Can Google Ranking Factors be reverse engineered?
Google has been known to vocalize that there is over 200 ranking factors, which are analyzed to determine the worthiness of the website to appear on the top. Page 1 number 1 the ultimate goal of many business owners.
- What are all these rankings factors?
- How do they affect each other?
- Which one is more important?
No one at Google is talking but SEO’s have been reverse engineering the algorithm just about as long as Google has been writing it. Below are listed over 200 highly possible items that would or could affect a websites ranking.
Starting off with Domains
1. Domain Age:
“The difference between a domain that’s six months old verses one year old is really not that big at all.”.
Therefore if you read between the lines. Age is something that they do look at But if we believe Mr. Cutts it’s not that important. Interestingly enough he does lead on and say that the historical data of the domain is more important. When did Google 1st see links pointing to that domain as opposed to when was it is registered.
but by doing a custom search and placing in the date range we can see that Google hasn’t indexed a single page from this domain going to 2013
So how old is this domain really when it was 1st registered or when Google starts seeing actual pages being built on the domain.
If you plan on purchasing aged domain keep this in mind.
2. Keyword in the Domain has been shown to boost the rankings for the keyword desired.
the key word being the 1st word in the domain has been shown to have a slight advantage over the keyword in the middle of the domain or at the end
SEOMoz’s 2011 “Search Engine Ranking Factors panelists agreed that a domain that starts with their target keyword has an edge over sites that either don’t”
3. Exact Match Domain: EMDs may still give you an edge but far less than they used to. they also seem to be scrutinized more carefully. Especially if it is a commercial intent word example: BuySaltAndPepperShakers.com
This is an obvious buying keyword and when building off page likes extra caution should be taken.
4. How long is a domain name registered for another video put out by Google quotes
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
6. Domain History: if the domain has a history of being a spam site, a large amount of crap link’s and has changed who is information dozens of times. This can all be used as red flags.
7. Public vs. Private WhoIs: Matt Cutts at Pubcon 2006:
Private WhoIs information may be a sign of “something to hide”. Pubcon 2006:
When I checked the whois on them, they all had “whois privacy protection service” on them. That’s relatively unusual. …Having whois privacy turned on isn’t automatically bad, but once you get several of these factors all together, you’re often talking about a very different type of webmaster than the fellow who just has a single site or so.”
8. It is also theorized that Google collects personal information. If Google identifies a particular person as a spammer it would make perfect sense to immediately identified a newly registered domain by that person under heavier scrutiny.
9. Country TLD extension: If trying to rank in a specific country. let’s say you are a local business it would make sense to register a country specific TLD .ca .it ..,, This will give you a ranking boost in your specific country but does limit you if you try to rank globally.
Now for page content
10. Title tags next to the actual content the title of your article or information page is the most important factor in ranking your page. Having the keyword you wish to rank for at the beginning of the title. According to several experts studies.
But also having an enticing title, that will get clicked. Most content go through a honeymoon period, or fresh content ranking higher. Much like as if it is a testing period, to see if your content has more interaction than what they are currently ranking. A good click through rate can mean the difference between you staying and you going to never never land.
11.Your main keyword in the meta-description tag. Installing SCO plug-in such as All in one SEO or WordPress SEO insured to fill out a unique meta-description that describes correctly the article written. ( these WordPress plug-ins are not perfect but they are one of the best solutions currently)
13. the keyword density in your article. the number for this has gone down dramatically Google has gotten much better at understanding what your article is about.
A 3 to 4% keyword density used to be good. But having your keyword appear 3 times for every hundred words now seen spamming.
I used no more than 1% keyword density now in 2013 which seems to be plenty for Google spiders.
14. the word count in your article. longer articles are now doing much better than their shorter counterparts.
15. LSI latent semantic indexing. There has been many arguments over this one. Can Google really understand all the relevant keywords that go with your main keyword. I have seen evidence that related words do help an article rank better.
There was a time where Google gave out this information by using advance search string. Title key ~ the little squarely line on your keyboard used to mean along with this word give me the synonyms for this word.
Basically asking Google to search for synonyms of my keyword but don’t show me my keyword. Google would return results and highlight what they believed to be related, to the keywords you were searching.
Most times they were not synonyms at all. But using these keywords in articles I have rank many crappy articles above good ones. They have now taken this feature away. PS this article still rake well.
16. Page load time both Google and Bing are using this as a quality factor in ranking factor. How to speed up your website pages is a article on to its own. you can easily check what Google thinks of your pitch speed by running your site through Google’s page speed insight . or by using tools like pingdom website speed test. Speed can hurt you initially, and also hurts you as people have no patience, and will simply bounce back to Google when your site is too slow.
17. Duplicated content: the same content in two places on the same website will have a negative impact on search engine visibility. Often times many people will not even realize that there is a content duplication on their site. because of misuse of canonical links, website tags and categories. If done improperly can all create duplicate content.
18. image optimization images should all optimize for load speed. equally there is a lot more information that can be added to images such as alt tags, title, filenames and captions and other metadata if relevant.
19. Recency of content is your content is updated is their newly gated content on a regular basis.
20. keyword prominence does your keyword. The 1st sentence of your article.
21. keywords appearing in H2 and H3 tags. Does the keywords you are targeting appear in subtitles.
22. Outbound links there are multitude of SEO’s who believe linking out to authority sites increases your page in the search engines. I believe linking out to other properties that can help your reader, is worth doing. But to simply link out to random Wikipedia pages because Wikipedia has a lot of authority is a waste of time for you and your reader.
23. Grammar and spelling. Google has become very good at determining if proper grammar is being used on a page. If your article looks like a poorly done spun article it just won’t rank.
24. Original content is the content on your page original cannot be found anywhere else on the Internet.
25. Supplementary content tools on your site that would help a reader understand better. Something that your reader would interact with. An example of this a bank could have a mortgage calculator. A dieting site could have a body mass index calculator.
26. Leaking page rank If you do use outbound links to point to other properties are you using the proper rel=”nofollow” tag. Leaking page rank can bring your site down. Be certain the sites you are linking to are of high quality as well.
27. Multimedia are you using videos, images in your posts. This will increase your qualities score in search engine and increase time spent on your pages by your visitors.
28. Proper use of internal linking. Are their internal link’s from other posts pointing to your article. Internal links can push a chosen page up the search engine rankings.
29. Broken links do you have links leading to a 404 page. This can be used as a quality test. Also assessed if your site is being maintained or if it is abandoned. there are several online tools to check for broken links. I usually use the one at brokenlinkcheck.com it does a good job. The price can’t be beat free up to 3000 pages checked.
30. Reading level Google estimates the reading level of a webpage how they are using this information is up for debate. But it stands to reason that something easier to read would appeal to a larger crowd the intermediate level. You should always keep this in mind when explaining something technical. You can see what reading level Google is ranking for your specific keyword simply clicking on the filters. If your site is filled with basic reading material and is not intended for fifth-graders. Google may look at this as a quality issue ” are you just a content mill?” or do you have articles worth listing?
31. affiliate links if you use a lot of affiliate links on your website it may raise a red flag. The panda algorithm may look deeper into your site to ensure that you are not just a thin affiliate site. Google has also shown preference in ranking the site you are linking to through your affiliate link. in essence cutting out the middleman. At the time writing this you are better off cloaking affiliate links.
32. HTML errors too many HTML errors may trigger a bad quality website issue. you can easily check this and have these issues fixed either yourself or by hiring someone to do it for you. you can check your website here
33. Page authority and page PR although this is decreasing importance, it is still worth mentioning if your domain, your page is seen as an authority this will help your rankings.
34. The length of your URL there has been studies by Search Engine Journal showing that the length of your URL may affect your rankings. Furthermore in a world of content sharing is becoming more and more important to have a short domain name easy to share. Quick to write and easy to remember.
35. URL path how close is the page you are trying to rank for your homepage. Page is closer to your home page may rank better. The study of silo structures also known as PR sculpting are up trending in importance. if you would like to read more about silo structures and their implementation,
36. Related and relevant categories a page created that is properly categorized and amongst others, of the same relevant information should get a boost.
37. WordPress Tags there are some SEO that believe tags may increase the rankings through creating more relevant content by relating one piece of content to another, I believe the opposite is true as tags create a mis-mash and will destroy any silo structure that you have created for your website.
38. Is your keyword in the URL
39. The category name in your URL dismay provides thematic descriptions and help with rankings.
40. Google is filled with employees that have a doctorate or engineering degree. Referencing sources of information in articles is something that is usually seen in advanced articles, and may be used as a quality signal. This does not necessarily mean linking out to the specific article. Simply stating where one could get more information. A source to backup your statements.
41. Bullets and numbered lists may help pages rank better. People often look for these as they typically increase the speed of which information can be taking in.
42. A properly formatted XML site map and submitted to your Google Webmaster tool submit this to Bing Webmaster tools to.
43. Page age even though Google tends to rank new content. Older page with authority that are updated on a regular bases can rank higher in search engines.
44. User-friendly website this subject alone will need an article written. This is where the SEO expert can help plan out the proper structure while keeping usability easy. Bringing in a SEO expert in the beginning stage of a website build can make a dramatic difference. Unfortunately the search engine optimization person is brought in after the site has been constructed. if you bring in a search engine optimization person and their response is “Well your site isn’t even built yet” hire somebody else immediately.
45. Useful content you have to write content people want to read. There are many clients who want to rank number 1. The 1st thing to look at is are you remotely worthy of that position. Google has repeatedly said they are on a continuous hunt for sites that provide nothing new or nothing of value. do you look just like a thin affiliate sites.
46. Contact us page the appropriate contact information. Does your contact information match whois records of your domain. if you are a local business do you have a local phone number. does the contact information match your Google business page contact information. These are all related to trust factors.
47. Do trusted or well established sites link to your site. This can have a massive influence getting back links from a site that is already well trusted by Google.
48. The number of pages this can affect the authority of your website. The more well written content on specific subject the more authority your site has. This can also increase your traffic as you will start ranking for many more longtailed keywords. ( keyword strings with more than 3 words)
49. The priority of the page in your XML site map. If you need a page to rank better raising the priority of that page in your site map may increase its chances of ranking higher.
50. Site reliability is your server down often is your site showing under construction often. There are many tools on the Internet that can monitor this. Site uptime monitoring.
51. Server location this can influence how your site ranks in different geographical areas. Especially important for local businesses.
52. SSL certificate Google has recently lightly mentioned that they may start to prefer sites that have an SSL certificate. it stands to reason, that someone that goes through the trouble and the expense of implementing an SSL certificate on their site are more serious and therefore perhaps more trustworthy.
54. Duplicate meta descriptions meta-description should be unique from each other and unique from the article written they should be well-crafted summaries.
56. Mobile optimization Google’s official stance on global has been to create a responsive website. Capable of responding to today’s screen size and what the future holds. Google provides a tool to test the mobile responsiveness of your site. googles insight tool
57. Video one more form of multimedia there is no doubt that people enjoy watching the video therefore it stands to reason Google likes to serve websites with videos. You can also install a video XML map to increase the effect. getting that small thumbnail image besides a search result always increased my click through rate.
58. Google analytics and Google Webmaster tools some think having these installed on your website may help Google better understand and index your pages. I haven’t seen any correlation. But these 2 tools should be installed on your website there is valuable information you need to have properly asked people SEO your site. The price tagged free is unmatched. With the newer release of Google Universal analytics the wealth of information should not be ignored.
59. A citation is a site that mentions your company name, address and phone number such as review sites like yelp.com. The amount of citations can influence your sites rankings.
60. Are the links going to your site from different domains. are they in content links? or are they coming from our links page, sidebar or footer area. This can give indication to Google if the link is genuine or bought .
61. Are the links going to your site from different C class IP’s. If your links are coming from different IP addresses this would indicate a wider appeal for your site and is less likely self manipulated.
62. Deep linking are people linking to your interior content pages, or are all your links pointing to one specific page. example homepage.
63. Alt tags The alternative text for the image. Are all your images properly identified do they have an explanation of what the image is. Is your keyword in that explanation.
64. Are your links coming from different TLD’s SEO is always about risk mitigation you should have a wide variety of different site linking to you. Some SEO’s believe .edu and .gov domains have a higher perceived value in Google’s algorithm. This may just be a trust factor as it is more difficult to get a link from a government site if you are a cheap thin content affiliate site.
65. Links from sites that have the same theme subject. In other words links from sites that are in the same niche. Relevant links has become an extremely hot topic. It just does not make sense if a Chinese site about car racing, is linking to a small local dermatologist in Wyoming.
66. Social sharing there is more and more evidence that more weight is being given to this ranking factor 2014 ( 2015 maybe). Generating buzz on social platforms about your brand or your site will influence your rankings.
67. Links from bad neighborhoods may negatively affect your rankings. Do you have sites linking to you that are known to be in blog networks or just spamming websites. Content mills ext…
68. implementation of schema Google’s new hummingbird algorithm determines things as opposed to strings. instead of associating a particular keyword phrase hummingbird tries to ascertain the meaning of the entire page. Schema code implemented into your website helps this algorithm by giving it specific data. if you would like more information on this click here