Google Search Ranking Ingredients (SEO secrets)

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Google Search Ranking Ingredients (SEO secrets)

Xah Lee, 2011-01-19

Here's some tips about what Google uses to rank a site. Tips gathered from different sources and edited with my own experiences.

What and Why of SEO

Note: Search Engine Optimization (short SEO) is about editing your site so it shows up as top result in search engines. This activity is mostly gaming, and often with underhand tactics. Note that, if you want your site to be popular, the one most important factor is to create useful content that visitor likes. However, for certain content, there are thousands of competitors. For example, if your site sell or write about cell phone, then there are thousands of sites all in the market, and most of them all have useful content.

So, SEO is not something just for the shady businesses. It is critical. Looking at it from another perspective, understanding SEO can be thought of as part of understanding marketing — a necessity of business.

Unfortunate Effects of SEO

The unfortunate thing about existence of SEO is that, if your site is not a commercial organization — maybe you are a professor writing about math education on your blog, or maybe you are a professional novelist writing a personal blog about creative writing, then, even if you writing is top quality content within your subject, you site may be hard to find in search engines, because of the SEO activity by thousands commerical orgs.

The text in the html <title> and <h1> tags is perhaps the most important item in how Google determine a site's content, and suppose you have a creative blog about about English lexicon, and titled your blog with a artistic name such as “the Making of Belles-Lettres”. When people search about English vocabulary, your writing may be what they need exactly, but because your title does not contain the word “vocabulary” nor “English”, and fail among other 100 esoteric SEO factors, so search engine won't show your site on top, if at all.

Many people with expertise in particular area write blogs (e.g. academicians, artists). They write as a hobby, personal notes, to share their ideas with friends or other people. They have no intention to make money out of the blog. They wouldn't know the concept of SEO. If they do, they wouldn't be spending hundreds or thousand dollars to hire SEO companies to optimize their page, nor do they have the time and expertise to know all the tech details. The general public suffer from this, because millions of sites engage in pro SEO activity for the sake of money, and a majority of them have little or no quality content. So, when people search for “English vocabulary”, “math education”, “geometry”, they arrive at shady sites that sell low-quality English Tutorial or other products, and your expertly written blog “the Making of Belles-Lettres” went unnoticed.

Most Important Factors

Here's a list of most important factors. Main source: Source

Top 5 Ranking Factors

  • Keyword Focused Anchor Text from External Links 73%
  • External Link Popularity (quantity/quality of external links) 71%
  • Diversity of Link Sources (links from many unique root domains) 67%
  • Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag 66%
  • Trustworthiness of the Domain Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains (e.g. TrustRank, Domain mozTrust, etc.) 66%

Ranking Algorithm

  • 24% Trust/Authority of the Host Domain
  • 22% Link Popularity of the Specific Page
  • 20% Anchor Text of External Links
  • 15% On-Page Keyword Usage
  • 7% Traffic and Click-Through Data
  • 6% Social Graph Metrics
  • 5% Registration and Hosting Data

Google Search Ranking Ingredient

Google itself said there are about 200 factors. Here's a list of factors, based on Source www.seomoz.orgSource www.vaughns-1-pagers.comSource


  • Keyword in <title> tag
  • Keyword in Meta Description (Not Meta Keywords)
  • Keyword density of page
  • Keyword in header tags (<H1>, <H2> etc)
  • Keyword in body text
  • Freshness of Content

Per Inbound Link

  • Quality of website linking in
  • Quality of web page linking in
  • Age of website
  • Age of web page
  • Relevancy of page’s content
  • Location of link (Footer, Navigation, Body text)
  • Anchor text if link
  • Title attribute of link
  • Alt tag of images linking
  • Country specific TLD domain
  • Authority TLD (“.edu”, “.gov”)
  • Location of server
  • Authority Link (CNN, BBC, etc)


  • HTML structure
  • Use of Headers tags
  • URL path
  • Use of external CSS / JS files


  • Age of Domain
  • History of domain
  • keyword in domain name
  • Sub domain or root domain?
  • TLD of Domain
  • IP address of domain
  • Location of IP address / Server

Cluster of Links

  • Uniqueness of Class C address.

Internal Cross Linking

  • No of internal links to page
  • Location of link on page
  • Anchor text of FIRST text link (Bruce Clay’s point at PubCon)


  • Over Optimisation
  • Purchasing Links
  • Selling Links
  • Comment Spamming
  • Cloaking
  • Hidden Text
  • Duplicate Content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Manual penalties
  • Sandbox effect (Probably the same as age of domain)


  • JavaScript Links
  • No Follow Links
  • Performance / Load of a website
  • Speed of JS

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