By Kelly Grainger, CreoLogic Design Inc.
12. Title Tag Starts with Keyword: According to Moz , title tags that starts with a keyword tend to perform better than title tags with the keyword towards the end of the tag.
13. Keyword in Description Tag: Google doesn’t use the meta description tag as a direct ranking signal. However, your description tag can impact click-through-rate, which is a key ranking factor.
14. Keyword Appears in H1 Tag: H1 tags are a “second title tag”. Along with your title tag, Google uses your H1 tag as a secondary relevancy signal, according to results from one correlation study:
15. TF-IDF: A fancy way of saying: “How often does a certain word appear in a document?”. The more often that word appears on a page, the more likely it is that the page is about that word. Google likely uses a sophisticated version of TF-IDF.
16. Content Length: Content with more words can cover a wider breadth and are likely preferable in the algorithm compared to shorter, superficial articles. Indeed, one recent ranking factors industry study found that content length correlated with SERP position.
17. Table of Contents: Using a linked table of contents can help Google better understand your page’s content. It can also result in sitelinks:
18. Keyword Density: Although not as important as it once was, Google may use it to determine the topic of a webpage. But going overboard can hurt you.
19. Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords in Content (LSI): LSI keywords help search engines extract meaning from words that have more than one meaning (for example: Apple the computer company vs. Apple the fruit). The presence/absence of LSI probably also acts as a content quality signal.
20. LSI Keywords in Title and Description Tags: As with webpage content, LSI keywords in page meta tags probably help Google discern between words with multiple potential meanings. May also act as a relevancy signal.
21. Page Covers Topic In-Depth: There’s a known correlation between depth of topic coverage and Google rankings. Therefore, pages that cover every angle likely have an edge vs. pages that only cover a topic partially.
23. Page Loading Speed via Chrome: Google also uses Chrome user data to get a better handle on a page’s loading time. That way, they can measure how quickly a page actually loads to users.
25. Entity Match: Does a page’s content match the “entity” that a user is searching for? If so, that page may get a rankings boost for that keyword.
26. Google Hummingbird: This “algorithm change” helped Google go beyond keywords. Thanks to Hummingbird, Google can now better understand the topic of a webpage.
27. Duplicate Content: Identical content on the same site (even slightly modified) can negatively influence a site’s search engine visibility.
29. Image Optimization: Images send search engines important relevancy signals through their file name, alt text, title, description and caption.
30. Content Recency: Google Caffeine update favors recently published or updated content, especially for time-sensitive searches. Highlighting this factor’s importance, Google shows the date of a page’s last update for certain pages:
31. Magnitude of Content Updates: The significance of edits and changes also serves as a freshness factor. Adding or removing entire sections is more significant than switching around the order of a few words or fixing a typo.
32. Historical Page Updates: How often has the page been updated over time? Daily, weekly, every 5 years? Frequency of page updates also play a role in freshness.
33. Keyword Prominence: Having a keyword appear in the first 100 words of a page’s content is correlated to first page Google rankings.
34. Keyword in H2, H3 Tags: Having your keyword appear as a subheading in H2 or H3 format may be another weak relevancy signal. In fact, Googler John Mueller states:
“These heading tags in HTML help us to understand the structure of the page.”
35. Outbound Link Quality: Many SEOs think that linking out to authority sites helps send trust signals to Google. And this is backed up by a recent industry study.
36. Outbound Link Theme: According to The Hillop Algorithm, Google may use the content of the pages you link to as a relevancy signal. For example, if you have a page about cars that links to movie-related pages, this may tell Google that your page is about the movie Cars, not the automobile.
37. Grammar and Spelling: Proper grammar and spelling is a quality signal, although Cutts gave mixed messages a few years back on whether or not this was important.
38. Syndicated Content: Is the content on the page original? If it’s scraped or copied from an indexed page it won’t rank as well… or may not get indexed at all.
39. Mobile-Friendly Update: Often referred to as “Mobilegeddon“, this update rewarded pages that were properly optimized for mobile devices.
40. Mobile Usability: Websites that mobile users can easily use may have an edge in Google’s “Mobile-first Index”.
41. “Hidden” Content on Mobile: Hidden content on mobile devices may not get indexed (or may not be weighed as heavily) vs. fully visible content. However, a Googler recently stated that hidden content is OK. But also said that in the same video, “…if it’s critical content it should be visible…”.
42. Helpful “Supplementary Content”: According to a now-public Google Rater Guidelines Document, helpful supplementary content is an indicator of a page’s quality (and therefore, Google ranking). Examples include currency converters, loan interest calculators and interactive recipes.
43. Content Hidden Behind Tabs: Do users need to click on a tab to reveal some of the content on your page? If so, Google has said that this content “may not be indexed”.
44. Number of Outbound Links: Too many dofollow OBLs can “leak” PageRank, which can hurt that page’s rankings.
45. Multimedia: Images, videos and other multimedia elements may act as a content quality signal. For example, one industry study found a correlation between multimedia and rankings:
46. 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 (more internal links=more important).
47. Quality of Internal Links Pointing to Page: Internal links from authoritative pages on domain have a stronger effect than pages with no or low PageRank.
48. Broken Links: Having too many broken links on a page may be a sign of a neglected or abandoned site. The Google Rater Guidelines Document uses broken links as one was to assess a homepage’s quality.
49. Reading Level: There’s no doubt that Google estimates the reading level of webpages. In fact, Google used to give you reading level stats:
But what they do with that information is up for debate. Some say that a basic reading level will help you rank better because it will appeal to the masses. But others associate a basic reading level with content mills like Ezine Articles.
50. Affiliate Links: Affiliate links themselves probably won’t hurt your rankings. But if you have too many, Google’s algorithm may pay closer attention to other quality signals to make sure you’re not a “thin affiliate site“.
51. HTML errors/W3C validation: Lots of HTML errors or sloppy coding may be a sign of a poor quality site. While controversial, many in SEO think that a well-coded page is used as a quality signal.
52. Domain Authority: All things being equal, a page on an authoritative domain will rank higher than a page on a domain with less authority.
53. Page’s PageRank: Not perfectly correlated. But pages with lots of authority tend to outrank pages without much link authority.
54. URL Length: Excessively long URLs may hurt a page’s search engine visibility. In fact, several industry studies have found that short URLs tend to have a slight edge in Google’s search results.
55. URL Path: A page closer to the homepage may get a slight authority boost vs. pages buried deep down in a site’s architecture.
56. Human Editors: Although never confirmed, Google has filed a patent for a system that allows human editors to influence the SERPs.
57. Page Category: The category the page appears on is a relevancy signal. A page that’s part of a closely related category may get a relevancy boost compared to a page that’s filed under an unrelated category.
58. WordPress Tags: Tags are WordPress-specific relevancy signal. According to Yoast.com:
“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.”
59. Keyword in URL: Another relevancy signal. A Google rep recently called this a “a very small ranking factor“. But a ranking factor nontheless.
60. URL String: The categories in the URL string are read by Google and may provide a thematic signal to what a page is about:
61. References and Sources: Citing references and sources, like research papers do, may be a sign of quality. The Google Quality Guidelines states that reviewers should keep an eye out for sources when looking at certain pages: “This is a topic where expertise and/or authoritative sources are important…”. However, Google has denied that they use external links as a ranking signal.
62. Bullets and Numbered Lists: Bullets and numbered lists help break up your content for readers, making them more user friendly. Google likely agrees and may prefer content with bullets and numbers.
64. Too Many Outbound Links: Straight from the aforementioned Quality rater document:
“Some pages have way, way too many links, obscuring the page and distracting from the Main Content.”
65. Quantity of Other Keywords Page Ranks For: If the page ranks for several other keywords, it may give Google an internal sign of quality.
66. Page Age: Although Google prefers fresh content, an older page that’s regularly updated may outperform a newer page.
67. User Friendly Layout: Citing the Google Quality Guidelines Document yet again:
“The page layout on highest quality pages makes the Main Content immediately visible.”
68. Parked Domains: A Google update in December of 2011 decreased search visibility of parked domains.
69. Useful Content: As pointed out by Backlinko reader Jared Carrizales, Google may distinguish between “quality” and “useful” content.