Top 50 Google Ranking Factors – The Secret Signals To Rank Your Website In Search

Recently, SEOMoz surveyed a list of top SEOs that had websites ranking in search. They asked: what are the most important factors for ranking in Google search?

The results of the survey prioritized the ranking factors that matter most for positioning websites in Google organic search results.

Below you’ll see that I’ve listed all the factors they came out with. Now even though the title of the chart says they’re for “localized organic factors,” are the exact same for national (and international) Google search ranking results: The only difference with the national-level results, is that you subtract the few local-specific factors (city, state in landing page title, etc.).

If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry: Below the factors, I’ve explained in simple terms what it all means and how to use this information to tear-through Google and rank on page 1 for any keyword.

I’m also giving away my simple ranking process so you can cut out the 80% of things that don’t really matter for year search results, and only focus on the few 20% of factors that are going to maximize your results. This guide will save you a hell of lot of time wasted doing unnecessary tasks that many other “SEO gurus” teach.

Put a special focus on the first 15 factors, as this will determine the majority of what it takes to rank your website in Google.

 

top 50 google ranking factors - the secret to ranking in 2015

Notice that quantity of backlinks is listed as ranking factor #17 out of 50. The biggest mistake people make starting in SEO is that they blast a GAZILLION backlinks at their website, thinking this will produce a rank. In most situations pointing too many low-quality links at your website will lead to over-optimization penalties.

#1 Google Ranking Factor:
Your Domain Must Have Authority!

By far, the most important factor for ranking in Google search is Domain Authority. Google favors websites that seem “authoritative” in their category/niche. They want to list the website with the most relevant content to the topic searched. So, for example, if I search for the “Chicago Bulls”, Google will show the most authoritative results for that search, which is the NBA’s website. It many seem intuitive that the NBA’s website would come up first for that search, however the mechanism that signals the NBA’s website’s authority is not well understood.

Part of the misconception about Domain Authority, is that SEOMoz has hijacked the term and applied their own definition of what it means. It is important to distinguish what SEOMoz thinks Domain Authority is and what Google thinks the Domain Authority of a website is. Only Google’s definition of Domain Authority is consequential to a site’s position in rank, while SEOMoz’s definition is a rough estimate at best. It’s been a few years since Google has published “page-rank” metrics, so it’s no longer easy to determine how much Domain Authority-weight a website carries in Google’s eyes. However, there is a simple process for manufacturing Domain Authority and applying it to your own website.

The easiest way to build Domain Authority is to get links from other established, authoritative websites in your category that are already ranking for relevant search terms in your niche. So if you want to rank for a “Chicago Bulls” search term, you’d ideally want to have a link from the Chicago Bulls NBA page, the Chicago Bulls wikipedia site, etc. This way Google will see that the most authoritative sources in that category are pointing to your website and it will rank you higher in search.

Good luck getting a link from NBA.com, but what you can do is go to page 2 and page 3 of the search results and look at other authoritative websites that you could link from back to your website. For example, Reddit.com ranks on page #2 for the “Chicago Bulls” and they have an entire section on their website on that topic. If you created a topic on the Chicago Bulls section of Reddit and linked back to your website, it would contribute to your website’s Domain Authority.

Using this method was how I made $8,000 in a day by ranking #1 for “back to back world war champs hat”. I found the most authoritative websites that were ranking for that search term at the time (Tosh.O blog and barstoolsports.com) and I left links in the comments section for those websites. Since there weren’t many people competing for that search term and all the established authority websites were linking to me, Google recognized my website as the most authoritative for that search term and ranked me #1.

Manufacturing Domain Authority
With A Personal Blog Network

Manually building backlinks is very time-consuming and there’s a limit to how many “authoritative” links you can point to your website. An expert SEO requires a consistent, predictable, and repeatable method to manufacture Domain Authority on demand. For this, we build some something called a personal blog network (“PBN”).

The idea behind a personal blog network is that you start by acquiring old, established, authoritative websites on any topic for your network. Next you re-theme the websites with content related to your category.  Finally you link these acquired websites back to your “money website” and pass on the Domain Authority (aka “link juice”).

It’s a very simple process (and a very effective ranking strategy), but the problem is that over the years Google has caught on to the practice. Their new algorithm penalizes websites that it detects all have the same owner. Typically, poorly constructed personal blog networks are hosted on “bad link neighborhoods” around the internet and are often associated with other websites that are used for massive link-spam or other SEO purposes. It’s critical not to outsource this kind of work to services that will associate your website with other spammers. Best practice is to build your network yourself, use a variety of web-hosts for the network (with unique IP addresses and namservers), and prevent discovery through DNS by using WHOIS protection and varying domain registrars. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it if you want to rank for high-competition searches and make a lot of money with SEO.

To add complexity to the process, building a personal blog network requires an intelligent research and domain acquisition, something that 99.9% of those attempting to build a personal blog network will fail at. Most will outsource this work to “domain brokers”, but these services rarely provide domains that will have enough Domain Authority to justify their expense.

The best way to get high-authority domains that can be used for your personal blog network is through the graveyard of the internet called “expired domains auctions”. The largest index of expired domains is called GoDaddy Auctions, though there are other such as Namejet and Sedo to name a few. With an intelligent bid strategy and specialized bid-sniper software (Domain Auction Sniper), personal blog network costs will be reduced over 80% when compared to quality domain brokerages.

Associate Your Website With A Real
Business And Physical Location

The search engine isn’t the only product offered by Google. Google has massively invested in technology that has strong applications for businesses. Their most ambitious projects has been mapping the entire planet’s surface and associating physical addresses of businesses with their search engine results.

What most SEOs don’t realize is that local ranking factors are nearly identical for national and international search engine results. Google prefers to rank websites that are associated with a physical address on their maps, rather than websites that only exist in virtual space or on a server. Google favors websites that represents real businesses that exist in the physical world and they’ve created a slew of indicators that let them know which websites those are.

Getting started establishing a business website is very easy, it starts with setting up an account on the Google My Business website and verifying the address. Once the address is verified, Google will begin to associate your domain-name with a physical address in the real world and your website will get a massive boost in search results.

There a few other indicators that will signal to Google that your website belongs to a business. This includes establishing a unique “brand name” that you use on the title of your website and building a backlink profile with the brand name as the anchor-text to establish that others use that brand name to refer to your site as well.

 

Local Business Schema (NAP)

A secret that is rarely spoken about, but will heavily affect your website’s rankings, is something called Schema markup. Schema markup (or microformats) are special tags that are used in the HTML code of your website.

The markup from Schema that’s most relevant for ranking purposes is called a NAP citation. NAP is an acronym for “name, address, place“. It’s a tag that you include in the footer of your website that lets the Google crawler know that you’re listing a business address. By placing a NAP citation on your website, it strengthens your website’s association with a physical business, thus contributing to your Domain Authority.

You can learn more about NAP (name, address, place) citations by going to their website: http://schema.org/LocalBusiness.

 

Local Citations

If you’re attempting to rank for a search term with high competition, simply associating your website with a business address will not suffice. You’ll have to build local citations. Local citations are listings in local directories around the internet with your business name, address, and phone number. Examples of directories that accept local citations are Yelp, Yahoo Local, HotFrog, and WhitePages.com.

The reason local citations are powerful because Google favors business websites. The way Google confirms if a business is legitimate is by crawling local directories across the internet for citations of your business. When it sees multiple associations of business address and phone number together, it adds authority to your website in search and gives it a boost.

The best way to build local citations is by building a list of relevant local online directories in your area and outsourcing the work to an outsourcer. Another option is just using a service that submits it for you.

 

To Be Continued…

In this guide I’ve address the 50 most important factors that determine whether your website is an “authority property” in Google’s eyes, and favor your website when you optimize for target keywords. I’ve explained why Domain Authority will the most important factor determining your website’s ranking and how it is dependent on key signals that show your website is associated with a business and that it’s an authority. Lastly, I gave a method to link your website with a business address, create local citations, and use a PBN to manufacture Domain Authority on demand.

In the next post, I will address how to tackle the other major factors that will contribute your ranking in Google:

  • Mass Backlinks Built The Right Way
  • Densifying Your Social Footprint
  • Hacking Social Shares
  • Conversion Rate Optimization (How To Raise CTR)
  • Checklist To Never Get De-indexed Or “Slapped” By Google

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