Words Can't Describe It...

Recently, I came across Brian Dean's complete list of Google's 200 Ranking Factors. He says: Some are proven. Some are controversial. Others are SEO nerd speculation. It is obvious he has not watched Google's Webmaster Hangouts videos.

Fact is, at least 69 out of his 205 factors (33.7%) contradict what is being said in these hangouts and in official documentation. My jaw dropped at #55 where he mentions that priorities in sitemaps influence rankings.

SEO Myths Debunking

1. Domain AgeDomain age is not a trust or relevancy predictor. Google does not use domain age as a ranking factor.
3. Keyword As First Word in DomainGoogle does not give a ranking boost if a keyword is positioned first.
4. Domain registration lengthGoogle not is going to give you a ranking boost because you have registered your domain for a long period of time.
8. Public vs. Private WhoIsAt best, this information could be used by the web spam team during a a manual review, but it is not a direct ranking factor.
9. Penalized WhoIs OwnerIf one of your domains is penalized, it may trigger a manual review of others domains, but there is not an automatic ranking penalty set on the other domains.
12. Title Tag Starts with KeywordKeyword position in title tag does not give a ranking boost. Its presence helps establishing relevancy.
13. Keyword in Description TagGoogle does not use the description META tag.
16. Content LengthGoogle does not count or use the number of words on a page as a ranking factor (positive or negative). Short content can be the perfect match for a query.
17. Keyword DensityThere is no such thing as an optimal keyword density. Google does not take keyword densities in a given content as a ranking factor.
19. LSI Keywords in Title and Description TagsGoogle does not analyze the description META tag for rankings.
20. Page Loading Speed via HTMLLoad speed is not a ranking factor, unless the page is extremely slow to load (20-30 seconds). In this case, Google can remove it from search result because of the bad user experience.
23. Page Loading Speed via ChromeSee 20.
25. Recency of Content UpdatesContent recency or update frequency does not guarantee more or better rankings. Only relevancy of updated content matters, even for news related queries.
26. Magnitude of Content UpdatesSee 25.
27. Historical Updates Page UpdatesSee 25.
31. Outbound Link Quality: Many SEOs think that linking out to authority sites helps send trust signals to Google.Google can take a look at what a page is pointing to understand the context, but linking to quality websites does not give a ranking boost or increment in itself.
36. Number of Outbound Links: Too many dofollow OBLs may "leak" PageRank, which can hurt that page's rankings.The number of outbound links of a page has no impact on its page rank.
38. Number of Internal Links Pointing to Page: The number of internal links to a page indicates its importance relative to other pages on the site.Google does not take the number of the strucutre of internal links of a website into account. It is not a ranking factor.
47. URL Path: A page closer to the homepage may get a slight authority boost.Pages close to the root get no ranking privileges by default.
48. Human EditorsThere is no way Google can know for sure whether a human was involved or not in the edition of a page. It is not a trust or direct ranking factor.
53. References and SourcesSee 31.
54. Bullets and Numbered ListsGoogle does not give a ranking boost if you have bullets and numbered list in your content.
55. Priority of Page in Sitemap: The priority a page is given via the sitemap.xml file may influence ranking.Priorities in sitemaps tell web crawlers where you think they should spend their time, they may or may not agree. In any case, this priority is completely unrelated to rankings.
56. Too Many Outbound LinksThere is no such thing as too many outbound links. The number of such links is not a ranking factor.
58. Page Age: Although Google prefers fresh content, an older page that's regularly updated may outperform a newer page.See 25.
59. User Friendly LayoutGoogle algorithms don't try to find user friendly layouts to give them ranking benefits.
63. Contact Us Page: Supposed bonus if your contact information matches your whois info.Such information does not give a ranking boost at all.
66. Site Updates: How often a site is updated — and especially when new content is added to the site — is a site-wide freshness factor.See 25.
67. Number of Pages: The number of pages a site has is a weak sign of authority.No. A site with can have thousands of valuable or useless pages. It is not a predictor of authority and does not give a default ranking boost.
73. Duplicate Meta Information On-Site: Duplicate meta information across your site may bring down all of your page's visibility.No. Google may change titles and descriptions according to queries, but such pages will not be demoted by default.
74. Breadcrumb NavigationThey are not a ranking signal providing extra rankings by default.
76. YouTube: There's no doubt that YouTube videos are given preferential treatment in the SERPs.Not by default, it depends on the query itself.
77. Site Usability: This may be an independent algorithmic factor gleaned from massive amounts of user data.Google algorithms don't try to determine site usability.
78. Use of Google Analytics and Google Search Console: They may also directly influence rank by giving Google more data to work withGoogle algorithms don't use Google Analytics or Search Console data.
79. User reviews/Site reputation: A site's on review sites like Yelp.com and RipOffReport.com likely play an important role in the algorithm.Google does not such signals. The information is not always available, it is gameable and hard to interpret (a like for a negative movie review for example)
80. Linking Domain Age: Backlinks from aged domains may be more powerful than new domains.See 1.
81. # of Linking Root Domains: The number of referring domains is one of the most important ranking factors in Google's algorithm.No, the # of linking domain is not a ranking factor, only the quality of their backlink is.
82. # of Links from Separate C-Class IPsNo, this is not a predictor of trust or relevance.
83. # of Linking PagesSee 82.
85. Links from .edu or .gov Domains: Matt Cutts has stated that TLD doesn't factor into a site's importance. However, that doesn't stop SEOs from thinking that there's a special place in the algo for .gov and .edu TLDs.No, there isn't.
93. Nofollow Links: Having a certain % of nofollow links may also indicate a natural vs. unnatural link profile.NOFOLLOW are simply ignored for ranking purposes. The # of NOFOLLOW links is not taken into account for rankings.
94. Diversity of Link TypesThere is no measure of link diversity. Only trusted DOFOLLOW link pass signals used for rankings. There is no link 'type'.
97. Excessive 301 Redirects to PageUnless you are participating to a link scheme, there is no limit set on the number of 301 redirects allowed to a given page.
106. Text Around Link Sentiment: Google has probably figured out whether or not a link to your site is a recommendation or part of a negative review.No it has not. Google does not use +1 and likes in rankings because algorithms cannot figure out well enough when someone writes a negative review for a movie for example.
112. Linked to as Wikipedia Source: Although the links are nofollow, many think that getting a link from Wikipedia gives you a little added trust and authority in the eyes of search engines.NOFOLLOW links do pass any ranking signals.
114. Backlink Age: According to a Google patent, older links have more ranking power than newly minted backlinks.Link age does not give a ranking boost.
120. Schema.org Microformats: Pages that support microformats may rank above pages without it. This may be a direct boost or the fact that pages with microformatting have a higher SERP CTR.Microformat can help establishing relevancy, but don't give a ranking boost by default.
121. DMOZ Listed: Many believe that Google gives DMOZ listed sites a little extra trust.DMOZ is treated like any other directory. Being part of DMOZ or not is not a direct ranking factor.
123. Number of Outbound Links on PageSee 56.
125. Word Count of Linking Content: A link from a 1000-word post is more valuable than a link inside of a 25-word snippet.No, see 16.
130. Bounce Rate: Not everyone in SEO agrees bounce rate matters, but it may be a way of Google to use their users as quality testersNo, see 78.
133. Blocked Sites: Google has discontinued this feature in Chrome. However, Panda used this feature as a quality signal.No, Google algorithms don't use such data directly as a ranking factor. However, this data can be used to check or confirm that algorithms are doing the right thing.
136. Number of Comments: Pages with lots of comments may be a signal of user-interaction and quality.No, it is the content of comments that matters, not the number of comments. See 16.
150. Big Brand Preference: After the Vince Update, Google began giving big brands a boost for certain short-tail searches.Brands are not given a ranking preference by default, unless the user query is relate to the brand.
155. Number of Tweets: Like links, the tweets a page has may influence its rank in Google.The number of tweet is not a direct ranking signal.
157. Number of Facebook Likes.Google does not use 'likes' or +1 in their ranking algorithms.
161. Votes on Social Sharing Sites: It's possible that Google uses shares at sites like Reddit, Stumbleupon and Digg as another type of social signal.No, see 157.
162. Number of Google+1'sNo, see 157.
164. Known Authorship: Although the Google+ authorship program has been shut down, it's likely Google uses some form of authorship to determine influential content producers online (and give them a boost in rankings).No it does not.
169. Site Has Facebook Page and Likes: Brands tend to have Facebook pages with lots of likes.See 150 and 157
170. Site has Twitter Profile with Followers: Twitter profiles with a lot of followers signals a popular brand.See 150.
171. Official Linkedin Company Page: Most real businesses have company Linkedin pages.Have a LinkedIn page does give extra ranking points by default.
173. Legitimacy of Social Media Accounts: A social media account with 10,000 followers and 2 posts is probably interpreted a lot differently than another 10,000-follower strong account with lots of interaction.Such data is not directly taken into account for rankings.
180. Links to Bad Neighborhoods: Linking out to "bad neighborhoods" — like pharmacy or payday loan sites — may hurt your search visibility.A couple of links to those sites won't hurt you, but if you participate to a link scheme, it can trigger a Penguin algorithmic penalty and result in a manual action.
183. Site Over-Optimization: Includes on-page factors like keyword stuffing, header tag stuffing, excessive keyword decoration.There is no such thing as over-optimization, there is only breaking the guidelines or not.
184. Page Over-Optimizaton: Many people report that — unlike Panda — Penguin targets individual page (and even then just for certain keywords).Not, Penguin is not page specific. See 183 too.
191. Meta Tag Spamming: Keyword stuffing can also happen in meta tags. If Google thinks you're adding keywords to your meta tags to game the algo, they may hit your site with a penalty.Google searches for keyword stuffing in titles and crafts its own titles for user queries when necessary. Meta tag spamming does not trigger ranking demotions.
195. Linking Domain Relevancy: The famous analysis by MicroSiteMasters.com found that sites with an unnaturally high amount of links from unrelated sites were more susceptible to Penguin.No. Off topic links are simply ignored.
201. Google Sandbox: New sites that get a sudden influx of links are sometimes put in the Google Sandbox, which temporarily limits search visibility.There is no such thing as a Google Sandbox.

Some elements mentioned in Brian Dean's list can be indirect factors influencing users' behavior, and can be reflected later in Google rankings, but they are in no way ranking factors used directly by Google algorithms.

They should no be presented as such, especially on a site claiming to be a 'training hub for digital marketing professionals'. It is misleading and wastes people's time.


Jérôme Verstrynge