SEO Tips

The Complete List of Google’s 200+ Ranking Factors

Google uses about 200 various ranking factors to rank a website. All those ranking factors are not equally important; you can concentrate on the most needed ones and increase your SEO boosting. Of course, the Google’s search algorithm changes and we can’t always rely on the previous ranking factors.

Read on to learn about the most noteworthy 200 ranking factors and its importance,

Domain Level Ranking Factors


  1.    Domain Age:

Google do check domain age, but it is not very important.

  1.    Keyword Appears in Top Level Domain:

Doesn’t give a boost but it will increase the relevancy of your website. Hence, it is somewhat important.

  1.    Keyword as First Word in Domain:

Domain with the target keyword at the start always has an added advantage over other websites. As a result, boosting SERp’s are possible.

  1.    Domain registration length:

According to Google “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”.

  1.    Keyword in Subdomain Name:

Most of the SEO researchers approve this that a keyword appearing in the subdomain can boost rankings:

Eg: (Due to this, WEB 2.0 can be used to benefit from this factor)

  1.    Domain History:

A website with several drops may tell Google to “reset” the website’s history, negating links pointing to the domain.

  1.    Exact Match Domain:

We can benefit from exact match domains based on the quality of the site. If it is of low quality, then its vulnerable based on the EMD update. Proof below!

Domain Level Ranking Factors (Moderate)


  1.    Public vs. Private WhoIs:

Private WhoIs information may be a sign of “something to hide”. Matt Cutts is quoted as stating at Pubcon 2006:

“…When I checked the whois on them, they all had “whois privacy protection service” on them. That’s relatively unusual.  …Having whois privacy turned on isn’t automatically bad, but once you get several of these ranking factors altogether, you’re often talking about a very different type of webmaster than the fellow who just has a single site or so.”

  1.    Penalized WhoIs Owner:

If Google caught someone as a spammer, the whole site of the owner is gonna penalize!

  1.    Country TLD (.ca, .in) extension:

It is good if your website concentrates on a particular country. Have advantage while ranking for a particular country but limits the site’s ability to rank globally.

Page-Level Ranking Factors


  1.    Keyword in Title Tag:

Adding this would send strong on-page SEO signal to Google and is consired as one of the needed ranking factors.

  1.    Title Tag Starts with Keyword:

According to the researchers, title tags that start with a keyword tend to perform better than title tags with the keyword towards the end of the tag:

  1.    Keyword in Description Tag:

Not especially important now, but still makes a difference.

  1.    Keyword Appears in H1 Tag:

H1 tags are considered as the “second title tag”, so it is relevant!

  1.    The keyword is Most Frequently Used Phrase in Document:

Keywords must be used appropriately and according to Google guidelines.

  1.    Content-Length:

SERPIQ found that content length correlated with SERP position:

  1.    Keyword Density:

Although not as important as it once was, keyword density is still something Google uses to determine the topic of a web page. But going over the guidelines can easily hurt you as well. So you need to do well on these ranking factors.

  1.    Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords in Content (LSI)

LSI keywords help search engines extract meaning from words with more than one meaning.

Eg: Apple (company/ fruit)

  1.    LSI Keywords in Title and Description Tags:

LSI keywords in page meta tags probably help Google discern between synonyms.

  1.    Page Loading Speed via HTML:

Both Google and Bing use page loading speed as ranking factors. Search engine spiders can estimate your site speed fairly accurately based on a page’s code and file size.

  1.    Duplicate Content:

Identical content on the same website will negatively influence a website’s search engine visibility.

  1.    Rel=Canonical:

Use of this tag may prevent Google from considering pages duplicate content.

Page Related


  1.    Page Loading Speed via Chrome:

Google may also use Chrome user data to get a better handle on a page’s loading time.

  1.    Image Optimization:

Images on pages send search engines important relevancy factors through their file name, alt text, title, description, and caption.

  1.    Recency of Content Updates:

Google Caffeine update sometimes favors recently updated content; this comes handy for time-sensitive searches especially.

  1.    The magnitude of Content Updates:

The significance of changes and edits are also a freshness factor. Removing or changing a section of content is considered as more relevant than changing or removing some words.

  1.    Historical Updates Page Updates:

The frequency of page updates (day, week, month) also plays a role in freshness.

  1.    Keyword Prominence:,

Having a keyword appear in the first 100 words or first paragraph of a page’s content appears to be one of the significant ranking factors.

  1.    Keyword in H2, H3 Tags:

Having your keyword appear as a subheading in H2 or H3 format may be another weak relevancy ranking factors.

  1.    Keyword Word Order:

An exact match of a user’s keyword in page content will mostly rank better than the same keyword phrase in a different order.

  1.    Outbound Link Quality:

Many SEOs think that linking out to authority sites helps send trust signals to Google.

  1.    Outbound Link Theme:

Defined with an example, if you have a page about food that links to education related pages, this may tell Google that your page is about the food education, not the food.

  1.    Grammar and Spelling:

Proper grammar and spelling are among quality ranking factors, although there are still lots of misconceptions.

Domain Related


  1.    Syndicated Content:

The content is needed to be original, not just false information.

  1.    Helpful Supplementary Content:

Adding supplementary contents is an added advantage for increasing page quality. Examples include currency converters, loan interest calculators, and interactive recipes.

  1.    A number of Outbound Links:

Too many do follow links may leak PageRank, which can hurt that page’s SERP rankings.

  1.    Multimedia:

Images, videos, and other multimedia elements may act as one of the most important contents quality ranking factors.

  1.    A number of Internal Links Pointing to Page:

The number of internal links to a page indicates its importance relative to other pages on the site.

  1.    The quality of Internal Links Pointing to Page:

Internal links from authoritative pages on the domain have a stronger effect than pages with no or low PR.

  1.    Broken Links:

Having too many broken links on a web page may be a sign of a neglected or abandoned site, or Google considers so.

  1.    Reading Level:

Google will estimate the reading level of web pages. Some say that a basic reading level will help you rank better because it will be reached to most of the peoples.

  1.    Affiliate Links:

Affiliate links themselves probably won’t hurt your rankings. But if you have too many, then Google will monitor on other parameters strictly.

  1.    HTML errors/W3C validation:

Lots of HTML errors or lengthy coding may be a sign of a poor quality site. Need to optimize that well.

  1.    Page Host’s Domain Authority:

All things being equal, a page on an authoritative domain will rank higher than a page on a domain with less authority. Simply logical!

Page Level (Moderate)


  1.    Page’s PageRank:

Not perfectly correlated. But in general higher PR pages tend to rank better than low PR pages. Again logical!

  1.    URL Length:

According to researchers, excessively long URLs may hurt search visibility.

  1.    URL Path:

A page along with the homepage or closer to it may get a slight authority boost.

  1.    Human Editors:

Google has filed a patent for a system that allows human editors to influence the SERPs. Not a confirmed thing!

  1.    Page Category:

The category the page appears on is considered as an effective ranking factor like others. There must be a relation between the page and the category.

  1.    WordPress Tags:

According to

“The only way it improves your SEO is by relating one piece of content to another, and more specifically a group of posts to each other”

Tags are WordPress-specific relevancy factor.

  1.    Keyword in URL:

This is a amoung the most important ranking factors.

  1.    URL String:

The categories in the URL string are read by Google and may provide a thematic signal to what a page is about:

  1.    References and Sources:

Citing references and sources, like research papers do, may be a sign of quality.

  1.    Bullets and Numbered Lists:

Bullets and numbered points help readers to identify matters easily, making them more users friendly. Google may prefer content with bullets and numbers, as it is user-friendly.

  1.    Priority of Page in Sitemap:

The priority of a page is given via the sitemap.XML file may influence ranking.

  1.    Too Many Outbound Links:

It will be a distraction to the main content.

  1.    The quantity of other Keywords WebPages’ Ranks for:

If the web pages rank for several other keywords it may give Google an internal sign of quality.

Page Level (User-Friendly)


  1.    Page Age:

Although Google prefers fresh content, an older page that’s regularly updated may do good than a newer page.

  1.    User-Friendly Layout:

The page layout on highest quality pages makes the Main Content immediately visible

  1.    Parked Domains:

A Google update in December of 2011 decreased search visibility of parked domains.

  1.    Useful Content:

Google may distinguish between “quality” and “useful” content.

  1.    Content Provides Value and Unique Insights:

Google has stated that they’re on the hunt for sites that don’t bring anything new or useful to the table, especially thin affiliate sites.

  1.    Contact Us Page:

Google prefers websites which have appropriate contact information.

  1.    Domain Trust/TrustRank:

This is a massively important ranking factor.

  1.    Site Architecture:

A well put-together site architecture helps Google thematically organize your content.

  1.    Site Updates:

How often a site is updated (freshness calculation) is frequently monitored by Google.

  1.    Number of Pages:

The number of pages a site has is a weak sign of authority.

  1.    The presence of Sitemap:

A sitemap helps search engines index your pages easier which improve visibility.

  1.    Site Uptime:

Lots of downtime from website maintenance or server issues may hurt your ranking and can even result in de-indexing if not corrected in time.

  1.    Server Location:

Server location may influence where your website ranks in different geographical regions. This comes handy for geo-specific searches.

  1.    SSL Certificate:

Google has confirmed that they index SSL certificates and that they use HTTPS as a ranking signal.

  1.    Terms of Service and Privacy Pages:

These two pages help tell Google that a website is a trustworthy and safe for users to browse.

  1.    Duplicate Meta Information On-Site:

Duplicate or multiple meta information on your website may bring down all of your page’s visibility.

Page Level (Design)


  1.    Breadcrumb Navigation:

A very common style of user-friendly site architecture that helps users and search engines know where they are on a website:

  1.    Mobile Optimized:

Add Mobile friendly tags to sites that display well on mobile devices. Google penalize websites in Mobile search that aren’t mobile friendly

  1.    YouTube:

As Youtube is a product of Google, YouTube videos are given preference in the SERPs.

  1.    Site Usability:

A site that’s difficult to use or to navigate can hurt ranking by reducing time on site, pages viewed and bounce rate.

  1.    Use of Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools:

Some think that having these two programs installed on your website can improve your page’s indexing. They may also directly influence ranking by giving Google more accurate like bounce rate, back links information and more.

  1.    User reviews/Site reputation:

If your website is on review sites like and, it plays an important role in the algorithm.

Backlink Ranking Factors


  1.    Linking Domain Age:

Backlinks from aged domains may be more powerful than new domains.

  1.    # of Linking Root Domains:

The number of referring domains is one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s algorithm.

  1.    # of Links from Separate C-Class IPs:

Links from separate class-c IP addresses suggest a wider breadth of sites linking to you.

  1.    # of Linking Pages:

The total number of linking pages (even if some are on the same domain) is a ranking factor. But most importantly you need to increase the referring domains than increasing backlinks.

  1.    Alt Tag (for Image Links):

Alt text is an image’s version of anchor text (keyword).

  1.    Links from .edu or .gov Domains:

You need to try to get maximum links from these sites.

  1.    Authority of Linking Page:

The page authority (PageRank) of the referring page is an extremely important ranking factor.

  1.    Authority of Linking Domain:

The referring domain’s authority may play an independent role in a link’s importance.

  1.    Links from Competitors:

Links from other pages ranking in the same SERP may be more valuable for a page’s rank for that particular keyword.

  1.    Social Shares of Referring Page:

The amount of page-level social shares may influence the link’s value.

  1.    Links from Bad Neighborhoods:

Links from “bad neighborhoods” may cause serious issues to your site.

  1.    Guest Posts:

Although guest posting can be part of a white hat SEO campaign, links coming from guest posts, especially in an author bio area may not be as valuable as a contextual (from article area) link on the same web page.

  1.    Links to Homepage Domain that Page Sits On:

Links to a referring page’s home page may play special importance in evaluating a website.

Backlinking Factors (Moderate)


  1.    Nofollow Links:

Google’s official word on the matter as: “In general, we don’t follow them.”

Having a certain % of no follow links may also indicate the naturality of your website.

  1.    The diversity of Link Types:

Having an unnaturally large percentage of your links come from a single source (ie. forum profiles, blog comments) may be a sign of web spam. On the other hand, links from diverse sources is a sign of a natural link profile.

  1.    “Sponsored Links” Or Other Words around Link:

Words like “sponsors”, “link partners” and “sponsored links” may decrease a link’s value.

  1.    Contextual Links:

Links embedded inside a page’s content are considered more powerful than links on an empty page or found elsewhere on the page.

  1.    Excessive 301 Redirects to Page:

Links coming from 301 redirects dilute some (or even all) page rank.

  1.    Backlink Anchor Text:

According to Google:

“First, anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves.”

  1.    Internal Link Anchor Text:

Internal link anchor text is another relevancy factor, although probably weighed differently than backlink anchor text.

  1.    Link Title Attribution:

The link title (the text that appears when you hover over a link) is also used as a weak relevancy factor.

  1.    Country TLD of Referring Domain:

Getting links from country-specific top-level domain extensions .ca, .in) may help you rank better in that particular country.

  1.    Link Location in Content:

Try to be specific by adding location tags while linking. Not possible on all occasions.

  1.    Link Location on Page:

Where a link appears on a page is important. Generally, links embedded in a webpage’s content are more powerful than links in the footer or sidebar area.

Backlinking Factors (User Level)


  1.    Linking Domain Relevancy:

A link from the website in a similar niche is significantly more powerful than a link from a completely unrelated site. That’s why any effective SEO strategy today focuses on obtaining relevant links.

  1.    Page Level Relevancy:

The “Hilltop Algorithm” state that links from a web page that’s closely tied to page’s content is more powerful than a link from an unrelated page.

  1.    Text around Link Sentiment:

Google has probably figured out whether or not a link to your website is a recommendation or part of a negative review. Links with positive sentiments around them likely carry more weight.

  1.    Keyword in Title:

Google gives extra love to links on pages that contain your page’s keyword in the title.

  1.    Positive Link Velocity:

A site with positive link velocity usually gets a SERP boost.

  1.    Negative Link Velocity:

Negative link velocity can significantly reduce rankings as it’s a signal of decreasing popularity.

  1.    Links from “Hub” Pages:

Getting links from pages that are considered top resources (or hubs) on a certain topic are given special treatment.

  1.    Link from Authority Sites:

A link from a website considered an “authority site” likely pass more juice than a link from a small, micro niche site.

  1.    Linked to as Wikipedia Source:

Although the links are no followed, many think that getting a link from Wikipedia gives you a little-added trust and authority in the eyes of search engines.

  1.    Co-Occurrences:

The words that tend to appear around your backlinks helps tell Google what that page is about.

  1.    Backlink Age:

According to a Google patent, older links have more ranking power than newly minted backlinks.

Backlinking Factors (Quality Level)


  1.    Links from Real Sites vs. Fake blogs:

Due to the proliferation of blog networks, Google probably gives more weight to links coming from real sites than from fake blogs. Google use brand and user-interaction signals to distinguish between the two.

  1.    Natural Link Profile:

A site with a natural link profile is going to rank highly and be more durable to updates.

  1.    Reciprocal Links:

Google’s Link Schemes page lists “Excessive link exchanging” as a link scheme to avoid.

  1.    User Generated Content Links:

Google is able to identify links generated from “user generated links vs. the actual site owner”. For example, they know that a link from the official blog at is very different than a link from “”.

  1.    Links from 301:

Links from 301 redirects may lose a little bit of juice compared to a direct link. However, Matt Cutts says that a 301 is similar to a direct link.

  1. Microformats:

Pages that support microformats may rank above pages without it. This may be a direct boost or the fact that pages with micro formatting have a higher SERP CTR:

  1.     DMOZ Listed:

Many believe that Google gives DMOZ listed sites a little extra trust.

  1.    TrustRank of Linking Site:

The trustworthiness of the website linking to you determines how much “TrustRank” gets passed onto you.

  1.    A number of Outbound Links on Page:

PageRank is finite. A link on a page with hundreds of outbound links passes less page rank than a page with only a few outbound links.

Backlinking Factors (Link Building)


  1.    Forum Profile Links:

Because of industrial-level spamming, Google may significantly devalue links from forum profiles.

  1.    Word Count of Linking Content:

A link from a 1000 word post is more valuable than a link inside of a 25-word snippet.

  1.    The quality of Linking Content:

Links from poorly written or spun content don’t pass as much value as links from well-written, multimedia-enhanced content.

  1.    Site-wide Links:

Matt Cutts has confirmed that site wide links are “compressed” to count as a single link.

User Interaction Ranking Factors


  1.    Organic Click Through Rate for a Keyword:

WebPages that get clicked more in CTR may get a search engine result page boost for that particular keyword.

  1.    Bounce Rate:

Not everyone in SEO agrees on bounce rate matters, but it may be a way of Google to use their users as quality testers. That means pages where people quickly bounce were probably not very good.

  1.    Direct Traffic:

It’s confirmed that Google uses data from Google Chrome to determine whether or not people visit a website. Websites with lots of direct traffic are likely higher quality than websites that get very little direct traffic.

  1.    Repeat Traffic:

Google also look at whether or not users go back to a page or site after visiting. Web sites with repeat visitors may get a Google ranking boost easily.

  1.    Blocked Sites:

Google has discontinued this feature in Chrome. However, Panda used this feature as a quality signal.

  1.    Chrome Bookmarks:

We know that Google collects Chrome browser usage data. Pages that get bookmarked in Chrome might get a boost.

  1.    Google Toolbar Data:

Same as that matters with all Google products.

  1.    Number of Comments:

Pages with lots of comments may be a signal of user-interaction and quality.

  1.    Dwell Time:

Google pays very close attention to “dwell time”: how long people spend on your page when coming from a Google search.

Special Algorithm Rules Ranking Factors


  1.    Query Deserves Freshness:

Google gives newer pages a boost for certain searches.

  1.    Query Deserves Diversity:

Google may add diversity to a SERP for ambiguous keywords, such as “Ted”, “WWF” or “ruby”.

  1.    User Browsing History:

Sites that you frequently visit while signed into Google get a SERP bump for your searches.

  1.    User Search History:

Search chain influence search results for later searches. For example, if you search for “reviews” then search for “toasters”, Google is more likely to show toaster review sites higher in the SERPs.

  1.    Geo Targeting:

Google gives preference to sites with a local server IP and country-specific domain name extension.

  1.    Safe Search:

Search results with curse words or adult content won’t appear for people with Safe Search turned on.

  1.    Google+ Circles:

Google shows higher results for authors and sites that you’ve added to your Google Plus Circles

  1.    DMCA Complaints:

Google “downranks” pages with DMCA complaints.

  1.    Domain Diversity:

The so-called “Bigfoot Update” supposedly added more domains to each SERP page.

  1.    Transactional Searches:

Google sometimes displays different results for shopping-related keywords, like flight searches.

  1.   Local Searches:

Google often places Google+ Local results above the “normal” organic SERPs.

  1.    Google News Box:

Certain keywords trigger a Google News box:

  1.    Big Brand Preference:

After the Vince Update, Google began giving big brands a boost for certain short-tail searches.

  1.    Shopping Results:

Google sometimes displays Google Shopping results in organic SERPs:

  1.    Image Results:

Google elbows our organic listings for image results for searches commonly used on Google Image Search.

  1.    Single Site Results for Brands:

Domain or brand-oriented keywords bring up several results from the same site.

Social Signals Ranking Factors


  1.    Number of Tweets:

Like links, the tweets a page has may influence its rank in Google.

  1.    Authority of Twitter Users Accounts:

It’s likely that Tweets coming from aged, authority Twitter profiles with a ton of followers (like Justin Bieber) have more of an effect than tweets from new, low-influence accounts.

  1.    A number of Facebook Likes:

Although Google can’t see most Facebook accounts, it’s likely they consider the number of Facebook likes a page receives as a weak ranking signal.

  1.    Facebook Shares:

Facebook shares — because they’re more similar to a backlink — may have a stronger influence than Facebook likes.

  1.    Authority of Facebook User Accounts:

As with Twitter, Facebook shares and likes coming from popular Facebook pages may pass more weight.

  1.    Pinterest Pins:

Pinterest is an insanely popular social media account with lots of public data. It’s probably that Google considers Pinterest Pins a social signal.

Social Factors (Moderate)


  1.    Votes on Social Sharing Sites:

It’s possible that Google uses shares at sites like Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Digg as another type of social signal.

  1.    A number of Google+1’s:

Although Matt Cutts went on the record as saying Google+ has “no direct effect” on rankings, it’s hard to believe that they’d ignore their own social network.

  1.    Authority of Google+ User Accounts:

It’s logical that Google would weigh +1’s coming from authoritative accounts more than from accounts without many followers.

  1.    Known Authorship:

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.”

Although the Google+ authorship program has been shut down, it’s likely Google uses some form of authorship to determine influential content producers online (and give them a boost in rankings).

  1.    Social Signal Relevancy:

Google probably uses relevancy information from the account sharing the content and the text surrounding the link.

  1.    Site Level Social Signals:

Site-wide social signals may increase a site’s overall authority, which will increase search visibility for all of its pages.

Brand Signals


  1.    Brand Name Anchor Text:

Branded anchor text is a simple — but strong — brand signal.

  1.    Branded Searches:

It’s simple: people search for brands. If people search for your site in Google (ie. “Backlinko twitter”, Backlinks + “ranking factors”), Google likely takes this into consideration when determining a brand.

  1.    Site Has Facebook Page and Likes:

Brands tend to have Facebook pages with lots of likes.

  1.    The site has Twitter Profile with Followers:

Twitter profiles with a lot of followers signal a popular brand.

  1.    Official Linkedin Company Page:

Most real businesses have company Linkedin pages.

  1.    Employees Listed at Linkedin:

Rand Fishkin thinks that having Linkedin profiles that say they work for your company is a brand signal.

  1.    The legitimacy of Social Media Accounts:

A social media account with 10,000 followers and 2 posts are probably interpreted a lot differently than another 10,000-follower strong account with lots of interaction.

  1.    Brand Mentions on News Sites:

Really big brands get mentioned on Google News sites all the time. In fact, some brands even have their own Google News feed on the first page:

  1.     A number of RSS Subscribers:

Considering that Google owns the popular Feedburner RSS service, it makes sense that they would look at RSS Subscriber data as a popularity/brand signal.

  1.    Brick and Mortar Location With Google+ Local Listing:

Real businesses have offices. It’s possible that Google fishes for location data to determine whether or not a site is a big brand.

  1.     The website is Tax Paying Business:

Moz reports that Google may look at whether or not a site is associated with a tax-paying business.

On-Site WebSpam Ranking Factors


  1.    Panda Penalty:

Sites with low-quality content (particularly content farms) are less visible in search after getting hit by a Panda penalty.

  1.    Links to Bad Neighborhoods:

Linking out to “bad neighborhoods” — like pharmacy or payday loan sites — may hurt your search visibility.

  1.    Redirects:

Sneaky redirect is a big no-no. If caught, it can get a site not just penalized, but de-indexed.

  1.     Popups or Distracting Ads:

The official Google Rater Guidelines Document says that pop-ups and distracting ads are a sign of a low-quality site.

  1.    Site Over-Optimization:

Includes on-page ranking factors like keyword stuffing, header tag stuffing, excessive keyword decoration.

  1.    Page Over-Optimization:

Many people report that — unlike Panda — Penguin targets individual page (and even then just for certain keywords).

  1.    Ads Above the Fold:

The “Page Layout Algorithm” penalizes sites with lots of ads (and not much content) above the fold.

  1.    Hiding Affiliate Links:

Going too far when trying to hide affiliate links can bring on a penalty.

  1.    Affiliate Sites:

It’s no secret that Google isn’t the biggest fan of affiliates. And many think that sites that monetize with affiliate links are put under extra scrutiny.

  1.    Auto-generated Content:

Google isn’t a big fan of autogenerated content therefore if they suspect that your site’s pumping out computer-generated content, it could result in a penalty or de-indexing.

  1.    Excess PageRank Sculpting:

Going too far with PageRank sculpting — by no following all outbound links or most internal links — may be a sign of gaming the system.

  1.    IP Address Flagged as Spam:

If your server’s IP address is flagged as spam, it may hurt all of the sites on that server.

  1.    Meta Tag Spamming:

Keyword stuffing can also happen in meta tags. If Google thinks you’re adding keywords to your meta tags as keyword stuffing, they may give your website with a penalty.

Off Page Webspam Ranking Factors


  1.     Unnatural Influx of Links:

A sudden (and unnatural) influx of links is a sure-fire sign of phony links.

  1.    Penguin Penalty:

Sites that were hit by Google Penguin are significantly less visible in search.

  1.    Link Profile with High % of Low-Quality Links:

Lots of links from sources commonly used by black hat SEOs (like blog comments and forum profiles) may be a sign of gaming the system.

  1.    Linking Domain Relevancy:

The famous analysis by found that sites with an unnaturally high amount of links from unrelated sites were more susceptible to Penguin.

  1.    Unnatural Links Warning:

Google sent out thousands of “Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links” messages. This usually precedes a ranking drop, although not 100% of the time. But you have to be taken care of these ranking factors while doing SEO.

  1.    Links from the Same Class C IP:

Getting an unnatural amount of links from sites on the same server IP may be a sign of blog network link building.

  1.    “Poison” Anchor Text:

Having “poison” anchor text (especially pharmacy keywords) pointed to your site may be a sign of spam or a hacked site. Either way, it can hurt your site’s ranking.

  1.    Manual Penalty:

Google has been known to hand out manual penalties, like in the well-publicized Interflora fiasco.

  1.    Selling Links:

Selling links can definitely impact toolbar PageRank and almost will hurt your search visibility.

Off Page Factors (Moderate)


  1.    Google Sandbox:

New sites that get a sudden influx of links consequently put in the Google Sandbox, which temporarily limits search visibility.

  1.    Google Dance:

The Google Dance can temporarily shake up rankings and can be considered as one of the needed ranking factors. According to a Google Patent, this may be a way for them to determine whether or not a site is trying to game the algorithm.

  1.    Disavow Tool:

Use of the Disavow Tool may remove a manual or algorithmic penalty for sites that were the victims of negative SEO.

  1.    Reconsideration Request:

Aa a result of a successful reconsideration request, can lift a penalty.

  1.    Temporary Link Schemes:

Google has (apparently) caught onto people that create — and quickly remove — spammy links. Also, know as a temporary link scheme. All these ranking factors are much needed while doing optimization.

Note that these ranking factors are not “proof” of what search engines use to rank websites, but simply show the characteristics of web pages that tend to rank higher. Combining this understanding with both experience and knowledge of search engine algorithms can help lead to better SEO practices.


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