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Webspam Footprints

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Comment Spam

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Forum Post Spam

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Advertorials

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Forum Signature and Profile Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Inbound Affiliate Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Footer Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Header, Sidebar links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

WordPress Sponsored Themes

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Widget Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Author Biography Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Link Wheels \ Pyramid Schemes

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Article Directory Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Generic Web Directory Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Reciprocal Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Private Blog Networks

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Google Dance

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Manual Action

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Poor Content Surrounding Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

No Context Surrounding Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Ratio of Links Out of Context

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Irrelevant Content Surrounding Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Rapid Gain of Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Rapid Loss of Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Sitewide Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Links from Irrelevant sites

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Negative Page Link Velocity

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Negative Domain Link Velocity

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Penalties pass on through Redirects

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Disavowed Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Links from Penalized Sites

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Chrome Blocked Sites

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Negative Sentiment

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Crawl Rate Modification

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Incorrect Intenational Targeting

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Building Links

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Link Building Services

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

No Editorial Context

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Microsites

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Click Manipulation

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Brand Search Manipulation

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Illegal Activity Report

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

DMCA Report

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Low Dwell Time (short Click)

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

High Task Completion Time

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

Links from same Class C IPs

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

GSC URL Parameters

Impact: TBC

Confidence: Reasonable

TBC

About these Google Ranking Factors

Google uses over 200 ranking factors when deciding where web pages rank in the search engine ranking pages, or SERPS.

We have listed both negative and positive Google ranking factors, their impact level, and the confidence level of any claims we make. We endeavour to back up all our claims with sources, but ultimately, where sources are not reputable, or comprehensive it will result in a lower confidence level being assigned to that ranking factor.

As a word of caution, beware of over-optimizing your web pages.  Google has algorithms specifically designed to demote in the SERPS spammy websites.  A common characteristic of these spammy websites is that they tend to over optimize their web pages for specific keywords. Even if your web page is excellent, it may be caught by this algorithm.  Therefore, if overdone, many positive ranking factors can end up having a negative effect.

Therefore, we suggest you make your content sound natural, and think about other related keywords you might want to optimize for in addition to your main keyword, so that you build topic authority without your content being labelled as spammy. 

How to use the  Google Ranking Factors Tool

The sortable filters we have produced are very powerful.  Here is a break down of the different options:

Ranking Factors:

  • On-page SEO: On-page search engine optimization relates to things you do to your site or page. 
    • Positive on-page ranking factors -  These are things you do to your site or page that you do to make you rank better. An example is producing high quality content, or optimizing your site structure.
    • Negative on-page ranking factors - These are things that you do to your site or page that may decrease your ranking.  An example is over-optimizing your content for a specific keyword, or producing low quality content.
  • Off-page SEO: Off-page search engine optimization relates to things that you do off site.
    • Positive off-page ranking factors - These are things that you do to make you rank better. An example could be obtaining high quality links to your site.
    • Negative off-page ranking factors - These are things that you may to that decreases your ranking.  An example could be obtaining low quality or paid links to your site.

Confidence

We have based our opinions of the Impact (see explanation of this below) of any ranking factor based on our own knowledge and the knowledge of third party sources, many of which are Google spokespersons.

However, Google spokepersons don't always tell the truth, in that they can be vague or play down something is a ranking factor.  In addition, the sources may be old (i.e. a video of Matt Cutts back from 2010).

We can't always be certain that our opinion or the opinion of third parties is valid, or that the impact stated is 100 percent correct.  Our confidence level reflects the confidence in our opinion.

This helps you determine fact from rumour, or myth.

Impact

Based on the sources, and our knowledge generally about search engine optimization, we have assigned what we beleive to be the impact on the search engine results pages of each particular ranking factor.  

As you will see, we have even included ranking factors that are myths, i.e. Impact: None.  These are ranking factors that have been proven or have been categorically stated by Google to have no effect. These help you to debunk claims made by third parties, and help focus your attention to perhaps, the high impact ranking factors.

Tags

Tags are general topic areas, such as "domain" or "keyword" that allow you to gain an insight into a narrow selection of ranking factors that may be related to each other.

Sorting

All the results are sortable by a-z, impact and confidence level.

An example of the power of our filter and sort functionality

You arrive here because you read somewhere that keywords were a ranking factor, and you did a Google search.  Upon arriving, you see a list of over 276 Google Ranking Factors, and you don't really want to read the whole list.  Here is what you can do:

  • You select the "Keywords" option under the Tags section in the filter list.  You then sort by "Impact (highest first)" via the sort option in the top right hand side of the screen, so you can see which of those keyword related ranking factors has the most impact (whether positive, or negative) on your site.
  • You glance through the ranking factors to get an overview, and then decide that you only want to read the positive ranking factors, so you select "Positive on-page" in the Ranking factors section of the filters.
  • You then decide you want to filter out all the factors where the source for the information is poor, and also filter out any ranking factor that has little or no affect.  The filters are positively based, so select from the Confidence filter - "Very high, high, and reasonable", and from the Impact filter - "Very large, large, and reasonable".  You then have a short list of keyword related factors to review.  
  • You can click the "Read More" link (where available - it is work in progress) to find in-depth commentary on that ranking factor that fully details all the sources we used.
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