Google Ranking Factors 2019: Increase Your Search Traffic

GRFThere isn’t an official list of Google ranking factors.

But:

We do know a lot about the signals that Google use to rank sites accordingly.

This information comes from a combination of:

  • Official sources
  • Case studies
  • Experience
  • My own personal experimentation

While it is impossible to know if the list of Google ranking factors below is complete…

I can say with great confidence that the vast majority of them are covered.

It is also important to note that not all of the below are strictly ranking signals.

Some of them are indexing/crawling signals which are part of the overall search process.

You should also be aware that Google doesn’t look at just 1 ranking signal.

They tend to ‘stack signals’ to build a bigger picture.

I have broken down all the known Google ranking factors into their respective categories

AND

Whether they are a positive or negative factor.

Domain Ranking Factors

This is a list Google ranking factors that can affect your rankings positively or negatively at a domain level. This is one of the most important categories in ranking factors.

Here’s a quick list of the most important domain ranking factors:

Positives
 

  • Exact Match Domain
  • Keywords In Domain
  • Domain History

Negatives
 

  • Private Whois Data
  • Penalized Whois Owner
  • Country TLD Extension

+ Positive Domain Factors

#1 – Exact Match Domain

Exact match domains or EMD’s as they are known, used to rank very easily.

What Is An Exact Match Domain?

However Google cracked down on this with the EMD update.

You still get a small amount of benefit from an exact match domain. But now you have an extra quality layer (patent) to please with your site… thanks to the EMD update!

#2 – Keywords In Domain

A domain containing a keyword doesn’t help you rank any higher than a branded domain.

Although having a keyword in your domain may help people searching better understand what your website is about therefore encouraging more clicks from relevant people.

#3 – Domain History

The history of your domain also has an impact on how your site performs.

If the domain has been in trouble with Google in the past through link spam or bad neighbourhoods it will be harder to rank. Take a look at what Google check for.

#4 – Domain Age

John Mueller has confirmed through Twitter that whether you have an old domain or a brand new domain –

 It will not affect your ranking in Google’s search results. 

But older domains tend to have more backlinks, which DOES have an impact.

Learn more about how to use aged domains for SEO.

#5 – Domain Registration Date

In a patent filing Google said-

The date that a domain with which a document is registered may be used as an indication of the inception date of the document.

Google

#6 – Domain Renewal Date

In the same patent they also said-

Certain signals may be used to distinguish between illegitimate and legitimate domains. 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 and, thus, the documents associated therewith.

Google

#7 – Country TLD Extension

Having a cTLD like a .es domain does help with geo-targeting indication.

But at the same time, it doesn’t mean they are inherently easier to rank in their target country. You could rank a .com in the Spanish Google just as easily.

Negative Domain Factors

#1 – Private Whois Data

Having private Whois data on its own isn’t a problem.

Matt Cutt’s originally suggested that private Whois data can be combined with other factors as a negative signal.

But John Mueller recently clarified that it’s ok to use especially in Europe. Private whois data is certainly used to identify patterns in blog networks so pay attention!

#2 – Penalized Whois Owner

I cannot find any official Google reference for this…

But there are a couple of examples where it seems the Whois owner is penalised.

Granted the examples I have seen were extreme examples of abuse from 2 well known SEO‘s and Google wiped out every single web property whether it was abused or not.

However this is far from confirmed officially.

#3 – Country TLD Extension

Where the cTLD will count as a negative signal is if you have a Spanish domain but are trying to rank it in the Russian market. But the domain extension on its own isn’t enough.

If you put Russian content on a Spanish domain it will rank in Russia.

#4 – Parked Domain

If you have a parked domain Google are actively removing them from their index after the parked domains update.

#5 – Same URL Parameters & Same Shared Hosting

Two domains that are on shared hosting and the same URL parameters, Google will assume they are the same. Ensure you have different URL parameters to avoid this.

#6 – Changing Hosting Provider

The reasons for changing your hosting provider may outweigh this negative factor.

But, you should still be aware that when changing your provider Google will temporarily reduce your crawl rate.

This is because it cannot yet figure out what load the server can stand.

#7 – 503 Status Missuse

If you keep a 503 status in place over a few days Google may think that the site will not be put back up. They will also reduce your crawl rate.

Then the crawling will stop completely if a robots.txt file request is returned 503.

Google ranking factors domains

Page Level Ranking Factors

A list of page level factors that can affect your rankings positively or negatively. These factors effect where abouts each page ranks in Google.

Here’s a quick list of the most important page level ranking factors:

Positives
 

  • URL Contains Keyword
  • Title Tag Contains Keyword
  • Meta Description Contains Keyword

Negatives
 

  • Duplicate Meta Descriptions
  • Duplicate Title Tags
  • Underscores In Title Tags

+ Positive Page Factors

#1 – URL Contains Keyword

John Mueller has confirmed that including your keyword in your URL is a ranking factor.

Include your keyword in your URL

BUT:

It is a very small factor that would not be worth your time in restructuring your site for.

#2 – Title Tag Contains Keyword

Having keywords in your title tags is a massive help to your SEO.

It gives Google a clear indication of what your content is about and also helps to increase relevance when users are searching for your keyword.

#3 – Meta Description Contains Keyword

You should include keywords in your meta descriptions. Just like with your title tags, it helps Google see what the topic of your content is.

Use keywords in meta descriptions

#4 – H1 Tag Contains Keyword

The H1 tag is a strong signal for Google. You should take advantage of this and ensure you include your target keyword.

#5 – Other Headings Contain Keyword

Having your keyword present in other headings such as your H2 or H3 tags will also help.

However…

It is much better to use these headers to include LSI keywords and avoid over optimising.

#6 – Main Body Content Contains Keyword

You should mention your target keyword a couple of times in your contents main body.

This will help improve relevancy.

#7 – Keyword Order

The order of your keywords also has a small impact.

For example someone searching for ‘download antivirus software’ will see different results than someone searching for ‘antivirus software download’.

Even though the intent is the same.

#8 – LSI Keywords

Latent Semantic Indexing keywords help search engines work out the exact topic.

For example ‘Orange’ could be:

  • Orange the colour
  • Orange the fruit
  • Orange the mobile phone network

You should include LSI keywords in your title, description and main content.

This helps Google index & understand the topic of your page better.

#9 – Site Speed

We know that if you speed up website load time, you will rank higher.

The rendering & loading time are specifically relevant.

Average response time for a site should be somewhere around 100ms.
 
Faster websites provide a better user experience, increases engagement & converts more.

#10 – Unique Content

Having unique content across your entire site is a strong quality signal.

Make sure content is original and not duplicated. Whether it is a blog post or a product descriptipnmake sure your content is unique.

#11 – Length Of Content

Longer content ranks better & converts better period. The average content length for sites in the top 10 is at least 2,000 words.

Longer content attracts more:

  • Engagement
  • Links
  • Social Signals

Oh… and it converts better.

#12 – Schema / Rich Snippet Markup

Rich snippets can be added to your SERP’s to make them more attractive.

And you can add it easily with RankMath (what I use) or Yoast SEO.

What Are Rich Snippets?

Once setup this will spoon feed data to Google which is then shown in the SERPS.

This will help to attract a higher click-through rate and more traffic from Google.

#13 – Multimedia

Having unique images and videos to support your main content is a quality signal. I recommend investing in a good graphics design team who will produce unique images.

#14 – Image Optimisation

Google will also look at your usage of images. Make sure that you use your keyword in the file name and the alt text.

But don’t over optimise by including your keyword in everything such as:

  • File name
  • Alt text
  • Title tag
  • Description tag

Check out this image SEO guide and infographic by SEO Sherpa to learn the exact steps for optimising images for search engines

#15 – Fresh Content

Way back in 2010 Google released the Caffeine update. This was designed to return fresher and more up to date results.

This was a significant shift in how Google indexes the web and favours fresher content.

#16 – Updated Content

Updating older content will also see a positive impact.

You need to do a little more than just changing the date though. Google is looking for significant updates to content in order to label them as ‘fresh’.

#17 – Outbound Links

Although outbound links have been widely believed as a ranking factor this is not the case.

Having outbound links on your site could add value to your own content which Google may view positively but the links themselves are not a ranking factor.

John Mueller explains this in his Q&A video.

#18 – Internal Links

Just like external links affect your rankings so do internal links as well.

More specifically the number of internal links and quality of those pointing to a given page on your site. It was shown just how important internal links are on ranking.

#19 – Syndicated Content

A lot of people are terrified of posting syndicated content. This is in case they get flagged for duplicate content. However there are a couple of bits of advice.

Syndicating content is fine, but make sure you are linking back to the original source and pray the syndicated content doesn’t outrank you.

#20 – Supplementary Content

Having supplementary content is a strong quality signal.

The 2014 version of the Google Quality Rater Guidelines make this very clear.

Google provides the example that a recipe page might have a feature to multiply or divide the recipe based on how many people you are serving.

#21 – Reading Level

Google measure the reading level of pages and label them as either:

  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

You can access this by doing a search…

Then clicking on search tools > all results > reading level.

reading-level

As you can see my site is ‘basic’ but it still ranks very well. It doesn’t appear that Google are using this as an active signal – but they certainly have the data.

#22 – W3C Validation

W3C code validation is not a ranking factor period.

#23 – Domain Authority

The overall authority of the domain also has an impact on how your page ranks.

Assuming everything is equal the page on the more authoritative domain will rank higher.

This is something I see with my own authority sites where they have what I call ‘page 1 pull’ where I can publish an article and have it appear on page 1 for its target keywords.

#24 – Keyword At The Start Of Title Tag

Moz’s data shows that title tags that begin with a keyword…

Outperform those with the keyword at the end of the tag.

put your keyword at the start of the title tag

So when publishing new content, ensure you have your title tag optimised with your keyword at the beginning. This really does make a difference.

#25 – Keyword Frequency

Your keyword should be the most frequently used phrase within your article.

There is no super special keyword density secret but you should make sure that it appears more than other words or phrases. Also keeping it natural.

#26 – Rel=Canonical

Google may use this tag to identify a particular piece of content as not duplicate.

But you should be aware – they may choose to ignore it! So it’s better not to rely soly on the canonical tag!

#27 – Historical Page Updates

Google may not only be tracking the recency of content updates…

But how often these updates are occurring.

Updating your content-

  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Annually

…could have a strong influence on how a page ranks.

#28 – Size Of Content Update

How much content you’ve changed could also influence ranking.

Updating:

  • Whole paragraphs
  • Images
  • Links

…is way more noticeable than just updating the grammar in a sentence.

#29 – Outbound Link Theme

Moz’s research suggests that the theme the link points too can influence your relevancy.

Linking to pages that don’t tie with the content’s theme could cause problems. This is because it could add doubt to the topic of your content.

Negative Page Factors

#1 – Duplicate Meta Descriptions

John Mueller says that having duplicate meta descriptions aren’t really a problem.

Which is backed up by Yoast’s study which show’s a lot of the time Google actually using sentences from the beginning of your content as the meta descriptions.

So you should optimise the first paragraph of content with your meta description in mind.

#2 – Duplicate Title Tags

Just like with Meta Descriptions you should ensure every page has a unique Title tag.

Ensure there are no duplicate title tags across your site.

#3 – Underscores In Title Tags

Matt Cutt’s specifically said not to use underscores as seperators in your title tags.

Instead you should use commas, pipes or dashes to separate your titles.

#4 – Keyword Stuffed Meta Tags

Having a keyword stuffed title tag or meta description will negatively affect you.

For example if your title tag is:

‘Link Building | Link Building Services | Link Building Strategy’

That is keyword stuffed!

Instead you should have something more natural like:

‘Link Building Services – Fast & Efficient’

#5 – Meta Keywords

While not strictly a negative factor, the meta keywords tag was originally used to help software indexing. Google have never used the meta keywords tag as a ranking signal.

They do read the tags – but they are not a ranking factor.

#6 – Keyword Density

Way back when we used to build sites to have the perfect keyword density.

It seemed that around 3% was the ‘sweet spot’.

But since then Google has got much better at processing language and they can understand the topics of webpages better. So when optimising for keyword density…

It is very easy to over optimise and get caught out.

So ignore keyword density and just make sure your target keyword is mentioned in:

  • The title tag
  • The meta description
  • H1 tag
  • Once or twice in the main content

#7 – Slow Load Times

Just like having a fast site serves as a positive factor

Having a slow loading site will act as a negative factor if all other things are equal.

#8 – Duplicate Content

John Mueller walks us through what Google classes as duplicate content.

This comes after Google releases a duplicate content warning.

#9 – Hidden Content

This was the old stance on hidden content…

“Hiding content specifically to manipulate search, increase word count or increase the number of keywords on a page can get you penalised.”

Now John Mueller has revealed that with the mobile first index you can contain/hide content in tabs because of user experience purposes.

Ranking just as well as normal content.

#10 – Irrelevant Image Alt Tags

For a long time we have been using ALT tags to tell Google what our images are about. Typically we use the image alt tag to include a relevant keyword.

However Google can understand images now!

So if you have a picture of a Zebra with the alt text:- ‘best iPhone deals’

You are going to have a hard time!

#11 – Outbound Links

If you are not careful you could end up with a site wide penalty. Google do hand out penalties for outbound links…

Even if it’s just 1 bad outbound link across your entire site and having too many outbound links can hurt your site’s ranking.

The Quality rater document clear states:

“Some pages have way, way too many links, obscuring the page and distracting from the Main Content”.

#12 – Broken Links

Having too many broken links is a sign of a low-quality site according to Google’s rater guidelines. However you should not be worried about having the odd broken link.

But broken links are quick to fix so if you have them, fix them.

#13 – Too Many Affiliate Links

Google and affiliates historically do not get on. For the most part, affiliates are a pain for Google as they contribute a huge amount of spam and low-quality sites.

Having affiliate links isn’t a problem, but if your spamming affiliate links throughout your content you are going to run into trouble.

Either way, you should be  nofollowing all of your affiliate links  .

#14 – HTML Errors

W3C code validation and HTML errors are not ranking factors.

Unless…

Those errors interfere with how Google spiders and indexes pages. Stay on top of HTML errors and fix them as they are reported in Google Webmaster Tools.

#15 – URL Length

It has been widely believed that the length of your URL has a negative impact on rankings.

It has now been confirmed that Google has no real preference with URL length. But be aware that if your URL contains a hash ‘#’ then Google will not index it.

#16 – Spelling & Grammar

John Mueller answers the question… Does bad spelling and grammar affect your rankings?

The answer is “not really”. However, it is not as simple as that…

He explains that Google doesn’t really have an issue with poor grammar and spelling.

But your visitors will!

If your content is packed full of bad spelling and awful grammar inevitably you will lose the trust of your audience, which will only have one result…

#17 – Interstitial Ads

Interstitial Ads are pop up ads that force a user to view an ad before seeing the content. They can appear before the page loads, when the page loads or when a user scrolls.

Google doesn’t like intrusive interstitials ads.

They ruin the user experience and they will impact your SEO negatively.

#18 – Real Business Information

Ensuring your business information is up to date is crucial to your local SEO strategy.

This includes things like:

  • NAP (name, address, phone number)
  • Listing your business on Facebook, Google My Business & relevant directories

You should also take care of your reviews on each site.

Although this should happen naturally through great customer service.

page level google ranking factors

Site Level Ranking Factors

A list of site level rankings factors that can affect your rankings positively or negatively. These factors are all changes you can make to your site to rank higher.

Here’s a quick list of the most important site level ranking factors:

Positives
 

  • Domain Trust
  • Contact Us
  • Privacy Policy & Terms

Negatives
 

  • Site Downtime
  • Duplicate Meta Content
  • Not Optimized For Mobile

+ Positive Site Factors

#1 – Domain Trust

Having a good standing history of trust with Google has a huge influence.

Trusted sites can get away with more and enjoy higher rankings across the board. Trust is measured across a range of signals including links from highly trusted sites.

#2 – Contact Us

Google’s Search Rater guidelines says…

Sites should have easily accessible contact information to help build trust.

#3 – Privacy Policy & Terms

Having a privacy policy and terms of use pages also provide relevant trust signals. If you use Google Adsense for example, these pages are required.

This could introduce the possibility of duplicate content but Google say its not a problem.

#4 – About Us Page

Just like having contact us & privacy policy pages help to build trust with Google.

So does having a detailed about us page.

#5 – Site Structure

Organizing your site into a silo structure is a positive signal for your site. Many people have a flat structure like – domain.com/post-name

But its much better to have a silo structure.

This would look something like –

domain.com/seo/google-ranking-factors

OR

domain.com/social-media/facebook-marketing

But even more important than the URL structure…

Google looks at the number of clicks from the homepage to the destination page. This is considered of greater importance out of the two when it comes to ranking factors.

#6 – Site Freshness

Just like freshness has an impact at page level, it also has an impact at domain level.

Make sure your site is fresh and upto date at all times.

#7 – Number Of Pages

The number of pages a site has is not a ranking signal on it’s own.

However…

More indexed pages does mean you have more chances to rank for different keywords. You are more likely to attract incoming links which does have an impact.

#8 – XML Sitemap

Having an XML sitemap will help Google spider your site easily. This doesn’t guarantee that Google is going to index all of the pages in the sitemap.

But it does help them get around your site.

However not having a sitemap isn’t a negative factor assuming that your site structure is correct and Google can spider the site properly.

#9 – HTML Sitemap

Why stop at just an XML sitemap when you can have a HTML sitemap as well? Although this seems to be an old practice that is rarely seen now.

But it can help your users and Google bots.

#10 – Server Location

Server location isn’t a massive issue if you can set geotargeting. You can do this in either Webmaster Tools’ or ccTLD.

It plays a very small role according to Google’s John Mueller.

#11 – HTTPS/SSL

Google are officially using HTTPS as a ranking signal.

Although at the moment it is a very minor signal. It is used more like a tiebreaker rather than a strong ranking signal.

When you make the transition be sure to redirect all the http addresses to https addresses with clear 301 redirects in place.

#12 – Breadcrumb Rich Snippets

Having breadcrumb navigation on your site will help the overall architecture of the site.

breadcrumb example

What helps even more is having the RichSnippet mark up for breadcrumbs in place.

breadcrumb in the serps

#13 – Mobile Optimisation

If your site has a responsive design and displays well on mobile devices it’ll perform well.

Google recently introduced mobile first indexing and have a mobile friendly testing tool and a mobile pagespeed testing tool.

#14 – Hreflang

Hreflang tags (when implimented correctly) are used to organise content by language.

They sort multiple regions with one language or one region that has multiple languages.

Although the Hreflang tags don’t directly impact your SEO ranking, if you have a website that’s international it’s important that you get the correct pages in front of your visitors…

Negative Site Factors

#1 – Site Downtime

A day or two of downtime will not inherently hurt your rankings.

However…

 Google will remove your site entirely if is unavailable for around a week or more. 
 
On the bright side once your site is backup – Google will reinclude it in the index.

#2 – Duplicate Meta Content

We already discussed how important it is to have a unique title and meta description.

Having duplicate meta information across your site can lead to less visibility.

#3 – Not Optimized For Mobile

While not having a responsive design won’t hurt your rankings in desktop search…

Having a mobile friendly design is very important to showing up in mobile search.

#4 – Poor User Engagement

Google know how many pages people visit and how much time they spend on each page. They know if the user bounces or keeps reading.

They know this regardless of whether you have Google Analytics installed or not.

Sites with poor user engagement signals such as:

  • High pogo rates
  • High bounce rate
  • Low time on site
  • Slow load times

Will drop in the rankings.

#5 – Negative Reviews

If your site has a bad reputation on sites like:

  • Yelp.com
  • RipOffReport.com
  • Google Places

You will suffer in the long term for that.

This was addressed after someone came up with the ingenious way to earn links…

By treating customers badly.

#6 – Adverts Above The Fold

If your site is ‘top heavy’ with adverts above the fold that distract from the main content…

You will suffer.

#7 – Pagerank Sculpting

Pagerank Sculpting is the practice of:

  • Nofollowing all outbound links
  • Nofollowing specific internal links

This is done in order to control the flow of PageRank.

Abusing this will get you in trouble.

#8 – Panda Penalty

Google specifically targets low quality sites with the Panda update.

If your site is penalised you will see huge drops in search visibility.

site level google ranking factors

Backlink Ranking Factors

A list of backlink related factors that can affect your rankings positively or negatively. Paying attention to these link building factors can make a big difference to your rankings!

Here’s a quick list of the most important backlink ranking factors:

Positives
 

  • Number Of Links
  • Anchor Text
  • Link Title

Negatives
 

  • Bad Neighbourhoods
  • Same C-Class
  • Guest Posting

+ Positive Link Factors

#1 – Number Of Links

The number of sites linking back to your site is one of the most important ranking factors.

Quantity does help in terms of number of linking domains.

#2 – Anchor Text

The anchor text of the backlink helps Google understand the topic of the linked page.

 You should be mixing generic and branded anchors to steer clear of Penguin. 

#3 – Link Title

The title of a link also helps indicate the topic of a page although it is a much weaker signal than anchor text.

But if you can get a link from a page that has your target keyword in the title and the anchor text – that’s power!

#4 – Domain & Page Relevancy

A link from a domain and/or page that is relevant… is much more valuable than a link coming from an irrelevant site.

For example:

You wouldn’t want a link from this blog if you sold garden furniture online.

But having an industry leader like Matt Diggity link to this blog is very valuable.

#5 – Link Sentiment

The text around a link does a few things:

  1. It helps Google work out the relevancy
  2. It helps work out whether the link is a positive or negative citation

So it’s definitely worth paying attention to.

#6 – Keyword In Title

Links from pages that have either the same or tightly related keywords in their title…

Are much more valuable than those that don’t.

#7 – Domain Authority

Getting backlinks from domains with high levels of authority and trust is a significant ranking factor that you should be focusing on.

#8 – Page Authority

The overall authority of the page that you are getting a link from also plays a big role.

A link from an authoritative page from an authoritative domain is the holy grail.

#9 – Age Of Backlink

Google have a patent that shows the age of a backlink is relevant.

In short:  Older backlinks are more powerful than newly created ones. 

#10 – C-Class IP’s

The number of links from domains only count if they are on separate class-c IP’s.

You want to have links from lots of different domains and IP ranges for maximum effect.

#11 – Diversity

Make sure you have backlinks coming in from a range of sources.

Relying on just 1 ‘link type’ such as guest posts for example, stands out. You want a diverse mix of link types coming from relevant and authoritative sources.

#12 – Competing Pages

Links from pages that are in the top 10 for your target or related keywordshe people you wa will boost your rankings so you should focus on building links from these sites.

#13 – Social Authority

A link from a page that has a high number of social shares is worth more so include this as part of your research when prospecting sites for link building outreach.

#14 – Guest Posting

John Mueller’s view on guest posting is to make any links back to your site ‘no follow’.

He believes visitors coming to your site via ‘no follow’ links are the people you want.

#15 – Homepage Links

Links coming from the homepage of a site carry more weight.

This is because other links are found further away from the homepage in structure.

#16 – Contextual/Editorial Links

Links coming from the main content of a page are known as contextual or editorial links. These links carry the most weight compared to any other link.

An editorial link is an awful lot more powerful than a footer link from the same page.

#17 – User Generated Content Links

Google knows the difference between user generated content and site published content.

Links coming from the actual site are more powerful.

#18 – 301 Redirects

A link that reaches your site via a 301 redirect is just as powerful as a normal link. You wouldn’t think so right? But it’s true.

#19 – Wikipedia

Although links from Wikipedia are Nofollow, Wikipedia backlinks are highly authoritative.

If you get your site listed as a source of information you will also receive targeted traffic.

#20 – Positive Link Velocity

Link velocity is a measurement of how many links you gain over time.

It is much better to maintain a positive or neutral velocity than one that is degrading.

#21 – Nofollow Links

John Mueller explains that no follow links aren’t included in the algorithm.

So this means they do not contribute negatively towards your SEO.

#22 – Word Count Of Page

A link from a page with 2,000 words is worth more than a page with 100 words. This should help you when finding sites to reach out to.

#23 – Number Of Outbound Links

A link from a page that has hundreds of links to other sites is worth a lot less than a link from a page that only has a few links to other sites.

#24 – Sitewide Links

A link from the sidebar that is present on every page of the site is treated as a single link.

Negative Link Factors

#1 – Bad Neighbourhoods

Having links from sites that have been identified as a “Bad Neighbourhood” by Google will hurt your site.

If Google has uncovered a blog network and your site has a lot of links from that network

You are in trouble.

#2 – Same C-Class

Having lots of links from IP addresses in the same C class is not natural.

This is usually an indication of link manipulation.

#3 – Guest Posting

Guest posting was a great way to get backlinks a couple years back. However spammy guest posting will get you penalised.

So if your throwing together poor quality articles to guest post purely for the sake of links…

Make sure you are nofollowing them! Google are actively cracking down on this activity.

#4 – Buying Links

You will be penalised if you get caught out buying or sponsoring links.

The official rules are you should apply the NoFollow tag to all paid links, but trust me – nobody actually does that.

#5 – Selling Links

Just like buying links can get you in trouble, so can selling links. There are numerous examples of well known sites selling links and being penalised.

dont sell links

Again, that only happens if you get caught. And some people are more stupid than others as you can see above.

#6 – Negative Link Velocity

Link velocity is a measurement of how many links you gain or lose over time.

A negative link velocity will have a negative effect on your visibility in search.

#7 – Reciprocal Linking

Reciprocal linking used to be very effective but an update many years ago killed that.

It is now seen as a link scheme and should be avoided.

#8 – Forum Profiles

Links from forum profiles used to be highly effective.

However this will now get you penalised if systematically abused.

#9 – Linking Relevancy

Sites with a high percentage of links coming from unrelated or irrelevant sites rank lower. So make sure any links pointing to your site are relevant to your niche.

#10 – Penguin Penalty

The Google Penguin penalty tends to focus on your backlink profile.

This can affect you on a page and domain level.

backlink based google ranking factors

User Engagement Ranking Factors

A list of user engagement factors that can affect your rankings. Knowing the user engagement of your site is the first step, then just implement these factors.

Here’s a quick list of the most important user engagement ranking factors:

Positives
 

  • Page Level SERP Click Through Rate
  • Domain Level SERP Click Through Rate
  • Dwell Time / Pogo Sticking

Negatives
 

  • Page Level SERP Click Through Rate
  • Domain Level SERP Click Through Rate
  • Dwell Time / Pogo Sticking

+ Positive Engagement Factors

#1 – Page Level SERP Click Through Rate

Pages that get a higher click-through rate in search results get a boost in rankings.

Mark my words, this is one of the most effective ways to rank today. Given the choice between the perfect backlink profile and a high SERP CTR…

 I would choose the CTR every day. 

#2 – Domain Level SERP Click Through Rate

If your domain attracts high click-through rates across all pages…

You will be rewarded with higher visibility across the site.

#3 – Dwell Time / Pogo Sticking

Pogo sticking occurs when people visit your site and click back to the search results…

What Is Pogo Sticking?

Google measures if people stay on your page after visiting it from a Google search.

If the user visits your site and doesn’t return to the results…

This is a clear sign to Google that your page is of excellent quality.

#4 – Low Bounce Rate

Google knows exactly which pages you visit and how much time you spend on them. Regardless of which browser you use or if your site has Google Analytics.

A lower bounce rate attracts higher visibility in the search results.

#5 – Pages Per Visit

Sites that engage users for long periods of time or visit multiple pages are ranked higher. Therefore both content quality and internal links play a big part in the pages per visit metric.

#6 – Direct Traffic

A site that gets a lot of direct traffic is deemed to be of higher quality than a site that doesn’t get much direct traffic.

#7 – Returning Visitors

Sites that have a high percentage of returning visitors are deemed to be of higher quality than sites that don’t get many return visitors.

#8 – Comments

Pages that attract user engagement in the form of comments are a clear signal of quality and user interaction.

Negative Engagement Factors

#1 – Page Level SERP Click Through Rate

Pages that get a low click-through rate in search results will drop from the first page.

Regardless of other factors. Backlinks get you there, CTR keeps you there.

#2 – Domain Level SERP Click Through Rate

Domains that have a low click-through rate across their pages will have less visibility.

#3 – Dwell Time / Pogo Sticking

Google measures if people stay on your page after visiting it from a Google search.

If the user returns to the search results quickly this is a strong negative signal.

#4 – High Bounce Rate

Sites with a high bounce rate will see a negative effect on their rankings across the board. This is a clear sign to Google that your site is not giving value to it’s visitors.

Google pays attention to user engagement and so should you.

engagement based google ranking factors

Social Signals Ranking Factors

A list of social media related factors that can affect your rankings positively or negatively. Pay attention to these factors and you’ll see a boost in your rankings.

Here’s a quick list of the most important social signal ranking factors:

Positives
 

  • Tweets
  • Facebook Shares
  • Facebook Comments

Negatives
 

  • Negative Social Velocity

+ Positive Social Factors

#1 – Tweets

The number of tweets a given URL or domain will influence rankings in Google so having a robust Twitter strategy is important.

#2 – Facebook Shares

It is generally thought that Google do not have access to Facebook’s data. But that is not true. The number of times your pages are shared on Facebook impacts your rankings.

 This is the most valuable Facebook signal. 

#3 – Facebook Comments

The number of comments a given URL has received on Facebook will impact rankings.

Although less important than shares.

#4 – Facebook Likes

Facebook Likes of a URL/Domain also has positive traction in the SERPS.

This Facebook signal is the weakest of the 3.

#5 – Pinterest Pins

Having your URL pinned and re-pinned on Pinterest is a strong social signal. This platform may not be relevant to your niche but if it is… take advantage!

#6 – YouTube Links

Native YouTube content, or links from YouTube itself, could influence rankings.

This is because Google owns the platform and video content is often given priority.

#7 – Relevancy

Relevancy of your social signals is also important.

For example:

Having an industry leader like Matt Diggity mention this blog on social is very valuable.

#8 – Positive Social Velocity

Just like you can have a positive link velocity you can also have a positive social velocity.

I have used positive social velocity to bring Penguin penalised sites back to the #1 spot.

Negative Social Factors

#1 – Negative Social Velocity

Negative social velocity will see your site drop in rankings.

For example:

If you bought 1,000 Tweets today and 3 days later 900 of them were removed…

That would damage your rankings.

I mentioned bringing penalised sites back to the #1 spot with positive social velocity. As the velocity drops off – so does the ranking.

social signal based google ranking factors

Brand Signal Ranking Factors

A list of brand signals that can affect your rankings positively or negatively. Use your brand to give your Google search engine rankings a boost!

Here’s a quick list of the most important brand signal ranking factors:

Positives
 

  • Branded Anchor Text
  • Branded Searches
  • Brand Mentions / Citations

Negatives
 

  • Negative Reviews
  • Low Branded Click Through Rate

+ Positive Brand Factors

#1 – Branded Anchor Text

Anchor texts that include your brand a very strong signal to Google.

branded searches example

For example: ‘Matthew Woodward Link Building’

Is much more powerful than just – ‘Link Building’

#2 – Branded Searches

Similar to branded anchor text, when people search Google and include your brand with associated keywords this offers a huge boost in rankings.

For example:

People searching for – Matthew Woodward SEO

brand suggestions

Tells Google my brand is important to SEO.

#3 – Brand Mentions / Citations

Having your brand mentioned on popular sites with your keywords is a clear signal to Google.

You can use this Google search to see what Google see’s-

branded mentions search example

#4 – Facebook & Twitter Presence

Popular brands have a presence on Facebook with a strong following, they use this following to increase social signals and drive traffic to their site.

#6 – LinkedIn Company Pages

Popular brands have a dedicated LinkedIn page for their business.

This also shows employees.

#7 – Social Activity

Brands that are more active on social media/engaging with people are more popular than brands that do not.It’s worth putting in the extra effort.

#8 – Brick & Mortar Business

The majority of real businesses have physical brick & mortar premises.

Listing your address in the website’s footer along with a Google My Business listing is a strong signal.

Negative Brand Factors

#1 – Negative Reviews

If your brand has a bad reputation on sites like:

  • Yelp.com
  • RipOffReport.com
  • Google Places

You will suffer in the long term for that.

#2 – Low Branded Click Through Rate

If people are searching for your brand and associated keywords but don’t click to your site.

That is a negative brand signal.

brand signal based google ranking factors

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it – all known Google ranking factors in one place for your convenience!

With this knowledge in hand, you now know how to improve your search rankings.

Just to recap we covered ranking factors in these areas:

  • Domain
  • Page Level
  • Site Level
  • Backlinks
  • User Engagement
  • Social Signals
  • Brand Signals

To put it simply:

If you are not paying attention to these areas you are going to have a hard time.

And do not forget!

Google doesn’t look at just 1 ranking signal.

They ‘stack signals’ together to build a bigger picture.

But Google isn’t the only search engine with ranking factors you should be paying attention to…

…because Bing SEO is something that needs to be taken seriously as well.
 

209 Responses

  1. Reena Gupta
    9.20.2019

    Not only that its a factor for Google but for Bing and Yahoo its something different. They woun`t index all your pages/rank you well if you don`t add geo location and language as meta information.

  2. Alix Watson
    9.7.2019

    i was searching for ranking factors in 2019, i have read somewhere that in sept google release new algo update which focus on long keyword in website is this true?

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 10th, 2019 at 1:46 am

      Waiting to find that out

  3. manoj
    9.4.2019

    Oh wow, again a great post regarding SEO. Thanks, Matthew

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 4th, 2019 at 11:06 pm

      Hey Manoj – no problem at all :)

  4. Varun Sharma
    8.1.2019

    Great…!! A complete guide to increasing search traffic. Thank you so much, Matthew.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 3rd, 2019 at 2:22 am

      No problem Varun!

  5. mlm soft
    7.31.2019

    Is it very nice post and it is very helpful for heavy traffie on our sites . And thankyou so much for it .

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 1st, 2019 at 1:28 am

      Glad I could help :)

  6. Pooja
    7.24.2019

    Thanks for this great post. As I am new to this field your post has helped me a lot in understanding the on page concepts. I would like to share it with my colleagues too.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 25th, 2019 at 2:44 am

      Glad I could help Pooja – appreciate the shares

  7. Vijay
    7.22.2019

    hello,
    I am a digital marketing student thanks for sharing this information this is very useful to me.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 23rd, 2019 at 8:15 am

      No problem at all Vijay!

  8. Sujathavinod
    7.17.2019

    Very nice, thanks for sharing to us.Really looking forward to reading more.  And please check my  this site

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 18th, 2019 at 12:50 am

      Well there’s plenty more for you to read :)

  9. Dealership Locator
    7.5.2019

    Thanks for your valuable advice

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 5th, 2019 at 7:53 am

      No worries – happy to help :)

  10. Ashish jain
    6.29.2019

    This is the best article i have ever read this is almost complete package of ranking factor it cover all major factor for beginner this is very helpful .

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 1st, 2019 at 11:49 pm

      Thanks very much Ashish – when you say almost… what else would you add? Thanks

  11. https://99bandarqq.com
    6.5.2019

    Awesome issues here. I am very glad to look your post.
    Thanks so much and I am having a look ahead to touch you. Will you
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    • Matthew Woodward
      June 7th, 2019 at 2:37 am

      Feel free to ask any questions you have here…

  12. Mark
    5.31.2019

    Bounce rate is not a factor, it is more of a helper… there are many sites that do not have analytics installed.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 4th, 2019 at 1:06 am

      Google knows your bounce rate regardless of which browser you are using and whether your site has Google analytics installed or not.

  13. NIC
    5.25.2019

    i search here all factor about ranking that i was mistaken, so after read your blog post ,i really feel that am a SEO master for my post, so thanks for share that sort of information

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 27th, 2019 at 5:41 am

      Haha, great news!

  14. Srikant Kumar
    5.23.2019

    I was following blindly what ever information I got to grow in terms of SEO but since I followed your articles I believed in intelligent way to SEO. Believe me my traffic grew by 22%. Very informative. Thanks tons.

  15. Vivek M. C
    5.21.2019

    Thanks a lot Matthew, very well written & explained. I will follow all those advices & need to make lots of changes to my websites. Thankyou.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 27th, 2019 at 6:05 am

      Let me know how you get on Vivek

  16. Boo Rhodes
    5.9.2019

    I see so many things I need to update and I was working so hard to get it right. Thanks for the details!

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 10th, 2019 at 4:32 am

      No problem!

  17. Imran
    5.9.2019

    Loved! This is a great post with lot of important and useful information of Google ranking factors.

    Thanks! Matthew Woodward! For helping us on Google SEO.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 10th, 2019 at 4:32 am

      Happy to help Imran!

  18. Axel
    4.20.2019

    Nice Article there.. Though in 2019 google has become more and more unstable and im bit confuse what to do to get my site to rank better afer march update when my site got hit pretty hard.

    Will carefully look for this article and check whats wrong with my site for now..

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:00 am

      Hey Axel, yes use this guide to help you get back on track.

  19. Jamie
    4.20.2019

    Banging little free tool for checking your SEO neighbors you might want to include.

    https://seoneighborchecker.com

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 1:54 am

      Thanks for the recommendation Jamie, I’ll take a look.

  20. Zola
    4.20.2019

    This was very useful. I am currently following this guide to focus on the important aspects to rank my website better. I still have some of them to work on. I appreciate this thorough guide.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 1:56 am

      No problem Zola, hope you can get these tips in place soon.

  21. Phil
    4.19.2019

    Another great post … although I seem to remember that you shut the blog down last year… lol! … all respect to you Matt!!

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:08 am

      Did I? That’s news to me

  22. Noor alam
    4.18.2019

    This post is really good

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:10 am

      Cheers!

  23. Zubair Akhtar
    4.18.2019

    Great work Matthew! It will help me a lot to improve my blog. Thanks for sharing.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:11 am

      Happy to help Zubair :)

  24. Michal
    4.18.2019

    Hi, Matt

    Thanks for this insight, great work done here. Thanks a lot, really appreciate… Keep the Good Work Up Man.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:12 am

      I certainly will, there’s plenty more to come!

  25. Faisal Mustafa
    4.18.2019

    Wow great article. You included all the important factors together. I am keeping this list to cross check all my sites.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:12 am

      Great idea Faisal!

  26. Godwin Oluponmile
    4.18.2019

    Matthew! Thanks for these.

    But I have important to question to ask on Rank Math.

    Well, I’m glad to now have a professional testifier who’ll proof that my newest use of the Rank Math is cool. I prefer the Rank Math plugin to Yoast Premium and it has been helping me enchant my audiences.

    For instance, in my flourishing ‘Ideaflavour’ blog, some of the whole Content Marketing posts that weren’t showing up on 1st SERP are now showing.

    But my question is: what percent over hundred would you advice I settle with. Because as at now, I feel fine when I reach 75/100 – using the Rank Math plugin you also implied?

    I’m curious to help all content marketers to breakthrough affordably. And Rank Math has been amazing for that new blog… Except for that confusion.

    Regards,
    Godwin Oluponmile

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 18th, 2019 at 10:47 am

      Hey,

      In my SOP’s I have it to achieve a 79 or more in RankMath

  27. Sergey Shok
    4.18.2019

    That was so awesome! Thanks. Really beneficial piece of content that goes to my bookmarks.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:17 am

      Thanks for the bookmark! Hope it helps with your Google rankings.

  28. Tanzir
    4.18.2019

    I have spend 3 hour to read and understand this important article. After finishing it I have understand what I am doing now and what I have to do now. Thanks Matthew for this valuable content.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:17 am

      Glad I could help you put a plan together for your site :)

  29. Colin @ SERPed
    4.18.2019

    Wow, what an awesome resource. Bookmarked for multiple future references, thanks Matt this is baller!

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 18th, 2019 at 10:47 am

      Thanks Colin!

  30. Bhupati Barman
    4.18.2019

    I got a lot of information from your blog. I was waiting for this ranking updates. I will try to follow the latest SEO update on my own blog. Really I am very glad now. Thanks a lot.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:19 am

      Awesome news Bhupati. Hope you find your ranking increasing after implementing all these factors :)

  31. Mogis Ahmed
    4.18.2019

    Awesome, well-researched Blog. I have been always a fan of your Blogs. Very informative and you have added all the factors responsible for ranking on Google.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 18th, 2019 at 10:47 am

      No worrys glad to help you out!

  32. Sibi Paul
    4.18.2019

    Hi,

    Thank You, Matt, for This Wonderful article.

    I am following many SEO Blogs.

    Normally We have to Consider All those Sites to Study,

    Sometimes We Really Miss something… because each sites, and their articles are in different places.

    But here, you made all in one place.

    and many things are new, that has a small potential but that worth.

    so, this will be my one stop shop, when I do SEO fro one site.

    Thanks Again, expecting more…

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 18th, 2019 at 10:48 am

      If you think this is good, wait for the next 2 weeks :)

      • Sikander
        April 20th, 2019 at 11:12 pm

        waiting ;p

        • Matthew Woodward
          April 22nd, 2019 at 2:04 am

          Hahaha yep, there’s some great stuff on its way :)

  33. Hammad
    4.18.2019

    As always informative post love you :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:24 am

      Thanks Hammad! Got some good stuff coming soon so keep an eye.

  34. Raghuveer Singh Rao
    4.18.2019

    All these factors are very good. And I am sure these are one of the best refined factors to rank any keyword. If someone really implement all these factors for one keyword, I am sure they can change the game and get #1 position for the keyword. Great stuff Matthew. Thank you so much for sharing the real time insights.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:25 am

      Why don’t you give it a try and let me know how you get on!

  35. Anand Kumar Jha
    4.18.2019

    Hi Matthew

    I am following you and your SEO strategy from some time. I am very eagerly waiting for each type of content. Every SEO content is valuable and worthy.
    Keep up this good work

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:26 am

      Keep watching as I have some really valuable content on its way :)

  36. umair
    4.18.2019

    Simply superb content that gives SEO a good clarity on aspects to focus on and which ones to avoid.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:26 am

      Thanks Umair :)

  37. Manishseoblogl
    4.17.2019

    Thanks, Matthew for sharing an interesting article. I m a daily reader of your blog. Keep it continue something new about SEO.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:27 am

      Thanks for all your support Manish

  38. vervelogic
    4.17.2019

    Thanks for sharing this amazing post.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:32 am

      No problem, hope you can tick some boxes.

  39. tony alonso
    1.1.2019

    thanks for write great article. i have questions: how to rank website in google.co.uk? please let me know, thanks

  40. buy cv online
    12.6.2017

    It’s an remarkable post in favor of all the internet visitors;
    they will get advantage from it I am sure.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 3rd, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Yes for sure

  41. Sharjeel Tahir
    9.18.2017

    Hi Matthew

    Following your blog posts couple of days and honestly saying your guides helped a lot. Like above Kulwant said how you come up with great new tips and guides is truly amazing.

    Well from the last couple of days thinking to shift my blog to SSL https but as you said a minor ranking factor so I ll plan to do this later.

    Thanks again :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 3rd, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      Hi Sharjeel, glad to have helped

  42. Zayn
    8.28.2017

    Brilliant Article which covers almost all the aspects of seo

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 3rd, 2018 at 8:02 am

      Cheers Zayn

  43. Robert
    4.28.2017

    Thanks matthew for this amazing information.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 19th, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      No problem Robert!

  44. Alice
    4.5.2017

    Hi! Really really nice article. Some people say that longer articles are better for SEO, while others think that people don’t have patience anymore and prefer shorter pieces. What do you think about that?

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 14th, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      I think there is a balance in everything and not a right or wrong answer to the question

  45. Ryan Burchey
    2.25.2017

    Hi Matt, I just wanted to give you a big thank you for taking the time :)
    Hope you have a great day,
    Ryan.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 25th, 2017 at 11:12 pm

      Thanks Ryan, no problem!

  46. Chota bheem
    1.7.2017

    Thanks for sharing this information, if anyone want to be on top of search results, they have to provide relevant information to the audience. This is for sure.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 20th, 2017 at 9:45 am

      And not just relevant information, but the best information :)

  47. pcmate
    11.2.2016

    Hi there Mathew,

    For every blogger google ranking factors are the most crowd talked thing right? We try to determine it’s factors righty?

    Truth to be spoken you have covered most of them here, I congratulate you about this article.\

    Cheers,

    Clay Smith.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 3rd, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Thanks Clay :)

  48. Munna Hossain
    10.9.2016

    This is really a great article. We know that google page rank is the most important factor for any blog or website. We are really crazy to increase our page rank. But we need to follow some tricks to rank higher on google. You have shared such an informative article that will must be helpful for all the bloggers. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  49. Felix
    8.9.2016

    Nice post. Here is another similar resource to yours, just broken down by whether the factors are concrete, myths, or somewhere in the middle. https://northcutt.com/wr/google-ranking-factors/

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 9th, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Great additional resource thanks!

  50. moumita
    7.30.2016

    my domain was live for 6 months then it was parked for a month . After a month I again made it live.

    Will it effect my domain visibility in search engines?

    does it have any negative seo effect?

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 1st, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      Yes it will affect you short time but once you put the site live again and continue to grow it won’t be a problem

      • moumita
        August 1st, 2016 at 11:00 pm

        Thank you so much for the reply

  51. Sajjad Rezaei
    2.8.2016

    so informative post
    I think i can use this for my website

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 8th, 2016 at 9:52 am

      No problem :)

  52. Melissa
    1.17.2016

    This article has been unbelievably helpful. This would be great to print out and have next to me while developing a new website.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 19th, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      Glad to be of service :)

  53. MTAIndia
    12.29.2015

    Wow !! very nice information you have shared here. Thanks a lots. Keep it up !!

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 6th, 2016 at 10:36 am

      No problem :)

  54. atrbazar
    10.31.2015

    that was great but i think that was so general.
    i think u should explain with real examples.
    thanks a lot
    i love your sharings.

  55. Douglas
    9.18.2015

    This is one of the best resources I have found in quite some time. Nicely written and great info. I really cannot thank you enough for sharing.

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 21st, 2015 at 9:48 am

      No problem Douglas :)

  56. Rohit Singh
    5.5.2015

    Thanks matthew for this wonderful list and I wonder what are the top 10 ranking factors which we must give the most importance to

  57. George Papatheodorou
    2.26.2015

    I’ve been following you for a couple of months now but this is my first time commenting on a blog post. This is a really good guide and can bring you really high on SERPs. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. Keep up the good work. Already bookmarked for future reference ;)

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 1st, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Thanks for jumping in :) Don’t be shy =D

  58. Angelica
    2.26.2015

    Hi Matt, This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now. I’m currently preparing to launch my own Zero Backlink Experiment, but after reading up a bit on reciprocal links something is kind of bothering me.

    I plan on promoting my site via forum and I’ve picked out four that are hot spots of activity where my audience is very active. I know they’ll be great for getting my name out there and establishing myself as an authority and a simple link to my site in my signature should provide the initial traffic that I need. However…

    These sites aren’t just forums and are attached to websites. I’ll be frequently linking to a lot of the content on the websites. Basically, they have products available for users and my site focuses on helping users get the products working properly (that’s just a rough idea there’s a bit more to it than that).

    So I’m kind of concerned that google will see the incoming links from the sites and my own outgoing links to the same sites and penalize me for them. Do you think this is the case or am I worrying too much?

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 26th, 2015 at 7:51 am

      I wouldn’t worry about it at all

  59. Tim
    2.24.2015

    Hey, you say that “valid html code” isn’t a ranking factor, and while it may not be a “direct” ranking factor, it can have beneficial “secondary” factors like the page loads faster (as the HTML rendering engine in the browser doesn’t have to try to interpret what on earth that invalid code means), the page will display better across more devices and browsers (have you seen what invalid code does to IE, even the latest versions? It’s not good!) and this can lead to more social shares, more followers, more back links, reduced bounce rates, more return visitors, etc.

    For me, NOT validating my HTML, CSS and JS is just being lazy and stupid, it’s not rocket science. Remember, it’s the little things that quickly add up to make big differences!

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 24th, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Yes that is true however there is a difference between code validation and cross platform testing. A fully validated website can load incorrectly cross platform and a website that doesn’t validate can load perfectly cross platform.

      • Tim
        February 24th, 2015 at 11:32 am

        >> A fully validated website can load incorrectly cross platform and a website that doesn’t validate can load perfectly cross platform.
        True. But that is much much less likely to happen if the code is valid. My point was having HTML code that validates can lead to “secondary” ranking benefits.

        Anyway, enough of picking the finer points out of my point. I thought it was a really good article. Thanks.

        • Matthew Woodward
          February 24th, 2015 at 8:27 pm

          Yes I agree although my bias comes from the basis of never having ranked a validated website in my life and I’ve ranked a bunch – and the Google homepage doesn’t validate so you know :)

          If I recall correctly the reason they gave for it not validating was to make it cross device compatible in an ever changing landscape of phones, tablets, laptops and TV’s.

  60. Ian
    2.23.2015

    Not very often you see an article as comprehensive and informative as this.

    Solid information, really appreciate this Matthew, excellent work!

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 24th, 2015 at 9:23 am

      No problem glad you enjoyed it!

  61. wilfred abicoco
    2.16.2015

    Thank you Matthew for this articles,it came when i needed it,i will try the above factors so i can rank better on Google. keep the articles coming.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 21st, 2015 at 7:57 am

      I will do what I can :)

  62. Wahyu Awaludin
    2.2.2015

    Cool, Matthew?
    It’s awesome :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 2nd, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      Hope you liked it :)

  63. Greg
    1.28.2015

    Hi Matt, a very useful resource, thank you! You mention that “I have used positive social velocity to bring Penguin penalised sites back to the #1 spot.” Do you have any articles or guides on this?

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 30th, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      I haven’t sorry =\

      • Marius
        February 26th, 2015 at 8:29 am

        Matt, maybe you can elaborate more then? :)

        • Matthew Woodward
          March 1st, 2015 at 11:37 am

          Just drip out retweets from quality accounts increasing in velocity over time to simulate ‘virality’

  64. Setianto
    12.13.2014

    Wow … interesting this article, complete. Made me linger here. It seems in need of a snack and a cup of coffee. I do not know many things in SEO is here … thumb

  65. Monica Cadogan
    12.12.2014

    how can we disable the safe browsing thing so Google will not find out when we do SEO stuff for our website?

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 12th, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      Google it combined with your browser name

  66. Jakob
    12.12.2014

    based on my experience (with 200 niche sites), there is no benefit in using EMD compared to a more generic domain.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 12th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Great share thank you :)

  67. Paul
    12.12.2014

    “Facebook Shares

    It is generally thought that Google do not have access to Facebook’s data, but that is not true.
    The number of times your page/domain has been shared on Facebook has an impact on your rankings and is the most valuable Facebook signal.”

    This is absolutely not true, i have tested this many times and having likes does nothing for your rankings, social signals like shares and tweets are only good to justify your links (in theory) but as for ranking itself my conclusion is that it hasn’t any impact at all.

    But don’t believe me, go test it and you will see that i am right

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 12th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Hi Paul.

      I have heavily tested it and I revealed precisely how I have made over 6 figures with nothing but social signals this year at the BHW conference in Vegas last month.

  68. Sahil Garg
    12.11.2014

    hello matt
    this is great article up here. now i really believed why this blog is award winning. thanks lot for sharing such info here. some of these factors are so important to me in future.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      No problem Sahil :)

  69. Kulwant Nagi
    12.11.2014

    My goodness.

    How do you come up with such great ideas?

    A complete post on SEO I have ever read..

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      Just a natural follow up to the Bing post

  70. AmmarZeb
    12.11.2014

    Wonderful guide Mathew. It was a bit long but didn’t feel bored or uninterested at all. The guie contained each and every aspect and you explained everything just perfectly.

    Thanks, Keep writing dude :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Thanks glad you stuck around!

  71. SEO Hizmeti
    12.11.2014

    Hi Matt
    Just tell me how to Get Instant Access To The Google Ranking Factor Cheat Sheet Right Now!

    I’m already in your list and won’t except my email address because of in your list.
    Any solution?

    Thanks

    Sabastian

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Look at the subscriber resources page

  72. Tim
    12.11.2014

    That’s an incredible list Matt! I’ve never seen anything like it before! I’m now $50 poorer after extending one of my domains by 5 years, thanks! :-)

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Hahaha sorry about that :P

  73. Lee
    12.11.2014

    Hi Matthew – absolutely awesome post. Thank you!! There were a few holes in my knowledge and this has just filled them all in!

    I know this was a lot of work, but I can’t begin to tell you how much it’s appreciated!

    Minor point – tried getting access to your ‘Google Ranking Factor Cheat Sheet’ but the list of resources doesn’t seem to contain that. Or is it under a different title?

    Thanks again for all your hard work.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Hi,

      They are on the resources page

  74. Rajesh Jhamb
    12.11.2014

    This is called complete SEO Tutorial. We don’t need to go anywhere to find Google New Ranking Factors.

    This single post is more than enough for anybody whether the guy is newbie or pro.

    Thanks Sir. Waiting for your next article desperately

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Enjoy =D

  75. Doug
    12.11.2014

    Great article Matt.

    I have a question for you relating to schema.org implementation… After implementing this on my site (and checking in WMT that it’s reading it correctly), within 48 hours I had dropped from #2 to #12 for a lucrative keyword, from #2 to #8 for another, and #21 to no where to be seen for a HUGE keyword that we were working on.

    The page had been rock solid for 2 years, and apart from the odd link here and there, it was just doing very well from on page SEO.

    From your guide here, and also other research – I can’t see anything conclusive about Scheme.org affecting rankings positively or negatively… Just improving visibility in the SERPs…

    My theories are:

    1) Coincidence… I don’t know how much you value the Mozcast temperature, but that jumped to 75 degrees… but none of the other SERPs were affected

    2) Although I implemented the dateModified attribute, the datePublished attribute was also added. As this article was, as I say, published nearly 2 years ago, the date has now appeared in the SERPs – so I’m wondering if that was the reason.

    Just wondering if you’ve seen anything similar on any of your sites? The site otherwise has almost perfect on page SEO, great interlinking etc

    Cheers,
    Doug

  76. Stefan
    12.11.2014

    Thanks for this Matt, good stuff.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      No problem Stefan

  77. Steve
    12.11.2014

    So where does backlinks stands now? Suppose we follow everything mentioned above does this mean we will rank on the top positions or not?

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      They are still important, and no single thing on its own will rank you – it needs to be a combination of things. But not so long ago that wasn’t the case, all you needed was links

  78. Oloyede Jamiu
    12.11.2014

    Hey Matt,

    Thank you for taking your time to compile this big list of google ranking factors.

    I have to bookmark this for further rereading and understanding.

    Take care and have a nice day ahead.

    Thank you.

    -Oloyede Jamiu

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks Oloyede

  79. Bhargav
    12.11.2014

    Hi Matthew,

    First of all thank you for sharing such a nice resourceful guideline….. 1 thing i can say that… there are lot of good resource like your one but you have better point wise & structure wise presentation…..

    Thanks

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks Bhargav

  80. Glenys
    12.11.2014

    Matthew, thanks so much for mentioning my post about ranking with internal links. I really appreciate it.

    Thanks also for all of the invaluable tips and leads that you have included in your article; there’s a wealth of information here to come back to.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      No problem at all :) If you ever wanted to design a case study for me to run and publish on this blog feel free – I know the internal linking sucks!

      • Glenys
        December 12th, 2014 at 1:07 am

        Thanks Matthew!!

        Re. linking that sucks (as mentioned at the end of your comment), did you mean external linking??

        With respect to internal linking, I particularly like the control that we can have over the process and the fact that the links are virtually instantaneous.

        Thanks again for all the valuable information that you pass onto us via your posts and tutorials.

        • Matthew Woodward
          December 14th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

          No I mean the internal linking here :)

  81. Muhammad Asim
    12.11.2014

    Nice article to understand the factors that can make your ranking better. Thanks Matt to share such a useful article. I always love to hear form you :)
    Waiting for your next blasting email.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      THanks Muhammed

  82. Chirag
    12.11.2014

    great stuff man!!!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks Chirag

  83. Kerh
    12.11.2014

    Hello Matthew,
    Thanks for sharing. Too good to just reading it. Have printed a copy for daily reference.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Awesome =D

  84. itos
    12.10.2014

    Wow! Thanks Matt you have done it again with an awesome piece of content. Most people don’t check their site speed as a ranking factor. Even if you don’t think it’s good for SEO it’s good for user retention so you don’t lose sales because a slow site.

  85. Alex
    12.11.2014

    Great post Matt. I will be sure to print this out.

    Keep the posts rolling.

    It’s funny how some people came out and said NO to guest posting. It’s still a very good way to gain reach in your given industry.

    Cheers

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      I’ll keep posting, you keep printing =D

  86. Muaz
    12.11.2014

    Thanks a lot Matthew, your post open up my mind about how to do a proper SEO ..

    This ranking factors absolutely true..

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      I hope it has helped!

  87. eldy
    12.11.2014

    nothing new.. SEO is not dead..

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      And as long as search engines exist, it never will be :)

  88. Maurizio
    12.10.2014

    a nice, complete list with real signals that influence Google, compliments Matthew, another great post!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Maurizio

  89. Damien Porter
    12.10.2014

    Excellent, comprehensive and easy to follow checklist. Thank you Matthew, some great advice to follow.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Damien!

  90. hammad
    12.10.2014

    Excellent explaination matt! better than moz and backlinko! keep it up!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Actually I thought Brians was much prettier

  91. Alex Pope
    12.10.2014

    Hi Matt ! I’m Alex… first thanks for share with us this great content. I follow your blog for months and I am convinced it is one of the best blogs that I read. Congratulations and thank you again

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks Alex =D

  92. Mark J
    12.10.2014

    Nice list. Should it have included a mention of negative SEO?

    So where does this leave your previous articles on tiered linking, GSA, network building and other ‘manufactured’ link building techniques? Are they now all irrelevant and incorrect?

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 11th, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Hi,

      They are all included in the negative signals area.

      Manufactured link building techniques are still working just as well as ever before, however you need a tighter grip on things now than you did 12 months ago.

      Additionally backlinks are a much smaller part of the equation, if you are not taking social signals and engagement metrics into account – you won’t rank for very long.

  93. Michael L Watson
    12.10.2014

    Great post thanks Matt

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      No worrys :)

  94. Amod
    12.10.2014

    Waiting to read how Google tracks you without analytics installed or using chrome…

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      All will be revealed =D

  95. Nathan Sheusi
    12.10.2014

    Thanks for citations! Awesome list!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      No problemo!

  96. Webdesignly
    12.10.2014

    Wow ! Another great article :) Thank you for this great information . Nowadays google pays a lot more attention to articles that give people the information they want , Not just the main website with root domain address ,
    The world of internet is changing :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      It is indeed!

  97. Vijay Janardhanan
    12.10.2014

    Great info as usual Matt… I agree. Social signals matter. Anchor text is not of much significance I would think. I have seen pages rank for terms with 0% exact anchor.

    PS: the way you listed positive, negative link factors. Are you using some plugin to list and categorize text ?

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      No it’s just straight HTML

  98. Mark
    12.10.2014

    Nice post, I’d add if you have a .com trying to rank for another country (other than US), add geo meta tag. I’ve seen this work well. If your site targets different areas on different pages, on those pages use the right geo meta tags.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Nice tip!

      • Cosmin
        December 11th, 2014 at 10:12 pm

        Not only that its a factor for Google but for Bing and Yahoo its something different. They woun`t index all your pages/rank you well if you don`t add geo location and language as meta information.

      • Cosmin
        December 11th, 2014 at 10:20 pm

        Hello Matthew,

        I`ve been looking over your posts since the event tracking tutorial for Analytics.

        I`m in the SEO business for a very long time and I believe what you should add into this equation, is the purpose of the site and the niche.

        If you are doing SEO for long businesses, other factors come in place as well, such as verified Google Places location, reviews, being indexed in sites such as Yelp etc.

        On the other hand, if you are building for “Made for Adsense”, there are still a lot of blackhat methods which are still working great and you don`t have to put all the effort into all these signals because some represent a stronger signal than the other; and finally:

        If you build a long term business, all this info is a must have and I know its hard for someone that is a newbie but its a start because all of this is a theory, when it comes to practice, things are getting much more complicated; but does this means you have to quit ?

        Well figure that out for yourself :)

        Hope I could offer an extra layer of information.

        Cosmin

        • Matthew Woodward
          December 14th, 2014 at 5:05 pm

          Thanks for your extra inputs :)

  99. Daniel
    12.10.2014

    Boy oh boy! Just gave it a birds eye view.. Fantastic as ever.
    Now lemme get me a cup of coffee and sit through this whole post.

    Thanks ALOT Matt! :D

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 10th, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Hope it helps you out!

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