Google Ranking Factors – SEO Checklist

December 15, 2013

Google Ranking Factors – SEO Checklist


It is likely that you already know that Google uses more than 200 factors in different 10 categories for algorithmic ranking. It should be noted that some of the factors have proven to guarantee success, but there are also factors that seem to not exist, but somehow the search engine takes them into account. Today let’s have a look at these factors and see which ones you need to pay special attention to when optimizing your website.

Domain Factors – Domain and its authority is one of the most important ranking factors. Google considers domain to be authoritative if it has high trust from users, is strongly correlated with a reputable brand. For this reason, progress in social media is more useful than it might seem. Brand awareness, the number of mentions is an important ranking factors. The domain factors include the following:

• Domain age
• Keyword appears in top level domain
• Keyword as first word in domain
• Domain registration length
• Keyword in subdomain name
• Domain history
• Exact match domain
• Public vs. Private WhoIs
• Penalized WhoIs owner
• Country TLD extension

When speaking about domain age we should mention that this factor plays some role in rankings, but it’s not very important. See what Matt Cutts has to say about domain age in the video below.

Page-Level Factors – When talking about page level factors of ranking the most important elements you should always consider is meta data, including keywords, description and title tags. We have already talked about the importance of these here. Keywords are an important part of your website. This is the way for you to inform the search engine and the users what is your website about, so choose wisely. Make sure to use the keywords in the meta data of your website.

Another important thing in page-level factors is to pay special attention to internal links and outbound links. The main trick is not to overdo them.

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

The full list of page-level factors include:
• Keyword in title tag
• Title tags starts with keyword
• Keyword in description tag
• Keyword appears in H1 tag
• Keyword is most frequently used phrase in document
• Content length
• Keyword density
• Latent semantic indexing keywords in content (LSI)
• LSI keywords in title and description tags
• Page loading speed via html
• Duplicate content
• Real =canonical
• Page loading speed via chrome
• Image optimization
• Regency of content updates
• Magnitude or content updates
• Historical updates
• Page updates
• Keyword prominence
• Keyword in H2, H3 tags
• Keyword word order
• Outbound link quality
• Outbound link theme
• Grammar and spelling
• Syndicated content
• Helpful supplementary content
• Numbers of outbound links
• Multimedia
• Number of internal links pointing to page
• Quality of internal links pointing to a page
• Quality of internal links pointing to page
• Broken links
• Reading level
• Affiliate links
• Html errors/ wc3 validation
• Page host’s domain authority
• Page’s PageRank
• URL length
• URL path
• Human editors
• Page category
• WordPress tags
• Keyword in URL
• URL string
• References and sources
• Bullets and numbered lists
• Priority of page in sitemap
• Too many outbound links
• Quantity of other keywords page ranks for
• Page age
• User friendly layout
• Parked domains

Site-level Factors – There is big list of site level factor you should consider when optimizing your website, but content of the page is one of the most important ranking factors for Google. It’s no secret that having quality unique content on your website with correct keyword density can help your website with rankings. Google has mentioned a number of times that those websites that don’t bring anything new and interesting will lose rankings, so don’t forget to have your website updated regularly. Site-level factors include:

• Content provides value & unique insights
• Contact us page
• Domain trust/ TrustRank
• Site architecture
• Site updates
• Number of pages
• Presence of sitemap
• Site uptime
• Server location
• SSL certificate (ecommerce sites)
• Terms of service and privacy pages
• Duplicate content on –site
• Breadcrumbs navigation
• Mobile optimized
• YouTube
• Site usability
• Use of Google analytics and Google webmaster tools
• User reviews/ site reputation

Backlink Factors – Link building is a big part of website optimization and, of course, the number of domains that link to your website plays an important role when it comes to your website’s rankings. However, the quantity is not as important as quality. It is crucial to make sure your links are coming from relevant authority websites that have high PageRank. Diversity of links and anchor text is another important thing to keep in mind. Try to avoid sitewide links, especially since Matt Cutts confirmed that sitewide links are “compressed” to count as a single link.

The full list of backlink factors are as follows:
• Linking domain age
• # of linking root domains
• # of links from separate C-Class IPs
• # of linking pages
• Alt tag (for image links)
• Links from .edu or .gov domains
• PR of linking page
• Authority of linking domain
• Links from competitors
• Social shares of referring page
• Links from bad neighborhoods
• Guest posts
• Links to homepage domain that page sits on
• Nofollow links
• Diversity of link types
• Contextual links
• “sponsored links” or other words around link
• Excessive 301 redirects to page
• Backlink anchor texts
• Internal link anchor text
• Link title attribution
• Country TLD of referring domain
• Link location in content
• Links location on page
• Linking domian relevancy
• Page level relevancy
• Text around link sentiment
• Keyword in title
• Positive link velocity
• Negative link velocity
• Links from “hub” pages
• Link from authority sites
• Linked to as Wikipedia source
• Co-Occurrences
• Backlink age
• Links from real sites vs. Splogs
• Natural link profile
• Reciprocal links
• User generated content links
• Links from 301
• Schema. Org microformats
• DMOZ listed
• Yahoo! Directory listed
• Number of oubound links on page
• Forum profile links
• Word count of linking content
• Quality of linking content:
• Sitewide links

User interaction – Getting your website ranking on high positions on search engine is the first step. The next step is to actually attract the users, who see your page on Google, to click on the link and then become returning users of your website. It’s confirmed that Google uses data from Google Chrome to determine whether or not people visit a site. This is why it is important to have a quality website, so that the new traffic will become returning customers. Google may also look how much time visitors spend on website and how active they are. Here is the list of user interaction factors:

• Organic click through rate for a keyword
• Organic CTR for all keywords
• Bounce rate
• Direct traffic
• Reapeat traffic
• Bloked sites
• Chrome bookmarks
• Google toolbar data
• Number of comments
• Time on site

Special algorithm rules – Google takes into consideration a number of special algorithm rules, like giving preference to sites with a local server IP and country-specific domain name extension. Search results with curse words or adult content won’t appear for people with Safe Search turned on. One of important elements you should consider is that Google often places Google+ Local results above the “normal” organic SERPs. Try to promote your website for local search terms. Special algorithm rules include the following:

• Query deserves freshness
• Query deserves diversity
• User browsing history
• User search history
• Geo targeting
• Safe search
• Google +circles
• Dmca complaints (heading 144)
• Domain diversity (heading 145)
• Transactional searches
• Local searches
• Google news box
• Big brand preference
• Shopping results
• Image results
• Single site results for brands

Social signals – The activity of your website in social media may influence its rankings on Google. The tweets a page has, the number of Facebook likes a page receives, Facebook shares, comments and other activity on your social pages convince Google that you have an quality website that provides interesting information. In February 2013, Google CEO Eric Schmidt famously claimed:

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.”

Social signal factors include the following:
• Number of tweets
• Authority of Twitter users accounts
• Number of Facebook likes
• Facebook shares
• Authority of Facebook user accounts:
• Pinterest pins
• Votes on social sharing sites
• Number of Google+1’s
• Authority of Google+ user accounts
• Verified Google+ authorship
• Social signal relevancy
• Site level social signals

Brand signals – Using search engine optimization to promote various brands is used more and more frequently today. The main objective of SEO is to promote online resource in search top rankings, helping companies in getting new customers and increasing sales. The brand promotion and website optimization interact very closely. Pay attention to the factors below when promoting your brand:

google-search-engine-ranking-factors-2013• Brand name anchor text
• Branded searches
• Site has Facebook page and likes
• Site has twitter profile with followers
• Official LinkendIn company page
• Employees listed at LinkedIn
• Legitimacy of social media accounts
• Brand mention on news sites
• Co-Citations
• Number of RSS subscribers
• Brick and mortar location with Google+ local listing
• Website is tax paying business

On-site WebSpam factors – Don’t over-optimize your website. Those webmasters, who have been hit by Google penalties, are aware that they should follow Google Guidelines and do everything in accordance. Linking out to “bad neighborhoods”, sneaky redirects, keyword stuffing, header tag stuffing and other spammy tactics will result your website losing rankings, so avoid the list below at all costs:

• Panda penalty
• Links to bad neighborhoods
• Redirects
• Popular or distracting ads
• Site over- optimization
• Page over- optimization
• Ads above the fold
• Hiding affiliate links
• Affiliate sites
• Autogenerated content
• Excess PageRank sculpting
• IP address flagged as spam
• Meta tag spamming

Off page WebSpam factors – As already mentioned, you should also pay great attention to off page factors. A lot of sites have received penalties for an unnaturally high amount of links from unrelated sites were more susceptible to Penguin. Google can put site into Google Sandbox or Google dance, which may temporarily limit search visibility or shake rankings. Look out for these Off page WebSpam factors:

• Unnatural influx of links
• Penguin penalty
• Links profile with high % of low quality link
• Linking domain relevancy
• Unnatural links warning
• Links from the same class C IP
• “poison” anchor text
• Manually penalty
• Selling links
• Google sandbox
• Google dance
• Disavow tool
• Reconsideration request



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