* Note: This article was based on the backlink list:
If you work with digital marketing , you probably already wondered how Google determines the positioning of sites in search results.
And well, we already know that it is through an algorithm that Google tries to present the best results for the user who performs a search. But what are the criteria you use to display and order the pages? You probably don’t know this yet.
Ok, let’s try to unravel this mystery!
In this post you will see the 200 positioning factors in Google so you can develop better SEO strategies.
But first, it is necessary to make some caveats …
Google has never claimed that it uses exactly 200 ranking factors and has never revealed what these would be. So this is the first point: this list is not an absolute truth.
However, in statements about search engines and updates to its algorithm, Google professionals have revealed some of those factors that make up the list, just so that the market matures in its SEO actions.
So if Google has only revealed some data, how did this list get to 200 factors?
Hence the importance of SEO professionals, who live by relying on research, metrics and statistics to try to unravel the mysteries of the algorithm.
Companies like Moz and Search Metrics conduct periodic studies, in association with market specialists to try to understand the trends of search mechanisms.
So, this is how you should understand the list of 200 ranking factors in Google: this will not prove anything about the algorithm, but it will show characteristics of the pages that achieve the best positions, based on market studies.
Some factors are proven, others are speculation, others are controversial. Even with these caveats, it is true that each item mentioned deserves your attention.
It is understood? So let’s go to the list!
In a list of 200 items, we need to prioritize! We select the factors to which you should give more importance:
1. Unique and valuable content
That is the essence of SEO: producing quality content for the user. Think less about robots and more about what people are looking for and would like to see on your site. Google values that!
2. Authority of the page
PageRank was the first algorithm created by Larry Page over 20 years ago, based on the links a page receives. Despite the age, it is still used as Google itself claims .
However, many professionals prefer the Page Authority, the Moz metric that promises more transparency, updates and precision than PageRank itself. You can look at their Open Site Explorer tool .
3. Domain authority
The positioning of a page is also influenced by the authority of your domain. Verify your Domain Authority also in Open Site Explorer .
How do you know if your site is reliable? “Tell me who you are with and I will tell you who you are” Google determines the TrustRank based on your relationships, that is, how many links you receive from trusted sites.
5. Charging speed
That is one of the factors that Google was willing to announce: the loading time of the sites . This greatly influences the user experience and, consequently, in the positioning.
In April 2015, Google announced that mobile-friendly pages would gain better positions in searches performed on mobile devices.
7. SSL and HTTPS certificate
Google reported that secure sites that use the SSL and HTTPS Certificate earn priority. The impact of this positioning has not yet been perceived, but this factor must gain strength.
8. Keyword in title
The use of the keyword is essential in optimization and the title is one of the most important factors of SEO On Page . So, insert your keyword in it!
The more you facilitate the life of the user within your site, the better the experience will be. Usability impacts on dwell time, page views and bounce rate .
10. Site architecture
Organizing content is essential for usability and helps Google understand your page.
Before continuing, learn more about SEO by downloading the most complete guide:
1. Duplicate content
Duplicate content, both internal and external, reduces the positioning of a page, as it damages the user experience.
2. Copied content
The copied content is not even legal for Google. This tries to identify the original content and lowers the positioning of the pages that copied it. This also applies to images.
3. HTML errors
“Dirty” codes hinder indexing and show that the page has no quality.
If Google finds a page many times in maintenance or with an internal server error ( Error500 ), it will fall in the ranking or it will not even continue to be indexed.
5. Spelling and grammar errors
A poorly written site can be a sign of spam. For this reason, Google evolved to value sites that do not have spelling and grammar errors .
6. Broken links within the page
Links that lead to non-existent pages are a sign that the content is out of date.
7. Rejection rate
It is the moment when a user entered a link, did not interact and left the page. This can make a negative weight for the positioning of the page.
Pop-ups make users uncomfortable, that’s why Google doesn’t like them.
9. Link scheme
The schemes of buying or exchanging links (including many guest posts and advertorials followed) violate Google’s guidelines and are penalized.
10. Backlinks from sites with a bad reputation
Disreputable sites with links to your site are a bad sign.
Now let’s look at other factors at the page, domain, and site level that are relevant to ranking.
1. Useful content
To earn better positions, it’s not enough just to create quality content, it also needs to be useful. An example is the good positioning of Yahoo Answers, which always seeks to bring something useful to people’s lives.
2. Content size
Texts with 1000 words or more earn points with Google, as they tend to be deeper and more relevant than those with 500 words or less.
3. Multimedia content
Videos, texts, images, infographics, etc. The more different formats, the better .
4. Complementary content
Calculator, currency converters, interactive recipes – these are examples of complementary content that enhance your page.
5. Keywords at the beginning of the title
According to Moz , the closer to the beginning of the title is the keyword, the easier it will be for the user to see and the easier it is for Google to understand.
6. Keyword in the meta description
The meta description is not a ranking factor, but inserting the keyword in this description is important for the user. It turns out to be a guide to help you decide whether or not to enter the page.
7. Keyword in h1 tag
The H1 tag gets importance when positioning, thanks to being at the top of the headings hierarchy.
8. Keyword in h2 and h3 tags
The h2 and h3 tags are below the h1 tag in the header hierarchy, but they are also important. Still, remember to use the keyword in them naturally.
9. Keyword in the URL
It is an important factor of On-page SEO: the URL structure must be friendly and contain the keyword.
10. Keyword at the beginning of the text
The first 100 words of the text get special attention from Google, so they must contain the keyword of the page.
11. Keyword density
Refers to the number of times the keyword is inserted in the text. This should appear naturally, with good sense, so that Google can identify it as important. But that is a controversial factor, because the algorithm uses other smarter criteria.
12. Semantics of the keyword in the content
The terms convey the same meaning of the keyword (synonyms, partial occurrences, etc.) can be used in the text to clarify its meaning to Google.
13. Semantics of the keyword in the title and in the meta description
Those similar terms can also be used in the title and in the meta description.
14. Order of terms in the keyword
Google prioritizes the sites optimized for the keyword that exactly corresponds to the searches. For example, for those who search for “How to make beans”, a site optimized for “How to make beans” will have a better position than the one that has: “Beans how to make them”.
15. Image optimization
To understand what an image shows, Google needs the help of the Alt Text and the file name. If the keyword appears in them, the better.
Lists improve the scannability of a text and tend to engage the reader, improving the time spent on the page.
Another important factor of scannability is the insertion of intertitles in the text.
18. Short paragraphs
A huge block of text doesn’t make you want to read, does it?
Shorten the paragraphs and make your content attractive.
19. Canonical tag
Using the canonical tag fixes duplicate content issues within your site and improves indexing on Google.
20. Updating content
The algorithm seeks to prioritize the most updated content, although other factors have more weight. For some pages, the update date is displayed in the results.
21. Consistency of content update
It does not matter just updating the contents, but mainly, updating with consistency. It is not enough to change a few words, it is necessary to bring something new to the user.
22. Frequency of content update
The frequency in which the contents are updated is also important.
23. Quality of links for external pages
Having links to external pages can be a sign that you are trustworthy.
24. Content of external pages with a link
The content of the pages for which you put a link may be indicative for Google.
25. Number of links for external pages
Be careful: creating links to external pages excessively can seem like spam.
26. Number of internal links for the page
The number of links within the site to an internal page indicates its importance.
27. Quality of the internal links for the page
Receiving internal links from authoritative pages improves the positioning of a page.
28. Anchor texts of the internal link for the page
Anchor text is important information for Google to understand the subject of the landing page. However, since it was widely used for spam, it is good to use variations of the keyword.
29. Reading level
Google manages to infer if your content is basic, intermediate or advanced. But it is not known which of the three types ranks best. That is a factor that still requires study.
30. Affiliate links
Using affiliate links is not a problem. The mistake is in using them excessively. Google is suspicious.
31. Structured data (Schema.org Rich Snippets)
Rich Snippets are markups in a page’s code that provide extra information in search results, such as breadcrumbs and ranking in reviews. These are not a ranking factor, but generally attract more clicks.
32. URL length
Short, objective URLs are more easily read and understood by the user.
33. Path to the page
The closer a home page is, the more relevant it is.
34. Category page
The category in which the page is inserted must make sense to Google. For example, a page on stoves should be in the category: Appliances.
35. References and sources
The citation of references and sources from which you took certain data, is a sign of quality, as well as being valuable information for the reader.
36. Priority of the page in Sitemap
The hierarchy of the pages is informed to the algorithm by the sitemap.xml file and can influence the positioning.
37. Other keywords
A sign of content quality is ranking for multiple keywords, not just one.
38. Age of the page
Although Google prefers new content, an old but regularly updated page also earns points.
39. Layout of the page
The Layout improves usability and increases the time spent on the page.
40. Parked Domains
They are pages that hardly report that the domain is registered, with no content other than ads. Google doesn’t show Parked Domains in the results .
1. Keyword in the domain
The site that has the keyword in the domain wins a bonus, and Google still puts the searched term in bold in the results.
2. Keyword at the start of the domain
If the keyword appears at the start of the domain, even better!
3. Keyword in the subdomain
The keyword in the subdomain also scores points, however, with less weight.
4. Exact domains
Refers to the exact correspondence between the keyword and the domain name. Generally it is an important factor, but Google became stricter with the criteria, because that resource was widely used for manipulations.
5. Age of the domain
Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, explained that the age of the domain is not a very important factor . For him, it is better how relevant that domain has been through time.
6. Country extension (ccTLD – Country code Top Level Domain)
Sites with the country extension at the end of the address (.br for Brazil, .co for Colombia, .es for Spain, etc.) give Google clear indications of where they are from and for whom they should be displayed.
7. Domain history
If a domain has already suffered penalties, that counts negatively.
8. Private whois
Keeping Whois data in the private domain can be a negative sign for Google.
9. Whois penalized
If a domain owner has already been penalized, Google may downgrade all the sites they own.
11 site factors
The sitemap.mx file informs Google all the pages of your site. It aids in tracking, especially of new content.
The breadcrumbs (breadcrumbs) indicate the path to a page (such as Home> Bedroom> Beds). They position the user and Google with respect to the architecture of the site.
3. Talk to us
Providing a page or simply contact details is an indication of reliability.
4. Site update
A site that is frequently updated takes precedence.
5. Number of pages
The number of pages by itself is not a positioning factor, but the more pages you have, the more content you will have indexed.
6. Server location
The location of the server can influence the display of your pages in different regions.
One more sign of reliability: if you are transparent with users, then you are trustworthy.
8. Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Integrating Google services to your site provides more complete information for the search engine to perform the positioning.
9. Duplicate meta description
As we said, Google does not like duplicate content. Meta descriptions must be unique for each page.
10. Comments and reputation
Google says: ” treating your consumers badly is bad business .” Negative comments and reviews are not a ranking factor, but they do harm your site’s reputation.
11. DMOZ Listed Sites
DMOZ is one of the world’s first and largest link directories and became a reference library. Having a site on the list can give positive points.
Backlinks are the links you receive from other sites. The relationship with the market is one of the most important points for Google to understand the relevance of a site. Linkbuilding strategies are, next to quality content, considered as the main positioning factor.
Know the factors:
A site that uses backlinks naturally, only when they are really interesting to the public, they are much more relevant to Google.
2. TrustRank of the site with backlink
Google’s level of trust in the site that gave the backlink helps determine how much they should trust yours.
3. Backlink page authority
Receiving links from pages with a good PageRank or Page Authority gives points.
4. Backlink domain authority
The authority of the domain that gave the backlink is also important.
5. Backlink domain age
The age of the backlink domain counts for you, although rather little.
6. Backlink age
Older backlinks may be more valuable than new ones.
7. Country extension (TLD) of the domain
The country extension of the domain that gave the backlink can help your site in the positioning of a certain country.
8. Variety of domains with backlinks
A page with backlinks from different domains becomes more important.
9. Variety of IPs with backlinks
A site with backlinks from various IPs also gain priority.
10. Number of pages with backlinks
The more pages give you links, the better.
11. Image tags with backlinks
When the backlink is in an image, the tags and src inform Google what it represents and what it has to do with your page.
12. Backlinks from .edu and .gov domains
Generally, .edu and .gov pages have authority, so it is great to receive links from them.
13. Backlinks from the competition
You deserve a prize if even the competition creates a link that directs your site. Google also believes the same.
14. Backlinks from the home page
The links made on the initial page of a site have more weight than the internal pages do.
15. Guest posts
The Guest Blogging has passed through the sights. Currently, the backlinks that come from guest posts are only worth it if they are from blogs relevant to your niche, with natural anchor texts and with content relevant to the public of those sites.
16. Quality of the content on the backlink page
The original, useful and quality content transmits more value to the link.
17. Size of content on the backlink page
Just like on your page, the size of the text indicates the depth of the content. The older the better.
18. Contextual backlinks
The links naturally inserted in the text have more value, since they are placed within a context that makes Google easier to understand.
19. The location of the backlink in the content
The links at the beginning of the text are worth more than in the middle or at the end.
20. Location of the backlink on the page
A link in the middle of the text is worth more than one at the bottom of the page, in the sidebar or in the comment box, for example. That shows naturalness in the citation.
21. Backlink environment text
We have already said that Google is capable of understanding the context in which a link is inserted. So if the link is on a claims page, it is detrimental to your ranking.
22. Backlink semantics
The context of the backlink helps Google understand the meaning of the keyword.
23. Backlink anchor text
Anchor text is an important backlink factor, as it describes what the user and Google will find on the landing page. But it is worth remembering: use variations, or even the same name of your brand so as not to be interpreted as spam.
24. Title of the link
The text that appears when the mouse passes over a link is your title. This can also influence positioning.
25. Links nofollow
Receiving “nofollow” links is not a problem, they just don’t transmit authority, only traffic. The problem is when many links to your site use that parameter. Bad signal.
26. Diversity of backlinks
Having all the backlinks coming from a single source (for example, forums and blog comments) can be a sign of spam.
27. Relevance of the domain
A domain on cars that generates links for a beauty salon does not make much sense, right? The backlink domain must be relevant within your market.
28. Relevance of the page
The same logic applies to the page: it must also be related to the landing page.
29. Keyword in the page title
If your keyword is in the title of the page that gave the backlink, better for positioning. It probably means that they are two specialists in the matter.
30. Positive speed to earn backlinks
It is important to always be winning links: it is a sign that you are always increasing your popularity.
31. Negative speed to earn backlinks
If Google perceives that the number of backlinks you earn is going down, it can understand it as your popularity is falling.
32. Hub pages
Winning links from pages that are considered a “hub”, that is, that focus on certain issues, can be a positive point.
33. Sites with authority
Receiving links from sites that are considered an authority on the matter, scores many points.
34. Wikipedia backlink
Wikipedia links are “nofollow”, that is, they do not transfer authority, but they generate traffic for your site, so it is interesting to have them.
35. Backlinks from real sites
A link building strategy should focus on real sites, brands or real people. There are many fake sites, used only to generate links and spam.
36. User generated content (UGC – User Generated Content)
Google manages to differentiate whether the content was produced by the author of the site or by a user. This values more when the user generates content, as it is original and authentic content.
37. Sitewide links
Sitewide links are those present throughout the site, such as in the footer or header. According to Matt Cutts, Google interprets sitewide links as one .
38. Redirects 301
Matt Cutts explains that the 301 redirect links convey the same authority as the original links. If there is any loss in positioning, it will be negligible.
39. Reciprocal links
If Google identifies the emergence of many links from one site to another and vice versa, it can interpret it as a link exchange scheme and it does not like that.
40. Excessive redirects 301
However, many 301 redirect links to the site can be a bad sign.
41. Number of links to external pages
The more external links are on a page, the less authority it will transmit for each of them.
42. Backlinks in forums
The links disclosed in the forums lose strength due to spam practices.
43. Sponsored backlinks
Words like “sponsorship” or “association” next to a backlink can be read by Google and that can be interpreted as buying links.
The way in which users interact with a site or a page give Google clues about the quality of its content and how much they deserve a better ranking. In addition to the rejection or rebound rate, which we already mentioned, it knows other factors:
1. CTR for a keyword
The click-through rate of a page for certain keywords is a ranking factor.
2. CTR for all keywords
The click-through rate for all the keywords that appear on the page is also a ranking factor.
3. Time on page
The length of time a user stays on the site indicates, theoretically, how engaging your content is. It is one of the main positioning factors, as you can see in this post !
4. Direct traffic
When a user types the page URL directly into the browser bar, Google understands that as a plus point.
5. Frequent Visitors
The more visitors return to the page, the better for positioning.
6. Chrome favorites
Google manages to identify which pages were added to the “Favorites” in Chrome, and that possibly counts points.
The information can be collected in the Chrome toolbar, however, nobody knows exactly what data Google uses.
The number of comments on a page is an excellent sign that the content is relevant to the user.
9. Blocked sites
A Google Chrome extension allows you to block unwanted sites from your search results. If a site is blocked by many people, that can be a bad sign.
18 algorithm operating factors
Some operational details of the search mechanism may influence the display and order of the results.
1. Update on results
The algorithm gives preference to displaying the most up-to-date results, but not always. If the quality of the content of a page is better, it gains priority.
2. Diversity in results
When the search is for an ambiguous word, it will show different results to try to hit the user’s intention.
3. User search history
With the search history, the results will become more accurate. For example, in ambiguous searches, Google will already know what the user’s intention is.
4. User browsing history
The pages that users usually enter are displayed with priority.
Google prefers to present the results in the region in which the user performs the search.
6. Safe Search
In Google’s search settings, it is possible to activate Safe Search, which removes inappropriate content for minors from the results.
7. Google+ circles
If the results contain links from users who are in your Google+ circles, they will be highlighted for you.
8. Diversity of domain in the results
Google searches to display various domains in the results.
9. Big brands
Big brands can also gain better search rankings.
10. Easter Eggs
Google has a certain dose of humor. Experience typing “atari breakout” in the search for images… even that can influence the positioning.
11. DMCA complaints
DMCA is a US copyright law. The reported sites lose their ranking.
Google also displays some more accurate results for the user. For example, for searches on current issues, newsletter links are highlighted. Get to know some of those aspects that also count as positioning factors:
12. Google Images
13. Google Videos
14. Google Shopping
15. Google Maps
16. Google News
17. Google Voos
18. Google Books
10 social factors
Matt Cutts explains that google is not capable of indexing everything that is produced on social networks, in the end, the volume of content is enormous and many times it is private. On top of that, they are very volatile: the numbers and relationships are constantly changing. Therefore, social signals would not be a reliable factor for Google to include it in its algorithm.
Probably, what exists is a correlation: pages that have an excellent performance in social networks, tend to have such incredible content that they also attract other signals (such as backlinks) that really impact positioning.
Another perspective is that social networks collaborate indirectly: the greater the reach on social networks, the greater the possibility of receiving visits and backlinks.
Therefore, the hook on social networks is probably not a positioning factor. However, you can take a look at these factors, which correlation tests identified as well-positioned pages as common social cues:
1. Number of tweets with backlinks
2. Authority of accounts that generate backlinks on Twitter
3. Number of interactions and shares on Facebook
4. Authority of the Facebook profiles that interact
5. Number of pins on Pinterest
6. Votes on social sharing sites (Reddit, Stumbleuppon, Digg, etc.)
7. Number of + 1’s of Google+
8. Authority of the accounts in Google Plus that interact
9. Context (text around the link in the publication)
10. Social sharing buttons on site pages
12 brand factors
For Google, detecting that a brand really exists is important to determine your search ranking and avoid fake sites. Look at some factors that help to demonstrate the existence on the web of a brand:
1. Citation of the brand in the anchor texts of the backlinks
2. Google searches for the brand
3. Facebook page with followers
4. Twitter profile with followers
5. Have a LinkedIn page
6. Have collaborators on the LinkedIn list
7. Profiles and active pages on social networks
8. Number of RSS followers
9. Inclusion of the company in Google My Business
10. Citation of the brand on news sites
11. Citation of the brand without link in various sites
Google recognizes the citation of a brand and the context in which it is inserted. Only the mention, even without the link, can already help in positioning.
12. Payment of taxes
In some cases, Google manages to identify if the site is related to a business that pays taxes, which shows the real existence of the brand.
12 factors of Spam On Page
Google sophisticated its algorithm to identify spam actions and automatically lower the page position or even stop indexing it. Get to know some of those bad practices:
1. Low quality content
Pages of little or no value to the user began to fall in the results of 2011 .
2. Links to sites with a bad reputation
Your level of reliability drops when your pages create links to sites with a bad reputation.
3. Cloaking or redirecting
It refers to the site that displays one content for robots and another for users, or that redirect people to a different page than Google can see.
4. Keyword stuffing
This is a very common spam practice: fill the site with keywords. In addition to being cheating, it generates a terrible user experience.
5. Keyword stuffing in meta tags
The excess of keywords can also happen in the meta description, in the title tag, among others.
6. Excessive page optimization
When Google perceives that optimization is forced and harming the user experience, the site can be penalized.
7. Excessive ads above the page
Large numbers of pre-deployment ads indicate spam.
8. Hidden affiliate links
Sites with affiliate links disguised by cloaking are penalized.
9. Affiliate sites
Shallow affiliate pages, of no value to the user, also fall from the results.
10. Automated content
Automatically generated nonsense content is an aggressive spam technique, easily identified by the algorithm.
11. Excess of nofollow links
Using many “nofollow” links means that you don’t want to pass on your authority to anyone or that you don’t trust anyone. To Google, that may seem like fraud.
12. IP marked as Spam
Having a site on an OP marked as spam is a terrible sign.
10 factors of Spam Off Page
1. Excessive backlink gain
A sudden and excessive growth in the number of backlinks is a sign of spam.
2. Lots of low quality links
Receiving many links from the comment box or forums is also a sign of spam.
3. Relevance of the domain
Sites that receive lots of links from domains that are not related to your business may fall into the results.
4. Many backlinks from the same IP
Receiving many links from the same IP is a sign of spam.
5. Excessively repeated anchor texts
When the anchor text with the keyword is used excessively throughout the site, Google identifies it as spam.
6. Manual penalty
Even by going free by algorithms, the site can be manually removed by the Google team that is dedicated to identifying spam.
7. Schemes of temporary links
The schemes for buying or exchanging links can be temporary: links are created and quickly removed. But Google also manages to identify that.
8. Google Sandbox
It’s still a mystery if Google really uses that, but some professionals say that new sites that start with a good ranking fall into a filter (or “sandbox”) to analyze for any tampering.
9. Disavow Links
This tool combats negative SEO , therefore, it allows you to request Google not to consider the backlinks from dubious or hacked sources that you receive, keeping your reputation up-to-date.
10. Request for reconsideration
After being penalized, a site can correct its mistakes, make a reconsideration request and, if Google agrees, the position can be retaken.
End of the list!
Ready to apply the knowledge on your site?
In short, we have no control over the algorithms, starting with the fact that they are always constantly changing . This list of 200 Google ranking factors, inspired by this page , helps to understand SEO trends, but it is far from definitive.
Perhaps some of these factors make the difference, as well as others not so much. The important thing is that you test yourself with your site, your market and verify that it is what gives results.