That’s NOT a Google Search Ranking Factor

In the wake of a few current Twitter and web optimization discussion board arguments about rating elements, I wished to dispel some widespread misconceptions about what’s and isn’t a rating issue.

There are loads of issues associated to, correlated to, or related to rating elements that aren’t (or most definitely are usually not) rating elements themselves.

Why will we assume a few of these non-factors could also be thought of in Google’s algorithm?

In this put up, you’ll discover a number of the mostly introduced up by different web optimization professionals or shoppers. I’ve tried to elucidate why they aren’t technically a rating issue and included feedback from Googlers, the place related.

Website Age

I hold seeing this one in the entire rating elements lists on the market, although Google has said it isn’t a factor.


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Sure these items are correlated, however correlation doesn’t equal causation.

Domains which were round for a whereas have had that for much longer to accrue the entire indicators that go into rating.

If your website is older, it probably has extra content material and hyperlinks, because it’s had extra time to get clients and phrase of mouth, and many others.

Age is just not the issue right here. It’s the opposite indicators that include age – however don’t require age to get.

Domain Registration Period

The similar goes for domain registration length. This is one thing you purchase.  It wouldn’t make sense to make it a rating issue should you can simply pay for it.

Users don’t care how lengthy you’ve registered your area. It doesn’t make your website roughly related to their question.

Does it correlate? Sure, as a result of spammers normally don’t pony up for a number of years of registration.

You know who else doesn’t pony up for a number of years? Small companies or corporations who don’t need that expense .


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With auto-renew options on registrars now, it’s not likely a difficulty to go yearly. When you personal tons of or hundreds of domains, it’s higher for tax causes too.

There are higher methods of figuring out authority.

Google does have a patent on utilizing registration size, however that doesn’t imply they’re utilizing it for rating functions. That’s not how patents work. Anybody can patent something.

Take this Time Machine Patent, for instance. Getting a patent on a methodology doesn’t imply that utilizing mentioned methodology truly resulted in a optimistic change.


First, let’s make clear the phrases. Bounce rate is when a person visits one web page and doesn’t take any motion or go to every other pages.

Pogo-sticking is the act of a person visiting a web page after which clicking again to the search outcomes instantly (typically clicking one other search consequence). This is usually talked about as a rating issue by web optimization professionals regardless of Google saying otherwise in a video.

It’s not a issue.

It could also be used for inner testing, evaluating rating adjustments towards one another, high quality management, and different issues, however (except for personalization) it doesn’t seem like a issue within the core algorithm.

There are additionally a lot of circumstances the place pogo-sticking is a good factor. I pogo-stick each morning after I seek for “Detroit Red Wings” information and skim a number of articles from Google.

The similar goes for any click-based metric. They’re very noisy, typically don’t imply what we expect they imply, and may be simply manipulated.

This doesn’t imply Google doesn’t use issues like pogo-sticking to guage two variations of a search outcomes web page. But they probably don’t use it at a website or URL degree.

Total Amount of Page Content or Word Count

This one is simply foolish.

Sure, extra helpful content material is healthier.

More full content material is healthier. More related content material is healthier.

But merely extra content material? Nope.


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Think like a person.

If I’m looking for the realm code in Detroit would I would like the web page that simply says “Detroit’s space code is 313” or the one which builds as much as the reply with 3000 phrases of chic prose?

If you had been questioning, frequency of content updates isn’t a issue (in non-news search) both.

If I’m looking for a rooster soup recipe, I don’t want Grandma’s life story – simply inform me what I want and tips on how to make it.

Unlinked Mentions

This is a case of web optimization professionals barely misunderstanding some Google feedback.

Google has told us they don’t deal with unlinked mentions as hyperlinks. Eric and Mark even did a test that confirmed no enchancment in rankings.

What’s probably occurring right here is that unlinked mentions are used for the knowledge graph and figuring out entities, however in a roundabout way for rating.

Does the information graph affect rankings? Likely sure, in lots of oblique methods, however we must always listing these as a issue, somewhat than the issues which will partially make them up.


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Direct Website Visits. Time on Site. Bounce Rate. GA Usage

None of those are elements.

According to W3techs, solely 54% of internet sites use Google Analytics. Most large manufacturers and fortune 500 websites use Adobe Analytics as a substitute. Chrome solely has a 45-60% market share relying on what supply you take a look at.

In different phrases, there’s no dependable means for Google to get these metrics for greater than half of the online.

Big manufacturers are dominating rankings and Google doesn’t have their analytics knowledge. Even in the event that they did, it’s means too noisy of a sign.

For many websites, the bounce fee is ok. Take a climate website; most customers solely lookup the climate in a single location. A bounce is regular.

For different websites, time on website being low is sweet, too. Take Google itself — its aim is to get you off the search outcomes and onto one thing else as rapidly as attainable.

If you don’t imagine me, right here’s Gary saying it in 2017.


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Not a ranking factor. Page pace is a rating issue however AMP is totally different than web page pace.

For many queries, web page pace itself is simply a minor rating issue. There isn’t any situation the place Google goes to rank a quicker web page forward of a extra related web page.

You gained’t discover a person saying, “I do know I looked for Pepsi, however this Coke web page is a lot quicker…”

Does AMP enhance web page pace? Yes, it does. But pace remains to be the rating issue, not AMP.

(Note: AMP is required for the carousel and that does rank #1, however that’s not a part of the rating algorithm. That’s a search function, so it doesn’t rely.)

LSI Keywords

This is a kind of misinformation traits in web optimization that retains popping up each as soon as in a whereas. All it means is that the particular person saying it has no understanding of LSI in any respect.

Seriously, the L stands for latent, and latent means not there – which contradicts how most web optimization professionals then go on to make use of this phrase.


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Here’s a relevant post that explains it means higher than I can.

TF-IDF Keywords

Again, that is simply an web optimization professional telling the remainder of the neighborhood that they lack laptop science information. TF-IDF is a idea in data retrieval nevertheless it’s not really used in ranking.

Besides, there are means higher methods of doing stuff proper now than utilizing TF-IDF. It doesn’t work almost in addition to trendy strategies, and it’s not likely about rating in any respect.

When it involves evaluation, TF-IDF isn’t one thing that you just as a webmaster can do at a web page degree. It is determined by the corpus of ends in the index.

Not solely would you want all the opposite related paperwork, however you’d want the non-relevant ones to match them to, as nicely.

You can’t realistically scrape the search outcomes (related ones solely) after which apply TF-IDF and count on to study a lot. You’re lacking the opposite half of the required knowledge for the calculation.


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Here’s a very simple primer. If you wish to study extra, decide up an data retrieval textbook and examine these ideas.

I like to recommend “Information Retrieval” by Stefan Buttcher, who works at Google.

Quality Raters & E-A-T

They don’t have an effect on your website in any respect. They aren’t particularly ranking your website in any means that’s utilized by the algorithm.

They assist fee algorithm adjustments towards each other and create (for lack of a higher time period) coaching units of information.

Basically, some algorithm adjustments that Google makes will go to the standard raters first to see in the event that they actually achieved what they wished to realize. They’ll do one thing like take a look at two search outcomes pages and “fee” which one is healthier for that question.

If it passes, they’ll take into account placing the change reside.

I do know, I was a high quality rater some years in the past. Nothing in my job duties had me affecting the rankings of particular person web sites.


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Also, simply because one thing is within the high quality rater tips doesn’t imply that it’s a rating issue. The high quality rater tips are a simplified means of explaining in plain English what all of the precise elements are making an attempt to measure.

An excellent instance is E-A-T. Google has said there’s no such thing as an E-A-T score.

EAT is simply a conceptual mannequin for people to elucidate what the algorithm is making an attempt to emulate.

(If you need my opinion, E-A-T remains to be principally measured by PageRank, however that’s one other put up.)

XML Sitemaps

My pet peeve is seeing “no XML sitemap” on each web optimization audit I come throughout. Seriously, I simply wrote about it.

XML sitemaps don’t have anything to do with rating. At all. They are a methodology by which Google will uncover your pages — but when Google is already indexing all your pages, including an XML sitemap will do nothing.

Not each website wants one. It gained’t harm, however if in case you have a nice taxonomy and codebase it gained’t assist, both.


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They’re sort of a band-aid for websites which have crawl points.

Also, should you actually wish to go down this rabbit gap, right here’s John Mueller saying that HTML sitemaps aren’t a ranking factor.

Should you continue to do an XML sitemap?

Probably. There are numerous non-ranking advantages for doing it – together with extra knowledge accessible in Search Console.


Is accessibility vital? Yes, it’s.

Is there a flag within the search algorithm to say whether or not a website is accessible? No, there isn’t.

Currently, accessibility is just not a rating issue.

Several issues which are required for accessibility are rating elements comparable to alt attributes, correct heading utilization, and many others. But the major search engines are taking a look at these elements, not whether or not or not your web page passes an accessibility audit.

That doesn’t imply you shouldn’t make your web page accessible, although. Not doing so is a good strategy to get sued.

(Note: I predict a world the place search engines like google will finally take note of accessibility in order that when customers with assisted gadgets do a search they will get again solely outcomes that can work – however we aren’t there but. This might be a enjoyable 10% mission for some Googlers.)


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Content Accuracy

Google and Bing wish to show correct content material, however that’s a actually arduous downside to resolve.

Google and Bing know much less about what’s correct and extra about what the consensus of the online says. The net isn’t at all times proper.

More importantly, although, the engines try to match question intent and use different indicators (cough, cough, hyperlinks!) to gauge authority.

The focus proper now isn’t on whether or not the info is true or flawed (as that is very arduous to do). It’s extra on whether or not or not the location is exhibiting it’s authoritative and respected. Here’s Danny Sullivan saying just as much.

Since search engines like google solely see what the vast majority of individuals say, they aren’t actually measuring “correctness” however reputation or net consensus. It’s why we see flawed data within the information graph on a regular basis.

It’s additionally type of how Google Translate works, and it’s why we see some gender bias and different points seem in there. Unfortunately, that’s how the vast majority of the textual content on the web is written.


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Social Signals

As far again as 2010, Matt Cutts informed us that Google doesn’t use social indicators. (Except for that interval after they truly used their very own Google+ indicators.)

Google isn’t utilizing good friend counts, follower counts, or any metrics which are particular to social networks.

They can’t.

Most social networks block them from crawling. Many customers set their profiles to non-public. They merely can’t entry a lot of that knowledge.

But assume they might. What would occur in the event that they had been utilizing it and Twitter immediately put up a robots.txt blocking them? The rankings would drastically change in a single day.

Google doesn’t need that. They’re all about making issues strong and scalable.

Having mentioned that, although, they do crawl social networks when and the place they will – however they probably deal with them similar to every other web page on the web.

So if in case you have a excessive PR social web page that has hyperlinks to issues on it, these will rely as hyperlinks and a few of that authority could go.


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I’ve at all times joked that I wish to create a search engine that makes use of solely social indicators. But think about how terrible it could be to seek for delicate medical data and get again a bunch of memes making enjoyable of the situation.

For many matters, the best way individuals share stuff on social is just not the best way individuals search.

Just think about what a search engine that solely checked out social shares would present to your most/least favourite politician and also you’ll see why social indicators aren’t the perfect tokens for Google to make use of.

Subdomains or SubDirectories

Google doesn’t care.

There could have been a time after they did. But search engines like google have gotten means higher at figuring out whether or not you’re utilizing a subdomain as a separate website or as a a part of your major website and treating it as such.

When it comes all the way down to subdomains vs directories, it’s all about how you utilize them and the way you interlink them to all the things else, not the precise area or listing itself.


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Yes, I do know you’ve seen a ton of research on the market that say transferring from one to the opposite triggered a dip. However, in each a kind of research they didn’t simply do a transfer – they modified the navigation, UX, and linking construction, too.

Of course, eradicating a ton of hyperlinks to subpages and changing them with one hyperlink to a subdirectory will affect your web optimization. But that’s all due to hyperlinks and PageRank, not the precise URL construction.


I hope this helps clear up a lot of the confusion round these particular elements.

Whenever we debate whether or not one thing is or isn’t a issue, I like to consider how I’d code or scale it.

Often, simply doing that psychological train can present me all the issues with utilizing it.

I truthfully imagine that Google and Bing are not mendacity to us after they inform us this factor or that’s not a rating issue.


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Sometimes they’re deliberately ambiguous of their solutions, and so they do select their phrases rigorously.

But I don’t suppose they deceive us.

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