We’ve been discussing Google ranking factors for a while now, so you probably know that there are over 200 of them. In the two previous articles, we’ve aimed to identify the first 100, and now it’s time to move on to the next 50.
101: HOMEPAGE AUTHORITY
There’s a possibility that links to the homepage of a website you’re referring to might play a role in evaluating both the website and the link’s weight.
102: COUNTRY TLD OF REFERRING DOMAIN
If you get links from top-level domain extensions specific to a certain country (.co, .uk, .cn, .de), there’s a possibility that you will rank better in that country. The importance of TLD domains was recently backed up by DreamHost.
103: LINKING DOMAIN RELEVANCE
Links from sites in a similar niche are more powerful for ranking than ones coming from sites that are completely unrelated. Furthermore, such links are even better than ones from websites with more domain authority but less relevance to you.
104: LINK TYPE DIVERSITY
If most of your links come from a single source, be it blog comments, forum profiles, and so on, this might be interpreted as a sign of web spam by Google. Therefore, aim for adding links from diverse sources to your website; they are a sign of a natural link profile.
105: NOFOLLOW LINKS
Nofollow links are the ones that come with a “nofollow” attribute. Such an attribute makes it impossible for search engine bots to follow these links: they can be followed only by humans.
Nofollow links have been one of the most controversial ranking factors for years. Some believe that having them on a website might make the site’s link profile look unnatural. However, recent SEMrush research shows that #1 ranking websites do have such links on their profiles.
It is still unclear if these sites are ranked so highly because Google expects nofollow links to be a part of a natural backlink profile, or because these links carry a certain SEO value. Either way, having them on your website shouldn’t harm your SEO.
106: “SPONSORED” AND OTHER LINKS
You can include sponsored links in your content, but you shouldn’t call them that. There’s a chance that using terms like “sponsored links”, “sponsors”, “link partners”, and so on might decrease the value of these links, therefore affecting your rankings indirectly.
107: CONTEXTUAL LINKS
Links that are included within a page’s content have more power than ones placed elsewhere or simply added to an empty page.
108: LINKS FROM EXPERT PAGES
The Hilltop Algorithm was a foundation of modern SEO. It was adopted by Google in 2003 to identify authoritative pages to rank. In order to achieve this, the algorithm identified expert pages first. Such pages were specific to the topic and linked out by many other sites because of their value.
While the algorithm itself is no longer relevant to SEO, an understanding of how it works could help you develop a strong foundation of SEO. Furthermore, we can still say for sure that links do remain an important component for rankings.
109: LINKS FROM AUTHORITY SITES
If you include links from sites that have more authority in your niche, they’ll likely have more value both to Google and your audience than links coming from smaller and relatively unknown sites.
110: LINKS FROM REAL SITES
Splogs or spam blogs are created for the sole purpose of linking to affiliate websites. Now Google can distinguish them from real sites that do have value (most likely with the help of user-interaction and brand signals). Of course, links from real sites have more weight to Google.
111: RECIPROCAL LINKS
“Link to me and I’ll link to you”. Such an approach doesn’t work anymore. Google states that excessive link exchanges could negatively affect rankings.
112: USER-GENERATED CONTENT LINKS
Google has an ability to identify user-generated spam, which leads to the conclusion that it can identify other user-generated content as well. Furthermore, Google uses such content to evaluate a website.
113: FORUM LINKS
Forum comments can be considered unnatural links by Google.
114: SITEWIDE LINKS
Sitewide links are the ones that are featured on most pages of a website. Usually, they are placed in headers, footers, and sidebars.
Do they affect SEO or not? It’s a controversial topic. However, according to the latest research, sitewide links aren’t considered harmful for SEO (if they are natural). On the other hand, they aren’t necessarily helpful either.
115: 301 REDIRECTS
301 redirects are permanent, automatic redirects that send both search engines and site visitors to different URLs than the ones they typed into their browser or picked from SERPs. These redirects are highly useful as they allow a site to maintain domain authority, even after the site has been permanently moved. And yes, they still pass PageRank, therefore benefitting your SEO.
116: EXCESSIVE 301 REDIRECTS
However, when you use backlinks that come from 301 redirects, this could dilute some of your PageRank.
117: INTERNAL LINK ANCHOR TEXT
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text included in a hyperlink. It has to be succinct, relevant, and not overly keyword-heavy.
It is another relevancy signal. However, keep in mind that such links most likely will have less weight than anchor texts from external websites.
118: LINK TITLE ATTRIBUTION
Link title is the text that appears when you hover over a certain link. It might serve as a weak relevancy signal as well.
119: LINK LOCATION
Those links that are placed at the beginning of a content piece might carry more weight than ones placed at the end.
120: POSITIVE LINK VELOCITY
Link velocity is the rate at which other websites or people link to your own website or blog. Positive link velocity is one of the SEO metrics that should be tracked. However, keep in mind that your main priority should be building quality backlinks, not maintaining higher link velocity.
121: NEGATIVE LINK VELOCITY
When your link velocity is negative, it indicates that your popularity is decreasing. Therefore, it can reduce rankings significantly.
122: LINK LOCATION ON A PAGE
Generally, a link that is included in a page’s content is more powerful than one placed in the sidebar area or footer.
123: NUMBER OF OUTBOUND LINKS ON A PAGE
Including outbound links is important for on-page SEO. They increase the relevance of your page, demonstrating to search engines that you care about the audience by including links to additional helpful content. Furthermore, such links could help search engines identify what the content of a website is all about.
However, it’s always better to stick to a couple of good ones instead of stuffing your content with links. Keep in mind that if you have hundreds of external links on a page, it’ll pass less PageRank than one that contains a handful of high-quality links.
124: NATURAL LINK PROFILE
It’s simple: when your link profile is natural, the website will rank higher and be more durable to updates than one that uses various black-hat link-building strategies like adding hidden keyword-stuffed text to a page, showing different content to search engines and users, etc.
125: BACKLINK AGE
Older links have more ranking power than new ones, mostly because it takes time for new backlinks to be indexed by Google. According to MOZ, it takes 10 weeks on average to see one rank jump.
126: LINKS FROM A WIKIPEDIA SOURCE
Many believe that if your website gets a link from Wikipedia, it gets some added authority and trust from the search engines.
127: PAGE-LEVEL RELEVANCY
Links that come from a relevant page could also pass more value.
128: KEYWORD IN TITLE
Keywords in page titles do help pages rank higher. Furthermore, Google likes it when you link to pages that contain your page’s keyword in their titles.
This is the presence and proximity of similar keywords used frequently across various websites. Co-occurrence is about including keywords that are different yet still relevant to a certain topic. It helps to tell Google what is your page is about, therefore affecting rankings indirectly.
130: SCHEMA.ORG USAGE
Schema markup—found at Schema.org—is a form of microdata. When it’s added to a page, it creates an enhanced description that appears in search results.
Though there’s no clear evidence that this affects organic search rankings, such descriptions make your web pages appear more prominently in SERPs.
131: TRUSTRANK OF LINKING SITE
Google TrustRank is a link analysis technique that helps search engines fight spam. The technique measures certain trust signals to help search engines understand whether your links and content are legitimate or not.
When a site is linking to you, its trustworthiness could determine how much “TrustRank” will pass to you.
132: WORD COUNT OF LINKING CONTENT
Links from long, high-quality posts are considered more valuable than the ones from a 25-word snippet, for instance.
133: QUALITY OF LINKING CONTENT
When trustworthy websites link to your content, they demonstrate that they trust you as well. This is good news to you as the audience of these sites will trust you too, and so will search engines.
On the other hand, you should link back to high-quality content as well, to support your statements with statistics and other credible resources, and to establish good relationships with the owners of these resources as well. After all, there’s a chance they’ll start linking to your content too.
134: DIRECT TRAFFIC
According to SEMrush, direct traffic is still one of the top ranking factors for Google.
135: REPEAT TRAFFIC
Sites that have repeat visitors might get some Google ranking boost.
RankBrain is Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm. While it has been called one of the most important ranking factors, in reality, it’s only there to help when Google isn’t sure what a certain query means.
137: BLOCKED SITES
In 2011, Google Panda was released to identify and lower the rank (block indexing) of low-quality or “bad” sites like link farms. There is still a chance that Google uses a variation of this feature as a quality signal.
138: ORGANIC CTR FOR A KEYWORD
CTR stands for Click Through Rate. It might not be a direct ranking signal, but it is still important. After all, if you want to rank better, you need to get more people to your website. Therefore, you need to improve your CTR.
139: ORGANIC CTR FOR ALL KEYWORDS
Considered a “human” user interaction signal, organic CTR for your keywords could help improve your rankings.
140: CHROME BOOKMARKS
We already know that Google collects Chrome data. Therefore, there’s a chance that pages that get bookmarked in Chrome might get some extra boost.
141: BOUNCE RATE
Bounce rate shows the percentage of visitors who enter your site and leave quickly without continuing to the other pages of the website.
Does it really matter? Not everyone in the SEO industry thinks so. However, a recent SEMrush study does show a correlation between bounce rate and Google rankings.
It’s a special type of bounce: one where the user clicks on a search result, only to immediately be dissatisfied and quickly return back to search results. For some time, it was considered a possible ranking factor: after all, it represents the time users spend on your site, which is important for Google.
According to the latest information, it’s not a ranking factor anymore. However, you could still measure pogo-sticking to understand whether your content and website in general are as interesting and useful to your audience as you think.
143: NUMBER OF COMMENTS
A recent case study proves that the number of comments could affect rankings. Furthermore, it could be an indirect ranking factor too, as pages that have lots of comments might indicate good user interaction and high-quality content.
144: DWELL TIME
Dwell time is the amount of time that passes between the moment you click on a certain search result and the moment you return back to search. According to recent information, it could be a ranking factor, but only for results in the top 10.
So if you aren’t on the first page already, optimising for dwell time shouldn’t be your primary concern. It’s better to spend your time optimising for more important factors that could help you get in that top 10.
SPECIAL GOOGLE ALGORITHM RULES
145: USER BROWSING HISTORY
Websites that you visit often get a SERP boost. This shows that particular users value the content and choose to revisit it regularly.
146: USER SEARCH HISTORY
A user’s search chain influences their results for later searches. For instance, if you search for “music” and then start searching for a certain genre, like rock for example, Google is more likely to rank rock music sites higher in your SERPs going forward.
147: QUERY DESERVES FRESHNESS
This is a search metric used by Google to establish which topics are “hot” according to users and should therefore receive the most up-to-date search results. This occurs when a certain query or topic experiences a sudden uptick in traffic or coverage.
148: QUERY DESERVES DIVERSITY
Another metric that could be used by Google to diversify certain search results, especially when the term a user enters could mean a couple of things (like “jaguar”, which could mean both an animal and a car).
Google needs to know that the results it shows meet the demands of the users. Therefore, it analyses search patterns that don’t fit expected behaviours and ranks pages based on how much variety should be added to the SERPs.
So, if you use terms that could be misinterpreted, adding some extra data to clarify their meaning for Google could help you not only rank higher in search, but also increase your chances of driving traffic from the right audience.
149: FEATURED SNIPPETS
Featured snippets are blocks that are shown above the first organic search results and contain the exact answer to a certain query. They do affect rankings, so optimising for them is always a good idea.
Google does give a certain preference to sites that have a local server IP and a domain name extension that is country-specific.
So, there are another 50 Google ranking factors. Curious to find out about the final 50? Then stay tuned for our last post in the series!