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Top 100 Google Ranking Factors: A Complete SEO Guide [2020]

Top 100 Google Ranking Factors

You have created a beautiful website but unless it is discoverable to your users, it won’t offer you the kind of dividends you are looking for. Google being the most popular search engine in the world, it is important for your site to rank high on Google’s SERP (search engine results pages).

But have you ever wondered how Google rank’s a website?

Or why your competitor’s site ranks higher than yours?  

It is believed that Google takes note of more than 200 factors while ranking websites. While majority of them play a small role in rankings, 100 odd factors are vital to your ranking on Google’s search results.

Here we shall run you through 100 google ranking factors that are important to your success on Google search and also offer you insights on what you need to do to rank fast on Google.

Top 100 Google Ranking Factors

1. Domain Name – The TLD (Top Level Domain) you book is crucial. If you wish to reach out to global audience choose .com, .edu, .net etc. These domain extensions help you reach out to a wider audience.   

2. Sub-Domain Names – Sub-domains rich in primary keyword have create magic on search engines. You should also try and use your target keywords when you create microsites and separate sections in your website.

3. TLD Extension – Country specific Top Level Domain Extensions such as .UK, .IN, .CA help in boosting the rankings of websites in those countries. But the same strategy negatively affects the ranking of a site globally.

4. Domain History – Given that your domain name is your identity, Google offers weightage to the age of your domain as older domains technically have higher chances of ratings. This is where you must be careful while buying an old domain as you will inherit all its previous penalties that can jeopardize your rankings. Check Google’s Matt Cutts video: How can you research a domain that you may want to purchase?

5. Domain Authority – Domain authority is an important ranking factor. Any page that is published on a domain with high authority has better chances of raking higher than another page with less domain authority.

6. Keywords in Domain – While this doesn’t offer you the kind of advantage it did in the past, having a target keyword in the domain adds to your advantage. Placing the keyword first followed by your brand name gives significant boost to your rank.

7. Subdomain Keyword – Like in the domain, keywords appearing in the sub-domain can also help in improving the ranking. While using the keywords make sure you don’t create lengthy URLs that can hurt rankings.

8. Ad Prominence – Ads are your source of revenue but having ads above the fold can invite the wrath of Google. You should strictly avoid placing ads above the fold in you don’t have much content on the page.

9. Exact Match Domain – Exact Domain Names were shortcut to success in the past where the domain name is the exact search query that users would try on Google. Needless to say with algorithmic updates you will need to complement this with other strategies and quality content.   

10. Keywords In URLs – URLs are an important factor for Google and using keywords in URLs is known to boost traffic. However keep the URL short as this is an important ranking factor. In fact choose shorter URLs over elongating them with keywords.

As you can see, we are using “digital marketing quotes” this keyword in our blog url.

digital marketing quotes by weblyke

11. URL Structure – Good URL structure attracts incentives from Google and you should focus on a logical URL structure. Dynamic URLs are a big ‘NO’ as they don’t earn you any benefits. All pages in your site should be within three clicks from the main page hence don’t go beyond two sub-category pages.

12. Usability – The ease of use and the interface of the website is an important factor in site ranking. You need to focus creating sites that are easy to use both in terms of design and navigation as they help rank higher.

13. URL Length – It has been proven beyond doubt that sites that have shorter URLs are ranked higher than those with never ending ones. Keep it short, use only relevant keywords and make sure the URL structure is logical.  

14. Coding Quality – If your website is full of HTML and CSS errors that aren’t going to go down well with Google and such sites are heavily penalized. Tools such as Google Webmaster Tools lets you identify the problems and solve them.    

15. Table of Contents – If the content posted on the page is long creating a Table of Contents is a smart strategy to achieve higher rankings. This allows Google to contextualize the content in the page and improve rankings.  

16. Click Through Rate – It is defined as the ratio between the numbers of clicks compared to the number of times the links are displayed by Google. The higher your CTR rate, you can expect to impress Google.  

17. Content Length – ‘500 Words’ had become synonymous with content for digital marketing but those days are dead and gone. Long-form content or those that offered detailed information on the topic are the in-thing. Reduce the number of posts and focus on writing detailed and informative ones exceeding 2000 words.          

18. Content Date & Time – This is relevant for news and updates websites that publish content on emerging stories. With Google Caffeine update having a time and date stamp on content has become an important ranking factor.

19. Expletive/Obscene Words – Using expletive and obscene words in the Meta or Content puts your website off Google’s safe search and these should be taken not of while preparing the content. 

20. Quality Content – This is one area that Google has been focussing on for a long time and Hummingbird update was specifically linked to quality of the content. Hence your complete focus should be on creating content that adds value to your readers rather than publishing content for the sake of publishing.  

21. Content Relevance – Irrespective of the type of business you are in your web pages and blog posts need to have content relevant to your business. Don’t try to fool Google as its search bots are smarter than you think they are!

22. Content Engagement – Using videos, infographs, images, galleries and animations are known to enhance readability and Google draws positive signals from them while ranking your site. 

23. In-Depth Content – Pages that cover the stated topic in-depth enjoy higher search rankings compared to those that cover only part of the content. Be careful with your titles and sub-titles and don’t try and mislead Google.

24. Content Behind Tabs – Content hidden behind tabs may generate that curiosity and entertainment but they are bad for page ranking as they are not indexed by the crawlers. Don’t hide the most relevant content behind mystery tabs.

25. Reading Level – Filling pages with jargons isn’t the best possible way to rank. In fact Advanced Level Content top rankings in only 8% cases. Intermediate level rank highest with 59% and Basic Level content make the remaining 33%.

26. Auto-Generated Content – Google hates auto-generated content and its Panda update sealed the fate of sites that used this strategy. Auto-generated content is a sin you should avoid at all costs!

27. Content Changes – If you are changing large blocks of content on your page you need to ensure that text that was resulting in the highest search volumes are kept intact. Doing away with such content can bring down your rankings.

28. Post Comments – Google gauges the popularity of a website based on comments it attracts. Web pages that have long list of comments are usually ranked higher on the search engine.

29. Contact Information – It is one of the most neglected areas of a website but it is an important Google ranking factor. When name, phone number and addresses are clearly mentioned they improve visibility for local searches.

30. Terms and Privacy Pages – Websites often ignore the ‘Terms of Use’ and ‘Privacy Policy’ pages but Google considers them as important factor to distinguish legitimate sites from the spammy looking ones using this factor.

31. Content Update – You have seen the small date stamp on the search results and it is there for a purpose. Create a plan for content update and follow it. However desist from posting     content that isn’t relevant to your brand or users.     

32. H1 & H2 Tags – Using H1 and H2 tags is seen as a sign of improving readability for the users and this is an invitation for Google to put your site ahead of your competitors who don’t follow these conventions.

33. Numbering & Bullets – Use of bullets and numbers has been a proven strategy for several years. It improves the readability of the content and hence Google ranks such pages higher on its search results.

34. Domain Ownership – If the information on WhoIs changes too frequently Google does red flags such sites in many cases. So beware about the number of times the domain has changed hands previously.

35. WhoIs Public vs Private – While it is a minor ranking factor keeping WhoIs information private can bring down ranking. It is mostly done by illegal businesses.   Public WhoIs lends more credibility to search engine crawlers.

36. Anchor Text – Anchor texts have been grossly misused and this is where you need to use them carefully to prevent penalty from the search engines. Make sure your website’s name or brand finds prominence instead of generic terms.

37. Spam Anchor Text – If quality anchor texts up your ranking putting in ads and duplicate anchor text can invite penalty. Make sure you aren’t doing it more than what you should do to avoid such penalties.

38. Doorway Page – You might be inclined to create a doorway page as a means to attract traffic and boost your search ranking but it has negative impact on your ranking and even lead to blacklisting your website from search rankings. 

39. SSL Certificate – Does your website have an SSL Certificate? If no you are hurting your chances of attaining higher ranks. Google has been consistent on the importance of SSL certification through its algorithm updates and uses it as an important ranking signal. 

40. Popup Ads – Popup ads distract the user and spoil their whole experience on the website. This is seen as a sign of low-quality website by the search engine and hence affects the rankings adversely.

41. Affiliate Websites – Google isn’t the biggest fan of affiliate websites and hence these websites tend to rank low on SERP. If you are using your website for affiliate marketing create the perfect balance between content and marketing to ensure high ranks.

42. Mobile Friendly – If your domain isn’t mobile friendly you aren’t going to attain higher rankings. This is logical as majority of Internet users have moved to mobile devices and the percentage of people browsing using desktops/laptops is ever decreasing.

mobile vs desktop search result

43. Page Layout – The design and the structure of the website should be such that the main content is visible as soon as the website loads. This improves your site’s rank as Google considers such sites as relevant and user-friendly.

44. Hacking – If your site falls to hacking multiple times this harm your reputation. Sites that are frequently hacked are often de-indexed by Google. You must take steps to prevent your site from falling prey to virus attacks and hacking attempts.

45. Server Location – Yes server location is also among top search ranking factors and in case you want to reach out to global audience you need to choose servers either in US or UK. If you are focussing on a particular geography you can host the site with a local service provider.

46. Bounce Rate – It is defined as the percentage of users who leave the website after visiting a single webpage. Higher the bounce rate signals bad user experience and naturally Google penalizes you. Your target should be to keep the bounce rate below 40% which the top ranking sites do.

47. Repeat Audience – If you are able to attract repeat users to the website it will boost your rankings. This is an important factor for Google as this clearly suggests good user-experience and also signals positivity about the website.  

48. Page Bookmarking – Pages that are bookmarked on Chrome browser are likely to rank high on the search engine results pages. Bookmarks are a signal that Google uses while ranking websites. 

49. Social Media Signals – Google is now using social media signals to determine website rankings. The more fan following and engagement you have on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms the better it is for your website’s ranking.     

50. Facebook Signal – Among all social media platforms Google offers maximum weightage to Facebook given its popularity. Having a verified page on Facebook or increase activity would help in improving the rank of your page.

51. Safe Search – If your website makes it through Google’s Safe Search protocols you are likely to gain in terms of ranking. Using cuss words, adult images and other forms or adult content can affect the ranking of the site.

52. Sitemap – Sitemap serve as a guide for search engine spiders indexing your website and without a sitemap all your pages aren’t likely to get indexed on the search engine.

What is Sitemap?
Source: Yoast.com

53. Direct Traffic – Now this may sound as antithesis of search engine but it has been proven that sites that receive lots of direct traffic rank high on Google. It signals your website’s authority and fan following among the users.  

54. Canonical Tags – There is no better way to avoid duplicate content on your site than make use of rel=canonical tags. This tells Google which of the pages you wish to get index and improves your search rankings.

55. Backlinks – Backlinks aren’t bad as some people believe but if you are building large number of unnatural backlinks over a short period of time your site is likely to invite penalty.

56. DMCA Complaints – If you have received multiple complaints under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act it can adversely affect your site. Make sure your get all the copyrighted images, videos and graphics from your website.

57. Contextual Links – When linking to other websites and pages try and embed these links in the page content rather than in empty spaces as Google see this as natural linking and boosts your ranks.

58. Reciprocal Links – A highly explored strategy once upon a time, link exchange have lost their mojo over the years. While quality link exchange can improve your ranking factor, overdoing it might attract penalty.

59. Link Location – When links are at the beginning of the content they are seen to add more value to your SEO score compared to those at the bottom of the page. But make sure all linking is natural.

60. Link Authority – If you want to rank fast in Google you need to focus on the quality of links to your website over quantity. Link authority is one of the most important factors that Goggle takes into account.

61. Outbound Links – Too many outbound links spoil the quality of read and Google is hell bent on improving search results for its users and hence it doesn’t encourage too many outbound links.

62. Relevance of Outbound Links – Along with the number of outbound links you also need to focus on their relevance. Linking to pages that have no relevance to your site doesn’t add points to your ranking factor.

63. Link Velocity – The rate at which other sites link to your page is an important ranking factor. Positive link velocity sends the right signals to Google’s crawlers. On the other hand negative Link velocity can bring down your ranking. 

64. Broken Links – This is one of the most important factors that Google uses to rank websites and if you have too many of them you are inviting penalty. Undertake a comprehensive site audit to identify all such links and take corrective measures.  

65. Link Text – Try and avoid terms such as ‘Sponsored Link’, ‘Partner Link’ while linking to another site. This is known to decrease the value of linking as Google sees these as advertisement and not natural linking.

66. Page Load Speed – Not only will the users turn their back on you if the page loads slowly but so will Google. The search engine uses Chrome browser to collect data on page load speed and you should make sure your page is light and loads fast.

PageSpeed Insight Weblyke

67. Server IP Address – This is a factor that has become increasingly important in Google’s ranking. If the IP address of the server where your website is hosted is red-flagged it will have negative impact on your ranking. 

68. Manipulative Redirects – Redirects should only be used when they are extremely necessary as unnecessary redirects is seen as manipulation of user’s search experience.

69. Link Influx – Inbound links help increase rankings but sudden influx of large number of links is a no go area. Google is likely to treat this as a mischievous attempt at manipulating search results. It can damage your other SEO efforts. 

70. Inbound Link Word Count – The word count of page liking to your website is also a ranking signal. A well-written long form blog would offer you better ranking signal than a page which has few lines written here and there.

71. Unrelated Link – Links are good but unrelated links can invite penalty. Do not invite links that aren’t connected to your content, industry or the kind of business you are involved. Google’s algorithm updates have unmasked this trick!

72. Selling Links – This might sound as a good monetization strategy but it can definitely hurt your page rankings. This kind of linking is seen as unnatural by Google and hence it may penalize websites that start selling links.

73. Title Tag Keywords: After the domain name this is perhaps the most important signal that Google uses to rank your site and you should make sure that keyword(s) are used creatively in title tag to leverage Google’s algorithm.

74. Title-Link Relevance – The title of the page that appears on the search results should be relevant to the page link. Higher this relevance higher would your page appear in the Search Engine Results Page.

75. Meta Description – Along with the Page Title, it is Meta Description that offers an overview of the content on the page and appears below search results in SERP serves as an important signal for Google’s rankings.

76. Age of The Page – For content that is regularly updated, the age of the page is an important ranking factor. The longer a page has been live, higher would it rank on SERP. This however works only when the page is regularly updated with content to keep it relevant.

77. Duplicate Description – The use of duplicate Meta Description across several pages lowers your SEO score. Google’s latest search engine algorithmic updates focuses on the uniqueness and quality of this information.

78. 301 Redirects – Having excessive 301 redirects on a page affects its ranking. Don’t use more than three redirects in a page as going beyond might stop Google from crawling the page. It also hurts the PageRank factor.

79. Optimization – You have heard the term ‘Black Hat SEO’ and you should stay away from it. Don’t attempt at tricking Google’s algorithms with zealous on-page or off-page optimization approaches as this can invite penalty.  

80. Keywords in Content – We don’t even need to enlighten you on this, do we? However the only thing that you must keep in mind is keyword density and don’t go beyond 2% as Google sees this as spamming.

81. Prominence of Keywords – Apart from using keywords in the content you should also focus on their prominence. Using the keyword prominently such as in the first line or the first paragraph helps improve page ranking.

82. Content from Syndicate – If you are using content from a syndicate you must make sure that it has been modified to rank high. If you don’t do so Google can treat it as duplicate content thus hurting your rankings.

83. LSI Keywords – Google rates use of latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords as a ranking factor as it allows the search engine to understand the context of your content. For example, LSI keywords can help Google distinguish between a city and a celebrity when you are using the word ‘Paris’.

84. Breadcrumbs – Using of breadcrumbs and categories at the bottom of the page helps in smoothening experience for the users improving navigation and this helps in earning higher rankings.

85. Internal Linking – This is a proven SEO strategy and the more number of pages that direct the user to a particular page signal its importance. You can use this strategy to increase the SERP ranking of any landing page.

86. Sponsored Links – When you buy or sell links you must make sure they are on the no-follow list of Google as the search engine’s Penguin update has set a clear line between linking and link farming.

87. Links from Forums – This was used before and did boost rakings. But this is a no-go area today as Google devaluates such links as they are akin to spam. If you have such links on your page, it’s better to get rid of them.

88. Annoying Ads – Pop-ups, interstitials and ads that spoil the experience are a big no when it comes to Google rankings as the search engine considers them intrusive and signs of a bad website.

89. Image Optimization – Images are a great way to boost traffic not only on image search but also general search. Right use of Captions, Keywords, Image Names, and Descriptions helps increase traffic.

90. Alt Text – Staying with Image Optimization, all your images should be backed by Alt Text or Alternative Text. This has been an important ranking factor especially in image searches and can help you page rank even in Google’s snippet section.

MOZ shows How to use alt text

91. Time on Site – The more time users spend on your website, your odds of high rankings significantly improve. It is an important ranking signal and you must focus on creating use-experience that hooks your users for good amount of time on the website.

92. Geo Targeting – Google in its search results gives preference to sites that focus on targeting a smaller geography though geo-targeting strategies and localization. If you are targeting a small area you can benefit by adopting this strategy.

93. Bookmarks – Google is known to use Chrome’s bookmarking data as a way to rank websites and when your site or pages are bookmarked your ranking profile also goes up.

94. Site wide Links – Using a link all around the site in multiple pages doesn’t yield much mileage. Google’s crawlers would consider it as a single link and hence this strategy doesn’t add much to your overall rankings.

95. Uptime – If your site is regularly down due to technical glitches or maintenance you are likely to invite penalty from Google. So you should try and keep maintenance downtime to minimum.

96. User Specific Ranking – Google’s search results are tailored based on users’ search history. In case a use visits your site regularly Google is likely to rank you higher when they are searching through Chrome or signed into Google’s platform.

97. YouTube Videos – Videos (read YouTube videos) are becoming the preferred content type with faster Internet access across the world. Having YouTube videos on the page can boost rankings. Google doesn’t say so but it owns YouTube!

98. Brand Search – If people search your business by its brand name this is seen as a positive signal by Google and this improves its ranks. Creating more brand awareness on social media may be a way to improve your page rankings.

99. LinkedIn Signal – Having an official page on LinkedIn and employees linking their profiles to the official LinkedIn page can boost your search ranking. This is a minor factor but it makes your business seem more legit and professional.

100. News Mentions – Brands that are mentioned on the news sites immediately see boost in their rankings. Your brand name appearing on Google News Feed can help you exponentially up your rankings.

We have come to the end of this informative piece and you’d perhaps be in a state of dilemma as far as where you stand on these 100 ranking factors. Most of these might sound Greek to you, more so if you haven’t spent time trying to learn the art of optimizing your website. This is where we can create magic for you. As a fast rising SEO Agency in Delhi we can help you attain higher ranking on search engine. There is a road to glory in this never ending cat and mouse game of competitive search engine rankings. We take you through that road.