Learn about the main 187 positioning factors in Google

Learn about the main 187 positioning factors in Google

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Learn about the main 187 positioning factors in Google


Learn about the main 187 positioning factors in Google. Google ranking factors are the great strength of the search engine. They define the best results for each search.

Google ranking factors are the great strength of the search engine. They define the best results for each search and make the experience more valuable for users. That being said, below we will explore what are these positioning factors that you should take into account to design better SEO strategies.

If you’re an SEO professional , you’ve probably wondered what Google’s ranking factors are, haven’t you? After all, the answer to this question reveals what optimizations you need to perform to get to the top of the “almighty” search engine.

We already know that Google uses a complex algorithm to rank websites in order of relevance to users. This algorithm is believed to be made up of over 200 ranking factors, which are analyzed in a matter of milliseconds with each search.

Some are revealed by the search engine, some are proven by studies and, it must be said, many are just speculations. This is because Google doesn’t want to reveal all its secrets!

Faced with this reality, we are here to reveal in a concrete and detailed way what are the main Google positioning factors , which will help you to draw up your SEO strategies with agility and precision.

To do this, we divided the factors into the following topics:

  • domain factors ;
  • page factors ;
  • content factors ;
  • site factors ;
  • user interaction factors ;
  • backlink factors ;
  • algorithm rules ;
  • trademark signs;
  • spam on the page;
  • off-page spam ;
  • refuted or outdated factors.

But first, we need to dot some i’s and dots…


How to understand and assess the list of Google positioning factors?


For writing this article, we took the listing on the Backlinko website as a reference. Author Brian Dean draws on studies by SEO professionals and Google’s own statements highlighting the top ranking factors.

However, it is necessary to understand that there is no complete and definitive list with 200 ranking factors . Google itself has never claimed to work with exactly that number of criteria.

Therefore, some factors may be questionable. An article by Moz , by the way, already criticizes this type of list.

According to the publication, some elements of these lists can be:

  • Market myths, without any evidence;
  • Correlation factors, not causality;
  • Factors used only to arrive at the number 200.

For this reason, we also don’t intend to create a definitive list of 200 Google ranking factors (you’ll notice we haven’t hit exactly this number!).

Our intention is to list a series of factors that, according to market studies, Google statements or Rock Content’s own experience, have shown to have a real and forceful impact on the ranking.

At the end of the text, we also include a topic on factors that have already been overcome or refuted , so you don’t have doubts about what works today.

It is understood? So, let’s get to know what are the Google ranking factors!


Dominance factors


The domain is your Internet address. It is what people type in the browser to access your pages. This address consists of several elements:

  • subdomain .
  • domain;
  • TLD (top-level-domain);
  • ccTLD (country code TLD);
  • directory.

For Google, these elements provide important information to rank pages in search results. See which ones it analyses: 

1. Domain age

Domain age can be correlated to location because older websites had more time to produce content, get links, and receive visitors.

2. Domain history

If a domain has already been penalized by Google for practicing black hat, this usually weighs negatively on the ranking, even if it has changed ownership.

3. Exact domain matching

If the domain exactly matches the keyword you want to rank for you may have a small advantage in Google .

But, since 2012, the search engine has given little importance to the exact domain match, to avoid spam.

4. Keyword at the beginning of the domain

If the domain includes the keyword among other terms, it has a partial match. In this case, Google gives even less relevance to this in the ranking.

Even so, if you want to use this strategy, choose to place the keyword at the beginning of the domain, as it will yield better results.

5. Keyword in the subdomain

Google can check the subdomain terms to see what the site is about, but the relevance of this factor to ranking is small.

6. Country ccTLD

Google clarifies that it uses the ccTLD as geolocation data. For a .uk domain, for example, the search engine understands that the site is relevant to users in the United Kingdom.

Therefore, it is an important factor for those who want to internationalize their website.

7. WhoIs protocol

WhoIs is a protocol that is used to query the data of the owner of a domain. When this data is protected, Google can take it as a bad sign, but only if it is associated with other black hat evidence.

8. Historical WhoIs

If a domain owner has already been penalized, Google can demote all the sites on your domain. The search engine probably has a record of spammers on the internet and won’t give you a chance.


Page Factors


Now, let’s talk about the on-page factors that go into on-page SEO strategies .

These optimizations can be done in the code and content of the page and are completely under your control, unlike off-page SEO. Let’s go to them:

9. Load speed

In 2010, the search engine announced the inclusion of this criteria in the desktop search algorithm and in 2018 it was added to mobile searches. Today, loading speed is one of the main ranking factors for Google.

10. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

AMP are pages optimized to load faster on mobile devices. Although not a direct ranking factor, these pages often appear first in mobile search and receive a stamp that sets them apart from the rest.

11. Mobile-friendly

Mobilegeddon was the nickname given to a 2015 algorithm update, which began considering mobile friendliness as one of Google’s top ranking factors .

Since then, most sites have adopted a responsive design.

12. Mobile First Index

In 2016, Google announced another update, the Mobile-First Index, which began considering the mobile version of pages to index first.

Therefore, it is one more ranking factor that encourages websites to improve mobile usability. Otherwise, they may lose positions in the ranking.

13. Content hidden by CSS and JavaScript

If you need to click any button to reveal the content of your site, it may not be indexed or ranked. If this content is crucial to the site, Google recommends that it be directly visible to the user, unhindered by either CSS or JavaScript.

14. Canonical tag

Canonical tag is a resource used by websites to tell Google when there is more than one page with the same content and which one is the main one. Thus, it prevents the search engine from penalizing your site for duplicate content.

15. Broken links

Broken links take visitors to Error 404 pages. When there are too many broken links on the site, it frustrates the user experience and therefore Google can demote your pages.

16. HTML Errors

HTML errors also cause user frustration, as website resources don’t load or work properly, and even make it difficult for the crawler to find.

Therefore, when the site has a lot of programming problems, Google can lower it in the ranking.

17. Position of the page in the architecture of the site

A page that is close to the home page of the website tends to gain more points with Google, to the detriment of those that are submerged and even “hidden” in the site’s architecture.

18. Page category

The category in which the page is inserted must make sense to Google. For example, a page about stoves should be in the “Appliances” category. If the categorization does not match, it is also confusing for the user, so they lose ranking points.

19. Age of the page

Page age is a relevant factor for searches that are undated and don’t require constant updates, such as research on the US Constitution or the theory of relativity.

Although Google values ​​new content (see factor 45), this type of search may favor older pages, with more authority built over time .

20. Visibility of the main content

Pages where excessive ads hinder or prevent the visibility of the main content hinder the user experience. This also influences the way the algorithm evaluates the pages.

21. Use of structured data (rich snippets)

Pages that use structured data in the code tend to gain priority in Google rankings, because they become rich snippets in the SERP and improve the search experience.

It is not known if this is due to ranking factors (Google does not confirm this) or simply because they attract more clicks and traffic.


Content factors


Now, we continue with the Google positioning factors related to the content of the page, which are also part of SEO on page.

22. Key word in the title tag

The presence of the keyword in the title tag is one of the main factors of the page. This is a tag in the code that identifies the title to search engines.

In addition to telling the algorithm what the main topic of the page is, it also has the function of attracting the user’s interest to motivate them to click.

Look at the correlation of this factor with SERP position:

23. Keyword at the beginning of the title tag

If the keyword is at the beginning of the title tag, even better! For Google, this position highlights the importance of the term for that page.

24. Keyword in the meta description

The meta description is not a direct ranking factor, but it does work to drive the user’s click on the search results page. Therefore, the presence of the keyword in the description is important, especially since Google bolds it in the SERP.

25. Keyword in H1 tag

The heading tags are used to show the content hierarchy to Google. Among these, H1 is the most important, as it represents the title of the content that appears on the page. Therefore, the keyword must be there to demonstrate its relevance.

26. Keyword in H2 and H3 tags

H2 and H3 tags follow the hierarchy of heading tags. Although they are not as relevant to ranking in the SERPs, it is also important here to use keywords (or synonyms and related terms) to reinforce their relevance on the page.

27. Keyword in the main content

The position of the keywords on the page also highlights their importance. If they appear in the main content, Google understands that they are more relevant.

28. Key word at the beginning of the text

If the keyword appears at the beginning of the main content text (first 100 words), Google understands that it is even more important for the page.

29. Keyword in the URL

The URL is another element of the page that Google analyzes. If the keyword appears there, it means that it has a lot of relevance to the post.

30. Keyword in images

If Google can’t read images (only text), how does it understand what they contain? Images need to be optimized for the search engine by using text—and keyword insertion—in the file name (src tag), alternative text (alt tag), and their environment.

31. TF-IDF

Instead of keyword density, Google adopted a new calculation model (called TF-IDF) to measure the relevance of terms on a page.

So you can work naturally with related terms, synonyms, and variations in your text, without forcing exact keyword matching.

32. Google Hummingbird

Hummingbird was an algorithm update released in 2013 that shifted the focus from keyword matching to search senses and intents.

From there, the algorithm got smarter at understanding human language .

33. Co-occurrences

Co-occurrences are terms that generally appear with the keyword simultaneously. They are also considered by Google to understand the meaning of the content and strengthen the page on that topic.

34. Semantic terms in the content (LSI keywords)

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) is the indexing concept that considers synonyms, variations, co-occurrences and terms related to the keyword to understand the meanings of the text.

With Hummingbird, you no longer have to worry about the repetition of keywords as much as their semantic field.

35. Semantic terms in tags, images and URLs

Keyword semantics can also be explored in code tags, image optimization, and URLs to strengthen Google’s understanding of page content.

36. BERT

BERT is a recent update to the algorithm that enhances natural language processing with artificial intelligence. Now, Google understands not only the semantics, but also the full complexity of human language used in content and in search.

37. Search intent

Since Google understands human language, your content no longer needs to focus on keyword matching.

Now, you need to understand the intentions behind the searches to deliver what users want to find. The more you adapt to user intent, the better your position in the SERPs.

38. Specialty, authority and trustworthiness (EAT)

EAT is an acronym that is presented in the Quality Rater Guidelines document that Google uses to synthesize the main factors of content evaluation. Are they:

  • the specialty of the author of the content;
  • authority of the author of the content, the content itself and the website;
  • the reliability of the author of the content, the content itself and the website.

These factors show the importance of having content written and published by those who understand the subject and are a reference in their area.

This is especially important for YMYL sites , usually in the medical, legal, and financial fields, which cannot put people at risk.

39. Depth of content

According to Backlinko, there is a correlation between the depth of content on a given topic and the position it occupies in the SERPs. If the content is in-depth and covers multiple viewpoints, it tends to rank higher.

40. Content length

There is also a correlation between the number of words and the position in the SERP. Longer content is often deeper and offers more value to the reader. Therefore, it usually occupies the first positions. But it is not a rule, quality is essential!

41. Originality of the content

In addition to being deep, the content must be original. Google has the means to identify plagiarism and duplication and if you commit these “sins” you could be penalized or even removed from the ranking.

42. Authorship of the content

Google had a project to mark and verify authorship with Google Plus, which was abandoned with the discontinuation of the network.

However, the current guide to Google by the EAT (see factor 38) highlights the importance that the search engine still gives to the author of the content , although it does not confirm that it is one of the ranking factors.

43. Duplicate content

Duplicate content may represent plagiarism or a way to manipulate search engine ranking. For this reason, Google tends to demote pages with duplicate content, which offer a poor user experience.

44. Language correction

Content with language errors (grammar, punctuation, syntax) provides a poor reading experience and may therefore be considered poor quality by Google.

45. “Fresh” content

A 2011 algorithm update seeks to understand which searches require new content (see factor 125).

In such cases, the user expects to see the most up-to-date information possible, so Google prioritizes the latest content, while outdated content falls down the rankings.

46. ​​Relevance of updates

You don’t need to have recently published the Page to have new content, but it is essential that you have made updates to your old Pages.

However, these updates must be relevant (change an entire section, rather than one word or another) in order for the pages to be crawled and indexed again by the search engine.

47. Frequency of updates

If Google identifies that the page is frequently updated, it constantly “revisits” the page for follow-up, and if it always has fresh content to show on the SERP, it ranks higher than an out-of-date post.

48. List of linked topics

When writing a text with several topics, it is interesting to put them in the introduction with a direct link to them. In addition to helping the reader, Google can convert them into sitelinks or featured snippets that drive more clicks on the SERPs.

49. Bulleted and numbered lists

Bullets and numbered lists are not a direct ranking factor, but they do help improve text scannability and reader engagement. This sends signals to Google that the content is relevant to the user.

50. Quality of outbound links

The insertion of links to external pages (outbound links) can benefit the ranking of your page.

This study shows that pages with links to quality and authoritative content earn ranking points. John Mueller clarified that this is not a ranking factor, but favors the user experience.

51. Object of outbound links

In addition to analyzing the quality of outbound links, Google also keeps an eye on the anchor text and content that receives backlinks from the page to better understand your topic.

52. Too many outbound links

Outbound links are good for the user because they point to supplementary information. However, abusing these links in the content can harm the reading experience and even be seen as spam.

53. Helpful Side Content

Complementary content is content that contributes to the user experience, but does not directly help the Page fulfill its proposition. When that content is useful and offers some value to the reader, the page can earn points with Google.

54. Image optimization

In addition to using keywords (see factor 30), optimizing images for SEO also requires you to know how to compress them, without losing quality. And it is that these tend to increase the loading time of the pages.

55. Use of multimedia content

Text, images, videos, GIFs, infographics, and other multimedia content tend to improve user experience and page rating. Look at the correlation between media usage and SERP position:

56. Number of internal links to the page

Internal links help Google understand the hierarchy of your site and which pages are most important. Therefore, the number of internal links to a given page helps to improve its ranking.

57. Quality of internal links to the page

It is not enough to create dozens of internal links to a page. They must come from pages that also have authority and relevance to help position.

58. Anchor text for internal links to the page

The anchor text used in the internal links to the page helps to understand what your topic is and to index it for the correct keywords.

59. URL length

Short and simple URLs are easier for the user to read and understand. This is probably why there is a correlation between the number of URL characters and the position in the SERP.

60. Sources and references

The citation of sources and references (even without a link) is one of the criteria that Google presents in the Quality Rater Guidelines document, especially for YMYL sites .

When there is no relevant source of information, the content can be false and mislead the user.


Site factors


In the following lines you will know the Google positioning factors directly related to the site.

61. Usability of the website

A website with logical, simple and intuitive navigation earns positioning points. On the other hand, if you offer a lot of obstacles, you lose points. Google understands this through user signals like bounce rate and length of stay.

62. Site reputation

Ratings and reviews on third-party sites are probably not a direct ranking factor. But Google knows how to understand the context of links and mentions of your brand.

If this is positive, it can favor the classification; if it is negative, it can damage it. Quality Rater Guidelines shows that reputation is an important point:

63. TrustRank

TrustRank is the ranking factor of the algorithm that ranks sites based on their degree of trustworthiness. Google mainly measures it according to its “neighborhood”, that is, the quality of the sites that link to your website and to which you send backlinks.

64. Contact information

Providing a page or just contact details is an indication of Google’s trustworthiness. The Quality Rater Guidelines document provides this guidance, especially for YMYL pages and online stores:

65. Terms of Service and Privacy

In addition to the contact details, the presence of the terms of service and privacy are another sign of the reliability of the site for Google.

66. Site architecture

The organization of the content is essential for usability and helps Google understand your pages, as well as being able to access and index all of them. Therefore, the architecture of the website must have a logical and coherent structure.

67. Breadcrumbs

” Breadcrumbs ” indicate the way to get to a page (such as Home > Bedroom > Beds). They position the user and Google with respect to the architecture of the website and therefore contribute to the ranking. Furthermore, Google uses this information directly in the SERPs.

68. Use of the site map

The sitemap.xml file tells Google all the pages on your site, which helps the search engine discover new content and fully index it.

69. URL structure

The website URL structure should be descriptive and friendly. Don’t use those numbers and codes, okay? Both the user and Google need to understand what your URLs contain.

70. Availability of the website

Sites are temporarily down due to server issues, maintenance periods, and other normal situations. The problem is if it happens for a long time or very often: Google can understand that the site no longer exists and even exclude it from the ranking.

71. Server location

The physical location of the server affects SEO. In the video below, Matt Cutts explains that Google looks at the server’s IP address, among other factors, to identify the country of the site and prioritize viewing in that region.

72. SSL certificate and HTTPS protocol

In 2014, Google reported that it would incorporate the use of HTTPS into ranking factors. In addition to favoring SEO, this factor is a sign of security and credibility of the site for the user.

73. YouTube Videos

Although not formally assumed by Google, YouTube videos tend to gain preference in video results over other services.


User interaction factors


In the search and browsing process, users emit behavioral signals that give indications about the quality of a website. Google also evaluates these interactions to classify them.

Let’s see what they are:

74. RankBrain

RankBrain is an update to the 2015 algorithm that incorporated machine learning into the search engine.

With it, the algorithm analyzes users’ interactions with the search engine, especially the words they use in searches and the meanings behind them.

75. Organic CTR of a keyword

Google does not confirm that the click-through rate on a page in the SERP is a ranking factor, and that remains a controversy among SEO professionals. Either way, a good organic CTR means more visitors to your site, which is a good sign.

76. Organic CTR for all keywords

In addition to measuring the organic CTR for a given keyword, it is believed that the algorithm also considers the click-through rate for all the keywords that trigger that page. But there is no reliable evidence for this either.

77. Bounce rate

The bounce rate measures how many users click on a link, don’t interact, and then leave the page. To Google, this could be a sign that the page doesn’t have a good response for that keyword.

This factor is still controversial , but Google has already stated that it does not use the Google Analytics bounce rate metric in the algorithm:

78. Dwell time

The time a user spends on the page can also be indicative of the relevance of your content to the keyword. But that factor is also controversial.

79. Direct traffic

If many users type the URL of the page directly into the browser bar, Google may understand this as a positive ranking point. A SEMrush study showed that there is a strong correlation between direct traffic and SERP position:

80. Frequent visitors

The more visitors return to the page, the better for positioning. This is also a controversial factor, which Google does not assume, but which can be used to measure page relevance.

81. Chrome Favorites

Google can identify which pages have been added to “Favorites” in Chrome, and this may influence ranking.

By selecting articles from Google News , for example, the search engine allows you to use favorites to customize your ranking.


User interaction through comments on the page can also be used as a sign of relevance to the content. Gary Illyes confirms that a strong community can go a long way on the Google SERPs.


Backlink factors


It is time to start looking at the ranking factors in Google that are outside the site and its pages.

We are talking about backlink factors, which are the links that a domain receives from other sites and that are part of link building and off page SEO strategies.

83. PageRank

PageRank was the first version of Google’s algorithm, which revolutionized the search market.

His innovation was to consider the profile of links that a page receives to measure its relevance and authority on the web. Although it has already evolved considerably, PageRank is still an important ranking factor .

84. Naturalness of the backlink profile

A website should get backlinks naturally. If you receive many links at the same time, from a single domain, or with the same anchor text (among other factors we’ll discuss below), it can feel like artificial acquisition and black hat.

85. Number of pages with backlinks

The more pages that create backlinks to a page’s content, the better the ranking will be. But quantity is combined with other backlink quality factors to measure page authority.

86. Diversity of domains with backlinks

The diversity of domains directing backlinks to the page shows that more sites recognize its relevance. Discover the correlation with the position in the SERP:

87. Diversity of domain types with backlinks

Google also seems to consider the diversity of domain types (such as blogs, forums, etc.). The search engine understands this as a natural signal to acquire backlinks.

88. Domain age with backlink

The age of the domain that inserted the backlink can also be a ranking factor: the older it is, the more trustworthy and authority it conveys to the page.

89. Page popularity

One of the backlink quality factors is page popularity. Backlinks from pages that also get a lot of backlinks tend to pass more authority.

90. Website Authority

Receiving backlinks from sites that are considered authorities on the topic of the page counts for many points in the ranking.

91. Backlinks from hub pages

Obtaining links from pages that are considered a “hub”, that is, that centralize a certain topic, can be a positive point.

92. Website TrustRank

Websites that Google trusts, with a good score in the TrustRank algorithm, transmit more Link Juice and place their pages in the search engine’s trusted network.

93. Anchor Text

According to the original presentation of the Google algorithm, the backlink anchor text provides valuable information about the linked page. Despite this, excessively gaining backlinks with exact keyword matching can be construed as spam.

94. Alt text of images with backlink

Google also considers the alt text tag. Acts as anchor text for images with backlinks.

95. Backlink context

Google evaluates not only the backlink, but also the context in which it is inserted. Therefore, contextual links, which have meaning and value within the page, are more relevant.

96. Content quality

Backlinks inserted in original content, with relevant and well-written information, transmit more authority than in low-quality content.

97. Niche Page

When evaluating the context of the backlink, Google analyzes the niche of the page in which it is inserted. When it has to do with the niche of the linked page, the backlink conveys more authority.

98. Niche Sites

It is not only the niche of the page that matters, but also the sites with backlinks in general. If you receive multiple backlinks from sites in your niche, Google understands that you are a reference in your segment.

99. Backlink matches

Google evaluates the words around the backlink. When these words are common co-occurrences (see factor 33) of the keyword, the link strengthens the authority of the page linked to this topic .

100. Backlink position on the page

The backlinks that are inserted within the main content have more value for Google than those that are in other positions (header, side columns, footer, etc.).

101. Position of the backlink in the content

Within the main content, Google also evaluates the position of the backlink. When it appears early (in the first 100 words), it conveys more authority to the linked page.

102. Home Page Backlinks

Backlinks inserted on the home page carry more weight than on internal pages, due to their relevance to the site.

103. Competitor Backlinks

If even the competition directs a backlink to your page, you must be a great reference in the field, right? Google thinks so. For this reason, backlinks from sites that compete with you in the SERPs convey more authority to the linked page.

104. Backlinks provided on the website

Although it is just speculation, it is believed that Google analyzes if you have already received backlinks from sites in your niche, something that is expected to happen.

105. Backlinks from poor quality websites

Receiving backlinks from poor quality sites, which practice black hat, affects the reliability of your site and hurts the ranking of your pages. You can reject malicious backlinks to avoid damaging your reputation.

106. Advertising backlinks

Since 2019, advertising backlinks or other types of business must be tagged with the “sponsored” tag.

In this way, the page with backlinks does not convey its endorsement, but it helps Google to understand and index the content of the linked page. With traditional “nofollow”, this backlink is completely ignored.

107. User Generated Content (UGC) Backlinks

Backlinks for user-generated content also received a new label: “ugc”, instead of “nofollow”. Now, backlinks from comment boxes and forums are also not completely ignored, but continue without transferring page authority.

108. Nofollow links

Nofollow links are meant to tell Google that you do not want to support this link. So, Google does not transfer authority to the linked page. Also, having some nofollow links is a positive sign that you have a natural backlink profile.

109. Guest posts

Backlinks in guest posts are still worth it, but only on blogs relevant to your niche, with natural anchor texts and content relevant to the audience. If you push the bar or get a lot of backlinks quickly, it may look like spam to Google.

110. Too many 301 redirects

Backlinks with a 301 redirect are treated by Google like any other backlink (see factor 186).

However, when there are multiple levels of redirects to get to a page, Google will stop following the links in the middle and the final page will not receive link juice.

111. Atributo link title

The “link title” tag (which appears when the mouse hovers over the link) is an accessibility feature that provides a description of the link. There are questions about whether Google uses this attribute to get more information about the backlink. Either way, it serves to improve the user experience.

112. Backlinked domain country code TLDs

The ccTLD is a ranking factor for geolocation (see point 6). In the case of backlinks, Google analyzes this element in the domain where the backlink is inserted to understand in which region the linked page is most relevant.

113. Keyword in the page title

If your keyword is in the title of the page that gave you the backlink, better for ranking! It probably means that they are two experts on the subject.

114. Backlink gain speed

Google analyzes the speed of obtaining backlinks. If it is positive, the site is becoming more relevant to the market; if it is negative, it means that the site has remained stable and is losing relevance.

115. Backlinks Wikipedia

Wikipedia links are nofollow, so they do not convey authority. However, if your site appears as a reference for an article on the web, you can earn points with Google, in addition to attracting traffic.

116. Backlink age

Older backlinks tend to carry more weight with Google than newly created ones. On the other hand, it is also true that recent backlinks show that your site has not been lost in time and that it is still relevant.

117. Page refresh

Backlinks from recently published or more frequently updated pages can convey more value. Google probably understands that links to old or outdated pages may have lost their relevance.

118. Number of outbound links on the page

The number of outbound links can affect the level of authority that the page conveys, since PageRank is divided among all backlinks.

119. Length of content

Google understands that long content tends to be deeper and offers more value to the user (see factor 40). Therefore, you tend to convey more authority through backlinks.

120. Sitewide links

Sitewide links are those links that are repeated on the pages of a website (about us, contact, etc.). According to Matt Cutts, Google counts these links as only one, so site-wide backlinks also count only once.


Algorithm rules


Google’s algorithm also has some rules, related to search and user context, that go into ranking factors. Let’s see what they are:

121. User location

User location is one of Google’s main ranking factors , especially for local searches. If the user searches for “pizzeria”, they will see results near where they are.

122. User browsing history

The user’s browsing history also influences the ranking. Google considers the sites that a person usually visits to personalize the SERP, but also to understand their search intent when it is ambiguous.

123. User search history

In addition to browsing history, the user’s search history also helps Google understand ambiguous search intent and rank pages.

124. Featured snippets

Featured snippets are considered Google’s “score zero.” They offer ready answers to the user, before the other results, for certain types of searches.

Therefore, the pages that manage to conquer the featured snippets win the first position in the ranking. Moz has developed a complete study on how to do this.

125. Searches that require new content

There are searches that require new content (called QDF or Query Meerves Freshness), such as searching for the best DSLR camera on the market or the latest news about an attack.

In these cases, Google prioritizes the pages that have the most up-to-date content over other criteria.

126. Searches that require disambiguation

Google is often in doubt about the user’s search intent because the keyword is ambiguous.

In the search for “TED”, for example, the user can refer to a movie or lectures. In these cases, the SERP presents results that may not be as relevant, but serve to disambiguate.

127. Searches that require specific formats

There are searches whose best answers are not web pages, but images, videos, news and other content formats. In these cases, Google prioritizes the results in the formats that best suit the user’s needs.

128. Searches that return a lot of spam

There are searches that often activate many spam pages. Thinking of these cases, Google launched an algorithm update in 2014 that sought to “clean” the SERPs in this type of search.

129. Transactional searches

In transactional profile searches (product and price searches, for example), Google prioritizes results that lead to a purchase, rather than informational pages.

130. Local searches

Local searches trigger the Local Package in the SERP, which is a box with the top three geolocated results.

In these searches, Google prioritizes businesses that are registered in Google My Business , rather than the list of web pages that appear only after the local package.

To rank these businesses, Google uses three specific local SEO ranking factors:

  • company relevance to the keyword the user entered;
  • proximity of the business in relation to the user or the location term used in the search;
  • positioning, reputation and popularity of the business in the online and offline world.

131. SafeSearch

SafeSearch is a Google search feature that filters results with explicit content. If the user activates this function, the ranking is affected, since certain pages are removed from the list.

132. EDGE Sitios

YMYL (Your Money Your Life) websites contain sensitive content that may affect people’s health, safety or finances.

They are usually found in the medical, legal, or financial fields. For this type of content, Google has stricter rating criteria, which are set out in the Quality Rater Guidelines document.

133. Diversity of domains in the SERP

Google seeks to diversify the domains that appear in the SERPs so that the user has a greater variety of answers and opinions on the topic they are looking for.


Brand signs


For Google, brand signs help to identify the companies that really exist and what is their relevance in the market and this influences the ranking. Now you know what these signs are:

134. Brand quote without link

Google recognizes a brand quote and the context in which it is inserted. Even without a link, this mention helps strengthen your brand in the eyes of Google and help your site rank higher.

135. Brand in anchor text

Using branding as anchor text for backlinks to your website is a sign of strength.

136. Brand searches on Google

The more Google searches for the brand, the more the search engine can trust that it is known and relevant in the marketplace.

137. Brand searches on Google with specific keywords

If people tend to search for the brand name associated with a keyword (rock content + content marketing, for example), the site tends to earn ranking points for those terms.

138. Pages and active profiles on social networks

Having a page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks, with a relevant number of fans and frequent posts, is probably a signal to Google that the brand really exists and is relevant.

One of the evidences of this is that Google has registered a patent to identify whether accounts on social networks are fake.

139. Company registration in Google My Business

If the business is a local business and is registered with Google My Business, the search engine has more proof that it exists and can assess its reputation through user reviews.

140. Mention of the brand in the main news

Large, well-known brands are often mentioned in the top news carousel as they are the subject of the media. Google considers these mentions to measure the relevance of brands.


Spam on page


Since the beginning of SEO, Google has been fighting against the black hat to remove results that do not deliver value to the user from the ranking. Here we will list the main factors on the page that Google considers malicious and that affect the positioning:

141. Low-quality content

Pages of little or no value to the user (link farms, content copied from other sites or automatically generated, for example) began to fall in the results since 2011, with the Panda update.

142. Hidden content

Hiding links and keywords on the page is an old spam practice. This can be done by using white text on a white background or by reducing the font size to zero, for example.

143. Malicious content

Using content or software that behaves unexpectedly by the user is a violation of Google’s guidelines. Including unwanted files in a download or installing malware are some examples.

144. Links to disreputable sites

The reliability level of the site drops when its pages are linked to disreputable sites.

145. Cloaking

It refers to the practice of creating a website that shows content for robots and another for the user. This is black hat and demotes or even removes the site from the listing.

146. Malicious redirects

It is the practice of redirecting the user to a different page than the one that Google crawls and displays in the SERP. is also penalized.

147. Keyword Stuffing

This was a very common spam practice: stuffing the site with keywords to manipulate the algorithm. However, because Google doesn’t exactly value keyword match anymore , this practice has lost its meaning.

148. Keywords stuffing in meta tags

The excess of keywords can also occur in the meta keywords, in the meta description, in the title tag, among others. Please do not do this as Google understands this as spam.

149. Full-page popups

In 2016, Google released an update on mobile search that began to punish sites that use full-page Popups and therefore make it difficult for users to access the main content.

150. Excessive ads in the upper half of the page

Since 2012 , having a large number of ads “on the top half of the page” (i.e. before scrolling) is seen by Google as a sign of spam or low-quality content, as it makes it difficult to access the main content.

151. Doorway pages

Entry pages are several similar pages in the SERPs that redirect to the same destination, usually with no content of value to the user.

152. Parked domains (parked domains)

They are pages that only inform that the domain is registered, without any content other than advertisements. Google does not show pages from parked domains in the SERP.

153. Affiliate Programs

Participating in affiliate programs is not a problem. The mistake is using too many affiliate links, without any original content or user value. Google suspects spam and may demote the page.

154. Hidden affiliate links

Sites with lots of disguised affiliate links, mostly through cloaking, are also penalized by Google.

155. Automated content

Posting meaningless content, generated by automation, is an aggressive spam technique, easily identified by the algorithm.

156. Too many nofollow links

Nofollow links can be used to “sculpt” the PageRank of a page by controlling which links should convey authority.

There are discussions about how Google views this practice. But one problem is certain: excessive use of PageRank sculpting may seem like a way to manipulate the algorithm.

157. IP address marked as spam

When multiple IP addresses on a server are flagged as spam, it can affect the rankings of other sites hosted there. However, if it’s just one or the other, Google understands that it’s normal. Matt Cutts explains in this video:

158. User generated spam

You may not post spam. But if you allow users to spam your page (in blog or forum comments, for example), your site could be penalized.


Spam off page


Intentional or not, the black hat can also occur outside of your pages and damage their positioning. Now let’s take a look at the top off-page spam practices you should avoid:

159. Buying and selling backlinks

Google understands that backlinks must be natural. When this becomes a business, it hurts the user experience and violates search engine guidelines, which penalizes sites that adopt this practice.

160. Excessive exchange of backlinks

Google sees excessive backlink sharing as a scheme to manipulate the algorithm. It’s fine if it occurs naturally and creates value for the user, but it can be a problem if it’s on a large scale.

161. Temporary link schemes

Buying or trading link schemes can be temporary: links are created and removed quickly. But Google can also identify and penalize it.

162. Large-Scale Backlinks

Large-scale link building , with backlinks created solely to manipulate the algorithm (including guest post articles), is also a violation of Google’s guidelines. Remember that the backlink profile must be natural.

163. Sudden backlinks

A sudden increase in the number of backlinks is also clearly a sign of off-page spam.

164. Lots of low-quality backlinks

Receiving lots of backlinks from commonly used black hat sources (such as comment boxes, forums, and link directories) is also a sign of spam.

165. Lots of backlinks from unrelated sites

Sites that receive a lot of links from domains that are not related to their niche may lose ranking points.

166. Backlinks en widgets

Widgets are boxes of content spread across multiple websites. Since they are not controlled by the page editor, Google considers backlinks in widgets to be artificial and suffers a manual penalty. Ideally, use the nofollow tag on these links or simply remove them.

167. Many backlinks from the same IP

Receiving many backlinks from the same server IP is a signal to Google that your links are coming from a Private Blog Network (PBN).

168. Too much optimized anchor text

Google can understand excessive use of anchor text with exact keyword matching in backlinks as a sign of off-page spam.

169. Backlinks from press releases

Over-optimizing anchor texts in articles and press releases can also be seen by Google as artificial link building.

170. Hacked website

When a website is hacked, Google adds a notification to the SERP and if the owner does nothing to recover it, it removes its pages from ranking for safety.

171. Rejection of dubious backlinks

Google has a tool to reject malicious backlinks and thus maintain your reputation and position in the SERPs.

172. Request for reconsideration

After being penalized, a website can correct its errors, make a request for reconsideration, and if Google agrees, resume its ranking.


Refuted or outdated factors


In Brian Dean’s list of 200 ranking factors, which inspired this article, we found some factors that are already outdated or have been refuted by Google studies and statements.

Below we have listed what they are and why you no longer need to consider them in your strategy.

However, remember that SEO is dynamic and Google is always updating. Therefore, there is no guarantee that these criteria will not be considered again or that other factors that we mentioned above will enter the obsolete list. You should always be vigilant!

173. Keyword in the TLD

In addition to traditional TLDs (eg .com, .net, .org, .gov), today you can use more creative domain endings (eg .guru, .cafe, .ninja).

However, Google has already made it clear that it treats all TLDs equally and ignores the presence of keywords in that domain element.

174. Domain registration duration

Administrators often pay for legitimate domains several years in advance, while malicious domains rarely last more than a year.

Although some professionals believe that this is a ranking factor, Google has already stated that it is not .

175. Use of Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Some professionals believe that integrating Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your website helps you gain ranking points. But Google has already said that this is a myth.

176. Domain authority and page authority

Domain authority and page authority are not Google ranking factors. Domain Authority and Page Authority , in fact, are indicators that Moz has developed, with criteria very close to those of Google, to simulate the view of the search engine algorithm.

177. Priority of the page in the sitemap

In the sitemap.xml file you can define the priority level of the pages so that the robot perceives the hierarchy of your site. However, John Mueller has already clarified that Google ignores this attribute for ranking purposes.

178. WordPress Tags

Some people believe that Google evaluates WordPress tags to rank for them (the way meta keywords worked years ago). However, Google does not do this.

WordPress tags are only used for structuring content and internal linking.

179. Keyword Density

Keyword density is no longer a ranking factor, because it was enough to repeat a term multiple times to rank the page. Today, there are more sophisticated ways to assess the importance of terms within the content (see item 31).

180. Reading level

In 2010, Google launched an advanced search feature that allowed content to be filtered by reading level (basic, intermediate, and advanced).

However, there was no evidence that this was a ranking factor, nor was it known what the search engine criteria were for making this ranking. Either way, this feature has been discontinued.

181. Backlinks from .edu and .gov domains

Many people believe that .edu and .gov domains convey more authority through backlinks. However, Google has already said that it treats all TLDs the same.

Also, this myth is so strong that it is widely used for spam, leading Google to ignore many backlinks from these domains.

182. Frequency of website updates

The frequency of website updates alone is not a ranking factor, according to John Mueller. It’s not just because you publish 10 posts a week that your blog will get any ranking advantage, okay?

Google likes new content (see factor 45), but what matters most is the quality of what you post.

183. Duplicate meta descriptions

Duplicate content can be a problem in SEO, because Google can interpret it as plagiarism or manipulation. However, John Mueller clarified that meta description duplication is not a problem for ranking.

184. Pogo-sticking

Pogo-sticking occurs when you click on a result, but quickly return to the SERP and click on another link. Although it can be a negative sign about user engagement on the page, Google does not use it as a ranking factor.

185. Blocked sites

Google Chrome had an extension that allowed blocking unwanted SERP sites. Some studies showed that Google analyzed which portals were most blocked to lower them in the ranking. Whether it was true, we don’t know, but the fact is that this extension has been discontinued.

186. Backlinks with 301 redirects

Some professionals believed that the 301 redirect could help rankings, others that it hurt. Matt Cutts cleared that up in this video: Backlinks with 301 redirects are treated the same as any other backlink.

187. Preference for big brands

A Google update in 2009 led many people to believe that the search engine was prioritizing top brands in the SERPs. However, Matt Cutts clarified that the algorithm looks at factors like trust, authority, and quality, which may match pages from big brands, but not that this is a ranking factor.

We have reached the end of the list!

It’s worth noting that we don’t have a definitive list here. These factors may even be refuted in new studies. Also, Google is always improving so you should keep an eye out for updates.

Either way, these factors deserve your attention. They were analyzed by SEO professionals who analyze data to test and discover which criteria impact rankings.

Keep in mind that by optimizing these factors, you can meet the algorithm’s main criteria, but also satisfy your website visitors. Do not forget that this is the great objective of Google: to offer the best user experience.

So, did you enjoy this lengthy post? Are you more prepared to optimize your SEO strategy? We hope so!


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