A whole breakdown of all confirmed, rumored and false elements


Each article you could find on-line about Google rating elements will inform you there are a minimum of ~200 or so odd variables that contribute to how a web site will carry out within the SERPs. 

That being mentioned, there’s an infinite distinction between what may influence search engine marketing, what’s truly confirmed as a rating issue, and what’s merely an excellent precept to rank properly.

It would sound like semantics, however “finest practices” don’t simply routinely translate into confirmed rating elements in and of themselves. 

So let’s separate these confirmed information from fiction and all the opposite stuff you merely ought to be doing as an excellent marketer each day. 

On this article, we’ll analyze the entire recognized, confirmed, rumored, and absolute myth-level Google rating elements in an easy-to-read, extremely condensed method. 

Confirmed rating elements 

These are all of the rating elements which were confirmed as true. We all know they undoubtedly influence your leads to Google’s search engine to various levels.

Core Internet Vitals 

Your Core Web Vitals assess web page expertise alerts to judge how participating the person expertise is. They confirmed in 2021 that they are a rating sign, so be sure your web site has a “good” rating standing.  

Supply: Timing for Bringing Page Experience to Google Search

Anchor textual content  

Google has confirmed that they use concise anchor textual content (learn: “search engine marketing methods” because the anchor textual content and never “click on right here”) to higher perceive what’s in your pages, which may instantly result in them inserting your web page greater within the SERPs. 

This isn’t the strongest rating issue on the checklist (particularly after the Penguin replace), however it will probably nonetheless assist. 

Supply: Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Area historical past 

It’s possible you’ll be working an up-and-up, absolutely reliable enterprise now, however what if a sketchy enterprise was utilizing the area earlier than to rip-off prospects?

Area historical past does matter, and it’s a confirmed rating sign, although Google’s John Mueller has gone on to say that the problem will resolve itself over time. Nonetheless, we suggest enjoying it protected on this one.  

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout (Nov. 13, 2018)


Google’s E-A-T framework assesses experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – and whereas it isn’t a rating consider and of itself, lots of the elements that go into its calculation are rating elements. So we’re placing this one within the confirmed column, however with slightly “however solely form of” word. 

Supply: How Google Fights Disinformation 


Headings – together with H1s and H2s – can completely be a rating issue, as they assist Google perceive the content material on the web page. They aren’t the one rating issue, however they matter, so have them clearly written and keyword-friendly.  

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours (Aug. 7, 2020)


Safe search, or HTTPS – in comparison with HTTP – is a recognized and confirmed rating issue. It additionally is a vital a part of a protected person expertise, so be sure to get on this one quick in case you haven’t already. 

Supply: HTTPS as a Ranking Signal 

Content material 

It’s abundantly clear that content material is used as a search rating sign, and the standard of the content material, together with how instantly it solutions a query, may be very important to efficiency within the SERPs. The content material by itself (and never simply headings) is assessed by Google.

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours (Aug. 7, 2020)

Hyperlinks coming to your web site from different websites have lengthy been a common search engine marketing finest observe. That’s as a result of PageRank established backlinks as “votes” from the very starting, providing a brand new method to analyze high quality that was initially modeled after citations to tutorial papers.

Supply: Ranking Results – How Google Search Works

Key phrase prominence 

Key phrase density isn’t a rating issue (we’ll get to that later), however key phrase prominence is. That is the situation of the key phrase, and the nearer to the title or starting of the textual content, the extra distinguished it’s.  

Supply: English Google SEO office-hours (June 18, 2021)

Key phrase stuffing

Key phrase stuffing – which includes over-stuffing your content material with key phrases in an try and get it to rank properly – is a detrimental rating issue, as confirmed by Google. Doing this may damage you, so keep away from it. 

Supply: Spam Policies for Google’s Web Search

Should you’ve paid for backlinks and also you get caught (which is admittedly very tough) it’s a detrimental rating issue. It’s finest to avoid this. 

Supply: Spam Policies for Google Web Search


Cellular-friendliness is confirmed as a rating issue, and it’s been strengthening as a rating sign for years. It’s significantly essential for cell search outcomes, which have eclipsed desktop searches for at least seven years now. So right here’s the place cell responsive finest practices and confirmed rating alerts overlap properly.

Supply: Continuing to Make the Web More Mobile Friendly

Web page velocity 

We all know that web page loading velocity is a confirmed issue for Google’s SERPs (and has been since 2010) – and it’s an essential one. It additionally instantly impacts the person expertise, so ensure that your web site loading instances are as fast as doable. 

Supply: Speed is Now a Landing Page Factor for Google Search and Ads

Bodily proximity to the searcher

Google completely takes the bodily closeness of the searcher into consideration when figuring out what outcomes to point out them, particularly in native search. Whilst you can’t change the situation of your online business, ensure that all your enterprise info (together with location citations) are up-to-date and correct. 

Supply: How to Improve Your Local Ranking on Google


RankBrain is an AI system launched in 2015 (and considerably up to date in 2016) to combine AI into search queries for improved outcomes, which is especially useful for ambiguous queries or long-tail key phrases. It’s a confirmed rating issue, however there’s no clear or distinct method to deliberately optimize for it. 

Supply: Google Q&A

Relevance, distance and prominence 

Confirmed by Google as rating elements, these three alerts decide the recognition and geographical closeness of a enterprise together with how related it’s to the particular search. They’re every very important for native search outcomes, so take that into consideration when optimizing your native enterprise web page and keep in mind to generate critiques. 

Supply: How to Improve Your Local Ranking on Google

Title tags  

There’s loads of proof that optimizing title tags can have a correlative improve with rating, although we all know they’re not almost as vital of a rating issue as the remainder of the content material itself. It’s a small element in an even bigger image, however additionally they say that Google seems to be for key phrase stuffing right here as a detrimental issue. 

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout (Jan. 15, 2016)


URLs are a minimal search rating issue, which implies that key phrases in a URL are assessed when Google is crawling your web site. Mueller has repeatedly confused that this isn’t a rating issue value spending plenty of time on. 

Supply: @JohnMu on Twitter

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Unconfirmed however suspected rating elements 

Google hasn’t confirmed each single rating issue on the market, however that doesn’t imply that these components beneath don’t have some kind of influence on the rating algorithms. That is the unconfirmed however suspected-by-expert rating elements that may influence your search engine marketing. 

Alt textual content 

Having alt textual content to your photographs is certainly thought-about an search engine marketing finest observe, having alt textual content in and of itself is just not a confirmed rating issue. That being mentioned, utilizing it accurately and with key phrases will help your search engine marketing technique by giving Google extra context about what you have got on the web page. 

Supply: Google Image SEO Best Practices 


Breadcrumbs assist Google to evaluate the hierarchy of how your pages are organized. Proper now, we all know it will probably assist Google categorize pages, and that Google treats breadcrumbs as regular hyperlinks in PageRank. We predict they’ll have an effect on rating, even when they aren’t confirmed as a direct rating issue. 

Supply: @methode on Twitter

Click on depth 

Click on depth, or the variety of clicks it takes to get from your own home web page to the vacation spot web page, could be very more likely to be a rating issue based mostly on remarks from Mueller. However not a major one. Take into consideration how simple it’s for customers to get to the top web page. 

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout (June 1, 2018)

Native citations 

Location citations that point out your key enterprise info like identify, tackle, and telephone quantity, and whereas having these seem on-line aren’t formally confirmed as a rating issue, it’s shut. Google has famous that native outcomes favor essentially the most related outcomes and that companies with full info will probably be prioritized. 

Supply: Improve your local ranking on Google


Co-citation and co-occurrence assist Google assess how carefully two unrelated websites or pages could also be associated and should give them clues as to how the pages are associated and in what context. A couple of high-quality, trusted hyperlinks to your web site will help Google put collectively a number of the puzzle items, however nonetheless, that is unlikely to be a major rating issue. 

Supply: Google patent on related entities and what it means for SEO


It solely is smart that somebody looking for footwear in Mandarin is lower than more likely to come throughout a web site written in Spanish. To achieve customers in numerous areas, you’ll wish to create content material within the languages they communicate.  

Supply: Ranking Results – How Google Search Works 

These are hyperlinks to your individual content material in your web site, however they want sturdy use of anchor textual content. On the very least, they undoubtedly don’t damage. That being mentioned, they’re unlikely to be a robust rating issue in comparison with others like web site loading speeds. 

Supply: Learn About What Sitelinks Are


Schema markup is extremely worthwhile on the subject of driving clicks, and it additionally gives microdata that Google is ready to perceive simply. 

It isn’t confirmed as a recognized rating issue however we all know it will probably aid you rank for queries you might not have in any other case. So it might assist as a rating sign, however the worst-case state of affairs is it simply helps your general search engine marketing. 

Supply: Understanding How Structured Markup Data Works 

The person’s personal search historical past 

Every person is totally different, and Google is aware of that. The algorithm do take the previous search historical past into consideration when delivering search outcomes as finest as doable.

This, nevertheless, is just not one thing that you may affect in any respect, and the influence is never vital (apart from distinguished regionally customized SERPs or regularly visited pages).

Supply: @searchliaison on Twitter

Rumored however unlikely rating elements 

These are rating elements which have lengthy been speculated about, and whereas they haven’t been outrightly denied up to now, we’ve an excellent cause for pondering they’re unlikely to be official alerts. 

301 redirects 

Whereas former Googler Matt Cutts mentioned in 2012 that Google would observe an infinite variety of redirects from one web page to a different, there could also be a slight PageRank misplaced within the course of. 

Nevertheless, not a lot has been formally mentioned, and, possible, they’re not a web page rating issue. In any case, you continue to wish to handle redirects and linking carefully to keep away from points in potential redirect chains. That is typically extra of a finest observe for web site efficiency.

Supply: When migrating from HTTP to HTTPS Google says to use 301 redirects 

Canonical hyperlinks do have a reference to search rankings, however we all know that even after they’re used accurately, Google may ignore it and choose their very own canonical URL to point out within the search outcomes as an alternative. Suppose Captain Barbosa’s well-known quote from Pirates of the Caribbean right here, “The code is extra what you’d name tips than precise guidelines.” 

Supply: Google selects canonical URLs based on your site and user preference

Outbound hyperlinks are method too simple for individuals to recreation to be a rating issue, however you will need to word that the anchor textual content and the hyperlinks you select will help Google higher perceive your content material so it will probably herald worth not directly.

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout (Jan. 26, 2016)

Disproven rating elements  

Whereas some rumored rating elements are hanging in limbo, some have been disproven. Let’s have a look at what you don’t have to fret about, a minimum of so far as search engine marketing is worried. 

Price mentioning – there’s loads that isn’t on this checklist, however we needed to cowl the large ones. 

Bounce fee

We’re itemizing this one first as a result of it’s a typical false impression that bounce fee impacts rating. Google has repeatedly confirmed that bounce charges will not be a rating sign. 

Supply: @methode on Twitter

404 and smooth 404 pages 

Google itself has confirmed 404 pages don’t influence how your different URLs rank, simply dispelling that rating issue fable. Damaged hyperlinks and pages, nevertheless, can present a poor person expertise (so they need to be discovered and up to date when doable).

Supply: 404 (Page Not Found) errors

Google Show Advertisements 

This one has a little bit of an asterisk. 

Having advertisements from Show Advertisements in your web page can decrease web site loading speeds, particularly when you have a lot of them. So the priority was that these advertisements may damage your rating. And so they don’t instantly damage your rating simply by showing in your web page.  

They gained’t instantly influence your search engine marketing rating, although you’ll want to just remember to aren’t overloading your pages with so many advertisements that efficiency (together with web site loading velocity) isn’t impacted, since you don’t get a go in the event that they do. 

And for that matter, utilizing Google Advertisements, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics gained’t routinely influence your rating, both. 

Supply: The Top Heavy Update: Pages with too many ads above the fold now penalized by Google’s “Page Layout” algorithm 


This one is easy: AMP is just not a rating issue, and we all know that as a result of Google has confirmed it a number of instances, since 2016 a minimum of. 

Supply: This Week in Google Podcast 341


Whereas Higher Enterprise Bureau (BBB) critiques can influence client shopping for choices, there is no such thing as a proof at this time limit that it will probably influence your search engine marketing rankings, and considered one of Google’s workforce members confirmed it. 

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout (Nov. 13, 2018)

Click on-through fee 

Your click-through fee (CTR) has lengthy been rumored to be a rating issue, however it’s confirmed this isn’t the case – particularly since Google knew that folks have been attempting to recreation this years in the past. So certain, it’s nice to your web site to have a better CTR, however don’t anticipate it to assist your rankings.

Supply: CTR in the Google Algo: Google’s Gary Illyes and Stone Temple’s Eric Enge Discuss 

Code to textual content sign 

This one is just not a direct rating issue, however it will probably nonetheless influence the efficiency of the web page, together with rating elements like loading speeds, together with person expertise. So not essential for rating, however nonetheless good to maintain in verify. 

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout (Mar. 27, 2018)

Meta descriptions

We all know that having a robust meta description is a superb search engine marketing finest observe to drive a better CTR to your web site, however Google hasn’t used it as a rating sign since someday between 1999 and the early 2000s. 

Supply: @JohnMu on Twitter

Guide motion 

Guide actions are people who manually modify an internet site’s visibility in search outcomes by demoting or eradicating a web site or particular pages from Google Search. These are performed by Google – they usually’re a penalty, not a rating issue. 

Supply: Manual Actions Report

Content material size

search engine marketing writers will swear up and down that you just want a minimum of 1,000 phrases or 2,000 phrases or no matter that magic quantity is so as to be ranked by Google. That’s not true. 

Google doesn’t have a look at content material size as a rating issue, however you need to have sufficient high quality content material to be aggressive on any given key phrase to rank properly. 

Supply: johnmu on /r/bigseo

Area age 

The age of your area can assist with web site authority general (see beneath), however Google has confirmed that it isn’t presently a rating issue.  

Supply: @JohnMu on Twitter

Area authority 

Google has repeatedly confirmed that area authority is just not a rating issue, as any “web site authority” rating is created by a third-party software.

Websites with greater area authorities might correlate with improved search engine marketing as a result of a number of the calculations could also be shut, however they’re correlative and nothing extra. Actually, this one is frequent sense. 

Supply: johnmu on r/SEO/ 

Area identify

Your area identify is essential (“www.coolshoes.com” can completely drive clicks), however it isn’t a rating issue and hasn’t been for some time. 

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours (Sept. 11, 2020)

Google doesn’t care which hyperlink comes first. This isn’t the magic hack some individuals insist that it’s. They care concerning the high quality of the hyperlinks. And keep in mind, anchor textual content issues greater than the place the hyperlink is positioned. 

Supply: English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout (Feb. 20, 2018)

Recency of content material 

Is Google routinely prioritizing a brand-new article over one written final yr? No. 

That being mentioned, the thoroughness and high quality of the article matter. If it’s essential to refresh to remain aggressive, that may assist your rating. 

Supply: @JohnMu on Twitter

Suppose that having a .gov or .edu on the finish of your area will make a distinction? Perhaps to customers, however sadly to not Google. Not a rating issue. 

Supply: @JohnMu on Twitter

Key phrase density 

This may occasionally have influenced rating at one time, and although it’s a common finest observe, it isn’t a rating issue. And keep in mind: key phrase stuffing doesn’t do you any favor. 

Supply: What is The Ideal Keyword Density of a Page?

‘We don’t know’ if these are reliable rating elements (or not)

On the lookout for a possible rating issue that we haven’t mentioned up to now? There are a number of which can be nonetheless presently up within the air, with proof that they might be a rating issue however nothing to substantiate that they really are.  

Authorship of your content material 

Does a particular writer’s byline influence how Google will rank your web page? Truthfully, we’re undecided, however it definitely doesn’t damage to make use of dependable authors who your viewers will belief. 

Google has really useful including writer info into article schema and we suspect that authorship experience does play a component in E-A-T. However once more, it’s inconclusive presently. (Notice that we’re talking about “authorship” extra broadly right here than referring particularly to Google’s old Authorship.)

Supply: 14 ways Google may evaluate E-A-T 

HTML lists

Orders or unordered HTML lists might be a rating issue, however we actually don’t know. Whether it is, it’s not a very sturdy sign, however it will probably assist with search engine marketing, particularly if it will probably aid you snag a featured snippet spot.  

Supply: How to get Google featured snippets: 9 optimization guidelines 


The Multitask Unified Mannequin (MUM) was rolled out in 2021 to assist the algorithms higher perceive language so Google can extra successfully reply complicated search queries. It’s not a recognized rating issue proper now, however it might be sooner or later, particularly since Google has mentioned the way it’s improved some search leads to early assessments.  

Supply: Using AI to Keep Google Search Safe

Textual content formatting 

Utilizing HTML components to format textual content will help each readers and Google’s crawling instruments shortly discover essential components of your content material. There’s proof that bolded or italicized wording, for instance, might obtain further weight in significance. Since it will probably aid you inform Google what you need it to note on the web page, it might influence rating, however the jury continues to be out right here. 

Supply@JohnMu on Twitter


There you have got it – an expansive checklist of all of the recognized, confirmed and refuted Google rating elements, together with every little thing in between to maintain us guessing.

And that’s simply the purpose. This checklist will change sooner or later. That’s most likely the one factor we will assure on the finish of the day.

As a result of whereas the search engine marketing rumor mill has speculated on what precisely Google’s “200 rating elements” for almost 20 years, the reality might be loads murkier than that.

As Google continues to make use of AI, machine studying, and different superior applied sciences to slice and cube information, the true “rating elements” that may transfer the needle for entrepreneurs tomorrow aren’t more likely to be the identical outdated static ones we used to depend on yesterday.

Opinions expressed on this article are these of the visitor writer and never essentially Search Engine Land. Workers authors are listed here.

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Brad Smith

Brad Smith owns three content material advertising corporations, and has been featured in publications like The New York Occasions, Forbes, Enterprise Insider, and The Subsequent Internet. Every week, he shares first-hand experience and growth strategies behind a number of the net’s quickest rising manufacturers.

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