On-Page (Keyword-Specific) Ranking Factors

1. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag 66% very high importance 66% 8% moderate consensus 2. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) of the Title Tag 63% high importance 63% 11.3% light consensus
3. Keyword Use in the Root Domain Name (e.g. keyword.com)

60% high importance 60% 11.2% light consensus 4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the H1 Headline Tag 49% moderate importance 49% 10.2% light consensus 5. Keyword Use in Internal Link Anchor Text on the Page 47% moderate importance 47% 13% moderate contention 6. Keyword Use in External Link Anchor Text on the Page 46% moderate importance

46% 13.6% moderate contention 7. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) in the H1 Tag 45% moderate importance 45% 11.7% light consensus 8. Keyword Use in the First 50-100 Words in HTML on the Page 45% moderate importance 45% 9.9% light consensus
9. Keyword Use in the Subdomain Name (e.g. keyword.seomoz.org)

42% low importance 42% 9% light consensus
10. Keyword Use in the Page Name URL (e.g. seomoz.org/folder/keyword.html)

38% low importance 38% 9.1% light consensus
11. Keyword Use in the Page Folder URL (e.g. seomoz.org/keyword/page.html)

37% low importance 37% 8.6% light consensus
12. Keyword Use in other Headline Tags (<h2> – <h6>)

35% low importance 35% 8% light consensus 13. Keyword Use in Image Alt Text 33% minimal importance 33% 8.7% light consensus 14. Keyword Use / Number of Repetitions in the HTML Text on the Page 33% minimal importance 33% 10.3% light consensus
15. Keyword Use in Image Names Included on the Page (e.g. keyword.jpg)

33% minimal importance 33% 8.6% light consensus 16. Keyword Use in <b> or <strong> Tags 26% minimal importance 26% 7.6% moderate consensus
17. Keyword Density Formula (# of Keyword Uses ÷ Total # of Terms on the Page)

25% minimal importance 25% 9.8% light consensus

18. Keyword Use in List Items <li> on the Page 23% very minimal importance 23% 9.5% light consensus
19. Keyword Use in the Page’s Query Parameters (e.g. seomoz.org/page.html?keyword)

22% very minimal importance 22% 7.6% moderate consensus 20. Keyword Use in <i> or <em> Tags 21% very minimal importance 21% 8.4% light consensus 21. Keyword Use in the Meta Description Tag 19% very minimal importance 19% 9.9% light consensus
22. Keyword Use in the Page’s File Extension (e.g. seomoz.org/page.keyword)

12% very minimal importance 12% 8.3% light consensus 23. Keyword Use in Comment Tags in the HTML 6% very minimal importance 6%

5.7% moderate consensus 24. Keyword Use in the Meta Keywords Tag 5% very minimal importance 5% 5.5% moderate consensus

Comments on On-Page (Keyword-Specific) Ranking Factors:

• • •

Andy Beal – Keyword use in external link anchor text is one of the top SEO factors overall. I’ve seen sites rank for competitive keywords—without even mentioning the keyword on-page—simply because of external link text. Andy Beard – Keyword Use in the Meta Keywords Tag – ignore them unless using a blogging platform which can use the same keywords as tags. Google ignores them. Christine Churchill – Taking the time to create a good title tag has the biggest payoff of any on-page criteria. Just do it! Duncan Morris – It’s worth pointing out that even though having keywords in the meta description doesn’t impact rankings they can play a significant role in the sites click through rate from the SERPs. Peter Wailes – Domain name keyword usage gains most of its strength through what anchor text people are then likely to link to you with, not so much from inherent value, which is lower in my opinion.

On-Page (Non-Keyword) Ranking Factors
1. Existence of Substantive, Unique Content on the Page 65% very high importance 65% 9.2% moderate consensus 2. Recency (freshness) of Page Creation 50% moderate importance 50% 10.5% moderate consensus 3. Use of Links on the Page that Point to Other URLs on this Domain

41% low importance 41% 12.6% moderate contention
4. Historical Content Changes (how often the page content has been updated)

39% low importance 39% 10.9% moderate consensus 5. Use of External-Pointing Links on the Page 37% low importance 37% 13.3% moderate contention 6. Query Parameters in the URL vs. Static URL Format 33% minimal importance 33% 11.8% moderate consensus 7. Ratio of Code to Text in HTML 25% minimal importance 25% 11% moderate consensus 8. Existence of a Meta Description Tag 22% very minimal importance 22% 11% moderate consensus

9. HTML Validation to W3C Standards 16% very minimal importance 16% 9.3% moderate consensus 10. Use of Flash Elements (or other plug-in content) 13% very minimal importance 13% 10.1% moderate consensus 11. Use of Advertising on the Page 11% very minimal importance 11% 8.6% moderate consensus 12. Use of Google AdSense (specifically) on the Page 8% very minimal importance 8% 7.3% moderate consensus

Comments on On-Page (Non-Keyword) Ranking Factors:
• •

Russell Jones – If Google only ranked the “tried and true”, their results would be old and outdated. Recency is a valuable asset when links are hard to come by. Tom Critchlow – Factors like recency (freshness) and content changes are difficult factors to pin down. A fresh page is a real asset if trying to rank for fresh queries and when QDF hits in but other times having an established page can be more of a benefit so sometimes you need one and sometimes you need the other. Peter Meyers – Anecdotally, it feels like freshness is more important than ever. I’m amazed how often a blog post ranks within the first day, holding a top-10 position before finally settling a few spots (or even pages) lower. Carlos Del Rio – HTML Validation is not necessary, but running validation is an easy way to catch broken code that can trap spiders. If you are not linking out at all you are

sending a signal that you are not part of the Internet as a whole. Creating topical association is very important to maintaining a strong position. Ian Lurie – Ratio of code to text and HTML Validation don’t have direct impacts, but by focusing on these factors you create semantically correct markup and fast-loading, content-rich pages, which has a huge impact. The description tag and static/non-static URLs won’t impact rankings. But they do impact click-through on your listing once you see it. So I’m not suggesting you ignore your description tag or use messy URLs. But when you change them, expect more clicks for the rankings you have, not better rankings.

Page-Specific Link Popularity Ranking Factors
1. Keyword-Focused Anchor Text from External Links 73% very high importance 73% 6.4% moderate consensus
2. External Link Popularity (quantity/quality of external links)

71% very high importance 71% 9.2% moderate consensus
3. Diversity of Link Sources (links from many unique root domains)

67% very high importance 67% 8.5% moderate consensus
4. Page-Specific TrustRank (whether the individual page has earned links from trusted sources)

65% very high importance 65% 8.7% moderate consensus 5. Iterative Algorithm-Based, Global Link Popularity (PageRank) 63% high importance

63% 8.8% moderate consensus
6. Topic-Specificity/Focus of External Link Sources (whether external links to this page come
from topically relevant pages/sites)

58% high importance 58% 10.6% moderate consensus 7. Keyword-Focused Anchor Text from Internal Links 55% high importance 55% 9.9% moderate consensus
8. Location in Information Architecture of the Site (where the page sits in relation to the site’s
structural hierarchy)

51% moderate importance 51% 10.7% moderate consensus
9. Internal Link Popularity (counting only links from other pages on the root domain)

51% moderate importance 51% 9.1% moderate consensus 10. Quantity & Quality of Nofollowed Links to the Page 25% minimal importance 25% 10.8% moderate consensus

11. Percent of Followed vs. Nofollowed Links that Point to the Page 17% very minimal importance 17% 11.4% moderate consensus

Comments on Page-Specific Link Popularity Ranking Factors:

Jon Myers – SEO ranking for me is won in the external factors today. It is the old 80%/20% rule and time needs to be invested in the getting your linkage right as this is where you will win. Make sure you are focusing the keyword anchor text and directing to the relevant pages. The focus has to be towards a quality and quantity mix and also don’t get all your links from one type of source, make sure you have a blend as this I believe counts well for you as well. Use PR rank to determine high ranking links but make sure they are relevant is always a good starting point to refine the links and clean out the bad ones and refocus the anchor text on the good ones as I tend to find that more often than not about 85% of external links will have brand keywords as anchors, so you could be missing some great opportunities. Never forget though ones the bots are there make sure the internal linkage is good as it counts for a lot!

• • •

Russell Jones – The Link is King. All Hail the Link. Hamlet Batista – Sub-optimized pages with many incoming links outrank easily their well optimized but poorly linked counterparts. Todd Malicoat – Links are to SEO's what Snowflakes are to Eskimos. Off page factors were the most significant change in search relevancy that lead Google to become the 800 lbs. gorilla that they are. Focus on this area, and understanding the difference between different links and their relationship to search result sets, and you will understand the crux of good SEO. Understand how to place a value on link equity of a site, and you have a very powerful skill in evaluating competition in a search result. Jane Copland – I certainly don’t put much merit in the idea that the number of followed vs. nofollowed links pointing at a page plays a part in Google’s traditional web search results anymore. Think of all the really high-quality social links from sites like Twitter that carry nofollow tags: it would be completely ridiculous to regard a high number of nofollowed links as a detrimental trust metric.

Site-Wide Link-Based Ranking Factors
1. Trustworthiness of the Domain Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains (e.g.
TrustRank, Domain mozTrust, etc.)

66% very high importance

66% 9.5% light consensus
2. Global Link Popularity of the Domain Based on an Iterative Link Algorithm (e.g.
PageRank on the domain graph, Domain mozRank, etc.)

64% high importance 64% 11% light consensus
3. Link Diversity of the Domain (based on number/variety of unique root domains linking to
pages on this domain)

64% high importance 64% 9.5% light consensus
4. Links from Hubs/Authorities in a Given Topic-Specific Neighborhood (as per the
“Hilltop” algorithm)

64% high importance 64% 10.9% light consensus
5. Temporal Growth/Shrinkage of Links to the Domain (the quantity/quality of links earned
over time and the temporal distribution)

52% moderate importance 52% 9.5% light consensus
6. Links from Domains with Restricted Access TLD Extensions (e.g. .edu, .gov, .mil, .ac.uk,
etc.)

47% moderate importance 47%

13.8% moderate contention 7. Percent of Followed vs. Nofollowed Links that Point to the Domain 21% very minimal importance 21% 11% light consensus

Comments on Site-Wide Link-Based Ranking Factors:

• •

Carlos Del Rio – There’s likely to be a tipping point with Nofollowed links vs. Followed links to the domain where it’s not a factor unless the tipping point is reached where there are too many Nofollowed links. Then it has a Negative impact. Will Critchlow – Temporal growth of links above and beyond the value of the links themselves tends to only have a positive impact on QDF-type queries in my experience. Aidan Beanland – Google have stated in the past that .edu, .mil and .ac TLD extensions do not inherently pass any more value than others, but that alternative factors may make this seem to be the case. Ann Smarty – Domain strength is a highly important factor (still). We keep seeing pages with 0 strength of their own hosted on reputable domains ranked very high for very competitive words. Lisa D Myers – I do think the distance between trusted domains and you could have an impact, the bots are becoming more intelligent with their reading and will take associations of domains with them as they go to compare to the next site it links to. Using LSI (Latent Symantic Indexing) was just the start for the search engines, I belive the algorithm is now so much more sophisticated and has the power to read not only latent symantic between content on a page but between sites. My mind boggles when I think about the process, it’s a bit like when you were little and tried to imagine the end of the universe! Again it comes down to content, if you generate highly valuable and relevant content the brilliant links will come to you. I know, I know, it’s such a cliche, but unfortunately true. If links are the currency of the web, content is the bank!

Site-Wide (non-link based) Ranking Factors
1. Site Architecture of the Domain (whether intelligent, useful hierarchies are employed)

52% moderate importance 52% 13% moderate contention 2. Use of External Links to Reputable, Trustworthy Sites/Pages

37% low importance 37% 10.8% moderate consensus 3. Length of Domain Registration 37% low importance 37% 14.3% moderate contention
4. Domain Registration History (how long it’s been registered to the same party, number of times
renewed, etc.)

36% low importance 36% 12.3% moderate contention 5. Server/Hosting Uptime 32% minimal importance 32% 11.4% moderate consensus
6. Hosting Information (what other domains are hosted on the server/c-block of IP addresses)

31% minimal importance 31% 10.4% moderate consensus
7. Domain Registration Ownership Change (whether the domain has changed hands according
to registration records)

31% minimal importance 31%

11.3% moderate consensus 8. Inclusion of Feeds from the Domain in Google News 31% minimal importance 31% 14.9% moderate contention 9. Use of XML Sitemap(s) 29% minimal importance 29% 12.3% moderate contention
10. Domain Ownership (who registered the domain and their history)

25% minimal importance 25% 12.1% moderate contention 11. Domain Registration with Google Local 24% very minimal importance 24% 12.7% moderate contention
12. Domain “Mentions” (text citations of the domain name/address even in the absence of direct
links)

24% very minimal importance 24% 9.8% moderate consensus 13. Inclusion of Feeds from the Domain in Google Blog Search 24% very minimal importance

24% 12.8% moderate contention
14. Citations/References of the Domain in the Yahoo! Directory (beyond the value of the link
alone)

24% very minimal importance 24% 12.2% moderate contention
15. Citations/References of the Domain in DMOZ.org (beyond the value of the link alone)

23% very minimal importance 23% 11.5% moderate consensus
16. Citations/References of the Domain in Wikipedia (beyond the value of the link alone)

22% very minimal importance 22% 12.4% moderate contention 17. Use of Feeds on the Domain 21% very minimal importance 21% 10.8% moderate consensus
18. Citations/References of the Domain in the Librarian’s Internet Index - Lii.org
(beyond the value of the link alone)

21% very minimal importance 21% 12.4% moderate contention

19. Domain Registration with Google Webmaster Tools 18% very minimal importance 18% 11.8% moderate consensus 20. Activation of Google’s “Enhanced Image Search” (aka image labeler) 17% very minimal importance 17% 10.3% moderate consensus
21. Use of Security Certificate on the Domain (for HTTPS transactions)

14% very minimal importance 14% 8.5% moderate consensus 22. Validity of Mailing Address/Phone Numbers/Records from Domain Registration 13% very minimal importance 13% 8.3% moderate consensus
23. Citations/References of the Domain in Google Knol Articles (beyond the value of the link
alone)

13% very minimal importance 13% 9.2% moderate consensus 24. Use of a Google Search Appliance on the Domain 6% very minimal importance 6%

7.4% moderate consensus 25. Use of Google AdSense on the Domain 5% very minimal importance 5% 6.1% moderate consensus 26. Use of Google AdWords for Ads Pointing to the Domain 5% very minimal importance 5% 5.8% moderate consensus
27. Alexa Rank of the Domain (independent of actual traffic)

5% very minimal importance 5% 5.8% moderate consensus
28. Compete.com Rank of the Domain (independent of actual traffic)

5% very minimal importance 5% 6.1% moderate consensus 29. Use of Google’s Hosted Web Apps (not App Engine) on the Domain 3% very minimal importance 3% 4.9% strong consensus

Comments on Site-Wide (non-link based) Ranking Factors:

Adam Audette – Many of these factors aren”t directly related to how Google will score a domain for ranking, BUT these all have a huge factor on the SEO of the site. For that

• •

reason it was slightly difficult to pull them out one by one. I believe DMOZ is still very juicy. Hint: Google still uses the directory. Double hint: search for “clothing” sometime and see what 2 of the top 10 results are. That’s significant, especially because there’s no ability to get a link on the ranking category page at DMOZ (which feeds Google’s). Citations/mentions/quality directories are certainly tracked and factored in, along with Google’s domain detective work. XML sitemaps can help with crawl fluidity but aren’t a scoring factor per se. Marshall Simmonds – Search engines either don’t care to, are unable, or aren’t good at organic comprehensive crawls of large sites (those in the millions of pages) due to size and depth of content. This means it’s critical to the success of enterprise level sites to implement XML sitemaps whereas smaller sites may not see the benefit as much. Wil Reynolds – Alexa and compete rankings would be of very little value given the prevalence of Google analytics and the Google toolbar. They can get much more accurate data from their own properties. Richard Baxter – Recent changes to Domain Registration Ownership, especially if the domain has been allowed to expire, impact the results extremely negatively. Ian Lurie – Use of Adsense/Google Apps/Google Search or other search engine-owned tools, though, won’t impact results at all. If your site is so hurting, SEO-wise, that you have to point an Adwords ad at it to get crawled, you’ve got bigger problems.

Social Media/Social Graph Based Ranking Factors
1. Delicious Data About the Domain or Page 21% very minimal importance 21% 11.9% light consensus 2. StumbleUpon Data About the Domain or Page 19% very minimal importance 19% 12.3% moderate contention 3. Twitter Data About the Domain or Page 17% very minimal importance 17% 10.7% light consensus

4. LinkedIn Data About the Domain or Page 15% very minimal importance 15% 11% light consensus 5. Facebook Data About the Domain or Page 12% very minimal importance 12% 9.1% moderate consensus 6. MySpace Data About the Domain or Page 11% very minimal importance 11% 8.4% moderate consensus

Comments on Social Media/Social Graph Based Ranking Factors:
• • • •

Marty Weintraub – Twitter data isn’t a factor yet, but it’s probably coming. Hamlet Batista – Matt Cutts explained in a video that Google doesn’t care how many twitter followers you have. Their algorithms only care about the links. Dan Thies – Put me down for “no way, never” on all these. Todd Malicoat – Social bookmarking is a quality indicator. Brand mentions are a quality indicator. If I was a search engine engineer, I would likely rank brand mentions based on social media conversations from third parties that were easiest to derive valid data from. Ian McAnerin – I’m inclined to believe that in this case "sometimes a link is just a link", to paraphrase Freud.

Usage Data Ranking Factors
1. Historical Click-Through Rate from Search Results to the Exact Page/URL 42% low importance 42% 11.4% light consensus

2. Historical Click-Through Rate from Search Results to Pages on this Domain 39% low importance 39% 11.3% light consensus 3. Search Queries for the Domain Name or Associated Brand 36% low importance 36% 12.3% moderate contention 4. Use of Query Refinement Post-Click on a Search Result 32% minimal importance 32% 11.2% light consensus 5. Average “Time on Page” Duration 26% minimal importance 26% 12% light consensus 6. Data from Google’s SearchWiki Voting, Ratings, Comments 19% very minimal importance 19% 9.1% moderate consensus 7. References/Links to the Domain in Gmail Emails 9% very minimal importance 9%

7.7% moderate consensus

Comments on Usage Data Ranking Factors:

• • • •

Jessica Bowman – While usability are factors likely in the formula, I haven’t seen much to indicate this is impacting rankings - especially for larger authoritative websites. Companies do need to focus on these because they will likely become a bigger impact in the next year. Andy Beal – While Google may well be experimenting with including these factors in their algorithm, I’ve seen no evidence to support wide-spread usage. Adam Audette – CTR on a search result is a large cumulative factor, and brings in page load time as well, which is something we're very focused on at present. Carlos Del Rio – Brand and domain additives to search terms have become especially important since the Vince change. Ian Lurie – None of these factors have a significant impact YET. But they're coming on. If you think Google’s ignoring all that toolbar data and Searchwiki info, you're mental.

Negative Ranking Factors
1. Cloaking with Malicious/Manipulative Intent 68% very high importance 68% 10.7% light consensus 2. Link Acquisition from Known Link Brokers/Sellers 56% high importance 56% 13.1% moderate contention 3. Links from the Page to Web Spam Sites/Pages 51% moderate importance 51% 12.1% moderate contention 4. Cloaking by User Agent 51% moderate importance

51% 15.2% moderate contention 5. Frequent Server Downtime & Site Inaccessibility 51% moderate importance 51% 12.3% moderate contention 6. Hiding Text with same/similar colored text/background 49% moderate importance 49% 15.3% moderate contention 7. Links from the Domain to Web Spam Sites/Pages 48% moderate importance 48% 13.1% moderate contention 8. Excessive Repetition of the Same Anchor Text in a High Percentage/Quantity of External Links to the Site/Page 46% moderate importance 46% 11% light consensus 9. Cloaking by IP Address 46% moderate importance 46% 15.3% moderate contention 10. Hiding Text with CSS by Offsetting the Pixel display outside the visible page area

44% low importance 44% 14.8% moderate contention 11. Excessive Number of Dynamic Parameters in the URL 43% low importance 43% 13.5% moderate contention 12. Excessive Links from Sites Hosted on the Same IP Address C-Block 41% low importance 41% 10.5% light consensus
13. Link Acquisition from Manipulative Bait-and-Switch Campaigns (301’ing microsites,
etc.)

41% low importance 41% 12.9% moderate contention 14. Keyword Stuffing in the On-Page Text 41% low importance 41% 11.3% light consensus
15. Hiding Text with CSS display:none; Styling

40% low importance 40% 14.2% moderate contention

16. Keyword Stuffing in the <title> Tag 39% low importance 39% 11.2% light consensus 17. Keyword Stuffing in the URL 37% low importance 37% 9.9% light consensus 18. Link Acquisition from Manipulative Widget/Badge Campaigns 37% low importance 37% 12.8% moderate contention 19. Cloaking by JavaScript/Rich Media Support Detection 37% low importance 37% 15.4% moderate contention 20. Cloaking by Cookie Detection 36% low importance 36% 16.3% moderate contention 21. Link Acquisition from Low Quality Paid Directories 36% low importance 36%

12.2% moderate contention 22. Excessive Links from Sites Owned by the Same Registrant 36% low importance 36% 12.4% moderate contention 23. Links to the Page from Web Spam Sites/Pages 36% low importance 36% 13.1% moderate contention 24. Links to the Domain from Web Spam Sites/Pages 34% minimal importance 34% 14% moderate contention 25. Link Acquisition from Manipulative Viral Campaigns 33% minimal importance 33% 12.9% moderate contention 26. Cloaking with Positive User Experience Intent 33% minimal importance 33% 12.8% moderate contention 27. Over-Optimization of Internal Link Anchor Text 32% minimal importance

32% 11.2% light consensus
28. Use of “Poison” Keywords in Anchor Text of External Links (e.g. student credit cards,
buy viagra, porn terms, etc.)

32% minimal importance 32% 11.9% light consensus 29. Link Acquisition from Buying Old Domains & Redirecting 32% minimal importance 32% 13.2% moderate contention 30. Excessively Long URL 30% minimal importance 30% 13% moderate contention 31. Use of Keyword-Rich Anchor Text Internal Links in Footers 27% minimal importance 27% 10.2% moderate consensus 32. Keyword Stuffing in the Meta Description Tag 26% minimal importance 26% 11.2% light consensus 33. Link Acquisition from Buying Old Domains and Adding Links

24% very minimal importance 24% 10.2% light consensus 34. Overuse of Nofollow on Internal Links for “PageRank Sculpting” 24% very minimal importance 24% 10.9% light consensus 35. Forum Link Building (Signatures, Link Drops, etc.) 22% very minimal importance 22% 12.8% moderate contention 36. Excessively Long Title Tag 21% very minimal importance 21% 9.1% light consensus 37. Keyword Stuffing in the Meta Keywords Tag 15% very minimal importance 15% 10.9% light consensus

Comments on Negative Ranking Factors:

Andy Beard –
Excessive Repetition of the Same Anchor Text in a High Percentage/Quantity of External Links to the Site/Page: o

It would depend on how they are acquired for long-term benefit

o

If you create a WP theme with Buy Viagra in the footer, don’t expect to be flavor of the month with human reviewers

Hiding Text with CSS display:none; Styling: o o

Is it part of a navigation system that allows the user to eventually display the content? If you hide a whole bunch of keywords, or keyword stuffed links, it could be a significant factor

Over-Optimization of Internal Link Anchor Text:

A perfectly optimized link points to content that is a perfect landing page for the keyword, and Google isn’t going to give you a penalty for something they expect you to do, tell the truth with your links.
Use of Keyword-Rich Anchor Text Internal Links in Footers: o o

With CSS you could have the header in the footer or the footer in the header does 100+ links in that part of the visible page make sense for users?

Link Acquisition from Buying Old Domains & Redirecting:

If redirecting and hosting the old content on the new domain, this can be achieved successfully.

Debra Mastaler – A lot of the comments you hear about widgets/301’ing microsites/buying old domains etc affecting you negatively is a result of overblown scare tactics perpetuated by a handful of people. There are a lot of legitimate uses for these tactics and when done well and as part of an overall marketing plan, they are successful. Tom Critchlow – A lot of these factors depend on intent. For example, cloaking by user agent can be fine so long as the intent is pure and many large sites get away with it and have done for years. Also, a fair number of the link factors (such as manipulative bait and switch campaigns) are more likely to have 0 value than negative value. We’ve seen Google preferring to de-value spammy techniques/links rather than apply penalties for them where possible. Carlo Del Rio – I have yet to see a net negative from buying old domains, but it often doesn’t make any positive ranking either. Currently manipulative link acquisition is the biggest threat in causing negative results. Crossing repetitive anchor text and high velocity acquisition is like playing with matches—eventually you get burned. Peter Meyers – It seems like the negative impact of link farms is very niche-specific. In some cases, Google really cracks down (real estate, for example), but in smaller niches I still see people running blatant link farms and getting away with it. I’m not sure the penalty has really made its way into the core algorithm.

Factors Negatively Affecting the Value of an External Link

1. Domain Banned from Google’s Index for Web Spam 70% very high importance 70% 10.8% moderate consensus 2. Domain’s Rankings Penalized in Google for Web Spam 65% very high importance 65% 10.9% light consensus 3. Link is Determined to be “Paid” Rather than Editorially Given 63% high importance 63% 12.5% moderate contention 4. Domain Contains Links to a Significant Amount of Web Spam 52% moderate importance 52% 11.3% light consensus 5. Domain Has Not Earned Trusted Links 41% low importance 41% 11.8% light consensus

Comments on Factors Negatively Affecting the Value of an External Link:

Adam Audette – All killers. The last one is a grey area...but a major factor. If a link is determined to be paid, it will normally be filtered out from the site's link graph. But there are occasions when a serious penalty will occur from too many paid links.

• •

Chris Bennet – I don’t know what measures Google has taken to algorithmically spot low quality paid/rented links but it would be very easy to build a tool that could spot 8090% of the crap without breaking a sweat. Hamlet Batista – Links from banned sites are pretty much worthless. Todd Malicoat – Most links won’t hurt you, but if you put significant effort into obtaining a link that won’t help you, you’ve negatively impacted your bottom line. Make sure you are hunting for links that matter. Ian McAnerin – Links are not a rankings factor – trust and topic are. Links just represent this. If you can show that the link has little/no trust or is unfocused, then it will not be worth much. If you can show it has neither trust nor accurately indicates the topic, then there is no reason to count it.

Geo-Targeting Factors:
1. Country Code TLD of the Root Domain (e.g. .co.uk, .de, .fr, .com.au, etc.)

69% very high importance 69% 7.9% moderate consensus 2. Language of the Content Used on the Site 63% high importance 63% 9.3% light consensus 3. Links from Other Domains Targeted to the Country/Region 60% high importance 60% 10.3% light consensus 4. Geographic Location of the Host IP Address of the Domain 57% high importance 57% 12%.0 moderate contention

5. Manual Review/Targeting by Google Engineers and/or Quality Raters 53% moderate importance 53% 14.6% strong contention 6. Geo-Targeting Preference Set Inside Google Webmaster Tools 52% moderate importance 52% 11.4% light consensus 7. Registration of the Site with Google Local in the Country/Region 45% moderate importance 45% 10.3% light consensus 8. Address in On-Page Text Content 41% low importance 41% 11.8% light consensus 9. Address Associated with the Registration of the Domain 35% low importance 35% 12.3% moderate contention
10. Geographic Location of Visitors to the Site (the country/region from which many/most
visitors arrive)

30% minimal importance 30%

10.2% light consensus
11. Geo-Tagging of Pages via Meta Data (e.g. Dublin Core Meta Data Initiative)

24% very minimal importance 24% 10.8% light consensus

Comments on Geo-Targeting Factors

• •

Joost de Valk – Ranking in different countries has different requirements. For some countries, f.i., Google cannot reliably determine server location based on IP, and some languages are so alike to Google’s algorithm that weird stuff sometimes happens (Dutch pages ranking in German results, f.i.) Russell Jones – Any opportunity you have to tell Google explicitly what region for which your site is designed — do it. Make their job as easy as possible. Wil Reynolds – The address associated with the registration of a domain wouldn’t make sense to have too large of an impact as this would severely hurt sites that are registered in one country yet have content for multiple countries on their site Aidan Beanland – In my experience Google still relies mainly on the ccTLD, IP location of host and Webmaster Tools regional target. Secondary cues are given less importance than in other search engines. Language of the site can act as an automatic geo-filter, as only queries in that language would match content from that country. However, this can (and does) cause confusion when the same language is spoken in multiple countries, or the same words are used across multiple languages.

Kristjan Mar Haukson – Address Associated with the registration of the domain we have worked with large companies with their address given in one country but targeting another and this has not played any role that we have seen

ADDITIONAL SEO DATA BROAD ALGORITHMIC ELEMENTS TO GOOGLE’S RANKINGS

24%

Trust/Authority of the Host Domain

22%

Link Popularity of the Specific Page

20%

Anchor Text of External Links to the Page

15%

On-Page Keyword Usage

7%

Visitor/Traffic & Click-Through Data

6%

Social Graph Metrics

5%

Registration & Hosting Data

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS BEST DESCRIBES YOUR OPINION/EXPERIENCE WITH GOOGLE’S “BRAND/VINCE” UPDATE FROM FEBRUARY OF 2009?

51%

The algorithmic changes/update affected algorithmic factors that unintentionally (and non-universally) appeared to preference some SERPs towards well-known, public brands.

36%

Google is now showing a slightly stronger preference towards websites associated with well-known, public brands.

9%

Google is now showing a much stronger preference towards websites associated with well-known, public brands.

4%

No major shift occurred that preferences Google’s results towards well-known, public brands.

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING BEST REPRESENTS YOUR OPINION OF HOW GOOGLE HANDLES ALGORITHMIC EVALUATION OF CONTENT ON SUBDOMAINS (EXCLUDING POTENTIAL SPECIAL CASES SUCH AS BLOGSPOT, WORDPRESS, ETC.)?

83%

Content on Subdomains inherits some, but not all, of the query-independent ranking metrics of the root domain (or other subdomains) and is judged partially as a separate entity.

10%

Content on Subdomains never inherits all of the query-independent ranking metrics of the root domain (or other subdomains) and is judged largely as a separate entity.

7%

Content on subdomains inherits all or nearly all of the query-independent ranking metrics of the root domain (or other subdomains) and is judged much the same as other content on the shared root domain.

Note: SUBDOMAINS IN THIS CONTEXT REFER TO THE 3RD-LEVEL DOMAIN NAME
ONLY, E.G. “SUB.DOMAIN.COM” WHILE ROOT DOMAINS REFER TO THE 2ND-LEVEL DOMAIN NAME, E.G. “*.DOMAIN.COM” INCLUDING ALL SUBDOMAINS.

TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU BELIEVE GOOGLE WEB SEARCH EMPLOYS DATA GATHERED FROM GOOGLE ANALYTICS TO INFLUENCE THEIR SEARCH RANKINGS?

74%

Google Analytics data is used only in aggregate form to help with pattern identification and broad user behavior analysis.

16%

Google Analytics data is not used in any way.

6%

Google Analytics data is employed on a website by website basis and can positively or negatively affect a site's rankings.

4%

Google Analytics data is employed on a website by website basis, but can only impact search rankings consideration positively (no web spam or penalty analysis is conducted).

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS MOST ACCURATELY REPRESENTS YOUR BELIEF/EXPERIENCE ABOUT HOW 301 REDIRECTS ARE HANDLED BY GOOGLE?

70%

301’s pass a high percentage (but not 100%) of query dependent and independent ranking factors from one URL to another only when certain content & spam analysis algorithms are satisfactorily met.

23%

301’s universally pass a high percentage (but not 100%) of the query dependent and independent ranking factors from one URL to another.

7%

301’s universally pass 100% of the query dependent and independent ranking factors from one URL to another.

IN YOUR OPINION/EXPERIENCE, DO LINKS FROM WIKIPEDIA DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTE POSITIVELY TO GOOGLE’S SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS, DESPITE THE USE OF NOFOLLOW?

68%

Yes, but these citations are not treated directly as links, merely as indications of potential quality/authority/trustworthiness.

26%

No. Wikipedia links only appear to pass value because many other sites/pages scrape and re-publish the links without nofollows.

6%

Yes, the links are treated as though the nofollow didn’t exist

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS BEST REPRESENTS YOUR OPINION OF HOW GOOGLE WILL TREAT LINKS AS PART OF THEIR RANKING ALGORITHM OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS?

48%

Links will decline in importance, but remain powerful, as newer signals rise from usage data, social graph data & other sources to replace them.

37%

Links will continue to be a major part of Google’s ranking algorithm, but dramatic fluctuations will occur in how links are counted and which links matter.

15%

Links will continue to be a major part of Google’s ranking algorithm, much as they have been over the past 5 years.

0%

Links will become largely obsolete, much the way keyword stuffing fell by the wayside in the late 1990’s.

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