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Google’s Official SEO Ranking Factors Exposed

In an effort to stay out of the black, move away from the grey and stick to white hat SEO, I’ve put together a list of ‘official’ Google SEO ranking factors for 2016. Each ‘official’ ranking factor is backed by either commentary or patents registered with Google and reflects only techniques known to deliver a positive effect. This research covers both the hard and fast Do’s and Don’t of SEO and avoids where possible any tactics that edge into grey areas. Without further ado here’s my list of ‘Official’ SEO ranking factors:

Official Positive SEO Ranking Factors

  1. Keywords present in the domain – http://www.stephanspencer.com/matt-cutts-interview/
  2. Keywords present in the page’s Title Tag – US 20070022110 A1
  3. Keywords highlighted using semantic Strong/Em tags – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awto_wCeOJ4
  4. Keywords used in an image’s Alt attribute – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NbuDpB_BTc
  5. Keyword stemming i.e. ing/s/er used in the websites content – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpnnXt7CHMU
  6. Keywords used in internal anchor text – http://www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf
  7. Pages linked site-wide from the websites menu, header or footer – Patent US 6285999 B1
  8. Domain is secured using HTTPS – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html
  9. Trigger QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) and get a temporary ranking boost for new topically relevant content – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNm0FZ40haU
  10. Grow trust by keeping your old but updated content – Patent US 8549014 B2
  11. Create high quality out bound links to authorative sources that back up your document – https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/
  12. Have responsive mobile friendly website design – http://searchengineland.com/mobilegeddon-beginning-not-ending-220512

Official Negative SEO Ranking Factors

  1. Text and links that have the same forefground and background colour i.e. white text on a white background – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66355?hl=en
  2. Single pixel image links – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66355?hl=en
  3. Empty link anchors – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66355?hl=en
  4. Copyright violations – https://support.google.com/legal/answer/1120734
  5. Doorway pages created purely for search engines – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721311?hl=en
  6. Broken internal links – http://searchengineland.com/googles-quality-rating-guide-leaked-version-five-196619
  7. Redirected internal links (301 and 302’s) – https://www.seroundtable.com/archives/021832.html
  8. Text in images – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NbuDpB_BTc
  9. Text in video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NbuDpB_BTc
  10. Text in rich media – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NbuDpB_BTc
  11. Thin content – https://www.daniweb.com/internet-marketing/search-engine-optimization/news/364574/daniweb-has-recovered-from-google-panda-sorta
  12. Domain wide thin content – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2604719?hl=en
  13. Frames/iframes – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/34445?hl=en
  14. Too many ads – http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/01/page-layout-algorithm-improvement.html
  15. Duplicate 3rd part content (Panda update) – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721312?hl=en
  16. Duplicate internal content https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66359?hl=en
  17. Links to penalised sites – https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/
  18. Slow page load speed – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html
  19. Noindex content using the xrobots tag
  20. Contet disalowed in robots.txt – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6062608?hl=en
  21. Poor reputation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-EdhaMDXho
  22. Meta or Javascript redirects – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721217?hl=en
  23. Text in javascript – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yTn_HLDaJs
  24. Poor uptime AKA cheap hosting – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXrwyTGOf1E
  25. Too many external links on a page – https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/
  26. Search results https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/search-results-in-search-results/
  27. Auto-generated content – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGCA2I8hfWc
  28. Phishing – https://www.reubenyau.com/google-trustrank-myth-busted/
  29. Orphaned pages – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2015/03/an-update-on-doorway-pages.html
  30. Server Issues

If you want to get a real idea of how Google views your website pay close attention to your Google Search Console (AKA Webmaster Tools) interface and make sure every element in every menu item is fixed and optimal.

Hopefully this guide to SEO ranking factors has given you a clear idea of what white hat SEO is and the absolute do’s and dont’s of your websites SEO optimisation strategy. Don’t forget there’s a lot of grey techniques that can provided added ranking boosts however as with all grey hat techniques they come with a risk.

Written by Mark Rushworth

With over 14 years experience in online design and marketing I, like many others, began my professional life as a web designer before realising my talent for digital marketing. This I have pursued as my primary career focus since 2007. Since then Ive worked across all sectors for clients big and small delivering the best bang for your buck.

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