This list of 61 Google SEO Ranking Factors is an overview of ranking factors that SEO experts think have an impact on your websites ranking on Google. The weight of each ranking factor is a well hidden secret. Some of the ranking factors weigh more others not so much.
If you want to have a better ranking on Google this list might help you or your webmaster to figure out which SEO ranking factors might be worth working on.
This list has 61 important ranking factors. It is not an official list from Google, but it has been created over months of research and is also based on interviews with SEO Experts.
Google has more than 200 Ranking factors! Want to know them all? 200+ Google Ranking Factors List
- Domain Age: Matt Cutts from Google states that:
“The difference between a domain that’s six months old verses one year old is really not that big at all”.
In other words: Domain age is used to position your domains on Google but it has not a huge impact.
- Keyword in Top Level Domain: Having your keyword in the domain is a relevancy signal. It is not as important as it used to be, but Google still bold keywords that appear in a domain name.
- Keyword As First Word in Domain: Moz is a software service company that sells inbound marketing and marketing analytics software. Moz’s 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors panelists agreed that a domain that starts with their target keyword has an edge over sites that either don’t have the keyword in their domain or have the keyword in the middle or end of their domain: www.keywordXYZ.com
But hey,…that was in 2011…
- Domain registration length:A Google patent states:
“Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain”. This means that it helps your Search Engine Ranking when you pay your Domain a year in advance or even several years in advance.
- Keyword in Subdomain Name: Moz’s panel also agreed that a keyword appearing in the subdomain boosts rank: www.keyword.TopLevelDomain.com
- Domain History:When a website changes its owner via whois, Google most likely “resets” the sites history.
- Exact Match Domain: Exact Matching Domains may still help you to get a good ranking. It means that the domain is most likely a single term that people type in, e.g. diapers.com, clothes.com, plumber.com,… Those Domains usually have great direct type in traffic.
- Public vs. Private WhoIs: Private WhoIs information may be a sign of “something to hide”. Matt Cutts is quoted as stating at Pubcon 2006:
“…When I checked the whois on them, they all had “whois privacy protection service” on them. That’s relatively unusual. …Having whois privacy turned on isn’t automatically bad, but once you get several of these factors all together, you’re often talking about a very different type of webmaster than the fellow who just has a single site or so.”
- Penalized WhoIs Owner: Once Google identified a person as a spammer, it makes sense that they would scrutinize other sites owned by that person.
- Country TLD extension: A Country Code Top Level Domain (.de, .us, .cn, .pt, .ca) helps for your site to rank better in that particular country…but limits the site’s ability to rank globally.
- Keyword in Title Tag: The title tag is a webpage’s second most important piece of content (besides the content of the page) and therefore sends a strong on-page SEO signal.
- Title Tag Starts with Keyword: Title tags that start with a keyword perform better than title tags with the keyword at the end of the tag, says MOZ Data.
- Keyword in Description Tag: The website description should contain the keyword to send a relevancy signal to Google. It is not a HUGE factor anymore but still makes a difference.
- Keyword in H1 Tag: H1 Headlines are important to Google! If your website carries the keyword in the H1 headline, this sends a relevancy signal to Google. This study states, that H1’s still carry some weight:
- Keyword Frequently Used Phrase on page:Google still uses the number of keyword appearances on a site as a relevancy signal.
- Content Length: I honestly expect this to be updated soon since more an more videos are used and less text but as of now, articles with more words can cover a wider breadth and are likely preferred to shorter superficial articles. SERPIQ found that content length correlates with a websites position on Google:
- Keyword Density: Not really a factor that counts a lot nowadays. It is to easy to stuff a text with keywords just to get a high ranking on Google. The WDF*IDF Score is a more professional way to optimize your websites content.
- Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords in Content(LSI):LSI keywords help search engines extract meaning from words with more than one meaning. For example Apple the computer company vs. the fruit. The presence/absence of LSI probably acts as a content quality signal.
- LSI Keywords in Title & Description Tags: LSI keywords in page meta tags help Google discern between synonyms. It helps Google so it might be possible that it helps your ranking…
- Page Loading Speed via HTML: Google and Bing use page loading speed as a ranking factor. Based on the pages code and file sizes the robots can evaluate how fast your website loads.
- Duplicate Content:Identical content, even slightly modified content can negatively influence a site’s search engine visibility. Unique content is the key! WARNING! Google has billions of websites in its index – YES, they find out if you copy your content from a different site. Matt Cutts said “30% of duplicate content is OK”.
- Rel=Canonical: Canonicals help Google to identify sites with similar content. Used properly it helps Google and will probably help you.
- Page Loading Speed via Chrome: Chrome Browser Data might be used by Google to find out more about websites. For example the loading time, CDN usage or non HTML-related site speed.
- Image Optimization: A good picture description of your picture by title, alt text and caption is a good way to help Google find out what your site is about. Not only will it help your content to get listed in the Image search, but it will also give your content more value – well, if your picture matches the content.
- Recency of Content Updates: Since Google tries to deliver the most relevant listings in their search, recency is a factor that plays a role. The Google Caffeine update added the publishing date to the search results.
- Magnitude of Content Updates: How fresh is your content? Just adding a few words is certainly an update, but adding pages, videos and posts is a stronger signal that shows that your site is up to date and not abandoned.
- Historical Updates Page Updates:Goes along with content updates. The more updates you have on your site, the more likely Google will stop by more often to analyze your content.
- Keyword Prominence: Not a big shock! Having a keyword appear in the first 100-words of a page’s content is a significant relevancy signal.
- Keyword in H2, H3 Tags: Again: If you help Google, they will help you. Show them what your site is about by having the keywords in the H@ & H3 tags. This makes it easier for Google to rank your site.
- Keyword Word Order: Keyword research is important when it comes to SEO. The better a keyword combination on your site matches the search term somebody was looking for, the more likely will you site show up within the TOP results.
- Outbound Link Quality: Honestly, not sure about this one, but I added it anyways. Some SEOs say that it helps your website if you link OUT to authority website. It gives Google a trust signal. Take it or leave it – I don’t think it will boost your websites ranking.
- Outbound Link Theme: This one I believe! Search Engines check the topics of the sites you link to and look if it matches the topics your website deals with. Here is the source: Moz
- Grammar and Spelling: Don’t just use Google translator to translate your website. Sometimes it translates non-sense. If Google takes grammar and spelling as a quality signal, invest in a professional translator. Matt Cutts said in 2011 that Grammar and Spelling is NOT a ranking factor, but that he thinks that it would be fair… now what?
- Syndicated Content: Goes along with the duplicate content question: If you just copy content, your website will not rank well.
- Helpful Supplementary Content: Googles SEO Guidelines say:
“High quality pages have helpful Supplementary Content, and that content contributes to a good user experience on the page.“
For example Calculators, translators, links to helpful videos, related products on a shopping page is a form of supplementary content.
- Number of Outbound Links:Too many outgoing links give away to much Link Juice. This might hurt your websites ranking.
- Multimedia:It’s not a secret that Google owns Youtube. Neither is the fact that Youtube is the second biggest search engine right behind Google search. Videos and other multimedia elements act as a content quality signal.
- Number of Internal Links Pointing to Page: If you have a page on your website that is more important than others and you link to it internally form a lot of other pages, Google takes this as a signal.
- Quality of Internal Links Pointing to Page: Links from authoritative pages to other pages weight more than links from pages that have low or no PR.
- Broken Links: The Google SEO Guide takes broken links on a site as a quality signal. Find your broken links and fix them.
- Reading Level: Is your content engaging or not? Google estimates the reading level of webpages – and since a lot of websites use Google Analytics as a tracking tool it is easy for Google to find that out:
- Affiliate Links: If your website lives of affiliate links, it might be hard to get a great ranking on Google Search. It is ok to enrich your content with affiliate links, but make sure its not just a link farm.
- HTML errors/W3C validation: Controversial: Some SEOs think that a WC3 validation is a weak quality signal others think it is a strong signal. However, since CMS like WordPress handle the code nowadays, the amount of HTML code mistakes should be down to a minimum. If you don’t know how to code, use a CMS.
- Page Host’s Domain Authority: A page on an authoritative domain will rank higher than a page on a domain with less authority.
- Page’s PageRank:Googles Page Rank is still a factor when it comes to website ranking. High Page Rank often means good ranking on Google.
- URL Length: Besides the fact that probably nobody remembers a long URL, they probably won’t get you a better ranking only because they are stuffed with keywords. Not sure if they might actually hurt your ranking… Here is what Search Engine Journal thinks about URL length.
- URL Path: If your homepage is the strongest page on your site (which it most likely is) a page closer to it may get a authority boost.
- Human Editors: Google has filed a patent for a system that allows human editors to influence the SERPs… not sure what this might bring in the future.
- Page Category:I personally hate categories that say “others”. Seems like Google thinks the same way. Pages that are listed within a content cluster get ranked better than pages that are just in the “others” category.
- WordPress Tags: You guessed it: this is a WordPress-specific relevancy signal. Not sure if something like this exists, since Google should evaluate every page equally. The guys from Yoast.com say: “The only way it improves your SEO is by relating one piece of content to another, and more specifically a group of posts to each other”
- Keyword in URL: It helps to have the search term in your URL. Actually this is one of the stronger ranking factors.
- URL String: The URL string shows Google what category the page is in. It is a good thematic signal.
- References and Sources: The Google Quality Guidelines state that reviewers should keep an eye out for sources when looking at pages.
- Bullets and Numbered Lists: At the end it all comes down to creating useful content for the user. Of course it helps to work with bullet points and numbered lists. The better a websites usability, the more likely Google ranks it on a good position.
- Priority of Page in Sitemap:Google requests a sitemap.xml. It makes it easier for Google to crawl your site. A well structured Sitemap.xml helps your websites ranking.
- Too Many Outbound Links:Be careful here: Too many outbound links can you’re your site by giving away too much link juice.
- Quantity of Other Keywords Page Ranks For:The more good rankings your website has, the more Google will rate your content as valuable.
- Page Age:Page age is a factor that Google takes into concern when ranking your site.
- User Friendly Layout: User friendliness is important to Google and to the user. Googles Quality Guidelines say:
“The page layout on highest quality pages makes the Main Content immediately visible”
- Parked Domains: Google “prefers not to show them”. Parked domains have little content and mostly only ads. Google had an update that had the “parked domain classifier” in it.
- Useful Content: An interesting fact that Google has to deal with is to distinguish between quality and useful content. Here is a good example on what I mean by identifying useful and high quality content.