Important Google Ranking Signals For SEO

I know you badly wish to rank on Google’s first page.

Your wishes are valid. But there is a little problem.

The sad thing: SEO companies don't want you to know Google’s top ranking factors.

The good thing: We have discovered over 200 signals that Google uses in its index to rank websites.

I shall tell you free of charge. 

This article contains all major actionable tips that will rank your website in position 1 in Google.

The signals consist what we generally call Google’s Ranking Algorithm. The information contained herein comes from a combination of case studies, personal experiences, official sources and researchers’ experiments.

At the moment of writing this piece, there are over 1 billion websites online.

Your website is just one of them.

So, chances of your website appearing on the first page of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are slightly over one in half a billion, assuming that you start well.

With that in mind, I hereby declare to you that you can still rank your website if your follow this e-book.  

High Content Factors

We all know content is king, everything else is queen.

Having quality content is important because all other factors depend on it.

Just think for a second.

How can you have good backlinks without content?

How can Google rank your website without any content?

Without good content, your website is doomed.

In order to achieve anything, you must first have content that solves people’s problems and the search engines’ appetite.

Such content is normally called high-quality content, long-form content or simply consumer-based content.

All online content resides within a page of a website. So in essence, we are talking about page level factors that qualify content. Here are the most important Google SEO ranking factors of all time that will rank your website #1 in Google:

Page-Level Google Ranking Factors

 

1. Keywords in Title Tags

The page title is the most important part of a web page.

It attracts visitors, compels clicks and attracts search engine bots as well.

The title tag of your content must have the keyword you want to rank for.

Be sure to sprinkle two or three keywords in your title since it sends a strong on-page SEO signal.

 2. Title Tag Starts with Keyword

All content must have title tags.

Keyword placement in title tags is a ranking factor.

Research carried out by Moz data indicates that title tags starting with a keyword rank better than the ones having the keyword towards the end.

Ensure you place keywords that you want to rank for at the beginning of all title tags.

3. Keyword in Meta Description Tag

The Meta description of your content should contain keywords.

It makes a difference when rending search engine results.

A while back, Google stated that it is no longer a ranking factor but it won’t cost you anything to add it.

4. Keyword Appears in H1 Tag

H1 tags attract the attention of search engine bots.

The H tags indicate that the content surrounded by them is a title.

A recent study by Butter Worth indicates that H1 tags are still relevant in helping with your SEO.

 5. Length of Content 

Long-form content has more value than thin content.

Nowadays, people want the in-depth synthesis of information.

This does not mean that one can create flannel content using fluff words and get away with it.

Having user experience in mind dictates the creation of something that your audience loves.

Long-form content has a higher value because it covers specific information in details.

Research shows that longer content ranks higher in SERPs.

In fact, Google mentions that the amount of content on a page determines its overall quality.

 “the amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page.”

Almost all pages that appear on the first page of SERPs have content longer than 2000 words.

 6. Frequent Keyword Usage in Page Contents

This is all about keyword density.

We are not talking about keyword stuffing or keyword spamming here.

However, keywords should be used throughout the content to act as a relevancy signal.

Using variations of your keywords in the body of your page holds SEO weight.

Having a keyword appear more than any other likely acts as a relevancy signal.

7. Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords in Content(LSI)

LSI keywords are other words which have a semantic relationship with the keywords of your content.

LSI keywords are important in helping search engines understand the meaning of words that have more than one meaning.

For instance, how can you tell search engines the type of cars you are writing about in the following case?

Cars – the vehicles

“Cars” – the animation movie

CARS – the Canadian Association for Rally Sports

CARs – the Canadian Aviation Regulations

The Cars – the American 1970s music band

Using the words like vehicle, automobile, spare parts, used, new, buy, sell, dealers, repair will show that you are talking about “Cars – the vehicles”

The presence of relevant LSI words helps as a content ranking factor.

Niksto reveals that you need relevant LSI words to rank your website.

8. Use of LSI Keywords in Title and Description Tags

Using Latent Semantic Indexing in page title tags and Meta description is a sure way of helping Google to discern what your content is all about.

The LSI keywords help in sending relevancy signals to search engines.

9. Page Loading Speed via HTML

Page speed is an essential SEO factor.

Google and Bing use page loading speed to rank websites depending on the time it takes the page contents to load.

This factor is controversial in a way. Large amounts of content may tend to load slower and yet thin content is not desirable.

The main point is to make your content load as fast as possible to boost your website’s rankings.

10. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content adversely affects a website’s position in SERPs.

Ensure that you don’t have identical content on the same site even if the content is slightly altered.

Identical content negatively influences and confuses search engines which end up giving a lower rank.

11. Image Optimization

Images are visual types of content.

On-page images send relevancy signals to search engines through their file names, alt texts, image titles, image descriptions, and captions.

Image optimization also involves compressing and using the smallest possible but quality image sizes to reduce image load times.  

12. Rel =Canonical

At times, it is difficult to avoid similar content on two URLs. In such cases, using a canonical tag on your site can prevent this.

The canonical tag tells Google that the two URLs are similar and one thing. Thus Google treats them so.

Moz states that proper use of the canonical tag can help Google in considering duplicate content otherwise.

13. Page Loading Speed via Chrome

Google can use your Chrome browser to acquire date on your page’s loading time.

The data is important since it includes the server’s loading time, CDN and other data signals other than HTML.

14. Latest Content Updates

Content changes with time even with evergreen content.

Google’s Caffeine update favors recently updated content while stale content lags behind.

Nowadays, Google is so smart that it provides time-sensitive information to related time-sensitive searches.

For instance, a blog on “Making money online in 2017” may appear higher in SERPS than “Making money online in 2007”

Recency and regular updating of content is a ranking factor.

15.Scale of Content Updates

The extent to which existing content is updated is an indicator of content freshness.

Major edits involving large sections of content are more significant updates than mere changing of word order.

Old content which is not ranking well can be updated to start ranking well in Google.

16. Page Updates

Historical updates over time are important aspects of constant content freshness.

If your historical data shows that your website is updated daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly, your content is likely to rank higher than abandoned content which is never updated. 

17. Keyword in first 100 Words

Studies show that putting your keywords in the first 100 words of your page’s content is a significant relevancy signal.

You can do this by avoiding unnecessary filler introductions.

 

18. Keyword in H2, H3 Tags

You need your keywords in other sub-headings as well.

Putting your keyword in H2, H3 and H4 tags may be a weak relevancy signal but it matters.

19. Grammar and Spelling

Proper spelling of words and proper grammar and sentence structure are sure quality signals.

Cutts, in 2011, did not specify the importance of proper spelling and grammar.

But remember it is also good for your audience.

20. Syndicated Content

Content copied from other websites scraped content and any content from an already indexed page cannot rank well as the original content.

Google can easily penalize such content or just index it as supplementary content.

21. Helpful Supplementary Content

Offering helpful supplementary content on your website can help in ranking your website.

Supplementary content such as currency converters, calculators, and such interactive data indicate that the content is quality.

22. Quality of Outbound Links

The number of outbound links is important.

Quality outbound links linking to high quality content can make google rank your website higher.

Be sure to link to good external sources to help your audience get valuable information.

23. Number of Do Follow Outbound Links

Having too many do follow outbound links may leak your PageRank by spreading link juice to other pages.

You should aim to have a few dofollow outbound links to preserve your site's juice.

24. Multimedia

Presence of various multimedia like images, videos, infographics, animations and other multimedia elements add quality to your website and lead to higher rankings.

25. Number of Internal Links Pointing to a Page

If many internal links point to a page, it means that the page is more important.

Google will rank pages with more internal links better.

26. Quality of Internal Links Pointing to Page

Apart from the number of internal links, quality also matters.

Each page has a different ranking in Google’s eyes.

Internal links from authoritative high ranking pages on the same domain have stronger SEO effect on the pages they point to than low PageRank pages.

27. Broken Links

Broken links imply broken content or just incomplete content.

Having too many broken links imply an abandoned site or a poorly maintained site.

Too many broken links hurt SEO.

28. Readability Score Level

Google estimates the readability score of all web pages.

SEO plugins like SEO by Yoast can easily help you track the readability score of your website.

Your content should be easy to read, free from clutter and with lots of white space for you to rank well.

29. Reading level

Google can determine the reading level of your website by analyzing the complexity of the words used.

Google also compares the complexity of the words with your target demographics to gauge whether you are delivering quality content.

The best reading level for websites is a controversial subject. While some SEO analysts advocate for basic reading level, others forge for the intermediate and advanced levels.

30. Quantity of Affiliate Links

Affiliate links don’t hurt SEO but too many of them may attract Google’s algorithm to close-examine your content.

31. HTML errors/ W3C validation

HTML errors show low quality while WC3 validation is a weak quality signal.

It’s prudent to avoid any coding and validation errors.

32. Page Host’s Domain Authority

Domain Authority is a determinant ranking element.  When all things are constant, content on authoritative domains will outrank content on a domain with lesser authority.

You can only build domain authority by implementing these SEO tips and by creating great content over time.

33. Page’s PageRank

High PageRank pages of the same domain tend to outrank lower PR pages.

You can prove this by searching “Site: Yourdomain”

You will realize that certain pages rank higher than others. That is the point.

34. URL Length

Research shows that URLs should be at most 65 characters long.

Search Engine Journal reported that very long URLs hurt search visibility and hence rankings.

35. URL Path

Pages whose URL structure is closer to the homepage have a slightly higher SEO boost.

This is again controversial with many SEOs claiming that it makes no sense.

However, it makes sense given that keywords at the beginning of a URL have a boost.

36. URL structure

URL string determines the type of keywords search engines see on the slug.

The optimal URL structure should show words separated by forward strokes instead of dates or codes.

In order to change this, you should check your permalink structure.

37. Human Editors

Google has filed a patent for the system to employ human editors to rank some websites by influencing the SERPs.

38. Page Category

The category of a page is an indicator of relevancy.

Pages existing on intimately related categories have a relevancy boost compared to pages published under unrelated categories.

39. WordPress Tags

WordPress tags are relevance signals according to Yoast.

The tags help in relating similar content by pointing to them.

40. Keyword in URL

Using keywords in the URL tells search engines what your pages are all about.

41. References and Sources

Citing references in text and at the end of content just like research papers and other academic papers are signs of quality.

Sources add credibility to information.

42. Bullets and Numbered Lists

Google loves numbered lists and bulleted lists. The lists make it easier for users to scan the content.

The more user-friendly a content is, the higher it ranks in Google.

43. Priority of Page in Sitemap:

Placement of pages in sitemaps influences ranking.

Pages placed higher have an advantage.

44. Too Many Outbound Links

In the quality rater document, Google stated that “Some pages have way, way too many links, obscuring the page and distracting from the Main Content”.

Too many outbound links distract the audience and negatively affect SEO.

45. Page Ranking for other Keywords

When your page ranks for other keywords other than the one you are targeting, Google sees it as a quality sign.

46. Page Age

Google loves older content that is regularly updated with very new content.

The older your page, the better its chance to rank

47. User-Friendly Layout

Using a layout that enhances content visibility can boost your rankings.

According to Google, “The page layout on highest quality pages makes the Main Content immediately visible”

48. Parked Domains

Parked domains have a lower visibility score due to Google’s Update.

49. Useful Content

According to Google, high-quality content may not necessarily be useful content.

You should aim to create high-quality useful content.

Site-Level Factors

50. Unique Value and Insights of Content

Google stated that its algorithm ranks sites that deliver unique content and value higher than sites that just recycle information.

51. Contact Us Page

Google Quality Document mentions that websites should have “appropriate amount of contact information”

Websites which have contact information which matches with their whois information gain Google’s trust and is likely to get the rank boost.

52. Domain Trust/TrustRank

Domain trust is measured by determining the domain’s distance from trusted seed sites. Brian Dean of Backlinko states that TrustRank is a great ranking factor.

53. Site Architecture

Site architecture is the structural hierarchical arrangement of content on a website.

Websites that use a good silo structure receive Google’s favor since the search engine finds it easier to understand the content.

54. Site Updates

Regularly updated websites have freshness indicators which boost their ranking in Google, unlike sites that are rarely updated.

55. Number of Pages

Authoritative websites have many pages of interconnected high-quality content.

Sites with many pages easily rank on top of Google than sites with a few pages.

56. Presence of Sitemap

The presence of a sitemap helps search engines to index all site’s content.

Sitemaps increase crawl rates and visibility hence higher rankings.

If your website has no sitemap, create and submit it to search engines.

57. Site Uptime

Your website’s uptime depends on the server on which it is hosted and availability of resources.

Although many servers promise 99.9% server uptime, some tend to fail.

A higher percentage of site uptime is a good ranking signal while lots of downtimes may adversely affect your SEO.

58. Server Location

The location of the server on which your website is hosted is a ranking element.

If you serve local content, be sure to host your content on locally available servers.

The server location is important for geo-specific searches.

For instance, hosting content served in South Korea on a server located in California is a suicidal SEO mistake.

Using Content Delivery Networks may speed up delivery of content and enhance rankings for sites that have a worldwide audience.

59. SSL Certificate

With the increasing security concerns, it is now clear that websites should switch from HTTP to HTTPS. The use of HTTPS encryption is a ranking factor.

Google stated that they index SSL certificates.

In fact, all e-commerce websites must move to https in order to rank favorably.

A quick analysis of Google results page shows that https sites rank better.

60. Terms of Service and Privacy Pages

Having terms of service page and privacy policy page sends a trust signal to Google.

It then rewards your site for that. 

61. Duplicate Meta Information On-Site

Duplicating meta information in various pages of your website is a surefire way of creating trouble with big brother Google.

Duplicate meta can bring your ranking down.

62. Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumb navigation is important because it helps users and search engine bots to know their location in your content.

SearchEngineJournal.com and Ethical SEO Consulting confirm the essence of using breadcrumbs for higher rankings.

Why can’t you give it a try?

63. Mobile Optimized

Google officially stated that they want mobile optimized responsive sites.

Lately, Google has been adding mobile friendly tags to websites that are mobile friendly.

On the other hand, they put “your site is not mobile friendly” tags for sites that do not display well on mobile devices. 

Google is record saying that it will penalize sites that are not mobile friendly since more than 50% of searches originate from mobile phones.

64. Use of YouTube Videos

Google now owns YouTube.

You may have realized that YouTube videos rank highly in Google unlike videos from other sources.

Embedding quality and relevant YouTube videos is a plus for your content.

65. Site Usability

Sites should be easy to use and navigate through. Sites that make it easy for users to access content rank higher in search engines.

In the eyes of Google, sites that are hard to navigate have difficult navigation systems and higher bounce rates.

Google analyses the behavior of site visitors to determine site usability.

66. Use of Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools

Installing Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools in your website can give you intuitive information and improve your page’s indexing.

However, if your site employs unorthodox practices, the same tools can deliver such data to Google.

Whether you are doing right or wrong, the tools will give accurate information about the number of visitors, their geographic location, bounce rate, clicks, referral traffic etc. which may influence your ranking in Google directly.

67. User Reviews and Site Reputation

Review sites such as Yelp.com, Trustpilot.com and RipOffReport.com can give Google algorithm important information about your site.

Google explained how customer reviews can affect your rankings here.

Domain Factors Affecting Google SEO

 

68. Age of Domain

Domain age is important. Under similar scenarios, content in older domains tends to have an advantage of higher rankings than content in younger domains.

Matt Cutts of Google states in this video that:

“The difference between a domain that’s six months old versus one-year-old is really not that big at all.”

Anyway, you can’t make your domain younger or older.

69. Keyword Appears in Top Level Domain

Having a keyword as part of your domain can slightly boost SEO and sends a little relevancy signal.

To confirm this, you will realize that keywords in the domain name are bolded in SERPs.

Unless you want a distinct brand name for your website, you can use keywords in your domain name.

70. Keyword As First Word in Domain

Starting your domain name with your main keyword gives you an edge over competitor sites that don’t have the keyword in their domain or the ones that have it at the middle or towards the end of the domain name.

71. Duration to Domain Registration Expiry Date

The expiry date of a domain is an important SEO factor.

Scammers usually register domains for short durations and ditch them after accomplishing their mission.

This implies that domains with longer expiry periods have a higher trust level.

Google patent states that:

“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”.

72. Keyword in Subdomain Name

Using a keyword as part of a subdomain can boost your site’s rankings.

73. Domain History

Domains which change ownership over a short period of time may get their indices reset by Google.

Volatile change in Whois details is dangerous to SEO.

74. Exact Match Domain

Exact Match Domains (EMDs) are good for SEO when they have quality content and when they adhere to other white hat SEO practices.

Low-quality sites can be vulnerable to Google’s EMD Update.

Google promises not to allow low quality exact match domains in search results.

75. Making WhoIs Information Public or Private

Hiding your whois personal information makes Google question what you are hiding.

Google’s Matt Cutts stated at Pubcon this in 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 altogether, you’re often talking about a very different type of webmaster than the fellow who just has a single site or so.”

76. Penalized WhoIs Owner

Google is an approved domain registrar.

When Google identifies a spammer, it scrutinizes all websites owned by the individual through whois information to impose further penalties.

When you hide your whois information, Google suspects you.

It is not clear if they reward people who have nice websites that stick to rules.

77. Country Top Level Domain (TLD) Extension

Country-specific Top-level Domains (.us, .co.uk, .au, .pt, .in, .ke, .ca etc.) can help a site rank for searches in the country.

However, country-specific TLDs do not rank high globally.

Backlink Factors of SEO

 

78. Linking Domain Age

Backlinks emanating from old domains are more powerful than those from new domains.

You need backlinks from old and established domains to boost your SEO.

79. Number of Linking Root Domains

According to Moz, the SERP position of a domain moves to the top of Google when the number of referring domains to the website increases.

Google’s algorithm highly regards backlinks from various root domains.

80. Number of Links from Separate C-Class IPs

The higher the number of links from separate c-class IPs, the higher the Google ranking of a website

You should aim to have many backlinks from c-class IPs.

81. Number of Linking Pages

The number of linking pages pointing to your domain is a ranking factor. Although Google highly values links from different domains, links from the same domain also have value.

82. Alt Tag for Image Links

All images have an anchor text known as the alt tag.

The alt tag teaches search engines what the image is all about. This helps in showing relevance hence ranking.

Ensure your images have alt tags to rank higher.

83. Image Name

The image name acts as part of the image URL when it is uploaded to your website.

Having keywords as part of the image name helps in creating nice image backlinks when the images are embedded in other websites

84. Links from .edu or .gov Domains

In this video, Matt Cutts states that Google’s algorithm has a special place for .gov and .edu backlinks.

He, however, dismisses claims that top level domains are ranking aspects.

85. Authority of Linking Page

The PageRank authority of the referring page is an influential ranking factor.

Links from high PR pages add value to pages they link to.

86. Authority of Linking Domain

The authority of the linking domain also plays an important role in SEO. For instance, a PR 3 page link originating from a PR 3 domain has lesser value than a PR 3 page link originating from a PR 9 domain.

87. Competitors Backlinks

Links coming from competitors show that the page they are linking to have more value.

The domain receiving the backlink will rank higher for the keywords.

88. Social Shares of Referring Page

Page level social shares influence the page’s ranking.

More social shares for a page imply that the page has higher quality and more useful content; hence the page will be ranked higher.

Links from such highly shared pages have higher value.

89. Links from Good Neighborhoods

Links coming from good neighborhoods enhance your site.

Good neighborhoods are sites that constantly have legitimate SEO practices. Sites that please Google. 

90. Links from Bad Neighborhoods

On the other hand, links from bad neighborhoods can hurt SEO.

Bad neighborhoods may be spammy sites or sites that are used for illegal activities.

91. Guest Posts

Links from guest posts have high SEO value. In fact, guest posting is among the best white hat SEO techniques.

Links from the author bio area have a lower value than contextual links in the body of the content on the same page.  

92. No follow or Do follow Guest Post Links

Google noted that most guest posts are done to get backlinks and pass link juice to other websites.

Guest posts are ideally supposed to increase one’s brand voice and audience as opposed to getting links.

Getting only do follow links from guest posts can raise Google’ spam alarm.

93. Links to Homepage Domain that Page Sits On

Linking from your content to your homepage shows that the homepage has quality content.

Links to the homepage have a heavier weight.

94. Nofollow Links

Google stated openly that they don’t follow Nofollow links. This, however, remains controversial. Some SEOs say Nofollow links have weight.

You need to have both Dofollow and Nofollow links to indicate that your website has natural link profile.

95. Diversity of Link Types

Links to your website should come from diverse places.

Having links from one source e.g. blog commenting or forums only may be an indication of web spamming which may lead to Google penalties.

Links from diverse sources indicate natural link profiles on your website.

96. “Sponsored Links” Or Other Words Around a Link

Google hates sponsored links.

Words like “sponsored links”, “sponsors” show that you are paid to host the links.

Google decreases the value of such links.

Therefore, you should have less of them or use alternative names which don’t include sponsorship.

97. Contextual Links

Contextual links are links embedded within the body of a page’s content.

Google’s algo considers such links more powerful than lists of naked links on a website or links to other sections.

For example, this link about reliable white hat SEO and copywriting services is contextual while www.example.com is a naked domain.

98. Excessive 301 Redirects to Page

Excessive 301 redirects dilute link Page Rank as stated in this Webmaster Help Video.

99. Backlink Anchor Text

The anchor text of a backlink sends a strong relevancy signal which tells Google what the page is all about.

Using similar anchor texts may also indicate web spam and hurt your SEO.

This Stanford Description of Google’s original algorithm states that “Anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves.”

100. Internal Link Anchor Text

The anchor text of internal links is significant in telling Google about the page it is linking to.

Although linking to pages within the same domain, internal links need suitable anchor texts.

101. Link Title Attribution

Although it is a weak indicator of relevancy, the text which appears when you hover over a link carries some weight. It is called the link title.

102. Country TLD of Referring Domain

Country-specific top-level domains can easily help your page rank highly within the country of origin of the links.

For instance, .us links can boost your rankings within the USA.

103. Link Location In Content

Links that appear at the beginning of content carry more weight than links placed at the end.

You should aim to get backlinks from sources at the beginning of content to boost your rankings.

104. Link Location on Page

Links embedded within content are superior to the ones at the sidebar or footer section of the same page.

105. Relevancy of Linking Domain

Links to your website should come from the same niche as your website to boost your top in Google.

Links from unrelated sites are weaker.

In order to beat your competitors, part of your SEO strategy should be to obtain relevant links from sites having similar niches as your site.

106. Page Level Relevancy

Evidence from The Hilltop Algorithm indicates that links from similar content as the content of your page have a higher value than links from unrelated page contents.

For instance, if your page is about “website optimization techniques”, backlinks from pages with similar information are more powerful than backlinks from something else.

107. Text Around Link Sentiment

The Google algorithm has become clever to the extent of understanding the words surrounding your links.

Google can tell if the text around your link has a positive or a negative connotation.

Positive sentiments like best, affordable, nice, good, outstanding etc. tell the algo that your link is positive. They have more value.

Words like nasty, rip off, bad etc. when used near referral links show that your links have negative sentiments. Such links carry little value.

108. Keyword in Title

Links that have the same keywords as the ones in the title of the page have a higher value than the one having different words.

109. Positive Link Velocity

Positive link velocity on your site boosts the SERP rankings.

110. Negative Link Velocity

Negative link velocity diminishes search engine visibility since it is an indication of decreasing brand popularity.

111. Links from “Hub” Pages

Links from high-quality resources or information hubs contain more value than links from non-authoritative information hubs.

112. Link from Authority Sites

Authority sites are sites that have earned the respect of key people in the same industry due to their usefulness and the high quality of information they contain.

Links from such sites have higher link juice when linking to similar content on your website.

113. Links from Wikipedia

Wikipedia links add trust and credibility to your website although they are Nofollow.

Search engines will reward you for having Wikipedia backlinks.

114. Backlink Age

Google Patent notes that older backlinks are more powerful than newly created backlinks.

You need to get links from “elderly content”.

115. Links from Real Sites vs. Splogs

Google can easily distinguish between real sites and spam blogs (Splogs).

With the explosion of blog networks, you should get links from real websites and blogs instead of Splogs. Google will reward you.

116. Natural Link Profile

If your site has a natural link profile with a gradual increment of backlinks over time, Google can easily rank you higher compared to sites which get backlinks overnight.

Again, your site will be immune to google updates if you use natural links white hat SEO techniques.

117. Reciprocal Links

Getting a reciprocal link from websites is punishable by Google under Google’s Link Schemes.

You should never exchange links with anybody unless they come naturally.

 

118. User-Generated Content Links

Google understands the difference between user-generated content links and site links.

Let not anybody cheat you to create several free WordPress blogs (yourdomain.WordPress.com) and link to your website. The links will not carry the same weight as links from wordpress.com blog. Many of such links will appear as low quality and spammy links.

 

119. Links from 301

301 redirects may carry link juice according to Matt Cutts. However, direct links are even better.

 

120. Microformats

Pages that have microformats can rank higher than those without.

Microformatting boosts click-through rates and enhances search visibility.

 

121. DMOZ Listed

DMOZ listed sites could be having an extra trust in Google’s eyes.

DMOZ listed sites tend to rank higher.

122. TrustRank of Linking Site

The trustworthiness of linking websites is important.

If your site gets links from trustworthy sites, they pass trust-rank juice over to your site.

123. Number of Outbound Links on Page

Page rank can leak.

Links from pages with many outbound links have lesser PageRank to pass to your site than the ones with few outbound links.

124. Forum Profile Links

Links from nice forums like the warrior forum are good.

However, due to spamming from forums, Google may or has already devalued links from forums.

125. Word Count of Linking Content

Links from content that has a higher word count may have a higher value than links from one sentence content.

You should get links from long-form content since they have a higher value.

126. Quality of Linking Content

Links from low-quality content are toxic.

Low-quality content may include poorly written, spun content or plagiarized content, etc.

Always aim to get links from high-quality content.

127. Sitewide Links

Links that appear on each page of your website add less value. In Google’s eyes, such links are compresses to one link.

Brand Signals

128. Brand Name Anchor Text

Using branded anchor texts is a powerful way of ranking your website as a brand.

129. Branded Searches

Branded searches of your website show Google that your website is a known brand.

Brand searches are things like:

Cute Writers, Cute Writers Contacts,

Cute Writers Opening hours

Cutewriters salary

Cute writers Facebook Page

Brand searches enhance the display of your results as a brand and move your rankings to the top of Google.

 

130. Website Has Facebook Page and Likes

In order to take the advantage of brands and rank your website higher, your website should have a Facebook and lots of likes.

 

131. Website has Twitter Profile with Followers

Brands also have active Twitter profiles with many followers and tweets.

Having such brand signals increases your rankings.

132. Official LinkedIn Company Page

Many established brands have company LinkedIn pages.

If Google finds yours, it will treat your site as a brand and give you the better ranking and the respect you deserve.

133. Employees Listed at LinkedIn

According to Rand Fishkin, having LinkedIn profiles of employees working for your company is a brand signal to search engines.

134. Legitimacy of Social Media Accounts

Google analyses social media account activity and number of followers to determine whether your brand is legitimate or not.

For instance, having 100k Twitter followers and 10 tweets indicates that you are not legit.

Google rewards legit social media profiles of sites with lots of interaction with the site’s content.

135. Brand Mentions on News Sites

Large brands appear in Google News sites.

Mentions of your site in Google News are brand signals which are likely to boost your website’s ranking in SERPS.

136. Co-Citations

Google probably checks brand mentions which have no links to the sites.

Be sure to have your site’s name out there even without linking to your site.

137. Number of RSS Subscribers

The number of subscribers of your Google’s Feed Burner RSS service may tell Google something about your site’s popularity which will help in ranking it.

Normally, having many subscribers means you have many visitors and hence you rank high.

138. Google Business Location and Local Listing

Sites with business offices appear to Google as big brands. Having your website registered and confirmed in Google my business is a sure way of ranking locally and strengthening your brand’s and getting better ranking.

139. Website is Tax Paying Business

According to Moz, Google may use your information on tax and your relationship with other tax-paying businesses to determine whether you are a brand.

User Interaction Signals

140. Organic Click Through Rate (CTR) for a Keyword

Pages that have higher CTRs are ranked higher in Google for the specific keywords, unlike sites that get no clicks.

141. Organic CTR for All Keywords

The organic CTR ranking for any website for all keywords is a ranking factor which search engines use to position it in results pages.

141. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate matters although some SEO specialists say otherwise.

Bounce rate indicates how the audience interacts with your audience.

Ideally, visitors should move from one page to another in search of more information.

If visitors just visit one page and bounce off, Google may get the connotation that your content is not such good.

143. Direct Traffic

Google Chrome browser delivers insights on direct traffic to your website.

If your site gets lots of direct traffic, Google will rank it higher than other sites.

144. Repeat Traffic

Repeat traffic implies returning visitors.

Google analyses whether your site gets repeat traffic.

In your Google Analytics Account, you can easily find out the percentage of new visitors and repeat visitors.

If Google finds out that your site gets many repeat visitors, it will reward you by ranking your site better.

Repeat traffic means that you are offering quality and useful content.

145. Blocked sites

Blocked sites are low quality or spammy sites.

When Google finds your site among the blocked sites, its panda will deal with you and lower your rankings.

146. Chrome Bookmarks

Google Chrome and other browsers collect and store bookmarks. Google views bookmarked sites as high-quality sites.

If your site is bookmarked, it will definitely get SEO boost.

147. Google Toolbar Data

The Google Toolbar collects data such as loading speed and presence of malware from your website.

Google uses such data to rank your site.  

148. Number of Comments

Comments are good signs of user interaction with your website.

You will notice blogs with many comments ranking high in search results.

Maybe, you have also commented on such.

149. Dwell Time on Website

The amount of time users spend on your website gives a clue on the quality of your content.

When users spend more time on your site, Google understands that your content is good hence it ranks it well.

If users leave immediately they land on your page, your page won’t rank.

Special Google Algorithm Rules

150. Query Deserves Freshness

Some Google searches such as this may be ranked higher in search results.

151. Query Deserves Diversity

When ranking ambiguous searches, Google adds diversity so that the user can choose the most appropriate result.

152. User Browsing History

If your site is among the most frequently visited sites by users logged into Google, Google will rank your site higher when they search for keywords applicable to your site.

 

153. User Search History

The user’s search history gives the user results best suited to them.

This varies from user to user.

154. Geo Targeting

For local searches, Google prefers sites with local server IPs or country-specific domain extensions.

155. Safe Search

When users have safe search turned on, search results will not show restricted keywords.

This may affect the ranking of some sites for the user.

 

156. Google+ Circles

Authors and sites that are part of your Google Plus Circles may appear higher in search engine rankings when you search while logged into Google.

157. DMCA Complaints

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prevents people from violating the copyright of others. Web scrapers violate copyrights by plagiarizing other people’s content.

When somebody complains of copyright infringement, Google penalizes such pages with DMCA complaints by lowering their rankings or by deindexing them completely.

 

158. Domain Diversity

Google’s Bigfoot Update added more domains to each SERP page.

It is expected that search results show results from .com, .edu, .net results.

 

159. Transactional Searches

Google renders different results of various e-commerce sites or vendors for transactional searches.

160. Local Searches

Google normally places Google+ Local results above the “normal” organic SERPs for local searches.

161. Local NAP

Google uses local Names, Addresses and Phone numbers (NAP) to deliver relevant search results for various queries.

Websites showing such results rank highest.

162. Google News Box

Some keywords may trigger a Google News box.

163. Big Brand Preference

Google has boosted the big brands’ visibility in short-tail queries following the Vince Update,

164. Shopping Results

Relevant shopping results appear in Google when users make specific searches.

165. Google Image Results

Google ranks images according to commonly searched terms depending on image optimization and domain rankings.

 

166. Single Site Results for Brands

When searching for brands, Google spews up several pages from the same brand. The pages are arranged according to PageRank.

 

 

On-Site WebSpam Factors

167. Panda Penalty

Low-quality sites that have been hit by the Google Panda penalty rank lower in search results

168. Page and Domain Redirects

Google hates devious redirects

If your website redirects users to malicious pages, Google will find your site, penalize it and maybe de-index it. Then rankings will slump. 

169. Popups or Distracting Ads

The official Google Rater Guidelines Document warns that popups and distracting adverts are indicators of low quality websites.

To rank high, your website should be free from popups and excessive ads.

170. Site Over-Optimization

Over-optimization of the entire site is punishable by Google.

Header tag stuffing and excessive use of keywords in meta description and in the body of content leads to lower Google rankings. 

171. Page Over-Optimization

Google’s Penguin update targets over-optimized pages.

Having too many keywords in a page without enough content attracts a Penguin penalty which lowers your site’s ranking.

Use keywords sparingly to rank well.

172. Ads Above the Fold

The “Page Layout Algorithm” penalizes sites with lots of ads and thin content above the fold.

173. Cloaking Affiliate Links

Some plugins hide affiliate links so that they may appear as regular links.

When Google identifies such tactics, it lowers the offending site’s ranking.

174. Affiliate Sites

Google does not love affiliate sites.

It puts them under extra scrutiny and any wrong step puts such sites under Google’s wrath.

175. Auto-generated Content

Google hates auto-generated or spun content.

Google will de-index or penalize your site if they discover that your content is created by robots.

Remember robots used in spinning content don’t care about user experience and coherence.

176. Excess PageRank Sculpting

PageRank sculpting occurs when you decide to Nofollow all outbound links or internal links.

Don’t dare! Google will detect and de-rank your site.

177. IP Address Flagged as Spam

Sites whose IP is earmarked for spam may infect all sites hosted on the same server.

178. Meta Tag Spamming

Putting too many keywords in meta tags can negatively affect rankings by attracting a penalty.

Off Page Web spam Factors

 

179. Unnatural Influx of Links

If your site suddenly gets links unnaturally, it will attract Google’s attention.

With the many links received, the site will still get a lower ranking.

180. Penguin Penalty

Sites victimized by Google Penguin will remain less visible in SERPS.

181. Link Profile with High % of Low-Quality Links

Links from spammy sites and sites used by black hat SEOs may tell Google that you are manipulating the algorithm.

182. Linking Domain Relevancy

Sites with many links from unrelated sites are more vulnerable to Penguin.

183. Unnatural Links Warning

If Google detects unnatural link profiles, it will send you a notice and then drop your ranking most of the time.

184. Links from the Same Class C IP

Many links from websites on the same server indicate blog network link building which is detestable in Google’s perspective.

185. Poisonous Anchor Text

Some anchor texts, like pharmaceutical names, may hurt your search engine ranking.

186. Manual Penalty

Google may give some sites a manual penalty for violating any of their rules like in the Interflora fiasco.

187. Selling Links

Google is on record warning webmasters that selling of links is illegal and punishable.

188. Google Sandbox

Sites that show abnormal occurrences such as an irregular influx of links may be put in the Google Sandbox, which limits search visibility in the short term as they investigate.

189. Google Dance

Google Dance ranking documents indicate that Google can shake up rankings to check the authenticity of current rankings of different websites. Crooked sites will not rise to the top.

190. Disavow Tool

Using the Disavow Tool can change algorithmic penalties or manual penalties imposed on a site which has a bad neighborhood or toxic backlinks.

191. Reconsideration Request

A person may apply for reconsideration after google imposes a penalty on their site.

If your request goes through successfully, your ranking will change.

A successful reconsideration request can lift a penalty.

192. Temporary Link Schemes

Creating and removing spammy links, also called temporary link scheme hurts SEO.

 

 

Social Signals

 

193. Number of Tweets

Like links, the number of tweets on a web page may influence its rank in Google since the tweet ideally represents a link shared.

 

194. Authority of Twitter Users Accounts

All Twitter profiles don’t carry the same weight.

Tweets from older Twitter profiles and influencers with many followers have a higher impact than tweets from low-influence accounts.

195. Number of Facebook Likes

Google uses the number of Facebook likes as a social signal to your website.

Many Facebook likes indicate that your website is popular.

196. Facebook Shares

Facebook shares have a stronger influence than Facebook likes since they act just like many backlinks from different pages of the same domain.

 

197. Authority of Facebook User Accounts

Facebook shares from authority pages or influential users may pass more weight to your site.

198. Pinterest Pins

Pinterest is a great social media site. The frequency of sharing of Pinterest Pins is a possible Google ranking factor since it is a social pointer.

199. Votes on Social Sharing Sites

Social sharing sites like Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Digg provide useful information which Google uses to rank a website. They also provide backlinks to your site.

200. Number of Google+1’s

Google+1 is definitely a ranking factor since it is Google’s social site.

 

201. Authority of Google+ User Accounts

Google+1 from influencers and authoritative user accounts have more weight.

202. Verified Authorship

Information from verified authors is likely to rank higher in Google than information from any random writer.

 

203. Social Signal Relevancy

Google analyses the contextual clues surrounding any information shared on social media to weigh its importance.

 

204. Site Level Social Signals

Site-wide social signals determine a site’s ranking. Many social shares, likes etc. show popularity and increase rankings and vice versa.

 

We can Help you Boost your Google Rankings

8 Responses to “Important Google Ranking Signals For SEO

  • Whats up! Impressive blog! I find nice the method defined SEO that Works:
    204 Major Ranking Factors that Google Uses to Kick Websites.
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  • Vincent Gekonge
    2 months ago

    Great article really informative. Please consider correcting point #89 coz apparently it’s same as #90.

  • Jorden Mitchelle
    3 months ago

    Wow. I did not know that Google uses many factors to rank websites.
    One question however, “please write another comprehensive article on how to change page meta tags”

  • This is a great article.
    I have to admit that it is among the best article on Google ranking factors. Keep it up guys.

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