Last Updated on July 2, 2020 by John Zakaria
Well, nobody knows exactly the secret formula, but there are some that have been proven, some are speculations, while others are controversial.
I want us to go all through these Google Ranking Factors.
199 Most Essential Google’s Ranking Factors To Get Page One Rankings in 2018 And Beyond:
 Domain age:
- Google uses domain age to rank sites, but it is not a major factor.
- However, there is no major difference between a domain that is 6 months old versus one that is 1 year old.
 Keyword appearance in the top level domain:
- Although not as relevant as before, having your target keyword in your domain shows relevancy.
 Keyword used as the first word in domain:
- A domain with a target keyword at the start has an advantage over domains that either haven’t included their keyword or have their keyword placed in the middle or end it.
 Domain registration length:
- Google patent argues that valuable domains are often paid for a couple of years in advance while illegitimate ones are rarely used for more than one year.
- Therefore, paying for your domain for a couple of years in advance shows the legitimacy of a domain.
 Keyword in a subdomain:
- Keyword appearing in your subdomain can have a significant effect on your ranking according to Moz’s expert panel.
 Domain History:
- A site that has experienced several drops or has issues with links pointing to it can request Google to “reset” their history.
- However, despite negating links pointing to its domain, sometime a penalized domain may still carry the penalty over to the new site owner.
 Exact match domain:
- this may give you a little boost, but if your EMD is a low-quality site, it will be prone to the EMD update.
 Public versus Private WhoIs:
- Private WhoIs information can indicate that you are hiding something.
- Turning on WhoIs privacy will have a slight edge over someone with a site that has Whois privacy protection service.
 Country TLD extension:
- If you have a Country Code Top Level Domain, you can rank better for that specific country, but this can limit your site ability to rank on a global level.
 Penalized WhoIs Owner:
- When Google marks a person as a spammer, it goes ahead to scrutinize sites owned by that person. This makes sense.
 Having Keyword in Your Title Tag:
- Although not as important as it once was, adding a keyword in your title tag remains an important factor in on-page SEO.
 Keyword as the First Word of Your Title Tag:
- As per Moz report, title tags with a target keyword as the first word tend to perform better than title tags with keyword appearing at the end of the tag.
 Keyword in Description Tag:
- Although Meta description doesn’t count as a direct ranking factor, your description can impact your click-through rate, which is a major ranking factor.
 Keyword Appearing in HI Tag:
- HI tags being your second title tags are a major factor, together with title tags, that Google uses as a secondary relevancy signal.
- This is a fancy word for “how often has a certain word in a document mentioned.”
- The more often the word appears on a page, the more likely the page is about that word.
- Google uses a complex version of TF-IDF to detect this.
 Length of your content:
- Content with more word is more preferable in the algorithm as compared to shorter articles that superficially covers about a topic.
- Most studies have shown that content length correlates with SERP position.
 In-Depth Topic Coverage:
- The depth of topic coverage correlates to Google rankings.
- Therefore, pages that have explained a topic from every angle may have an edge over pages that have covered a topic partially.
 Latent Semantic Indexing Keyword in Description Tags and Title (LSI):
- Using LSI keywords in your web pages will help Google understand your content better.
- Besides, it may also act as a relevancy signal.
 LSI Keywords in Content:
- LSI keywords assist with extracting meaning from words with more than one meaning.
- For instance, Apple, the renowned computer and mobile phones Company vs. apple, the fruit.
- Adding them will act as a content quality signal.
 Keyword Density:
- although it doesn’t retain the relevancy it once had, Google still uses it to understand the topic of a webpage. However, you may get penalized for going overboard.
 Table of Content:
- Use a linked table of content is another way of helping Google understand content in your page.
- This can also result in site links.
 Content Recency:
- Google favors updated content or newer content, especially for searches that are time-sensitive.
- To show how important this factor is, Google shows the date of the last update of a page for certain web pages.
 Image Optimization:
- By having optimized image names, description, captions, and titles, you can boost your site ranking.
- If you use this tag as required, you can stay safe from penalties because of duplicate content.
 Duplicate Content:
- One major thing that can negatively affect your search engine visibility is duplicated content.
- Therefore, avoid it at all cost.
 Google Hummingbird:
- This algorithm update enabled Google to focus beyond keywords.
- With Hummingbird update, Google has more understanding of a topic of a webpage.
 Entity Match:
- If a page matches the “entity” a searcher is looking for, it may get a ranking boost for that specific keyword.
 Use of AMP:
- While it may not have a direct impact on Google ranking, for the mobile version of Google News Carousel, AMP may be one of the requirement.
 Page Loading Speed through Chrome:
- Chrome user data can also be used by Google to know the page’s loading site.
- If chrome shows your pages load faster, then you may have noticed a significant boost in your ranking.
 Page Loading Speed through HTML:
- Ranking speed is an obvious factor used by both Google and Bing.
- Search engines use your page’s HTML code to estimate your site speed.
- Videos, images and other multimedia elements can be used to indicate quality.
- Therefore, ensure you use multimedia in your content.
 Number of Outbound Links:
- Having too many do-follow OBLs can hurt your page rankings. Therefore limit their number.
 Content Hidden Behind Tabs:
- If your visitors have to click on a tab to see the content on a page, this may hurt your ranking as Google has said it may not index such pages.
 Helpful Supplementary Content:
- This shows page quality. Some of the supplementary content include loan interest calculators, currency converters, and interactive recipes.
 Hidden Content on Mobile:
- If a mobile user cannot view the same content as a person using a desktop, then Google has said it may not index that content, and even if indexed, it will not be weighed as heavily as fully visible content. if the content is valuable, it should be visible.
 Mobile Usability:
- Websites that are fully mobile responsive may have the edge over those that are not fully optimized for mobile devices.
 Mobile-Friendly Update:
- Also called Mobilegeddon, this update enabled pages that are properly optimized for mobile devices to rank higher than those that are not mobile-friendly.
 Syndicated Content:
- If content from your page is not original or is copied from another indexed page, then it might fail to get indexed or fail to rank as well.
 Grammar and Spelling:
- Having content with proper grammar and correct spelling shows quality.
- This may not have a direct impact on your ranking, but it helps with user experience, which directly impacts page ranking.
 Outbound Link Theme:
- Google can use the content of the pages you link to determine your relevancy.
- For instance, if a page talking about cars on your site is linked to a movie-related page, Google may see it as a movie car page, and not automobile.
 Outbound Link Quality:
- The more you link out to authority sites, the more trustworthy you will appear to Google.
 Keyword Integration In H2, H3 Tags:
- Having your keywords appearing in your H2 and H3 subheadings will boost your relevancy as well.
- They will help Google understand the structure of a page.
 Keyword Prominence:
- Ensure your target keyword appear in the first 100 words of your page content.
- This will help boost your page ranking.
 Historical Page Updates:
- The frequency with which you update your web pages plays a crucial role in your rankings.
- How often you update your pages (weekly, monthly, every 1 year) has a low, significant effect on your ranking.
 Magnitude of Content Updates:
- editing and changing some aspects of your content is also a freshness factor.
- Removing or adding an entire section is more important than fixing a typo or switching the order of a few sentences or words.
 Domain Authority:
- A page on a more authoritative domain will likely rank higher than that on a low-authority domain.
 HTML Errors:
- Having a lot of HTML errors of poor coding portrays your site as a poor quality website.
- While this may be controversial, many SEO experts argue that a well-coded site is an indication of quality.
 Affiliate Links:
- Although a few won’t hurt your ranking, too many of them may draw Google’s attention to scrutinize the quality of your site.
 Reading Levels:
- Google calculates your content readability level.
- Having a better readability score will help your site rank better. This is still controversial.
 Broken Links:
- Too many broken links may be a sign of a neglected site.
- Google assesses your homepage’s quality through Google Rater Guidelines Document.
 Quality of Internal Links:
- Internal links from sites higher than yours will have a stronger effect than those coming from pages on domains with low PageRank.
 Number of Internal Links:
- The number of internal links to a page is an indication of page relevancy in relation to other pages on a site.
 URL Length:
- Overly long URLs may hurt your page’s visibility to search engine.
- Shorter URLs have shown to perform better in search engines results.
 Page’s Page Rank:
- Pages with a lot of authority tend to outrank pages with minimal link authority.
 URL Path:
- closeness to homepage may give a page slight authority boost.
 Nofollow Links:
- This is a controversial topic in SEO.
- Ensure to have a natural percentage of nofollow links on your site.
 Homepage Authority:
- Ensure to put only those links coming from high authority sites to your homepage. This has weight.
 Links from Ads:
- These should be nofollow links, but Google identifies and filters out followed links.
 Guest Post:
- Go easy on guest posting to avoid getting your site in jeopardy.
- Remember, true editorial links are weightier than links from guest posts.
 Links From Bad Neighborhoods:
- can also hurt your site
 Links from “obvious” websites:
- Google will not fully trust your site if it doesn’t get links from a set of ‘expected’ websites in your niche. However, this is speculative.
 Links from Competitors:
- Links from competitor site may be valuable to your page’s ranking for that specific keyword.
 Authority of Linking Domain:
- Linking to an authority site may have a significant role in your site ranking.
 Authority of Linking Page:
- PageRank of the page you are linking too is also another important ranking factor.
 Links from .gov or .edu Domains:
- will have a significant effect on your site ranking.
 Alt Tags:
- These act as anchor text for images.
 Backlink Anchor Text:
- Although not as relevant as before, having a keyword-rich anchor text will boost your relevancy in small does.
 Number of Linking Pages:
- has an impact on rankings.
 Number of Links Coming From Separate C-Class IPs:
- This can help in your rankings as it suggests a wider scope of sites linking to you.
 Number of Linking Domains:
- the # of referring domains has a great effect on your site ranking.
 Linking Domain Age:
- backlinks coming from an aged domain are more impactful than those from new domains.
 Sitewide Links:
- These are compressed and counted as a single link.
 Quality of Linking Content:
- Getting links from spun content or poorly-written content will not add as much value as from well-written content.
 Content-Length of Linking Content:
- A link from a page with 1000 words is better than that from a page with 400 words.
 Forum Links:
- because of being known for spamming, Google may slightly devalue links coming from forums.
 Number Of Outbound Links:
- you need to control the number of outbound links linking to a page.
- Hundreds of them will lead to penalization.
 TrustRank of Linking Site:
- the site linking to you must be trustworthy as well to avoid penalties.
 Scherma.org Usage:
- Pages supporting microformats may rank better than those without it.
 Links from 301:
- direct links will be weightier than links from 301 redirects.
 User-Generated Content Links:
- It is very easy for Google to identify content published by site owner from UGC.
 Reciprocal Links:
- avoid excessive link exchanging to avoid penalties.
 Natural Link Profile:
- A site that has a natural link profile is more likely to have a better ranking than that using black hat strategies.
 Links from Real Sites versus Fake Links:
- Google gives more weight to links coming from real blogs than from fake sites.
- They check user-interaction and brand to distinguish between the two.
 Backlink Age:
- Older links gives you more ranking power than backlinks from new sites.
- The words appearing around your backlinks tell Google what your page is all about.
 Link to and from Wikipedia Source:
- Although these links are no-follow, many site owners believe getting links from Wikipedia will demonstrate your trust and authority.
 Link from Authority Sites:
- If you get a link from a site that is more authoritative than you, you will notice a significant rise in your ranking.
 Links from “Hub” Pages:
- Your site will be given a special treatment if it gets links from pages considered hubs (top resources) on certain topics.
 Positive Link Velocity:
- If your site get a positive link velocity, it will get a ranking boost.
- This is because it shows your site is becoming popular.
 Negative Link Velocity:
- conversely, a negative link velocity indicates you are losing popularity and thus will lead to a reduction in your rankings.
 Keyword in Title:
- By placing your page’s keyword in the title, your site will rank better.
 Page Level Relevancy:
- Links coming from relevant pages gives you a significant boost in ranking.
 Linking Domain Relevancy:
- A link from the same niche you are in is more powerful than a link from an unrelated site.
 Link Location on Page:
- the location of a link on a page is important.
- A link on the page’s content has more power than a link in the sidebar or footer area.
 Link Location in Content:
- Links appearing in the beginning of your content carries more weight than links placed deeper into your content.
 Country TLD of Denoting Domain:
- By getting links from top-level domain extensions that are specific to a country such as .cn, co.uk, .de, may help you rank higher in that country.
 Link Title Attribution:
- this is the text that appears when you place a mouse pointer over a link. Although not strong, it has an effect.
 Internal Link Anchor Text:
- although they do not carry as much weight as external link anchor texts, they boost your ranking in a way.
 Excessive 301 Redirects:
- Backlinks from 301 redirects tend to lower your PageRank.
 Contextual Links:
- Links embedded in your page’s content have more power than those on an empty page.
 Sponsored Links:
- phrases like ‘link partners,’ ‘sponsors’ and ‘sponsored links may lower your link’s value.
 Diversity of Link Types:
- High number of unnatural links coming from a single source may be seen as a signal of webspam.
- Therefore, diversify your sources of links for them to appear natural.
Site Level Factors:
 User Reviews:
- your reputation on review sites such as Yelp.com will play a role in your ranking.
- Make sure you have good reviews.
 Use of Google Search Console and Google Analytics:
- By having these two programs installed on your site, you can boost the rate of your pages getting indexed and also influence rankings.
 Site Usability:
- a site that is not user-friendly will get a higher bounce rate which will hurt your ranking.
 Mobile Optimizes:
- with mobile usage on the rise, sites that are not mobile friendly will start getting penalized.
 Breadcrumb Navigation:
- this shows user-friendliness. It helps users know where they are on your site.
- Having breadcrumb markup will have an indirect boost on your ranking.
 Duplicated Meta-Information:
- on your site may hurt your page’s visibility.
- You will get warnings from the Search Console.
 Privacy and Terms of service Pages:
- these two pages tell Google that a site is a reputable member of the internet.
 SSL Certificate:
- HTTPS is used as ranking factor.
 Server Location:
- this influences your site ranking in different geographical regions.
- This will be more impactful in geo-specific searches.
 Site Uptime:
- If your site has persistent downtimes, that may hurt your rankings.
- You can be de-indexed if not corrected.
 Presence of Sitemap:
- sitemaps helps improve visibility of your pages to search engines thereby helping with easier indexing.
 Site Updates:
- this is another freshness factor.
 Site Architecture:
- A well-organized site will likely rank higher.
 Domain Trust:
- TrustRank is a crucial ranking factor as well.
- Establish yourself as a trustworthy expert.
 Contact Us Page:
- You need to keep your contact information accurate and should match your WhoIs info.
 Valuable Content:
- Google loves unique and valuable content.
- You will be penalized if you become a thin affiliate site.
 Useful, Relevant Content:
- Google distinguishes between quality and relevant content based on the users bounce rate.
- Let your keywords be relevant to your content.
 Parked Domains:
- Search visibility of these domains was decreased in 2011, but they are still relevant.
 User-Friendly Layout:
- you need to follow Google Quality Guidelines Document.
 Page Age:
- although fresh content is given an upper hand, an old page that is regularly updated may rank higher than new pages.
 Quantity of Other Keywords You Have Ranked For:
- may also give Google a sign of quality of your content.
 Excess Outbound Links:
- will negatively affects your ranking.
 Priority of a Page in Your Sitemap:
- via sitemap.xml file may influence ranking.
 Bullets and Numbered List:
- This makes your content more user-friendly, and again Google prefer bulleted or numbered content.
 References and Sources:
- having a references and sources cited at the bottom of web pages is a sign of quality. It doesn’t go unnoticed by Google.
 Keyword in URL:
- Although small, this is another relevancy signal.
 Page Category:
- A page classified under a related category may get a higher rank than a page under an unrelated category
 WordPress Tags:
- According to Yoast.com, tags are WordPress specific and thus another relevancy signal
 Dwell Time:
- The duration people spend on your page after coming from Google search counts when it comes to rankings.
 Number of Comments:
- comments saw user-interaction and quality. The more, the better.
 Chrome Bookmarks:
- Pages book market in Chrome gets a boost in ranking.
 Blocked Sites:
- Panda still uses this feature to show quality even if it was discontinued by Google on Chrome.
- This is another type of bounce where a user clicks on other search results trying to find the answer.
 Repeat Traffic:
- Sites getting repeat traffic get a boost in their ranking.
 Direct Traffic:
- Sites with many people visiting them will rank better than less visited sites.
 Bounce Rate:
- Google uses user behavior on your site for its ranking purposes.
- higher bounce rate indicates low-quality content and hence low ranking. Vice versa is true.
 Organic CTR for All Target Keywords:
- Ensure you have a quality score for organic results by having human-based keywords.
 Organic Click-Through Rate for Pages:
- Pages with more CTR get a ranking boosting for their keywords they have targeted.
- It is believed that its main purpose is to measure user interaction.
SPECIAL GOOGLE ALGORITHM RULES:
 Payday Loans Update:
- this is designed to eliminate spammy queries.
 Single Site Results for Brands:
- Brand or domain-oriented keywords returns a couple of results from the same website.
 Easter Egg Results:
- These are many Easter Egg results.
 Image Results:
- You can have Google images appearing in the normal search results because of optimizing image description.
 Shopping Results:
- You can get shopping results displayed in the organic SERPs.
 Big Brand Preference:
- Big brands are given a boost preference for certain keywords.
 Top Stories Box:
- certain keywords return top stories box as results.
 Local Searches:
- Often, Google places local results above the organic SERPs for local searches or geo-specific searches.
 Transactional Searches:
- Google returns different results for keywords related to shopping joints.
 Domain Diversity:
- More domains are added to each SERP page thanks to Bigfoot Update.
 DMCA Complaints:
- In case of legitimate DMCA complaints, a page gets downranked.
 YMYL Keywords:
- Your Money or Your Life keywords are given more weight.
 Google + Circles:
- Even though not influential, sites and authors with Google+ circles are ranked higher those without these circles.
 Safe Search:
- this eliminates adult content and curse words.
- sites with a country-specific domain extension and local server IP are given preferences when it comes to local searches.
 Featured Snippets:
- Featured Snippets content based on a good blend of formatting, content length, HTTP usage, and page authority are given preference by Google.
 User Search History:
- Google uses your search history to try and return results related to both searches.
- For instance, if you search for “reviews” then “dishwashers” in your next search, Google is more likely to return a search with top-ranked dishwashers review.
 User Browsing History:
- websites you visit frequently appear top of your searches for keywords related to them.
 Query Deserves Diversity:
- Ambiguous keywords return diverse search results.
 Query Deserves Freshness:
- Newer pages are given a boost for certain searches.
 Location of Brick and Mortar:
- Google looks for the real offices of your business to help direct locals searches to your business.
 Unlinked Brand Mentions:
- If your brand is mentioned without getting hyperlinked, Google takes that as a sign of popularity.
 Brand Mentions on Top Stories:
- Big brands get mentions all the time. This is another sign of popularity.
 Legitimacy of Social Media Accounts:
- It doesn’t matter if your social media has 10s of thousands of followers if it is getting interaction, Google sees it as fake.
- Therefore, keep engaging your audience in your social media accounts.
 Known Authorship:
- Information tied to a verified author will rank better than from unverified author.
 Official LinkedIn Company Page:
- also boosts sites ranking.
 Site with a Twitter Profile:
- with followers shows brand popularity.
 Site with a Facebook Page:
- That Has Lots of Likes shows popularity.
 Brand+Keyword Searches:
- If people integrate your keyword with specific keywords in their searches, Google gives you a ranking boost.
 Branded Searches:
- If people search for your brand, Google sees it as a real brand.
 Brand Name Anchor Text:
- Anchor text with a brand name indicates a strong brand signal.
ON-SITE WEBSPAM FACTORS:
 Meta Tag Spamming:
- Stuffing keywords in your Meta tags may lead to penalization.
 Flagging of IP Address as Spam:
- If your server’s IP get flagged for spam, all your sites under that server will be affected.
 Excess PageRank Sculpting:
- If you make all your outbound links nofollow links, this may be a sign of tricking the system.
 Auto-generated Content:
- Google hates computer-generated content, and this may lead to penalization or de-indexing.
 Affiliate Sites:
- Sites monetizing with affiliate products and programs are closely-monitored by Google.
- It is not a fan of affiliates.
- this targets sites with low-value content; sites that put revenue before helping users.
 Hiding Affiliate Links:
- Cloaking affiliate links can lead to penalization.
 Placing Ads above the Fold can get you penalized:
- Ads should be fewer than content
 Doorway Pages:
- Redirecting people to another page is what Google calls “Doorway Page.” This will get you penalized.
 Gibberish Content:
- spun content will lead to de-indexing of pages.
 Over Optimizing Sites:
- Keyword stuffing, excessive decoration of keywords, and header tag stuffing are all examples of over-optimizing sites. This may lead to penalization.
 Interstitial Popups:
- Sites displaying full-page interstitial popups to users on mobile devices may get penalized
 Distracting Keywords:
- Annoying popups indicates a low-quality site according to Google.
- If you are found engaging in sneaky redirects, then you can get penalized or even de-indexed.
 Links to Bad Neighborhoods:
- Linking to a spammy site may be detrimental to your search visibility.
 Panda Penalty:
- If hit by panda penalty due to low-quality content, your visibility in search result declines.
OFF-SITE WEBSPAM FACTORS:
 Temporary Link Schemes:
- There are people who create and quickly remove spammy links to enjoy short term benefits.
- If caught, you will be penalized.
 Reconsideration Request:
- If you submit this request and it is successfully accepted, your penalty can be lifted.
 Disavow Tool:
- This may remove an algorithmic or manual penalty for sites that were penalized due to negative SEO.
 Google Dance:
- This may temporary shape up site ranking.
 Google Sandbox:
- If you get a sudden influx of links, your visibility can be temporarily limited.
 Selling Links:
- If caught, your visibility will be reduced.
 Manual Actions:
- Most of these are linked black hat link building.
 Links from Press Releases and Articles:
- have been abused to the extent that Google considers them a tricky strategy to grow your inbound links.
 Low-Quality Directory Links:
- Backlinks from low-quality directories will lead to penalization.
 Unnatural Influx of Links:
- An unnatural and sudden influx of links is a sign of spammy links.
Bingo! We are through with our lengthy list.
I would like to hear from you which Google’s ranking factors were new to you or if I may have missed something.
Share with me in the comment section below;