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Internet Summaries
SEO Optimization

Google Ranking Factors

SEO Checklist
by Vaughn Aubuchon

In 2020, it's all over now.
The 150 factors listed below are no longer used by Google to rank web pages. There are no more organic "freebies", based upon merit and veracity alone.



My All Time Google Earnings --->

My All-time Google EarningsNOW

Note that after Jan.1, 2015, I jumped through all the Google hoops, to no avail.

     - Made ALL pages Responsive
     - Made all pages Mobile Friendly
Secured with SSL
     - Tried Responsive ads
Complied with EAT standards

     - From $600/ day to $4/ day
     - Like many others, I was Dialed Out!
     - The Late, Great Google - RIP
         - From search engine to Ad Seller

 Google innovation has exited stage left.
 Now, only the tax collectors remain.


The New Google Reality
Google now ranks all pages by -
"How much is the page worth to Google?"
Now, you MUST "Pay to Play".

Google's monopoly position has enabled them to impose and extract a "Google Tax" on every website.

Perfectly designed, highly useful, small website organic web pages are being denigrated and decimated in Google Search, as we watch.

"Pay Up, sucker, or don't be seen". The Primary value of your website now, is to provide stolen content for thieves to make money, by running AdSense on content stolen from you. Google loves it. Google makes billions from it.

In 2020, the only way to ensure a high rank in the Google SERPs, is to pay for Google Ads.
All you can do now, is to follow "best practices". But this will not guarantee you a good rank in Google SERPs, or ANY rank, at all.

The OLD Google --->

Google Ranking Factor Checklist
(33 factors added in 2014 - 2016)

Positive ON-Page Factors -- 2014

Negative ON-Page Factors - 2014

Positive OFF-Page Factors - 2014

Negative OFF-Page Factor - 2014

Notes for the Above Factors

Brief Google Update List

There are "over 200 SEO factors" that Google uses to rank pages in the Google search results (SERPs). This page lists 150+ of them.

What are the search engine optimization rules?
Here is the speculation - educated guesses by SEO webmasters on top webmaster forums. Should you wish to achieve a high ranking, 150 confirmed and suspected Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Rules are listed below.

The SEO Rules listed below are NOT listed by weight, and not by any presumed relevance - THAT exercise is left up to the reader!

top of page

1. Alleged
POSITIVE ON-Page Factors
SEO Google Ranking Factors (45)

(Keeping in mind the converse, of course, that when violated, some of these factors immediately jump into the NEGATIVE
Ranking Factors domain.)

The term "Keyword" below refers to the
"Keyword Phrase", which can be one word or more.

Green rows confirmed by Google patent of Aug. 10, 2006


ON-Page SEO Factors

Patent Claim #

Brief Note


Google patent - Topic extraction
For keyword selection,
try Google Ad Words - Google Trends


Keyword in URL

First word is best, second is second best, etc.


Keyword in Domain name

Same as in page-name-with-hyphens


Keywords - Header


Keyword in Title tag

Keyword in Title tag - close to beginning
Title tag 10 - 60 characters, no special characters.


Keyword in Description meta tag

Shows theme - less than 200 chars.
Google no longer "relies" upon this tag, but will often use it.


Keyword in Keyword metatag

Shows theme - less than 10 words.
Every word in this tag MUST appear somewhere in the body text. If not, it can be penalized for irrelevance.
No single word should appear more than twice.
If not, it may be considered spam. Google purportedly no longer uses this tag, but others do.


Keywords - Body


Keyword density in body text

5 - 20% - (all keywords/ total words)
Some report topic sensitivity - the keyword spamming threshold % varies with the topic.


Individual keyword density

1 - 6% - (each keyword/ total words)


Keyword in H1, H2 and H3

Use Hx font style tags appropriately


Keyword font size

"Strong is treated the same as bold, italic is treated the same as emphasis" . . . Matt Cutts July 2006


Keyword proximity (for 2+ keywords)

Directly adjacent is best


Keyword phrase order

Does word order in the page match word order in the query?
Try to anticipate query, and match word order.


Keyword prominence (how early in page/tag)

Can be important at top of page, in bold, in large font


Keywords - Other


Keyword in alt text

Should describe graphic - Do NOT fill with spam
(Was part of Google Florida OOP - tripped a threshold - may still be in effect to some degree as a red flag, when summed with all other on-page optimization - total page optimization score - TPOS).


Keyword in links to site pages (anchor text)

Links out anchor text use keyword?




To internal pages- keywords?

Link should contain keywords.
The filename "linked to" should contain the keywords.
Use hyphenated filenames, but not long ones - two or three hyphens only.


All Internal links valid?

Validate all links to all pages on site.
Use a free link checker. I like this one.


Efficient - tree-like structure

TRY FOR two clicks to any page - no page deeper than 4 clicks


Intra-site linking

Appropriate links between lower-level pages




To external pages- keywords?

Google patent - Link only to good sites. Do not link to link farms. CAREFUL - Links can and do go bad, resulting in site demotion. Unfortunately, you must devote the time necessary to police your outgoing links - they are your responsibility.


Outgoing link Anchor Text - 56

Google patent - Should be on topic, descriptive


Link stability over time - 61, 62

Google patent - Avoid "Link Churn"


All External links valid?

Validate all links periodically.


Less than 100 links out total

Google says limit to 100,
but readily accepts 2-3 times that number. ref 2k


Linking to Authority

Some say this gives a boost -
Others say that is absurd. However, it certainly is the opposite of linking to trash, which WILL hurt you.


OTHER ON-Page Factors


Domain Name Extension
Top Level Domain - TLD

.gov sites seem to be the highest status
.edu sites seem to be given a high status
.org sites seem to be given a high status
.com sites excel in encompassing all the spam/ crud sites, resulting in the need for the highest scrutiny/ action by Google.
Perhaps one would do well with the new .info domain class.<update> - Nope. Spammers jumped all over it - no safe haven there. Not so much, now - .info sites can rank highly.


File Size

Try not to exceed 100K page size (however, some subject matter, such as this page, requires larger file sizes).
Smaller files are preferred <40K (lots of them).


Hyphens in URL

Preferred method for indicating a space, where there can be no actual space
One or two= excellent for separating keywords (i.e., pet-smart, pets-mart)
Four or more= BAD, starts to look spammy
Ten = Spammer for sure, demotion probable?


Freshness of Pages
6, 7, 12, 13

Google patent - Changes over time
Newer the better - if news, retail or auction!
Google likes fresh pages. So do I.


Freshness - Amount of Content Change - 8, 9

New pages - Ratio of old pages to new pages


Freshness of Links - 27

Google patent - May be good or bad
Excellent for high-trust sites
May not be so good for newer, low-trust sites


Frequency of Updates

Frequent updates = frequent spidering = newer cache


Page Theming

Page exhibit theme? General consistency?


Keyword stemming

Stem, stems, stemmed, stemmer,
stemming, stemmist, stemification


Applied Semantics

Synonyms, CIRCA white paper



Latent Semantic Indexing - Speculation, no proof


URL length

Keep it minimized - use somewhat less than the 2,000 characters allowed by IE - less than 100 is good, less is even better




Site Size - Google likes big sites - 5

Larger sites are presumed to be better funded, better organized, better constructed, and therefore better sites. Google likes LARGE sites, for various reasons, not all positive. This has resulted in the advent of machine-generated 10,000-page spam sites - size for the sake of size. Google has caught on and dumped millions of pages, or made them supplemental.


Site Age - 4

Google patent - Old is best. Old is Golden.


Age of page vs. age of site - 3

Age of page vs. age of other pages on site
Newer pages on an older site will get faster recognition.

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     Added 2014 -
     POSITIVE On-Page Factors (6)


Authorship Participation

Becoming Was a factor? Denegrated due to abuse. Authorship feature abandoned by Google, but they still have the data that was generated.
- No more author photos in the SERPs
- No more circles count in the SERPs


Change Your Titles

If Google appends your Name to your Titles, take the hint. Add the same Name to the titles on ALL your other pages.


Supplementary Content

Links to closely-related pages on the same site


Use recommended ad sizes

More ads available (AdSense Advice)


Enable Image Ads

More ads available (AdSense Advice)
Many, like myself, find that image ads pay far less, and sometimes displace higher-paying text ads. I have tested this over and over again.



No ranking advantage now, but Google says https will provide a "slight boost" in the future.

Note: For ALL the POSITIVE On-Page factors listed above,
OVERRIDE them all. So can Google-Bombing.

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2. Alleged
Negative ON-Page Factors
SEO Google Ranking Factors (37)


ON-Page SEO Factors

Brief Note


Text presented in graphics form only
No ACTUAL body text on the page

Text represented graphically is invisible to search engines.


Affiliate site?

The Florida update went after affiliates with a vengeance - flower and travel affiliates were hit hard - cookie-cutter sites with massive inter-linking, but little unique content. Subsequent updates have also targeted affiliates.


Over optimization penalty (OOP)

Penalty for over-compliance with well-established, accepted web optimization practices. Too high keyword repetition (keyword stuffing) may get you the OOP. Overuse of H1 tags has been mentioned. Meta-tag stuffing.


Link to a bad neighborhood

Don't link to link farms, FFAs (Free For All's)
Also, don't forget to check the Google status of EVERYONE you link to periodically. A site may go "bad", and you can end up being penalized, even though you did nothing. For instance, some failed real estate sites have been switched to p0rn by unscrupulous webmasters, for the traffic. This is not good for you, if you are linking to the originally legitimate URL.


Redirect thru refresh metatags

Don't immediately send your visitor to another page other than the one he/ she clicked on, using meta refresh.


Vile language - ethnic slur

Including the George Carlin 7 bad words you can't say on TV, plus the 150 or so that followed. Don't shoot yourself right straight in the foot. Also, avoid combinations of normal words, which when used together, become something else entirely - such as the word juice, and the word l0ve. See why I wrote that zero? I don't even want to get a proximity penalty, either. Paranoia, or caution? You decide. I always want to try to put my "best foot forward".


Poison words

The word "Links" in a title tag has been suggested to be a bad idea. Here is my list of Poison Words for Adsense. This penalty has been loosened - many of these words now appear in normal context, with no problems. But watch your step.


Excessive cross-linking

- within the same C block (
If you have many sites (>10, author's guess) with the same web host, prolific cross-linking can indicate more of a single entity, and less of democratic web voting. Easy to spot, easy to penalize.
"This does not apply to a small number of sites" ... (this author guesses the number 10, JAWG) . . . "hosted on a local server". . Matt Cutts July 2006


Stealing images/ text blocks from another domain

Copyright violation - Google responds strongly
if you are reported. ref egol
File Google DMCA


Keyword stuffing threshold

In body, meta tags, alt text, etc. = demotion


Keyword dilution

Targeting too many unrelated keywords on a page, which would detract from theming, and reduce the importance of your REALLY important keywords.


Page edit - can reduce consistency

Google patent -
Google is now switching between a "newer" cache, and several "older" caches, frequently drawing from BOTH at the same time.
This was possibly implemented to frustrate SERP manipulators. Did your last edit substantially alter your keywords, or theme? Expect noticeable SERP bouncing.


Frequency of Content Change 6-7

Google patent - Too frequent = bad


Freshness of Anchor Text 32, 33

Google patent - Too frequent = bad


Dynamic Pages

Problematic - know pitfalls - shorten URLs, reduce variables (". . no more than 2 or 3", M.Cutts July 2006), lose the session IDs


Excessive Javascript

Don't use for redirects, or hiding links


Flash page - NOT

Most (all-?) SE spiders can't read Flash content
Provide an HTML alternative, or experience lower SERP positioning.


Use of Frames

Spidering Problems with Frames - STILL


Robot exclusion "no index" tag

Intentional self-exclusion


Single pixel links

A red flag - one reason only - a sneaky link.


Invisible text

OK - No penalty - Google advises against this.
All over the place - but nothing is ever done. (The text is the same color as the background, and hence cannot be seen by the viewer, but can be visible to the search engine spiders.) I believe Google does penalize for hidden text, since it is an attempt to manipulate rank. Although they don't catch everyone.


Gateway, doorway page

(I see changes here - not only does the doorway page disappear, but the main page gets pushed down, as well - this is a welcome fix.)

OK - No penalty - Google advises against this.
Google used to reward these pages.
Multiple entrance pages in the top ten SERPs - I see it daily. There they are at #2, with their twin at #5 - 6 months now. Reported numerous times.


Duplicate content (YOUR'S)
Duplicate content (THEIR'S) below (Highjack)

OK - No penalty - Google advises against this.
Google picks one (usually the oldest), and shoves it to the top, and pushes the second choice down. This has been a big issue with stolen content - the thief usurps your former position with YOUR OWN content.


HTML code violations
(The big G does not even use DOCTYPE declarations, required for W3C validation.)

Doesn't matter - Google advises against this.
Unless of course, the page is totally FUBAR.
Simple HTML verification is NOT required (but advised, since it could contribute to your page quality factor - PQF).


Since the above 4 items are so controversial, I would like to add this comment:
There are many things that Google would LIKE to have webmasters do, but that they simply cannot control, due to logistical considerations. Their only alternative is to foment fear and doubt by implying that any violation of their "suggestions" will result in swift and fierce demotion.
(This is somewhat dated - G is fixing these things.)

IN GENERAL, this works pretty well to keep webmasters in line. The fallacy of this is that attentive webmasters can readily observe continuing, blatant exceptions to these official pronouncements.

There are many anecdotes about Goggle "taking care" of a problem. Google states that they do not provide hand-tweaked "boosts", but are silent about hand-tweaked demotions. They occur, for sure. To believe otherwise is naive. Wouldn't YOU swat the most obnoxious flies? I would.

It is becoming easier to determine the best thing to do. Try to avoid any Google penalties or demotions.


Phrase-based ranking, filters, penalties

Feb. 2007 - Google patent granted. Do not use phrases that have been associated and correlated with known spamming techniques, or you will be penalized. What phrases? Ahh, you tell me.


Poor spelling and grammar

Pages that are higher quality and more reputable (i.e. higher PageRank) tend to use better spelling and grammar. Demotion for bad spelling is highly logical.

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     Added 2014 -
     NEGATIVE On-Page Factors (12)


Thin Content

Very little text on the page (Panda)


Low Quality Pages

Now, never acceptable (Panda)


Drop-Down Menus Cover Text

Not allowed - poor experience


Session IDs - URL

Google says "don't use them"


Link-Stuffed Footers

Discouraged, unless closely related


Excessive Movement

Too much distraction (I hate this.)


Wretched Colors

RED/ YELLOW combined comes to mind


No Flash on Mobile

Deprecated - Google says "lose the flash"



Ads Above the Fold

Too many ads above the fold


Too Many Ads Period

Too many ads period


Bad Kinds of Ads

Google doesn't like Fixed ads, Floating ads,
Interstitial ads, In text ads, Pop-up ads, Pop-under ads


Ads No Longer Targeted

Google AdSense has decided to serve untargeted ads, which have no targeting whatsoever, to those sites that it has determined are of "Inferior Quality".

Be aware that these "ads from outer space" DO NOT appear in the AdSense preview section, so you CAN'T reject them. They sneak in a back door, with no accountability, explanation or review.

Should you suffer from this issue (this site has), be aware that Google no longer thinks that your content is much good. Try to fix it, although it is difficult to do, when you don't know why you have been singled out for punishment. Some suggest that the long-awaited Penguin Update (Oct. 2014) will address this issue ("... it will be a delight".)

It is now November 6, 2014. I have yet to see any "delight".

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3. Alleged
SEO Google Ranking Factors (50)


OFF-Page SEO Factors

Brief Note



Page Rank 84

Based on the Number and Quality of links to you
Google link reporting continues to display just a SMALL fraction of your actual backlinks, and they are NOT just greater than PR4 - they are mixed.

Total incoming links ("backlinks")

Historically, FAST counted best (
No more - Yahoo (parent) broke it.

In Yahoo search, type in:

Try MSN -

Current TYPICAL Backlink Reporting Ratios -
Google - 30 links
MSN - 1,000 links
Yahoo - 3,000 links

Incoming links from high-ranking pages

In 2004, Google used to count (report) the links from all PR4+ pages that linked to you. In 2005-2006, Google reported only a small fraction of the links, in what seemed like an almost random manner. In Feb. 2007, Google markedly upgraded (increased) the number of links that they report.

Acceleration of link popularity
(". . . used to be a good thing" ... Martha)

Google patent
Link acquisition speed boost - speculative
Too fast = artificial? Cause of -30 penalty?
Sandbox penalty imposed if new site?




Page rank of the referring page

Based on the quality of links to you


Anchor text of
inbound link to you

Contains keyword, key phrase?
#1 result in SERP does NOT EVEN need to have the keyword(s) on the page, ANYWHERE!!! What does that tell you? (Enables Google-bombing - search for "miserable failure")


Age of link

Google patent - Old = Good.


Frequency of change of anchor text

Google patent - Not good. Why would you do that?


Popularity of referring page

Popularity = desirability, respect


# of outgoing links on referrer page

Fewer is better - makes yours more important


Position of link on referrer page

Early in HTML is best


Keyword density on referring page

For search keyword(s)


HTML title of referrer page

Same subject/ theme?


Link from "Expert" site?

Google patent - Big time boost (Hilltop Algorithm)
Recently reported to give a big boost !


Referrer page - Same theme

From the same or related theme? BETTER


Referrer page - Different theme

From different or unrelated theme? WORSE


Image map link?



Javascript link?

Problematic- attempt to hide link?




Site listed in DMOZ Directory?

The "Secret Hand" DMOZ Issues
1. Legitimate sites CAN'T GET IN

No Accountability

Corrupt Editors

Competitive Sites Barred

Dirty Tricks Employed

Rude dmoz editors

Flawed concept - communism doesn't work
Free editing? Nothing is free.
DMOZ Sucks Discussions

DMOZ Problems Discussions

The Google Directory is produced by an unknown, ungoverned, unpoliced, ill-intentioned, retaliatory, monopoly enterprise, consisting of profiteering power-ego editors feathering their own nests - the ODP. AOL is making millions, and needs to police it's run-amok entity. Enough already!

This is a tough one.
Google's directory used to come STRAIGHT from the DMOZ directory. You should try to get into dmoz.
But you can't.
Be careful whom you approach with the old spondulix -
Formal DMOZ Bribe Instructions.
It is almost impossible to get into DMOZ. This site cannot get in, after waiting over 2 YEARS (33 months). Not even in the lowest, most insignificant category, "Personal Pages". I guess I just don't "measure up" to the other 20,000+ sites in the personal category.
I'm not the suck-up type - I kissed them off long ago. What a waste of time!

UPDATE: This page (not site) finally got indexed in June 2007, thanks to a legitimate editor. No money was paid.

Google needs to DO SOMETHING about populating its own directory with the skewed, incomplete, poorly determined results from the dysfunctional Open Directory Project - the ODP!. The Google directory is GONE!
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely (DMOZ)


DMOZ category?

Theme fit category?
General or geographic category? Both are possible, and acceptable.


Site listed in Yahoo Directory?

Big boost - You can get in by paying $299 each year.
Many swear it is worth it - many swear it isn't.

In 2014, Yahoo abandoned its directory.


Site listed in LookSmart Directory?

Boost? Another great vote for your site.
The Looksmart directory, acquired from Zeal in 2000, was closed in 2006.


Site listed in inktomi?

Inktomi has been absorbed internally by Yahoo.


Site listed in other directories (About, BOTW, etc.)

Directory listing boost (If other RESPECTED directories link to you, this must be positive.)


Expert site? (Hilltop or Condensed Hilltop)

Large-sized site, quality incoming links


Site Age - Old shows stability

Google patent
Boost for long-established sites, new pages indexed easily
The opposite of the sand box.


Site Age - Very New Boost

Temporary boost for very new sites - I estimate that this boost lasts from 1 week to 3 weeks - Yahoo does it too.


Site Directory - Tree Structure

Influences SERPs - logical, consistent, conventional


Site Map and more site map

Complete - keywords in anchor text


Site Size

Previously, many pages preferred - conferred authority upon site, thus page. Bigger sites = better SERPs
Now, fewer pages preferred, due to proliferation of computer-generated pages. Google has been dropping pages like crazy.


Site Theming

Site exhibit theme? Use many related terms?
Have you used a keyword suggestion tool?
A thesaurus?



Currently implemented through the Google tool bar?


Page traffic 34, 35

Google patent - # of visitors, trend


Page Selection Rate - CTR 15,16,21

Google patent - How often is a page clicked on?


Time spent on page 36, 37

Google patent - Relatively long time = indicates relevance hit


Did user Bookmark page? 45, 46

Google patent - Bookmark = Good


Bookmark add/ removal frequency 47

Google patent - Recent = Good?


How they left, where they went

Back button, link clicked, etc.



Currently implemented through the Google tool bar?


Site Traffic 34, 35

Google patent - # of visitors, increasing trend = good



Authoritative referrer?



Keyword searches used to find you


Time spent on domain

Relatively long time = indicates relevance hit
Add brownie points.




Domain Registration Time 40

Google patent - Domain Expiration Date
Register for 5 years, Google knows you are serious.
Register for 1 year, is it a throw-away domain?


Are associated sites legitimate? 39

Google patent - No spam, ownership, etc.

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     Added 2014 -
     POSITIVE Off-Page Factors (9)


Authorship Reputation

Stressed in 2014 rating guidelines

E, A, T Compliance

Endurance, Acceptance, Thoughtfulness Whoops!
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness



- Fame? (Everyone in his area knows author)
- Accomplishments? (list)
- Published works? (Prolific?)
- Large body of work? (Prolific?)
- Uncontroversial? (Universally respected)



- IQ Test results? Mensa membership?
- College?
- Degree?
- GPA?
- Past job titles?
- Current Employer?
- Current job title?



- Web Rep? (No bad press?)
- Email address? (Is a graphic still OK?)
- Contact page link on every page? (accessibility)
- Physical address required? (or just snail-mail)
- Telephone number? (OK to use graphic?)
- Privacy policy?


Fast Load Speed

Google has REALLY stressed reducing load time. Toward that end, I have removed Google analytics, as well as Google+, which slowed my site down more than anything else.

Do you notice your status bar when it frequently says, "Waiting for Google Analytics"? Fixed.


Google+ Adoption

A possible coming factor, or not.


Google+ Participation

A possible coming factor, or not.



Do you do what you are told?
Implement ALL Google suggestions, or suffer the consequences. Google AdSense degrades you on their "Scorecard", for not fully complying with their suggestions (ad sizes, image ads, etc.).

I find some of their "suggestions" disingenuous. Good for them, not so good for you. How hard do I get whacked for not implementing them? If you think "not at all", then think again - "We do not take any account actions based on your scores". ("But you had better do what we suggest.")


Social Signals

How many incoming links do you have from social media, such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Twitter, etc.? Prominent social sites linking to you enhance the credibility of your site, and result in higher Google ranking.

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4. Alleged
SEO Google Ranking Factors (18)


OFF-Page SEO Factors

Brief Note


Traffic Buying

Have you paid a company for web traffic? It is probably low quality traffic, with a zero conversion rate. Some providers of traffic for traffic's sake may be considered "bad neighborhoods". Can Google discount your traffic (for true popularity), because they know it's mostly phony?
Have you read about Traffic Power?


Temporal Link Analysis


In a nut shell, old links are valued, new links are not.
This is intended to thwart rapid incoming link accumulation, accomplished through the tactic of link buying.
Just one of the sandbox factors.


Change of Meanings

Query meaning changes over time, due to current events


Zero links to you - BAD

You MUST have at least 1 (one) incoming link (back link) from some website somewhere, that Google is aware of, to REMAIN in the index.


Link-buying - BAD

(Very good IF you don't get caught,
but don't do it -
when caught, the penalty isn't worth it.)

Google patent - Google hates link-buying, because it corrupts their PR model in the worst way possible.
1. Does your page have links it really doesn't merit?
2. Did you get tons of links in a short time period?
3. Do you have links from high-PR, unrelated sites?


Prior Site Ranking

41, 42

Google patent - High = Good


Cloaking - BAD

Google promises to Ban! (Presenting one webpage to the search engine spider, and another webpage to everybody else.)


Links from bad neighborhoods, affiliates


Google says that incoming links from bad sites can't hurt you, because you can't control them. Ideally, this would be true.
However, some speculate otherwise, esp., when other associated factors are thrown into the mix, such as web rings.


Penalties - resulting from
Domain Hijacking
(work with Google to fix)

Should result in IMPRISONMENT, forthwith!
Grand Theft, mandatory minimum sentence.
The criminal COPIES your entire website, and HOSTS it elsewhere, with . . . a few changes.


Penalty - Google TOS violation

WMG is the worst offender - gobbles up tons of Google server time by nervous Nellie webmasters. Google even mentions them by name. I think that Google will spank you when you cross the threshold, of say, 100 queries per day for the same term, from the same IP. Google can block your IP. Get a Google API.


Server Reliability - S/B >99.9%


What is your uptime? Ever notice a daily time when your server is unavailable, like about 1:30 AM? How diligent must Googlebot be? This is the worst reason to get dropped - you just aren't there! An ISP maintenance interruption can cause delisting.


No more room
Pages being dropped from large sites

The 232 problem - Google has hit the 4.3 Gigabyte address space wall. Bull! Google now has over 8 50 Gigs of indexed pages.
Thousands of pages are disappearing from various huge websites, but I think that it is G just cleaning house, by dumping computer-generated pages.


Rank Manipulation by
Competitor Attack

(1. Content theft causing you to get a duplicate content penalty, even though your content is the original - Google has problems tracking original authorship. People are still stealing my content, but nobody trumps me (in Google) with my own content - hats off to Google.)

Examples -
Site-Wide Link Attack
302 Redirect Attack
Hijacker Attack

Impossible by Google definition (except for a few nasty tricks, like making your competition appear to be link spammers)
Ideally, there SHOULD be nothing that your competition can do to directly hurt your rankings.

However, an astute observer noticed that Google changed their website to read :
Old verbiage = "There is nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking ..."
New verbiage = "There is ALMOST nothing a competitor can do ..."
An obvious concession that Google thinks that at least some dirty tricks work!

Of course, there will always be new ones!

A huge topic is now "negative SEO".


Bouncing Ball Algorithm

At least 2, and often 3 identifiable Google Search Algos are currently in use, alternating pseudo-randomly through the data centers.
G moved to a daily dance in 2007. Multiple changing factors are applied daily. GOOD LUCK NOW on trying to figure things out!

IN ADDITION, some the above factors are being "tweaked" daily. Not only are the "weights" of the factors changed, but the formula itself changes. Change is the only constant.

An algo change can boost or demote your site. I put this in the negative factors section, because your position is never secure, unless of course, you are huge (PR=7 or greater). If you simply cannot achieve top position, your only alternative to first page SERP exposure may be Google Ad Words (you pay for exposure).

Today, I searched for an extremely competitive "2-word term", and I found that NOT ONE of the top ten Google SERPs had even one of the words on the page.
Today's theory - when it doesn't matter, anybody can get #1 in a second, if they know the on-page rules. BUT, after a certain "commercial competitive level", the "semantic analysis" algo kicks in, and less becomes more. The keyword density rules are flipped upon their noggins. I think that we are witnessing the evolution of search engine anti-seo sophistication, right before our very eyes. Fun stuff.



360 - 600

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     Added 2014 -
     NEGATIVE Off-Page Factors (6)


Link Velocity

Links acquired too quickly = UNNATURAL (Penguin)


Link Schemes

ANY kind! Don't do it! (Penguin)
Circles, Directories, Farms, Purchased, Reciprocal, etc.


Bad Reputation

Does the author have lots of negative press on the Internet?
Anarchist? Liar? Troll? Spammer? Repugnant personality?


Negative Google Comments in Forums

Does Google penalize the sites of those who make negative comments about Google on webmaster forums? IMHO, yes. Keep in mind that Google sees and knows all. That may have been what got me, and rendered me irrelevant in Google's eyes. NO MORE PERSONAL OPINIONS will be expressed in any forums by me.

It has come to my attention that certain Google Webmaster Forums have sweet deals with Google. If you post something negative about Google, it can disappear quickly. It has personally happened to me. I have seen it happen to others.

In life, honesty is great for you personally, but NOT when dealing with Google. Shut your mouth, and suck it up, or pay the price. You don't criticize Google, and get away scot-free. Blind obedience and acceptance is required, if Google is paying you money.
Wouldn't you do the same?
So, get a clue, and STFU. There may be NO recovery for glib tongues. This is my best guess at my continuing demotion, because my Google Compliance Level is extremely good.


Unknown Negative Factors

There is subjective speculation, expressed by some webmasters.

- You have become "collateral damage", because
- Google's ranking system has become too complex, and tosses out the baby with the bath water.

Or, maybe
- A Google Quality Rater took you off a white list.
- A Google Quality Rater put you on the black list.
- A Google Quality Rater degraded your status.
- A Google Quality Rater makes $16/ hour, and has the ability to bury you and render you irrelevant, with the click of a mouse.

Or, maybe
- A Google employee doesn't like you.
- A Google employee's friend doesn't like you.
- A Google employee is competing with you.
- A Google employee's friend is competing with you.
- A Google employee doesn't like your politics.
- A Google employee doesn't like your looks.
- A Google employee doesn't like what you said.
- A Google employee saw you made 2X what he did



Unlisted Factors

I believe that there are AT LEAST 100 more ranking factors, which are not listed here. Even the most diligent student of Google may NEVER get wind of some changes, because nobody has talked.

For these factors, use the logic test. Would it be logical for Google to include such a factor, if it made them more money? If the answer is yes, then they are PROBABLY already doing it. Or soon will be.



360- 600

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Notes to the Above
150+ Google Ranking Factors


I have tried to summarize the best opinions of many webmaster forum posters.

There are no published rules - this is my continuously changing compilation of SEO chatter. This is my semi-annual, one-way technical Google ranking blog, if you will.

If your keywords are Rare and Unique, then Page Rank doesn't matter.

If your keywords are very Competitive, then many factors become very important.

The fewer incoming links that you have, the more important on-page factors are, for noncompetitive terms.

There are a million ifs, ors, buts . . . I am attempting a concise summary.
Exceptions to EACH of the POSITIVE ON-Page factors are frequent and many.
However, I feel that it is important to score highly on as many factors as possible, since factor weight and even factor consideration are changing constantly - CYA. Not to mention the other SEs.

A few words about the LANGUAGE used on the Google site -
in a phrase - "soft spoken". We see it everywhere these days.
I am referring to understatement, sometimes even to the point of confusion.
"significant", "may", etc.
For example, when Google states that maybe it might not be a good idea to do a particular thing, what they SOMETIMES really mean is "If you do it, you are history".
Some Google suggestions are actually commands (STRONG HINTS) in disguise.
At some point, you begin to realize this.
Google just can't tell us everything, literally. Sooooooo, take the hints.

Become religious. Seek the light. It's there, but you gotta look.
LISTEN UP! Read the rules. Read between the lines. Carefully.
Differentiate. Project. Carefully analyze your own situation.

Webmaster Guidelines

How does Google rank pages?

Google Facts and Fiction

Search Engine Optimizers

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The Google Sandbox -
The Single-Biggest SEO
Ranking Factor for New Sites

Google is clearly fighting spam
by sacrificing SERP newness for
higher SERP quality.


The sandbox is alive and well.
In March 2004, Google implemented a new filter, now referred to as "The Sandbox". This new "effect" took months to notice and quantify.

The sandbox is also referred to as an "aging delay". Two aging delays have been suggested - one for link weight, and one for competitive term ranking.

The sand box only applies to highly COMPETITIVE terms, revolving around money, such as the words attorney, loans, viagra, real estate, etc. The more lucrative the keyword, the longer the wait.

Yahoo has a sandbox, as well. Opinion seems to indicate that the Yahoo aging delay is not quite as long as the Google Aging Delay. Yahoo does seem to provide an initial boost, that will disappear after about 4 weeks.

MSN appears to have no sandbox. New sites with new pages, targeting competitive terms, can rank well very quickly (weeks) for those terms.

If you subscribe to the spam reduction theory, Google's thinking was, NO NEW SITES get good ranking, until they prove themselves.
Spammers generate thousands of new pages daily, along with millions of new links to go with them. This penalty is new-site based. Long-standing sites have no trouble ranking new pages.

Link Weight Aging Delay
Google WITHHOLDS "link juice" on new sites, by deprecating the new links, for 2-8 months. If the domain and backlinks have existed for a certain length of time (6 months?), then maybe you are OK, and escape from the sandbox.
Over time, the newly generated links are given weight, and eventually the sandbox effect is lifted.

Competitive Term Aging Delay
Google WITHHOLDS high ranking ability on new sites, for highly commercial keywords, such as loans, real estate, viagra, etc.
Eventually, the new site will rank well for the competitive keywords, and the sandbox effect is lifted. Six months is mentioned most frequently.

Two methods are currently being used to get around the Sandbox penalty for new sites.

One method is to join the Google Ad Words or Adsense program, in which case your pages get spidered in MINUTES. Your site will be checked initially with an algo or human "smell test". If you don't smell bad, you're in. Good rankings will follow (provided of course, that you have good on-page SEO, and a few good backlinks).

I speculate that if you are a Google partner ("approved"), then you are not going to be penalized, unless you subsequently "go bad".

The second method is to buy an old domain, just for it's longevity, and old backlinks. Many have bought up old domain names for this purpose. This may work right now, but the rules will soon change again. They always do.
Good luck!

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This is NOT A Google, Inc. Site
In no way, did this data come directly from Google, Inc.
This page consists of a compilation of public information, commonly available on the Internet, at multiple sites, as well as public webmaster forums, and found by performing simple manual tests, using an Internet browser.
The opinions stated above are merely the often misguided personal opinions of the author.
I am not privy to any inside information.
This information is continually changing, and may not be relevant when you read it.
Although the author makes every effort to verify the information on this page, no information on this page is guaranteed to be correct, and any data contained herein may be erroneous.


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This Vaughns Google SERP Ranking Factors
SEO Checklist was last updated on 2020-06-30.