Their Algorithm has 200 Ranking Factors
Wouldn’t it be great to know what search engine ranking factors contribute to Google’s search engine ranking pages (SERPs)? What if I told you Google had actually confirmed a selection of ranking factors?
I’m not sure that question will ever be answered with any sense of credibility, as there isn’t one clear answer. There are many credible hypotheses you’ll find all over the internet. I myself wrote an article on Search Engine Ranking Factors 2013 and it includes a study that clearly shows that social sharing factors make up the overwhelming majority of the top 10 search engine ranking factors in 2013.
Google Confirms Search Engine Ranking Factors 2013
I’d have to admit, I got “kind of excited” when I heard that Google confirmed 200 search engine ranking factors. Maybe “kind of excited” is putting it mildly, but regardless, I was pumped. I was sure you’d be as well. It’s kind of a big deal!
I read a few articles confirming these Google search engine ranking factors that you can also read. This one confirms that page speed is a ranking factor, and this one has Google’s Eric Schmidt confirming that social signals are a ranking factor.
I found this monster of an infographic today. Seriously, this is one freakin’ HUGE and very informative infographic outlining Google’s 200 Search Engine Ranking Factors. I’ve posted it below for your education and entertainment.
Google has confirmed that they use approximately 200 search engine ranking factors in their algorithm. They’ve never publicly listed all of them. While the infographic below is by no means official, it aggregates the best information we have about how Google ranks pages and websites.
Before we get to the massive infographic to end all infographics, let’s take a look at some highlights of Google’s 200 search engine ranking factors.
You may find that some old school SEO myths get busted and you’ll also find some so called ‘myths’ that have now gained credibility as legitimate ranking factors and in fact are not myths.
Domain Age: Matt Cutts says “The difference between a domain that’s six months old versus one year old is really not that big at all”. It looks like domain age is used by Google but it’s not very important in terms of search engine ranking factors.
Keyword In Domain: Apparently having your top keyword in your domain name doesn’t give the SEO boost it used to, but having your keyword in your domain certainly acts as a relevancy signal. After all, Google still bolds keywords in search results that appear in a domain name.
Keyword As First Word In Domain: Moz’s 2011 Search Engine Rankings Factors panelists agreed that a domain that starts with their targeted keyword has an edge over sites that either don’t have the keyword in their domain or have the keyword in the middle of end of the domain.
Domain Registration Length: A Google patent says: “Valuable [legitimate] domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway [illegitimate] domains rarely are used for mire than a year. Therefore, the date when the domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain”
Page Level Factors
Keyword in Title Tag: The title tag is a webpage’s second most important piece of information (besides the content on the page) and therefore sends a strong relevancy signal.
Title Tag Starts With Keyword: According to Moz data, title tags that start with a keyword tend to perform better than title tags with the keyword towards the end of the tag.
Keyword In Description Tag: While keywords in meta descriptions may not be a ranking factor according, but keywords in description tags show search engines important relevancy signals.
Keyword in H1 Tag: It’s not necessary to stuff keywords into header tags. An H1 tag acts as a “second title tag” that sends yet another relevancy signal to Google.
Content Length: Content with more words can cover a wider breadth and are likely preferred to shorter superficial articles. Microsite Masters found that content length correlated with SERP position. Enough said. I always advise content consisting of at least 500 words. This will become one of the search engine ranking factors in 2014.
Keyword Density: Not as important as it used to be. These days you need to be careful and not over stuff your content with keywords as that will certainly work against your SEO and rankings. My suggestion is to keep you keyword density around 1-3%.
Page Loading Speed: Both Google and Bing use page load time as a ranking factor. Search engine spiders can estimate your site speed fairly accurately based on a page’s code and file size.
Image Optimization: Images on-page send search engines important relevancy signals through their file name, alt text, title, description, and caption. You must optimize all your images – and don’t overstuff the image optimization with the page’s primary keyword.
Recency Of Content Updates: Google’s Caffeine algorithm update favours recently uploaded content, especially for time-sensitive searches. Highlighting the importance of this factor, Google shows the date of a page’s last update for some pages.
Outbound Link Quality: Many SEOs, including myself, think that linking out to authority sites helps send trust signals to Google. Especially if those authoritative websites happen to link back. Only one or two outbound links per page are needed. Including more can ‘leak’ Page Rank, which can possibly hurt visibility.
Multimedia Content: Images, video, podcasts, e-books, slideshare decks and other multimedia elements may act as a content quality signal to search engines. Try to include more than just text on your website.
Page Rank: Not perfect ally correlated but in general higher PR pages tend to rank better than low PR pages.
Site Level Factors
Content Provides Value & Unique Insights: Google has stead that they’re on the hunt for websites that don’t bring anything new or useful to the table. Especially thin affiliate sites. Produce quality, useful content regularly that gets shared and you’ll be great!
Contact Us Page: A Google quality document states that they prefer sites with an “appropriate amount of contact information”. There is a supposed bonus if the contact information matched your whois info.
Domain Trust/Trustrank: Site trust – measured by how many links away your site is from highly trusted seed sites – is a massively important ranking factor.
Site Updates: As mentioned above, how often a site is updated – and especially when new content is added to the site – is a site wide freshness factor and important to Google search engine rankings. Updating your site regularly with fresh content will prove to be one of the more important search engine ranking factors in the coming months.
Presence of an Updated Sitemap: A site map helps search engines index your pages easier and more thoroughly, improving visibility.
Terms of Services and Privacy Pages: These two pages help tell Google that a site is a trustworthy member of the internet.
Mobile Optimized: Google’s official stance on mobile is to create a responsive site. It’s likely that responsive sites get an edge in searches from a mobile device than sites that are not responsive designed.
Linking Domain Age: Links from aged domains may be more powerful than new domains.
# Of Linking Root Domains: The number of referring domains is one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s algorithm.
Social Shares Of Referring Page: The amount of page-level social shares may influence the link’s value.
NoFollow Links: One of the most controversial topics ion SEO. Google’s official work on the matter is: “In general, we don’t follow them”. Did you read that as I did? They said “In general…”, which would suggest that they do, at least in certain cases. Having a certain percentage of nofollow links may also indicate a natural vs. unnatural link profile.
Links From Competitors: Links from other pages ranking in the same SERP may be more valuable for a page’s rank for that particular keyword.
Link Location In Content: Links at the beginning of a piece of content carry slight more weight that links plead at the end of the content.
Link Location On Page: Where a link appears on a page is important to search engine ranking factors. Generally, links embedded in a page’s content are more powerful than links in the footer or sidebar.
Keyword In Title: Google gives extra love to links on pages that contain your page’s keyword in the title.
Reciprocal Links: Google’s Link Schemes page lists “Excessive link exchanging” as a link scheme to avoid.
Schema.org Microformats (Rich Snippets): Pages that support micro formats may rank above pages without it. This may be a direct boost or the fact that pages with microformatting have a higher SERP CTR.
Bounce Rate: Not everyone in SEO agrees bounce rate matters, but it may be a way for Google to use their users as quality testers. That is, pages where people quickly bounce is probably not very good.
Repeat Visits: Google may also look at whether or not users return to a page or site after visiting. Sites with repeat visitors may bet a SERP boost. Posting regular, unique, and relevant content could be the key to improving your site’s search engine ranking factors.
Direct Traffic: It’s confirmed that Google uses data from their Google Chrome web browser to determine whether or not people visit a site (and how often). Sites with lots of direct traffic are likely higher quality than sites that get very little direct traffic.
Special Algorithm Rules
Query Deserves Freshness: Google will give newer pages a boost for certain searches. Yet another reason to publish optimized useful content on a regular basis.
User Browsing History: Sites that you frequently visit while signed in to Google get a SERP bump for your searches. Personalized search is the real deal.
Geo Targeting: Google gives preference to sites with a local server and IP and country specific domain name extension. Think about this technical aspect and how it can influence your website’s search engine ranking factors.
Local Searches: Google often places Google+ Local results above the “normal” organic SERPs. Another reason to get your business on Google+ and have the profile optimized for search.
Number Of Tweets: Just like links, the tweets a page has may influence its rank in Google.
Number Of Facebook Likes: Although Google can’t see most Facebook accounts, it’s likely they consider the number of Facebook likes a page receives as a west ranking single, but still a ranking signal.
Facebook Shares: Facebook shares – because they’re more similar to a backlink – may have a stronger influence than Facebook likes.
Pinterest Pins: Pinterest is an insanely popular social media network with a ton of public data. It’s certainly an accurate call to think that Google considers Pinterest Pins as a social signal.
Number Of Google +1’s: Although Matt Cutts when on the record to say Google+ has “no direct affect” on search engine ranking factors, it’s hard to believe that they’d ignore their own social network. Don’t fight it, use Google+!
Verified Google Authorship: In February 2013, Google CEO Eric Schmidt famously claimed: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verifications, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.” What more do you need? Verified authorship math already be a trust signal. I’d bet on it.
Site-wide Social Signals: these may increase a site’s overall authority, which will increase search visibility for all the website’s pages.
What a boat load of useful information for website optimization, SEO, and for boosting your search engine rankings. As you’ve now read, so many different elements can affect your website’s search engine ranking factors. Relevancy and trust worthiness also play important roles and are significant search engine ranking factors.
Here’s the massive infographic with more info, details, and statistics that will help you understand Google’s search engine ranking factors:
I would love to hear your thoughts on any of Google’s 200 search engine ranking factors. Please let me know in the comments.