All 200 Google SEO ranking factors

This interactive infographic shows the 200 things you need to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in 2017, sorted in order of priority.  Learn how to use the website ranking infographic. Click one of the links below to filter by a specific category.

Google Panda Algorithm

Google Panda Algorithm

Google Panda rewards sites with high quality content and penalises 'thin' sites that have very little, poor quality, or automated content. Overall the message is, write high quality content for your site and write enough for your visitors' needs.

Category: 
  • Algorithm
Priority: 
  • Essential

Google RankBrain

Google RankBrain

Greg Corrado in Google's A.I. team said that in the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third most important signal contributing to the result of a search query (after content and links in joint first place). It uses artificial intelligence to help refine the search results and put the best result first. This means a significant part of Google's overall algorithm is intangible and fluctuating and makes it even more important that you focus on creating content that is likely to impress your visitors, rather than trying to artificially manipulate the search results.

Category: 
  • Algorithm
Priority: 
  • Essential

User friendly layout

user friendly design

Visitors should be able to easily identify where the information they need is, how to buy a product for e-commerce sites, how to contact the company, etc. This helps improve your conversion rate, time users will spend on your site and your SEO.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Essential

Attractive website design

Attractive website design

Google's latest Artificial Intelligence system can tell where in the world almost any photo was taken, so it's likely they have an algorithm that can guess how attractive a website is. More importantly, your visitors certainly can!

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Essential

Description Metatag

Description metatags

The Description Metatag appears in the search results and it's essential that it's well-written as this will improve the Click Through Rate (CTR). It also helps if it contains relevant keywords, particularly near the start of it.

 

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Essential

Title Metatag

title metatags

In terms of what you can easily change on a web page, the Title Metatag is perhaps the single most important organic SEO factor. This is because it appears in bold in search results, so if it's well-written helps Click Through Rate, and including a keyword, preferably at the start of it helps SEO.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Essential

Keyword Density

Keywords metatag

Including a healthy number of keywords in the content of a page is important for SEO, however normally a 'healthy number' is a wide range. What's important is that you include the relevant keywords but don't do keyword stuffing and repeat them endlessly.

Category: 
  • Keywords
Priority: 
  • Essential

Functionality

onpage functionality

For your website to be effective it must function correctly. If you do an SEO analysis it's therefore worth checking that contact forms, search forms, ecommerce, etc. all work.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Essential

CMS Choice

CMS Choice

CMS systems like Drupal and Wordpress have great SEO built in by default and have many options that let you create SEO optimized websites. With many CMS systems it is literally impossible to fully optimize your site (e.g. URLs are a string of random characters, the Meta Title has to be identical to the h1 title, text is converted to images, etc.). Choose your CMS carefully.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Essential

Google Penguin Algorithm

Google Penguin Algorithm

Google's Penguin algorithm updates penalise sites that use keyword stuffing (repeating the same keyword too often) either on-page or in the anchor text of links. Avoid using keywords excessively in your content.

Category: 
  • Algorithm
Priority: 
  • High

Responsive design

responsive design

Having a responsive design means that your site will adapt to any size browser and look good whether visitors are on a mobile device, tablet or desktop computer. Google also gives responsive websites a boost if visitors are on mobiles.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • High

Attractive images

Attractive images

Google values original, attractive images that enhance the rest of the content on the site, as will your visitors; whether it's a relevant photo, an illustration or an infographic. Pages with at least one image, or other rich media appear significantly higher and are also more likely to be shared and linked to.

 

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • High

Contrast between text and background

Visitors need to be able to easily read text and it's therefore important that there's sufficient contrast between your text and the background. If these are so similar as to be indistinguishable from each other, Google may also penalise you for hidden text.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • High

Colour scheme

Colour scheme

A good colour scheme might be vibrant, calm or playful, depending on the topic of your website and choosing a suitable colour scheme helps reinforce the message. Your colour scheme should match your product.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • High

Image size

Image size

Images of around 500 x 400px or larger are significantly more likely to appear high in Google's image search results. Including reasonably sized, original images on a page also help the page to rank better. It's good practice to specify the image width as a % in html, so that it resizes on mobile devices and to upload correctly sized images, so they load quickly.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • High

Domain History

If your domain was previously penalised by Google or promoted an unethical business it will be harder to get it to rank well. In this instance, it's particularly important to complete a backlink analysis and remove or disavow any links that are irrelevant or from bad neighbourhoods.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • High

Country TLD

Country TLD

Having a .co.uk helps your site appear higher in the UK, same with .fr for France, etc. If you have a .com or other international domain and want to appear high for a specific country you can use International Targeting to achieve the same result.

Category: 
  • International
Priority: 
  • High

Keyword selection

Keywords metatag

Targeting keywords that are highly relevant and have a healthy search volume but low organic SEO competition is a good strategy to drive more traffic to your website.

Category: 
  • Keywords
Priority: 
  • High

Grammar and spelling

4 years ago Google's SEO analysis didn't take spelling and grammar into account. Today it probably does and it's certainly mentioned in their Manual Rater Guidelines. Your visitors will also respect a well-written document and it reflects on the professionalism of your organisation.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Internal links to the page

A good SEO technique is to include keyword rich links to the most important landing pages on your site from every other page on your site.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Human editor reviews

Google have raters who manually analyse sites and give them rankings, as well as completing an SEO analysis to determine whether a site contains spam or not. Focusing on quality is therefore essential.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Useful with unique insights

In Google's Rater Guidelines they look for content that is not just unique, but provides 'Unique Insights' on a topic. They're not just looking for unique words, but actual unique insight, i.e. a different approach or more in-depth analysis.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Manual spam review

If your site is flagged as suspicious, Google are likely to assign someone to manually review it for spam.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Expertise / Authoritativeness / Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

Google attempt to determine the Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the author of a web page and this can be an important SEO ranking factor.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Accuracy of content

Google are currently putting together a 'Knowledge Vault' and plan on assigning sites a 'Knowledge Trust Score' based on how many factual mistakes their websites contain. They may not be able to measure accuracy yet, but it's likely they will in the future and that this will become an important SEO factor.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Interesting and engaging content

An average visitor spends under 15 seconds on the average web page. It's therefore essential that your content captures a visitor's attention in the first 15 seconds and continues to hold it.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Create happy users

create happy users

Ask not what your users can do for you, ask what you can do for your users. Get into the mindset of providing truly useful information and putting your users first. If you do, a successful website will follow.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • High

Domain Authority

According to moz.com Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. It is far more accurate than PageRank and is regularly updated.

Category: 
  • Ranking
Priority: 
  • High

Moz Trust

A high MOZ Trust indicates a site has a good number of links from trustworthy websites. It is an alternative way of measuring the quality of incoming links.

Category: 
  • Ranking
Priority: 
  • High

Image Results

Image Results

If you're looking to appear high in the Image Results give your image a keyword rich name (e.g. france-hotel.jpg, not 452342.jpg), add an ALT tag to it and place it on a page with other relevant content.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • High

E-commerce categories

E-commerce catergories

On an e-commerce site your categories are typically linked to in your main menus whereas individual products aren't. It's therefore best to write category descriptions for these landing pages, so they contain a healthy amount of unique content.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • High

Safe Search

If safe search is on then adult content and pages with swear words won't appear. Avoid using these on professional websites.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • High

Local "Visit-In-Person" Searches

local search

For many local searches like trades, or where a city name is entered as part of a search string, a list of Google+ pages is often shown above the standard search results.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • High

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages

For pages that could potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of users Google have additional guidelines. Page Quality is considerably more important.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • High

Encyclopaedia Pages

For encyclopaedia pages expertise and accuracy are of particular importance, as is using external references.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • High

Click through rate (CTR)

For both the page as a whole and for a specific keyword, Google give a ranking boost to pages that receive a good click through rate. Write your Meta Titles, Descriptions and URLs carefully to encourage this!

Category: 
  • Traffic
Priority: 
  • High

International targeting

international targeting

If you're targeting a single country but have an international domain (e.g. .com, .net or .org) then you can use Google's International Targeting tool to say which country your website is aimed at.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • High

Brand

Brand

Since Google's Vince Update bigger brands appear higher and are more likely to show multiple times on the first page for brand specific searches. This is one advantage of using a brand specific domain name rather than a keyword rich domain name.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • High

Internal link structure

internal links

Linking to all your most important landing pages from your main menu is a good SEO strategy. It's also important to cross-link relevant items, for instance if you have multiple products in each category, you could add a 'related products' block that links to 5 other products in the same category.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • High

Blog location

It's better for your website optimization if your blog is on the same domain as your main website, as otherwise links to it don't benefit your site. There should also be sufficient links between your blog and your site for the link juice to flow from one to the other.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • High

CMS Security

CMS security

Major CMS systems like Drupal and Wordpress have regular security releases and the more often you update security the less likely you are to get malware.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • High

Building trust

There are various algorithms that try and measure the 'trust' of a website, but building real trust with your clients will also help your SEO. Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your site, link to it and share it, therefore good customer service also supports your SEO.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • High

Future-proof your website

It may be impossible to design a site for 3D glasses, hologramatic projectors, or to know what technology or code will be invented, but there are things you can do to future-proof your website. Design it with a responsive theme, choose hosting that lets you easily upgrade and focus on creating great content and a beautiful design rather than obsessing about specific algorithms.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • High

Google Payday Loan Algorithm

Google Payday Loan Algorithm

The Payday Loans algorithm update combats spam websites for searches like 'Payday Loan', hence the name.

Category: 
  • Algorithm
Priority: 
  • Medium

Google Hummingbird Algorithm

Google Hummingbird Algorithm

The Google Hummingbird algorithm aims to establish the meaning behind searches and to look at synonyms and the overall sense of a question, rather than just keywords. It makes it less important to include multiple synonyms on a website; though using synonyms occasionally still helps.

Category: 
  • Algorithm
Priority: 
  • Medium

Google Pigeon Algorithm

Google Pigeon Algorithm

Google Pigeon rewards sites for Local SEO that have their physical address shown on the site. It tries to determine whether someone is searching for a local service, store, etc. and to show more local companies in the search results.

Category: 
  • Algorithm
Priority: 
  • Medium

Content above the fold

Your average user is impatient and doesn't like to scroll down to see any content. Google's Page Layout Algorithm takes this into account and gives more credit to content near the top of the page and penalises sites that only show adverts when first opened.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Medium

Font size

Font size

Over 90% of people aged 50 and up need glasses or other visual aids and it's important that your font size is large enough to read easily. Google also measure the font size on mobile devices in their Mobile Friendly test.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Medium

Names of images

image keywords

Using keywords in the names of images will help those images appear higher for image searches and provide a small ranking boost to the page they appear on too.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Medium

Keywords in Domain

Keywords in Domain

Domains that include a keyword get a boost for that keyword, particularly Exact Match Domains (EMD's) where the domain is comprised solely of the keyword. Conversely there are also advantages to branding, for example 'Amazon.com' is more memorable than 'buybooks.com'.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Medium

Sitemap

Submitting a sitemap to Google tells them all the pages on your site and in which order you prioritize pages, which might mean they would choose one of your preferred pages over another, but they wouldn't show it higher in the search results itself. The larger the site, the more important a sitemap becomes.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Medium

Sites owned by domain registrant

If your whois information shows that you own spammy sites Google are more likely to look carefully at spam on this domain. Links from sites you own will also carry less SEO weight than links from third party sites.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Medium

Long-tail keywords

Keywords metatag

When selecting keywords and writing content, remember to include niche and long-tail keywords - Keywords that are 3+ words and specific to your business. As voice activated search becomes more popular it's likely the average search length will increase.

Category: 
  • Keywords
Priority: 
  • Medium

Helpful Supplementary Content

In Google's Rater Guidelines they specify that one SEO factor is helpful supplementary content, e.g. menus linking to other relevant content on the site or extra blocks with relevant information or images.

Google updated this on 28 March 2016 to reduce the emphasis on supplementary content, therefore we've changed the priority from 'high' to 'medium'.

 

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

H1 Titles

There should be one main H1 title per page of your website and ideally this will include a relevant keyword for that page.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Keyword use early in content

Keywords

A good SEO technique is to use the keyword early in the content, for example in the first menu on your website and in the first paragraph of text.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Keyword used in last 50 words

To show Google that your web page is all about the same keyword, don't just use keywords early on the page, also use them in the last 50 words on the page.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Page Loading Speed

Very slow sites won't perform as well in the search results, particularly for mobile searches. Use a fast host and the Page Speed SEO Tool to make your site faster.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Frequency of content updates

Google's Caffeine update means that having frequent updates on your site is good for your website SEO, particularly for time related searches (e.g. news, sports results, etc.)

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Order of words in a Keyword Phrase

order of keywords

Ordering the words on your page and in Metatags in the same order as people search for them is a good SEO technique, however this is less important than good spelling and grammar.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Outbound link quality

outbound links

Including relevant outgoing links, particularly for articles or advice pages will help the SEO optimization of those pages.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Number of outbound links

number of outbound links

Linking to relevant sources helps your website ranking, but excessive links, particularly with little other content can hinder it.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Outbound link relevance

link relevance

Linking out to related, high authority websites helps your website ranking, excessive links to irrelevant websites can hinder it.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Videos

videos

Videos have the potential to go viral in a way that other content rarely does and therefore have huge potential to drive traffic to your site. Videos also help your Google SEO ranking, particularly when hosted on your server.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

URL Length

Internet Explorer has a 2083 character limit on URLs, so huge URLs won't display. Generally it's better for SEO to keep URLs shorter and to avoid too many trailing slashes. For large sites using category/keyword as the URL is a good strategy, as Google sometimes show categories in the search results too.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

URL Keywords

URL keywords

Including keywords in a URL (particularly the start of the URL) helps your website's SEO, however it's essential that the URLs on a site are varied. If every page is about holidays in France, only use holiday-france in the URL a handful of times on the most important pages, not on every page of the site!

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Providing references

Providing references in articles, particularly medical or financial articles helps your website ranking. For some types of content (e.g. an ecommerce page) it's not necessary.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Number of comments

Provided you filter out the spam, having more comments on your blog can help your search engine ranking as it increases the number of relevant words on the page. It's best to either prevent links in comments, or nofollow them, so you don't inadvertently link to spammy sites.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Using synonyms and related words

Google Hummingbird and Google RankBrain both look at the overall context of a site rather than just keywords to define what a page is about. Using synonyms and other related words, not just your keywords will therefore help your SEO.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Flesch Reading Ease Score

The Flesch Reading Ease calculates how easy text is to read based on average words in a sentence and average syllables in a word. 60 to 80 is optimal.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level

This also calculates how easy text is to read and places more emphasis on average syllables in a word. Ironically www contains 9 syllables, so in theory including a web address will increase the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Separating keywords in URL with hyphens

Google recommend separating URLs with hyphens rather than underscores, therefore online-fashion is better than onlinefashion or online_fashion.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Content novelty

A Google Patent (US 8140449 B1) suggests that they literally try and identify content that is boring and if articles are more descriptive, unique or unusual, reward them with higher rankings.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Medium

Alexa rank

Alexa rank shows how many unique visits and page views a site receives. Number 1 (currently being fought over between Facebook.com and Google.com) is the most visited site in the world and a low Alexa rank means your site receives more visitors.

Category: 
  • Ranking
Priority: 
  • Medium

Query Deserves Freshness

query

For specific queries Google considers timely, e.g. news, sports results, etc. it gives newer pages a significant ranking boost.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • Medium

Query Deserves Diversity

query diversity

If you enter a single ambiguous word in Google, e.g. crane that could be the bird or the machine, it's likely that Google modify the normal algorithm to show search results that fit with different possible meanings. This may make single ambiguous words harder to rank for.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • Medium

User browsing history

If an individual visits a specific website a lot, Google will move that site higher in the search results just for that person. If you're doing a keyword analysis, be sure to use an SEO tool, not just rely on your own search results.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • Medium

Shopping Results

shopping results

For shopping searches, Google often show specific results of products for sale using their own e-commerce interface.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • Medium

PDF files

PDF optimisation

If you have PDFs on your website, then these can have Metatags added to them in the same way as a web page can, which helps them appear higher with search engines.

Category: 
  • Specific
Priority: 
  • Medium

Bounce rate

If a lot of visitors arrive at your site and leave immediately, without clicking any internal links then this will cause your site to drop in the search results.

Category: 
  • Traffic
Priority: 
  • Medium

Direct traffic

Google can measure direct traffic using their Chrome browser and Analytics and they may give sites that receive direct traffic an SEO boost too. However visitors arrive at your site, it also helps you!

Category: 
  • Traffic
Priority: 
  • Medium

Duration of visit

Dwell time, or how long visitors spend on your site is one way to measure how well you've captured their attention and how interesting your content is. If visit duration is high, you may well also get a website ranking boost.

Category: 
  • Traffic
Priority: 
  • Medium

Contact Us

Google's manual analysis guidelines mention that having a contact form is a positive factor. It's also important that your clients can contact you!

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Total number of pages

More pages on your site means you can target a wider range of keywords and provide more information, however it's essential that you provide unique content on each page, therefore as with everything SEO, quality is more important than quantity.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Server speed

In 2010 Google added web page speed as a web search ranking factor and having a fast server will help your page speed.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Duplicate Titles and Descriptions

Having the same Title or Description metatags on multiple pages is bad for your SEO as you're missing the opportunity to target multiple keywords and it's less likely that the Metatags are accurate.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Minimise html and CSS

Minimising your html, CSS and JavaScript makes your website load faster. There are lots of both manual and automated tools that assist with this and most major CMS systems like Wordpress and Drupal also have modules that assist you.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Access to CSS or JS

In 2014 Google said Disallowing crawling of JavaScript or CSS files in your site’s robots.txt directly harms how well our algorithms render and index your content and can result in suboptimal rankings.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Length of domain name

Most companies choose to promote their website in print too, whether on a business card, brochures, posters, etc. Choosing a short, memorable domain name makes it easier to type and reduces the risk that people will arrive at a competitor's domain.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Social media buttons

social media buttons

Adding social media buttons to your blog pages helps generate more likes and shares. Before adding links out to your Facebook or Twitter profiles though, ask yourself Do you want people to use them? Only link to them if they're updated regularly and add value.

 

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Target audience

Target the right audience. Are you targeting business executives or sports enthusiasts? Are you targeting children, or their parents? Keep your target audience in mind when designing the site and writing the content, don't try and please everyone.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Medium

Breadcrumbs

breadcrumbs

There is some evidence that for large sites having breadcrumbs (links back to the parent categories) will improve your SEO.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Drop-down menus

Drop-down menus allow visitors to easily find links within categories without using up too much space and enhance the user-friendliness of large sites.  Only include essential items in drop-down menus, to avoid overwhelming visitors.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Photos matching geographic data

Google can tell where photos are taken and it's possible that if you have a lot of city or landscape photos on your site from a different geographic region then it will be a negative factor for your local SEO.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Size tap targets

If you're on a mobile device it can be frustrating when you're trying to click a link, but click the wrong one. This is caused by having too small a 'size tap' and it helps users and your SEO to have an appropriately large size tap on each link.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Domain Age

Domain age

If a domain was first registered a long time ago, this gives it a small boost in the search results.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Sub-domain

Having a keyword in your sub-domain can help that sub-domain appear higher. Using e.g. fr for France or de for Germany can also help tell visitors which country you're targeting.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Registered Organisation

Google may look at whether the site is a registered bricks and mortar organisation and give these sites a boost.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

www and non-www versions of a website

Ideally you should choose to forward one version of your site to the other, (example.com to www.example.com or vice-versa). This gives a small SEO benefit.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Geographic location of the host

Earth

A common myth is that Google use the geographic location of a host to determine which country the site is targeting. This is untrue as Google use a myriad of other factors that make more sense! The host country is only important because it means that visitors from that country will be able to download your site a little faster.

Category: 
  • International
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Language attribute

Multilingual SEO

Adding a hreflang tag to pages helps tell Google what language each page is in.

Category: 
  • International
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

ALT Tags on Images

ALT tags

An ALT tag is a string of text added to an image that tells screen readers and search engines what it is. Including keywords in an ALT tag can give it a search ranking boost, particularly for image searches.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Canonical URLs

If you have duplicate content on your site you can use Canonical URLs to tell search engines which page to show in the results.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

HTML validation

Validating your html to ensure it is compliant and displays correctly across different browsers is a good idea.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Bullets and numbered lists

Breaking up a page so it's easier to read helps make it more user-friendly and may help your Google ranking too. One way to do this is with bullets or numbered lists.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Page Age

page age

Google often give very new content a boost. There's also positive correlation between search position and page age, where older pages perform better, however this may be because older pages tend to have more links going to them, so it may not be causal.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

H2, H3, H4 Titles

Including the occasional keyword in sub-headings (h1 - h6 titles) is a good idea for your Google ranking.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Calls to action

It may not help your search position, but having a call to action, e.g. a link to the contact form, a buy button or a download brochure button will help your sales.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Tags

tags

Tags are a list of words that categorise each page, similar to hashtags in social media. They can help SEO if you use a limited number of tags, but having unlimited tags, particularly for a small site is likely to create many 'tag' pages that only have one or two items on them, which won't help users, or SEO.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Keywords used in bold text

keyword bold text

Some SEO companies say that placing words in bold gives them more weight for SEO, though we've not found any studies that confirm this.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Location of internal links

internal links

There is some evidence that links from the main menu, for example count for more than links from the footer of your site.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

PageRank

pagerank

PageRank was a measure of the links going to a page, however in March 2016 Google officially declared that they have removed it. It's been replaced by Trust Flow, Domain Authority and other more accurate measures.

 

Category: 
  • Ranking
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

SSL Certificate and HTTPS

In 2014 Google announced that secure sites with SSL Certificates had become a minor element in ranking. Self-signed SSL Certificates don't count.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy Pages

In Google's Rater Guidelines they state that having Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy pages are both good for SEO.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

About Us

In Google's Rater Guidelines they specify that an 'About Us' page is a positive factor. It's also something that visitors are likely to look for.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Keyword in email address

keyword email address

Including a keyword in an email address might help a page rank higher for that particular keyword.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Logo link and ALT tag

logo links

Many people expect that if they click the logo or header they will go to the home page, so linking it is a basic strategy to make a site more user-friendly. Using a keyword rich ALT tag on the logo might also improve your SEO.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Low or Speculative

Domain Registration length

A common myth is that if you register your domain name for say 10 years, this gives you an SEO benefit over if you register it for say 1 year. Google have confirmed it makes no difference.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Zero - it's a myth!

Keyword Metatag

keyword metatag

Other search engines may consider it in their rankings, but Google ignores the Keyword Metatag. This does NOT mean keywords as a whole are unimportant. It does NOT mean that they ignore other Metatags. Just that they ignore the Keyword Metatag.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Zero - it's a myth!

Code vs Text Ratio

In April 2016 Google confirmed that code to text ratio (i.e. the content that's visible on the page compared to the amount of code needed to put it there) is not a factor they look at.

It's still worth removing superfluous html on the page as this will make it load faster, but in itself, it's another SEO myth.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Zero - it's a myth!

Showing text as an image

text as an image

It can be tempting to incorporate text into an image when you want fancy fonts or writing over a background image, however this makes it harder for Google to read the text and should be done sparingly. Instead add text over images using CSS or add the font to your website using a tool like Drupal's Font Your Face module.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Excessive Popups or Adverts

Excessive Popups or Adverts

Google penalise sites that are Top Heavy with adverts or have an excessive number of popups or other annoying advertising.  On 10 January 2017, they also implemented a penalty against sites with annoying pop-ups on mobile devices.

Category: 
  • Design
Priority: 
  • Avoid

500 Server Error

A 500 Server Error means your browser can't reach your server. Talk to your host and fix this problem.

Category: 
  • Domain
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Controlling languages with cookies only

international cookies

One way to control the language is to use cookies but keep the URL the same. Don't do it! Google doesn't use cookies and this means that it is literally impossible for them to index the multilingual versions of a page and they will only index it in one language. It's OK to use cookies to control some elements, but not the language - unless you also use a different URL.

Category: 
  • International
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Duplicate Content on same site

duplicate content

Having the same content on multiple pages of your site could be seen as black hat SEO (e.g. having the same content on multiple pages and just changing the name of the city). Sometimes it's natural (e.g. ecommerce search results) in which case you can use canonical URLs to tell Google which page to show in the results.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Flash

flash

Only use Flash if you absolutely have to. It isn't mobile friendly and is typically bad for SEO. Certainly slideshows etc. are all better created by using other tools.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Broken links

broken links

It's worth doing an SEO analysis and checking for broken internal and external links. These can be fixed either by fixing the links themselves, or for internal links, 301 redirecting the pages they arrive at to the correct page.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Avoid

noindex tag

A noindex tag tells search engines to not show a page in the search results. This is fine to add to confidential pages, but ensure you don't accidentally noindex important pages!

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Paid links out of site

paid links

Just as paying for incoming links to your site might get your site penalised, selling links from your site can also get you penalised.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Overuse of nofollow on internal links

nofollow links

There's a myth that adding rel=nofollow on internal links to unimportant pages helps your website rank higher. It doesn't, it may even hurt it.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Overly long Metatags

Google only show around 55-60 characters in Meta Titles and around 155 characters in Meta Descriptions. Using long Meta Titles reduces the benefit of the keywords in them and if they're excessively long, may be considered spam.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Mystery meat navigation

Mystery meat navigation is where you use shapes or images for links that are unrelated to the desired location, or only show text when you hover over something. It's utterly non-user friendly and creates impossible to navigate sites.

Category: 
  • On-Page
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Links to bad neighbourhoods

bad links

Linking to unethical sites, illegal sites or penalised sites can get your own site penalised.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Sneaky redirects

Redirecting a visitor to a different URL in a deceptive manner (e.g. forwarding them to a spam site) is a violation of Google's guidelines.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Keyword stuffing in anchor texts

Using keywords in the anchor texts of all the incoming links to a site (even if the keywords vary considerably) is still considered keyword stuffing.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Keyword stuffing on website

keyword stuffing

Repeating text on a website (e.g. Looking for a London hotel, luxury hotel in London or a 5 star hotel in London?) is considered keyword stuffing. Best avoid it!

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Auto-generated Content

Auto-generated content, including adding multilingual versions of a site that have been translated using automatic tools will get your site penalised.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

More low quality links than high quality links

low quality links

The more poor quality links to your site vs. high quality links the less well you will rank.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Unnatural links

Using link farms, having links from irrelevant pages, having only links of one type or other 'unnatural links' could all get your site penalised.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Manual penalty

In addition to algorithmic penalties, Google can manually penalise a website for a range of reasons. If they have, it will appear in your Webmaster Tools report and the solution will depend on the type of penalty.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Google Dance

If Google suspects you of spamming, one patent reveals that they may jump your site around in the search results to see how you respond. This is called the 'Google Dance'.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Link schemes

link schemes

Link schemes where you add links to your site in exchange for links back, have a link added to the footer of multiple sites, etc. etc. could all get your site penalised.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Copied content and scraper sites

If someone has copied your site (called a 'Scraper Site') there's a possibility it will rank above your own site. If this happens, report it to Google and take legal action to take the other website down.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Cloaking

Cloaking - Showing visitors one thing and search engines another is a clear violation of Google's guidelines.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Hidden text

Having hidden text (0px sized fonts, colour the same as the background, etc.) can get your site penalised.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Empty Link Anchors

Having links with no anchor text or tiny images that link to something might be considered a hidden link and put your site in the spam category. This is true for both internal and external links.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Copyright Violation

If you infringe someone's copyright and they report it to Google, you may be removed from the search results. Even if it's not reported, it's likely to be identified as duplicate content and can still cause problems.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Phishing sites

Sometimes another website might pretend to be yours to steal bank details or other information. This is called phishing and if it happens, report them to Google and take legal action.

Category: 
  • Spam
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Hosting downtime

If a site is down no-one can use it, so that's obviously bad for SEO, however it's likely if a site is down regularly it also moves down the search engine rankings.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Malware

malware

If your site is infected by Malware it's clearly not good and needs resolving as a priority.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Affiliate Sites with thin content

Affiliate sites are harder to rank than other sites as Google doesn't like duplicate content and many affiliate sites have the same content. Google's guidelines say Ask yourself why a user would want to visit your site first rather than visiting the original merchant directly. To rank well you must offer something different.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Avoid

'404 ''Page Not Found'''

A 404 error message appears when a page isn't there, perhaps because it's been deleted, or a wrong URL has appeared in a link. The easiest solution is to 301 redirect them to another, related page.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Avoid

Splash home page

splash pages

Having a splash home page (e.g. a page with one large image and the words 'Enter Site' but no other content) is bad SEO as there's too little content to optimize. Visitors also tend not to like it.

Category: 
  • Website
Priority: 
  • Avoid