Google has long been tight-lipped about the exact ranking factors they use to determine where a website appears on search engine results pages (SERPs). However, we’ve compiled lists of ranking factors from multiple sources including blog posts, social media posts, videos, Google Webmaster Guidelines and books.
Here are the SEO ranking factors we have identified so far.
1. Page Loading Speed
The volume of data you have on an HTML web page plays a major role in the overall speed of your website. And yes, Google uses webpage speed to determine how your website ranks. With Chrome User Data, the search engine can now evaluate a page loading speed.
- Choose a performance-optimised hosting solution
- Choose a server location close to you
- Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Monitor website performance to identify website issues and make adjustments accordingly
- Reduce image size when possible
- Use browser caching
- Delete inactive plugins
- Use fast and lightweight themes or templates
2. The Link Title Attribution
It refers to the text that’s displayed when your cursor hovers on a web element. It is sometimes used as a ranking or relevance signal.
3. Long-Tail Keywords in Title and Post Descriptions Tags
LSI keywords are referred to as search phrases – they specifically serve search intent. With it, Googlebot can differentiate between words that have multiple meanings. Like the web page content, they have higher conversion because they are more specific. When grouped into clusters with the same search intent, a page with long-tail keywords in its title and description tags stand a higher chance of ranking.
4. Page with in-depth content/Topic
Content depth and google ranking are intertwined. For example, Google often ranks pages with articles covering every aspect of a topic and is prioritized similar articles with less information.
5. Long-tail keywords in the content
Although they have less traffic, they tend to have a higher conversion rate than the short-tail keywords because they are intentionally searched. They (Long-tail keywords) help Googlebot or another search engine extract the exact meaning from phrases with multiple meanings. They are the catalyst that helps determine the quality of content.
6. Table of Contents
A table of contents refers to a list of “jump links” present on a page that links to a different section of a post or page. Using it won’t only help your readers/users to have an overview of the content, but it will also help search engines to understand the content present on a particular page.
TF_IDF is an advanced SEO tactic that helps webmasters improve their web content relevancy and helps to rank higher. Think of it as the relevancy of a certain word in a document. The more times a certain word appears on a web page, the more likely it is that the article or the page is about that word. TF-IDF means term frequency-inverse document frequency.
8. Content-Length (The Word Count)
Traditionally, anything between 2,250 to 2,500 words is the optimum post length for an effective SEO. Overall, quality, lengthy content is preferred by Google’s algorithm over short articles. However, it isn’t just about posting lengthy and redundant articles but also about lengthy and in-depth ones. A recent study suggests that the average first-page worthy content had about 1400-word counts.
9. Country TLD
Asides from the domain age, and domain authority, one other thing to consider when linking to a domain is the country TLD. Links from country-specific TLD extensions may help your page rank better. These domains include .de, .za, .co.uk, .ng just to name a few.
10. Keywords in the right places
The meta description tag isn’t a ranking signal Google uses. But don’t undermine the importance of your page’s description tags as they can impact their click rate, which is a major factor the Google ranking bot considers. So, always place your keywords in the description tags.
11. Keywords and H1 tags
They are also referred to as the second title tags. Googlebot uses both the H1 tag and the title tag as a secondary relevancy signal. Ensuring that the H1 tag is the same as the page title increases the chances of your page gaining relevancy. Headings, generally, are used hierarchically – this is worthy of note.
12. Start with keywords in the title tags.
Reiteratively, your title tags should start with a keyword. But, more importantly, make sure the keyword you add to the title tag is your primary keyword. When your title tag starts with a keyword, it will impact your site’s ranking. So, avoid placing these keywords at the end of the tags.
13. Include the primary keyword in your title tag
A page with one main keyword and two or three keyword variations is one of the ranking signals. And one of the places where you ought to add your primary keyword is in the title tag. But note, spamming your webpage content with excess keywords is one of the reasons why your pages aren’t ranking well.
14. Penalized Google Spammer
Speaking of spamming, if a webmaster is deemed a spammer by Google, they will automatically scrutinize the spammer’s online presence, including other sites they might own.
15. Having a country code top-level domain
A domain name with a country Top Level Domain (TLD) extension can act as a catalyst that helps to rank a page. TLD extension such as .ca, .us, .ca, and .za, is worth investing in – though consider investing in domain extension of the country you reside in. But on the flip side, it might limit your site’s ability to rank on a global stage.
16. Whois Privacy Protection
As a webmaster, if your WhoIS information is set to “private,” it automatically triggers a red flag on the part of Google. It is relatively unusual to hide one’s WhoIS information, though not a bad thing.
17. A low–quality EMD
Having an EMD (Exact Match Domain) isn’t necessarily beneficial SEO-wise. However, having a site with a low Exact Match Domain is often vulnerable to the EMD update. Low-quality EMD is one abyss you should avoid. The EMD update is a filter newly designed to ensure that sites with low-quality EMDs do not get a high-quality page rank.
18. Domain history
A domain history gives Google and other search engines an impression of your website track records and how well it has performed over time. These performances include the record of your site’s overall rankings, traffic, link-building practices, and content history. All of which play a crucial role in how your page ranks.
19. Keywords appearing in subdomains
When a keyword appears in the subdomain, it boosts the page ranking it exists in. This is because Googlebot considers subdomains as standalone websites. Therefore, they must be verified separately from the content under the main domain site. However, they don’t add to your SEO or total pages. But don’t undermine the importance of having the keyword in your subdomains.
20. The domain registration length
According to what’s stated on Google, domains deemed valuable are domains that are paid for several years in advance. On the far end of the spectrum are the illegitimate domains, which are rarely used. The least you can pay for is a year.
21. Domain age
Domain age is rarely a ranking factor. And even though many SEO experts believe that the Googlebot trusts old domains. Google insists that domain age means nothing, and it isn’t a ranking factor.
22. Keywords in Top Level Domain
Having a keyword in a domain name won’t help your website rank. But, even though it won’t give you the boost it once gave, it is always a relevancy signal worth putting on your SEO to-do list.
23. Hiding Content Behind Tabs
New studies have shown that pages without hidden tables will rank higher than pages with content hidden behind tabs. It makes some content on a page hidden behind an accordion drop-downs can worsen SEO ranking. In summary, if your website users need to click on a tab to display hidden contents, they (these contents) won’t be indexed by Google.
24. Content is hidden on mobile.
Still, on hidden content, one other scenario that could affect your page ranking is hiding content on mobile. Similar to content hidden on tabs, hidden content on mobile phones won’t be indexed by Google compared to visible content. An unwritten law states that when the content visible on a website matches with the content visible to Googlebot, it is SEO friendly.
25. Supplementary Content
Supplementary content often includes information found in the static elements on a web page like navigation buttons, header menus, user-generated content, or embedded content. A supplementary content deemed helpful is a great indicator of that page’s quality; hence, it improves the page ranking. More examples of these helpful supplementary content include interactive recipes, and currency converters, just to name a few.
26. Mobile-Friendly Update
Google’s mobile-friendly update brought massive chances to all mobile search rankings. It also affected Search results and ushered what is now referred to as the mobile-first era. The update is also referred to as Mobilegeddon and is known to reward mobile-friendly pages.
27. Content’s Grammar and Spellings
Spelling and grammar are crucial for user experience. These two aren’t direct ranking signals, but they play a major role in your overall SEO. See it as a trust factor. If you own a company with a website filled with awful grammar and spelling, prospective clients will lose trust before stepping into your office. Overall, they are quality signals.
28. Syndicated Content
Syndicated content often involves published content. A copied content gotten from an indexed webpage won’t rank or, worse, get indexed.
29. Mobile Usability
When it comes to Google’s mobile-first index, a responsive website edges out a non-responsive website. So, it’s safe to say that having a website that opens seamlessly on a mobile phone improves its ranking. Therefore, web admins have to prioritize the seamless user experience of their websites on mobile devices.
30. Keywords in Subheadings
Using keywords in subheadings is an important tactic that makes it easy for users and search engines to understand the content on the page. Without a doubt, it optimizes the particular content in the best way. So, next time you want to write an article, make sure the keywords are placed in H2 and H3 tags.
31. Outbound Links
Outbound links represent links that point from one website to another. They are used within content, and link readers to a different source that adds extra oomph and information to the topic discussed within the page. Googlebot uses this as a relevancy signal depending on the quality of the website that’s been linked.
32. Outbound Link Quality
Still, on quality outbound links, linking to a relevant site with high authority will automatically improve your site’s trust signals by Google.
33. Keyword Prominence
Keyword prominence involves using a web page’s target keyword early, mostly in the first 100 words of such content, to show the Googlebot what words the page should rank for. It’s an SEO concept similar to the journalistic standard of not burying lede.
34. Content Recency
When you update the web pages of your website or add new content or pages is referred to as fresh content. And in the world of Search Engine Optimization, Google favors updated or recently published content. It’s why Google showed when a webpage was last updated. You can find it next to the meta description beneath the SEO titles.
35. The volume of content updates
One other freshness factor that isn’t talked about is the volume of content updates. Adding or removing a page section tops editing phrases.
36. Duplicate content
Avoid duplicates on a site. And even though Google doesn’t impose any penalty for duplicate content, it does tend to filter duplicate content, thus, negatively impacting your ranking – which is fairly worse.
37. Image Optimization
Making high-quality images in the right resolution and sizes increases the site’s user engagement. The process also includes properly labeling your images to enable Googlebot and other search engine crawlers to read them and better understand the page context.
38. Google Hummingbird
The hummingbird is Google’s search algorithm introduced in 2013, and it affects close to 90% of all Google searches. It is seen as an algorithm change that has helped Google see beyond just keywords and understand the main topic of a page.
39. Entity Match
Entity-Based SEO makes use of context and not just keywords. It helps users find the information they are surfing for. Keywords are important parts of SEO, but they don’t reflect how users search for information. If the content on a page matches the entity a user is searching for, then there’s every likelihood that the page may rank for that keyword.
“rel canonical,” also referred to as a canonical tag, tells search engines that a particular URL represents the master copy of a webpage. If used properly, it may act as a shield against any form of penalty that Google might want to impose on your website for duplicate content.
41. The Use of AMP
The AMP version of a webpage is meant to load smoothly on all mobile devices. It often appears differently in the mobile SERP. It also appears in a card form. And while it isn’t a primary ranking factor, it’s worth incorporating. Moreover, it may be a huge ranking factor in the mobile version of Google’s News Carousel.
42. The number of page updates
How often do you update your web pages? The frequency of these page updates is one of the primary factors of ranking Google considers.
43. Excessive outbound links
Excessive outbound links on a page obscure the page and devalue the page’s content. So it’s safe to say that spamming is bad for business in the SEO world.
44. Page Priority in Sitemap
The <priority> tag in XML signals to Google and other search engine platforms the importance of individual pages within a website. To put it simply, the priority of a page is given through the sitemap. XMP HTML file, and it may improve ranking.
45. Item List
Listing items rather than stating them in paragraphs clarifies your content. Bullets and numbers will help break your content, making it easier for readers, thus, improving your site’s user experience. Google supports this as well. It is believed that Googlebot often prefers content (articles and blog posts) listed items.
46. Citing References and Sources
Citations in the context of SEO refer to citing references and sources used to create content. It could be in the form of another website with higher domain authority, an address, a business name, or a phone number. It adds to the credibility of the topic highlighted in the content. According to Google’s quality guidelines, reviewers should lookout for sources when surfing through certain web pages.
47. URL String
URL strings provide thematic signals to the particular page represented. Also, a URL is deemed friendly if it meets the need of users and searchers alike. Therefore, a short and keyword-rich URL will improve your page ranking.
48. Keyword in URL
This is one of the most popular Google ranking factors. Still, on adding keywords to URLs, it was recently referred to as a “very small ranking factor” by Google’s representative. So, it is safe to say that having keywords in your URL will make your pages rank well.
49. URL Path
URL path affects SEO and rankings. For example, pages such as “about us” and “contact us,” closer to the homepage, may get more authority boost than pages buried in the website archive.
50. Page Category
What category does the page appear on? One that’s in a closely related category tends to rank higher compared to pages that are filed under an unrelated category. Category pages refer to web pages based on similar themes or subjects.
51. The Number of Internal links
The number of internal links present on a page shows Google the relationship between the page the internal links are on and the pages linked to. So, it means more internal links are more important.
52. Human editors
Google now hires humans to influence SERPs. Although not confirmed, the Search Engine giant has already filed a patent for this system.
53. The PageRank
Webpages with many link authorities will typically outrank pages with less or no link authority. Unfortunately, PageRank remains one of the oldest aspects of SEO and the least understood. PageRank is an algorithmic system used by Google to rank different web pages and the numerical value assigned to such pages.
54. URL length
A long URL might hurt your webpage’s SEO and ranking. However, several industries have also suggested that short URLs have the edge over pages with long URLs.
55. HTML errors
When a website is poorly designed, it is difficult to rank solely because users and Google will view it as a low-quality site. HTML errors in SEO cause poor user experience. On the other hand, a well-designed website is a relevant signal.
56. Domain Authority
A web page with an authoritative domain is bound to rank higher than domains with less authority.
57. Affiliate Links
Affiliate links aren’t treated as backlinks by Google or any other search engine. They hardly add the needed ranking “juice.” But it won’t hurt your page ranking. Having a lot of it might attract unnecessary attention from Google. The algorithm will now have to ensure that you aren’t a webmaster with a thin affiliate website.
58. Broken Links
Broken links aren’t great for your site. Having a lot of it tells the Googlebot that your web pages aren’t updated regularly or managed properly. A sign of neglect will automatically make Google drop your web pages. Overall, the Googlebot uses broken links to measure a page’s quality.
59. Reading Level
The reading level of a webpage is one other ranking determinant people often ignore. Googlebot estimates the reading levels and gives the webmaster the stats. It is believed that basic reading levels will improve your page rank because it means the pages appeal to the users.
60. The Quality of Internal Links
Internal links connect your page content to Google, giving the bot an idea of the entire structure of the website. Then, it automatically establishes a hierarchy on each page of your website. Therefore, having internal links from a website with high domain authority can positively affect your web pages if it has a low page rank.
61. Number of Outbound Links
Excessive outbound links can hurt your page’s rankings. While it isn’t bad to have some dofollow OBLs on your page, having an excess amount of it should be avoided.
Multimedia elements such as images and videos may act as a content quality signal for Google. Using optimized multimedia on your web pages can influence your site’s UX, thus, positively affecting your pages’ rankings.
63. Website Usability
Website usability refers to its ease of use. It indicates whether or not a website or an application is effective and easy to navigate from the users’ point of view. In this context, a website that’s difficult to navigate can negatively impact rankings by reducing bounce rate, pages viewed, and time on site.
Probably because Google owns it, YouTube videos are prioritized in the SERPs. So, aside from having articles written on a website, you should try to convert the article to YouTube videos.
Did you know that more than half of all the searches done on Google and other search engine are done from mobile phones? The point is that Google wants to see that your website is responsive and mobile optimized. Interestingly, not having a responsive website that runs well on mobile devices might attract a penalty from Google.
66. Breadcrumb Navigation
Yes! Breadcrumb navigation matters in SEO. It’s a user-friendly website feature that improves users’ experience – helping them navigate the site better. According to Google, it uses the breadcrumb markup present in a web page’s body to categorize the information from the web page in users’ search results.
67. Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
Also referred to as E-A-T, Google will typically prioritize sites with high E-A-T. It works more for sites with health-related articles and blog posts. If you want to master the art of writing Google-friendly content, learning about E-A-T is one way.
68. Duplicate Meta Description On-Site
Having a duplicate meta description on your site may be counterproductive. Google will bring down your webpage’s visibility for this. Therefore, having duplicated descriptions on your website is bad SEO. Google will not necessarily penalize you for this, but it would be counterproductive.
69. Server Location
The higher bounce rate stems from having a slow site. Your server location also determines how your site ranks in different regions. Therefore, it is important to consider where most of your users reside before subscribing to any hosting plan.
70. SSL Certificate
SSL certificate is also a ranking signal – without a doubt. It (Google) first introduced this security protocol as one of the weak ranking signals in 2014. They might turn it into a strong ranking signal with time, but it is without a doubt one that’s worth considering. After all, it is still a ranking signal.
71. Site Uptime
Remember how annoying it felt when you visited that site and had the “we are under maintenance” message on your screen. Having a lot of downtime due to server issues or site maintenance will negatively impact your page rankings. And if not corrected, it could lead to your pages being deindexed.
72. Site Updates
See this as a freshness factor. SEO experts believe that site updates via publishing or editing content on a page work perfectly as a ranking signal. However, Google denies this. Whether or not publishing frequently is a determinant factor, it is a great SEO ethic.
73. Website Architecture
Using a silo structure or other well-put-together website helps Google organize your web content thematically. Using this structure will also help Google’s bot index your site. Overall, how your web pages are structured and linked plays a major role in ranking on Google.
74. Presence of Sitemap
Sitemap helps Google engines to crawl your website intelligently. The times in the list are linked t corresponding categories on that same site.
75. Contact Us page
Google states that it prefers websites with the right amount of information. Therefore, ensure that the contact info present on your website matches the one on your whois info.
76. Insightful Content
Google can easily differentiate between quality and redundant content. An efficient keyword strategy coupled with well-structured content will add the oomph your web pages need. Useful contents act as a strong ranking signal without a doubt.
77. Google TrustRank
Google designed TrustRank to help fight webspam. It conducts further link analysis that helps separate pages from spam while also helping search engines rank web pages in SERPs. And indeed, TrustRank is a strong ranking factor.
78. Parked Domains
Parked domains don’t rank well. Meanwhile, a parked domain is a different name that loads your primary website. A registered domain name that isn’t connected t an online service like a website. To simply put, it is an unused purchased domain. And back in 2011, a Google update decreased search visibility for all parked domains.
79. Sites with valuable content
If a website lacks valuable content and brings nothing new to users seeking information online, it might get penalized. It takes a lot of effort to get traffic and rankings. Consistently creating valuable content online will positively impact your page rankings.
80. Page age
Even though Google favors new content, old pages with ten years and above consistently updated might outperform a new page. But here’s the catch; while having an old domain might give you the ranking edge you need, you could also inherit negative associations just by buying an old domain – an action that could negatively impact your page rankings effort.
81. User-Friendly Interface
Having a site or a mobile application with a good User interface is a strong ranking signal. One of the main factors determining your web pages’ visibility is having a good user interface that enables a positive user experience.
82. Google checks valuable sites for similar queries.
Google looks for websites with lots of user value to fetch similar queries. So once your page ranks well for other keywords might signal to Google that your webpages are of good quality.
83. Link Types
When most of your links come from one source, like blog comments or forum profiles, it sends a signal to the Googlebot – it interprets this as web spamming. But on the flip side, when the links on your web pages are sourced from different websites, it depicts a natural link profile.
84. Guest Posting
Guest posting also referred to as gust blogging, is the act of contributing a post to another webmaster’s blog to gain more exposure, relationships, backlinks, and authority. Guest posting on a large scale can put a target on your website. However, an excessive action on google is deemed spamming, which is why going the route of guest posting should be at a relatively small scale. Moreover, it isn’t as powerful as editorial links. But overall, it remains extremely effective.
85. Ads Link
It is a great addition to your SEO and ranking arsenal as long as the links fetched from ads use the rel=sponsored link attribute. Google will also filter out all identified followed links fetched from ads.
86. Nofollow Links
Nofollow links are viewed by SEO experts as a valuable tactic, though Google still insists that they don’t act on the links. In their own words: “In general, we don’t follow them.” But take the company’s comment on this topic with a pinch of salt. It might not be a strong ranking signal, but implementing it won’t hurt.
87. Bad Neighborhoods Links
What do you refer to as bad neighborhood links? It consists of sites that are known to have violated Google’s guidelines. In addition, they often have a language that isn’t search engine friendly. The verdict is that fetching links from bad neighborhood sites will impact your page rankings.
88. Homepage Authority
We’ve discussed domain authority, but what is homepage authority in this context? Linking to a referring website’s homepage may be a useful tactic when Google’s bot evaluates your website. It all boils down to the link’s value.
89. Competitor’s Links
These are relevant pages because they play a major role in how your pages rank. So, when you source links from pages that are ranking for the same phrase or in similar SERPs, it adds more value to your site, increasing the chances of your web pages ranking higher.
90. Linking Page Authority
The authority of the page you are linking to plays an independent role in your website’s domain value. It refers to the ranking strength that a link carries over. However, there is no known metric for this, though the higher the web’s link authority, the better.
91. Alt Tag
It goes without saying. An alt tag also referred to as an alt description or an alt attribute, is applied to image tags to help provide users and search engines with text alternatives. It is used as image links and acts as anchor texts when the image fails to load.
92. Links from Expected Authority Websites
It is similar to getting a shoutout from one of the reputable websites in your industry. In other words, when you get linked to by expected authority websites in your niche, Google trusts your website more.
93. Referring to Domain’s Authority
What’s the domain authority of the linking page? The PageRanks of the page you are referring to on your page play a huge role in how Google ranks your page. It’d been like this since the early days of Google.
94. .gov and .edu Domains
Even though TLDs aren’t really known for being a huge ranking factor, it’s still worth discussing; after all, SEO experts still believe that Google’s ranking algorithm values both .edu and .gov.
95. Backlink Anchor Text
Anchors offer accurate descriptions of web pages compared to the pages themselves. It is a crucial factor in a site’s SEO health. It is, however, less important now. According to Google, excessive use of backlink anchor text works as a webspam signal – you don’t want that.
96. Number of Links from C-Class IPs
In SEO, C-Class IPs or Class C addresses have a series of numbers, with the first two-bit being one and the third bit being 0. But is this a ranking factor? Links from unique IP addresses indicate a wider breadth of websites linking to you. In this scenario, it’s safe to say that these separate IP addresses act as relatively strong ranking signals.
97. Number of Linking Root Domains
Two or three links are a healthy amount of root domains your page should link to. Add two or three of these linking root domains to your website to boost its authority. Overall, it is a strong ranking signal.
98. Core Web Vitals
The core web vitals refer to measurable Search Engine Optimization performance metrics that show you (the webmaster) how users are interacting with your website and what the user experience is. So, it is viewed by SEO experts as a tiebreaker when it comes to factors that impact how a page rank.
99. Link Placement
Where your link is placed in your content adds more weight to the value of the content when published. Typically, you should have the link placed in the first few lines of your article.
100. Site Reputation
What are users saying about your website? Google also prioritizes a website’s users’ reviews to define a site’s reputation. Google algorithm studies these reviews on sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Angi, to name a few. Interestingly, Google published a candid outline on this topic, stressing that they use reviews on sites now after a website was caught duping its users.
101. Integrating Google Analytics and Google Search Console on one’s website
Marketers and SEO experts believe that Google Search Console and Google Analytics help you study your website’s activity. It also guides you by optimizing your page ranking while studying your website traffic.
Related: The 10 Best SEO Management Tools
102. Number of Linking Pages
The number of linking pages you have on your page impacts your page rankings, even if it’s fetched from the same domain. But remember, having lots of links will be counterproductive, so avoid it. One hundred links per page are fine – it should exceed 100.
103. Backlinks from Aged Domains
Linking from relatively aged domains is viewed as more powerful than backlinks from new domains. No matter the number of SEO tactics you have in your SEO playbook, linking from an aged domain is one of the fairly strong ranking signals.
104. Reconsideration Request
After you’ve fixed a problem that you identified in a security issues notification or a manual action, a reconsideration request is what you send to Google to have them review your website. A successful reconsideration will have the penalty attached to the issues lifted. So it might not be a strong ranking signal, but having the penalty attached to the flaws or report.
105. Temporary Link Schemes
Google has its eyes on you if you’re known for creating and quickly removing spammy links. For example, do you exchange money for links or publish posts containing links for which you’ve exchanged money? That might negatively impact your page.
106. Disavow Tool
The Disavow tool enables you (the web admin) to give Google a heads up if you don’t want a particular backlink considered when reviewing the links that point to a site. Unfortunately, Google uses this tool to site multiple unnatural links pointing to a specific website. But why is this important anyway? It turns out this tool is also capable of removing algorithmic penalties for victims of bad SEO.
107. Google Dance
Do you know what the Google Dance is? Well, it is one complex yet an exciting thing in the world of SEO. It refers to the phenomenon of webpage jumping ranks as Google re-evaluates the pages and rankings. Also referred to as the random ranking factor, it is something all web admins expect after editing or adding to a site. But, rank-wise, it can temporarily disrupt your rankings.
108. Unnatural Link Spike
In 2013, A Google Patent clearly described how the search engine could identify whether or not an influx of URL links to a web page is legitimate. If these links become illegitimate, they will be devalued immediately.
109. Links from Press Releases and Article Directories
The value in these links lies in producing and publishing newsworthy content. So naturally, your page will experience a slight jump when you link to such content. Unfortunately, these two strategies are now being viewed as link schemes, with no thanks to web admins abusing them.
110. Google Sandbox
In SEO, Google sandbox is a form of probation period for a newly published website. During this period, there were restrictions on the web pages. Here’s how it works – if a new website gets a sudden influx of links, they (these new web pages) are immediately put in a Google Sandbox, thus, temporarily limiting the site’s search visibility.
111. Manual Actions
Getting a message about a manual action is not fun. Google typically sends this when they’ve demoted or removed some or all of your site’s web pages. When your website’s pages have been demoted or removed, it automatically disrupts the ranking. There are several types of manual actions, but most manual actions occur when there’s a case of black hat link building.
112. Selling Links
When you’re caught selling links, the consequences can hurt your website’s visibility.
113. Unnatural Links Warning
If you get an unnatural links warning message from Google, your ranking tactics negate Google’s ranking guidelines. Sometimes, this warning is followed by a drop in your site’s page rank.
114. Widget Links
Links that are automatically generated aren’t SEO friendly, and it’s a tactic that is frowned against by Google.
115. Poison Anchor Text
When a poison anchor text links to your website, especially links that contain pharmacy keywords, it may be a clear sign of a hacked website or spamming; either way, your ranking will be negatively impacted. While anchor text is known to positively impact a site’s SEO, having a poisoned anchor text can negatively impact it.
116. Links from the Same Class C IP
Sourcing an excessive number of links from websites on the same server IP will help Google determine whether your links are sourced from a blog.
117. Low-Quality Directory Links
You’ll be penalized if your backlinks are sourced from low-quality directories. So, we recommend trying as much as possible to avoid such links. While a high-quality link makes your domain relevant and authoritative, a low-quality link does the opposite. A low-quality link can’t help Googlebot or any other search engine determine a site’s authority on any particular subject.
118. Links Sourced from Unrelated Sites
If your backlinks are from sites with unrelated topics, getting a manual penalty is quite high.
119. Hiding Affiliate Links
Google frowns at hiding affiliate links. It is an action that could get you penalized. Also referred to as cloaking, hiding affiliate links involves creating a folder from where you’ll serve the redirects. The steps involved make it a waste of time. There’s no point in investing in it.
120. Affiliate Websites
Still on affiliate links, generally speaking, Google doesn’t fancy this type of link. However, some webmasters also believe that sites powered by any affiliate program are always in the eye of the storm.
Did you know what Google Fred is? It is an algorithm update whose sole aim is to target black-hat tactics linked to aggressive monetization. If you have low-value content on your website, which shows that you put revenue above valuable content, you might soon get a knock from Google Fred.
122. Autogenerated Content (Articles and Blogposts)
There’s no room for low-quality content on Google. And if they have a reason to suspect that you are pumping your site with autogenerated content, it could lead to a sanction or your website being de-indexed.
123. Excess PageRank Sculpting
You’ll be going too far by opting for nofollowing your entire outbound links. Google also finds it distasteful. So if you want to rank well on Google, don’t go overboard with PageRank sculpting. For the newbies in this field, PageRank Sculpting is a dark art. It involves manipulating your page rank by controlling your link flow.
124. Meta Tag Spamming
Stuffing your content with keywords won’t automatically make your web pages rank. But is the content the only section that can be stuffed with keywords? Of course not. It happens in meta tags too. But if it turns out that you’ve been stuffing your meta tags to manipulate the algorithm, Google may hit you with a penalty. And you know how bad the penalty is for your pages.
125. Flagged IP Address
If our IP address is flagged as spam by any chance, it would negatively disrupt the visibility of your web pages.
126. Hacked Website
Hacked sites get dropped from search results. You’ll get a hack classification if your website gets hacked. Google has an efficient system that identifies a hacked site. It is safe to say that it is your prerogative to ensure that your website doesn’t get hacked.
127. Penguin Penalty
Penguin penalty identifies poor-quality sites based on backlinks. So, what’s the catch? Google’s bot works majorly on the assumption that top-quality sites link to another top site, while the opposite is the reality for the low-quality website. So, when a site gets hit by Penguin, it becomes less visible. But Google Penguin now filters out bad links.
25. Unnatural Influx of Links
What happens when a site experiences an influx flow of links? According to Google, it is a sure sign of unnatural links. Unnatural links refer to unnatural links that are designed to manipulate ranking. But on the flip side, the links could be purchased.
128. Link Profile with Excessive Low-Quality Links
When a link source is a primary source for black hat SEOs, it may be a sign of manipulating the system. But what are low-quality links? We explained it earlier, but all the same, having excess irrelevant links means your website is questionable. Think about it; too many internal links on your page will dilute the value it (the page) is trying to share. A low-quality link will do worse.
129. Doorway Webpages
They are pages or a complete site created to rank for similar search queries. Unfortunately, these pages are unhealthy for users, mostly because they can lead to the creation of multiple similar pages in Google or other search engine results. Especially where the results end up taking the user to the same destination.
130. Website Over-Optimization
Over-optimizing your website could be counterproductive. Site over-optimization is when you make too many SEO improvements (at once), which leads Google to be skeptical about your website. If Googlebot sites a red flag based on this act, you’ll get penalized.
131. Ads Place Above the Fold
Ads that exist above the fold can get you penalized. Above the fold refers to the content located at the top of the page in this context. It is visible without the need to scroll down. What’s worse is if there’s no quality content. More often than not, if you spend time focusing more on the right thing, you’ll be fine. And when you’re fine, you are bound to rank well.
131. Gibberish/Redundant Content
Useless contents are frowned against. There’s also a Google Patent that highlights gibberish content. The update filters out auto-generated content from their index. When you get caught publishing duplicate content on your website, you’ll be penalized.
133. Site Over-Optimization
You’ll be penalized by Google for going overboard with your site’s optimization. Header tag stuffing, excessive use of a keyword, overly decorating keywords – these are just some of the dark art tactics that could get you penalized. Too many improvements done at once will lead Google to question why so many things are going on with your website. The more you play by the book, the better your chances of going far with your site’s SEO and ranking.
There’s nothing wrong with using popups on your site – but what Google frowns at is an inappropriate use – one that includes using it in such a way that your website becomes inaccessible. It’s right to assume that using popups could impact your site’s SEO. However, it could also degrade your web pages’ user experience.
135. Interstitial Popups
Still on popups. Interstitials are popup content types that appear once a site loads for users. No doubt, this can be quite useful. However, they tend to cause long-term user experience issues and affect how Google and other search engines crawl your site. One more thing worth noting is that Google could penalize sites with full-page popups on mobile phone users.
Redirect happens when a user requests a specific web page but gets transferred to a different page. More often than not, the web admin in charge of the website might have already deleted the page ad created a redirect to transfer crawlers and users to a different but relevant page.
137. Panda Penalty
Websites with low-quality content will become less visible after getting hit by this penalty. Again, content farms are the most affected.
138. Links to Bad Neighborhoods
What are bad neighbors? Spam, poorly written content, bad links, unrelated links that are paid for, over-abundance of ads, and excessive external links are bad neighborhoods. When you link out to these bad neighborhoods, it may hurt your site’s search visibility.
139. Brand Mentions on different top stories
It’s under normalcy for big brands to get mentions on different top stories. Interestingly, some of these brands have a news feed from their site situated on the first page. So when a blog speaks about a certain business, as long as it’s a piece of valuable information and the story is premium, Google sees this as a strong ranking signal.
140. Brick and Mortar Spots
Real businesses tend to have physical offices. So, it is also possible for Google the source out location data to help determine if a site is indeed a big brand.
141. Unlinked Brand Mentions
Brands get a mention without necessarily linking to them. The Google bot looks out for non-hyperlinked brand mentions as a form of a brand signal, which often yields trust and aids your page rank indirectly.
142. Official LinkedIn Company Page
If you own a real business, you also own a LinkedIn page. That factors in too. So, as a business owner, add this tactic to your to-do list to increase your visibility.
143. The legitimacy of Social Media Accounts
A social media account with over 10,000 followers but two posts are not the same as an account with 10,000 followers but lots of posts and follower interaction. Google once filed a patent to help determine if a social media account is real or not.
144. Known Authorship
In 2013, Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, claimed that information linked to verified online accounts would be ranked within the search results compared to content without such verification. As a result of this, most users will likely click on the verified results shown at the top.
145. Site with a Twitter Profile
A site with a Twitter profile with lots of followers signals a trusted and popular brand. If you wish to rank well on Google or any other search engine, make sure you have a Twitter profile for your brand/website.
146. The site has a Facebook Page.
The same narrative works for Facebook. Trusted brands tend to have a Facebook page with many likes and comments.
147. Brand and Keyword Searches
If people search for a specific keyword that links to your brand, Google may boost your page ranking, especially when people search for the non-branded variant of that particular keyword on Google.
148. Brand Name Anchor Text
Brand anchor text refers to clickable links where the particular text is the web site’s name to which the link ultimately leads. But undermine the effect of brand name anchor text at your peril. People often ignore the tactics simply because it is one strong brand and ranking signal. So, ensure to have it in your SEO arsenal.
149. Single Site Results for Brands
A single website isn’t as good for SEO as you’d have with multi-page sites. You need to consider your business goals while also looking out for your target audience or buyer persona, especially for a single-page site. Brand or domain-oriented keywords tend to bring up multiple results from the same website.
150. Branded Searches
Branded searches are queries through a search engine known to include the brand name, the company, or the business. These could include other words like “Amazon” or “Amazon KDP.” A branded search includes one’s brand name.
151. Payday Loans Update
Payday loans update is a powerful algorithm developed to clean up all spammy queries. The update is one of the weird names Google gave its algorithm. It was first launched in 2013. The aim of the Google update was designed to improve users’ search results.
152. Image Results
Google images often appear in the organic search results. With Google Image, users can visually discover certain information online. Generally, images make content appear more interesting as it helps readers understand one’s content better. Furthermore, images add value to the information you are trying to pass across.
153. Easter Egg Results
There are more than 12 easter egg results. For instance, when a user searches for “Atari Breakout” in Google’s image search, the result often becomes a more playable game when you search for “magic pen” right back in Google Image search.
154. Top Stories Box
Certain keywords trigger the different top story boxes. The SERP is known to offer more visibility.
155. Shopping Results
About a year ago (back in 2021, to be precise, the search engine giant announced that they were shutting down the Google shopping application by the end of June. These results are sometimes displayed in organic SERPs.
156. Big Brand Preference
Preferences exist. As we’ve highlighted earlier, a very strong brand tends to get more users to buy more products at a high price. After Google’s Vince Update, it began living big brands a boost for some keywords. So what does a consistent brand create? More often than not, these sorts of brands create loyal advocates to help your business grow.
157. Domain Diversity
You’ve read about domain authority, but do you know what domain diversity is? It refers to a great number of unique websites appearing in SERPs. For instance, if you have five results from eBay and two from Pinterest on the first page, it’s a perfect example of low domain diversity. Popularly known as the Bigfoot Update, it added extra domains to each SERPs.
158. Local Searches
Local Search Engine Optimization (Local SEO) is referred to as improving visibility for local businesses, especially brick and mortar businesses. Following SEO best practices can help businesses improve organic traffic from all searches performed by prospective customers. And for local searches, Google often prioritizes results above the typical “normal” organic SERPs.
159. DMCA Complaints
DMCA is hardly talked about in this SEO world. But copyright regulations affect websites that have been judged to have copied content from another website. The author or web admin with plagiarized content can make complaints about such sites and have those contents brought down. From the defendant’s point of view, this would negatively impact your site’s visibility.
160. YMYL Keywords
YMYL stands for “your money or your life,” but don’t worry, and it isn’t a threat. Instead, it’s a description of a type of content. And just as the name suggests, it refers to content capable of influencing a major decision – a decision related to a person’s life or finance. There’s a higher content quality standard Google requires all authors and web admins to adhere to.
161. Transactional Searches
A transactional search query shows an intent to complete a transaction. It’s easy to assume that users with such queries have direct purchase interests. These transactional queries often include verbs like “order or purchase.” It could also include product names. Google tends to display different results for shopping-related keywords such as restaurant searches.
162. Top Stories Box
Certain keywords trigger the top story box. As a web admin, try to infuse those words into your content.
With geo-targeting, you’ll understand who your target audience ought to be and how to target them. Then, when you target the right keywords, it could be a fairly strong ranking signal. For example, Google prioritizes sites with country-specific domain name extensions and local server IPs.
164. Featured Snippets
These are excerpts of text highlighted at the top of the google search results page in position 0. With it, users can glance at answers to different search queries. In addition, and according to a study carried out by SEMRush, Google prioritizes featured snippet content-based that has a combination of content formatting, length, HTTP usage, and length.
165. Safe Search
A search result that contains adult content or curses words won’t appear if you have the safe search feature. What does that mean? Your page’s visibility will be disrupted if it contains adult content or curses words. And that would be counterproductive.
166. Query Deserves Freshness
New pages get boosts from Google for certain searches. For example, the Query Deserves Freshness comes up when there’s a dramatic increase in search volumes in blogs or magazines, direct queries via the search engine, and media pages.
167. Query Deserves Diversity
There are a few factors search engines often consider when ranking or indexing a page or a website. These different aspects or factors exist within each group. Query Deserves Diversity is an algorithm implemented by Google to modify results to provide broader match results.
168. User Browsing History
Just as the name suggests, users browsing history is also a ranking factor, though search engines rarely use it. As a result, websites users visit frequently get more SERP boosts.
169. User Search History
The search chain often influences users’ search results, especially for later searches. For example, if you surf the internet for “top” and then search for “work boot,” Google is more likely to rank the top workbook higher in the SERPs.
170. Number of Comments
The comments on your website are an indirect way to tell Google bot or any other search engine that your website is active. But note, comments on a website don’t play any importance in SEO beyond participating in a conversation and building trust with prospective readers. Overall, pages with comments often signal quality user interaction.
180. Dwell Time
It refers to the time it takes a user to analyze a page before clicking back to the search result and further amplifying the importance of having quality content. A page with low dwell time means it didn’t match the users’ preference and search intent. As a web admin, the low rate is bad for business.
181. Blocked Sites
While Google has halted the use of this feature in its Chrome web browser, Panda, on the other hand, still uses it. This means Google is probably using a different version of it.
182. Chrome Bookmarks
Google collects browser usage data. This means it can monitor how a user interacts with a website. And in this context, a bookmarked page gets more boost depending on how frequent it is.
183. Direct Traffic
Direct traffic means visits with no referring website. How does that work? When a user follows a link directly from one website to another, that particular website of origin is known as the referrer. It is confirmed that Google and some other search engines use data from their web browser to help determine how many users visit such sites.
184. Repeat Traffic
Repeat traffic means the website or blog is attracting visitors or prospective clients interested in the field or the information published on it. Ultimately, a website with repeat visitors or clients may get a slight boost from Google.
185. Pogo sticking
It is a type of bounce. But with pogo-sticking, the user clicks on other search results to find the required answer to the search query. Google coined pogo-sticking. It describes what happens when a user enters your website via a search engine results page and exits the page, going back to the search engine results page.
186. Organic CTR for Keywords
CTR is the short form for ‘Click Through Rate.’ A site with organic CTR for the keywords it ranks for may be a user-interaction signal.
187. Bounce Rate
A site’s bounce rate is, by far, one of the strong ranking signals used by Google. It is the number of visitors to a site who click off the site after viewing a page. A site’s bounce rate is expressed as a percentage.
188. Quality of Linking Content
When you source links from low-quality or spun content, it won’t pass as much value as links sourced from top-quality content. Remember, building links is undoubtedly one of the strongest SEO tactics you can ever use while growing your site. It is used in SEO mainly because links are a signal Google uses to determine the overall quality of the site and if it’s worth citing.
189. Sitewide Links
Sitewide links refer to outbound links that typically appear throughout a website or a section. These are specific links in a site’s sidebar, navigation menu, or footer section. They are compressed and function as a single link.
190. TrustRank of Linking Site
With TrustRank, search engines can now combat web spam. It (TrustRank) measures trust signals. These trust signals are curated to help evaluate the legitimacy of these core ranking signals. Now, the legitimacy of the site links to your website.
191. Forum Links
Forum links used to be a great SEO tactic. But that’s not the case right now. Instead, Google may devalue links sourced from forums due to industrial-level spamming.
192. Number of Outbound Links on Page
Sourced links that point from your website to another are regarded as outbound links. When you have a link on a page with lots of external links, it passes less PageRank than a page with a few outbound links. So, the question is, how many outbound links are indeed excessive? Anything above 15 is excessive. You don’t need that much to get your message across anyways.
193. Word count of Linking Content
What’s the word count of the linking content? There’s no specific “ideal” word count for SEO. But we recommend aiming for 500 words for product pages or news posts, 1000 words for standard blog posts, and 2000 words for long-form content. These are better than a link in a 25 to 30-word snippet.
194. Reciprocal Links
Reciprocal Links are a strong ranking signal. When a link exchange occurs between you and another web admin, or an agreement between brands to exchange or trade links to boost site authority and SEO, these links are regarded as reciprocal links. But it is worthy to note that excessive link exchanging is an SEO scheme you should avoid.
195. Schema.org Usage
Schema is a markup that informs Googlebot and any other search engine what you’re trying to convey through your content. It ultimately converts unstructured data turning it into structured data. Therefore, microformats friendly pages may rank well above pages that don’t support it (microformats). Interestingly, microformats have high SERP CTR.
196. Links from 301
A 301 link indicates the permanent transfer of a site or a page from one location to another. But the 301 in this term refers to the HTTP code of the redirected page. So, how does this affect your page rank? While they may lose a bit of juice, they still have similar perks as direct links.
197. User-Generated Content Links
Google can easily identify User Generated Content. The Googlebot can easily spot the difference between content published by a site’s author and user-generated content. Content like text, images, audio, reviews, and videos published by users through social media, forums, websites, and blogs as part of social media tactics.
198. Backlink Age
Older links tend to have more edge than new backlinks – this is according to a Google Patent. Safe to say, age is one ranking signal that can’t be faked.
199. Natural Link Profile
A natural link profile contains links that lead to and comes from external websites relevant to your target audience and brand. The (natural link profile) is a natural fit for sites. These links are also non-spammy and often come from credible sources.
The words that typically appear around a backlink let Google know what the page is about. It’s about the presence, proximity, and frequency of these similar words across the different websites. It logically includes relevant keywords that aren’t the same.
201. Linked to as Wikipedia Source
Although these are no-follow links, many people believe that sourcing a link from Wikipedia will add a bit of authority and trust to it. However, Google denied this theory. But if it’s technically and logically wrong, use it in moderation, and you’ll be fine. Some SEO experts believe that creating an article and inserting Wikipedia links is ideal for boosting your page rank.
202. Links from “Hub” Pages
An algorithm designed basically for this is the hilltop algorithm. It suggests that getting links from webpages like hubs or other related top resources on a particular top often gets a special treatment by Google and some other search engines.
203. Negative Link Velocity
Negative Link Velocity will downrank your page as it is a decreasing signal close to being the opposite of the ranking signal. Also referred to as LVT, it means that the search engine or the web has a love interest in the domain and the pages that exist within it. The speed at which the backlinks used on your pages are added over time is regarded as link velocity.
204. Link from Authority Sites
Links sourced from authority sites are more likely to get boosted than links from fairly known websites. This is because authority links are sourced from established sites with a degree of authority and trust gained due to their consistent delivery of quality and age.
205. Positive Link Velocity
While a negative link velocity can reduce one’s page ranking, a site with a positive link velocity on the flip side gets more SERP boost. So, in simple terms, the page started to take off and gained popularity on the internet.
206. Link Location on Page
Where a link is situated on webpage matters, a link embedded in a site’s content is more effective and powerful compared to links in the sidebar or footer section.
207. Linking Domain Relevancy
It’s a rule of thumb that a link sourced from a website in a similar niche is more effective and powerful than links from an unrelated site.
208. Page-Level Relevancy
Just as we’ve mentioned in the previous point, a link sourced from a relevant page in the same niche has more value than a link gotten from an unrelated page. When you get a link from a webpage that’s closely related to the content you are trying to publish, it often gains more value. The ranking factor responsible for this is known as the hilltop algorithm.
209. Keyword in Title
Search engines like Google give extra love to links from web pages that contain your site’s keywords in the title. So, add that to your arsenal of SEO tactics.
210. Links from Real Sites and Splogs
Google gives more priority to links from real sites than fake blogs, which is due to the rapid increase in blogs. Google likely uses user-interaction and brand signals to distinguish between both.
211. Excessive 301 Redirects to Page
Backlinks that come from 301 redirects often dilute and devalue PageRank. And if you wish to make your page rank well, your best option is to avoid this completely.
212. Link Title Attribution
Search engines, especially Google, may also use the Link title as a relevancy signal. The attribute can be used to define any HTML element. One of the perks of the link title attribute is that you could use it to provide descriptive text in an anchor tag.
RankBrain is one of Google’s AI. Experts believe that its sole purpose is to determine how users interact with the search results. It measures such interactions too.
214. AI Generated Content
Google Says AI generated content is against guidelines (Source). If you are using AI generated content to manipulate algorithms, there are high chances that your content will be considered spam. However, the content itself doesn’t rank. Google also check other factors.
In conclusion, there are many SEO ranking factors that play into a website’s SEO ranking. While some are within the control of the website owner, others are not. However, you can improve your website’s online visibility on search engines by optimising your website for the most important ranking factors. There are many different ways to improve your ranking, and the best way is to experiment and see what gives you the best results. The most important thing to remember is that SEO is always changing and evolving, so it is important to stay up to date on the latest changes and trends.