A single URL has the following ranking factors



A single URL has the following ranking factors

To show you how complex SEO is, here is a short list of ranking factors that Google can apply to a single URL. I'm deliberately ignoring the domain factors and only focusing on "the" individual document without the domain. 

Very important ranking factors

Mention the keyword in the title (first)

The mention of the keyword in the title remains one of the most powerful ranking factors. It influences the click-through rate, which in turn strongly influences the ranking. However, unlike in the past, I don't think the keyword is a ranking factor "by itself", but only in combination with the user behavior, i.e. the CTR.

Include the keyword in the document

Of course, the keyword must be included in the document. In 2014, however, there are more and more cases where not the keyword but a synonym is included. Nevertheless, in such cases, the keyword "wins": text containing a keyword always wins over text without a keyword - provided that all other factors are equal.

Number of internal links

The more frequently a document is linked and the more prominently it is featured in the domain, the better the ranking of that page. However, while in the past it was simply the existence of a link, I think today graphic presence also plays a role. An internal link in the footer does not pay as much as a link in the main navigation. Google has been evaluating internal (and external!) links according to this scheme for a long time, see also thepost by SEObyTheSea and the corresponding patent of 2004 ( !).

Document hierarchy within the domain (accessible from the home page in one click or only after four clicks?)

The homepage is usually the main distributor of a domain. What is linked from there is very relevant. The further away from the home page the less important the material is to Google. Online dailies, in particular, struggle with this and newspaper SEOs spend a lot of time just dealing with internal links. With tags or category pages, articles can be highlighted and not left to languish in the archives on page 87.

Include the keyword in internal links

Google Penguin (coming soon!) penalizes links to keywords from external domains. However, this does not apply internally! So it is important to use the keyword internally when linking to your document.

Authority of external linking domains (trust)

External links from other domains to your document are of course still very important. However, the sheer number has become quite unimportant in 2014. The most important thing is how much Google trusts the domain that links to you You can't see the trustrank of a domain, only guess at it. It doesn't matter if it's Spiegel.de or the private site of a cat blogger. It is more important to know how well these websites are linked to other sites. Is each linked or are the links sold or exchanged? Or does the webmaster only link to sites he is personally convinced of?

The document matches the keyword and the different search intentions for the keyword are satisfied

This is actually my favorite ranking factor, as many SEOs cut their teeth on it and don't progress. The solution is often: the product / landing page simply doesn't match the keyword. Let's say someone wants to rank well with an online supermarket for the term "pizza delivery service" because they want to fish in that keyword pool. It will probably rank poorly or not at all because it is not a pizza delivery service and users did not search for it.

It's another matter to cover not just one, but all possible search intentions. If you search for "Mac SSD hard drive", you not only want to buy an SSD hard drive, but also want to know how to install it and get instructions. If you offer both types of searches, you have a distinct advantage.

Correspondence: bounce rate - number of "short clicks" very low

If a user clicks on the first result and is not satisfied with it, they return to the search results page and click on another result. Internally, Google calls this a "short click", which means that the user was not satisfied with the search result. Let's assume that everything is absolutely perfect on the landing page: good backlinks, good text, good technical optimization, etc. But the search result is simply not what most people were looking for. Then you may not get a good ranking in the long run, because the user satisfaction factor often outweighs everything else.

Click-through rate in search results

A high click-through rate on your search results is very important. If you don't describe well what people can find on your site, it will never perform well in Google. Ideally, you should include the keyword in the front part of the title, while the back part of the title is more for click optimization. In online stores, these are usually the attributes that customers expect. So, depending on the industry, "Cheap / Fast delivery / High quality / Delicious" or other attributes.


Believe it or not: Google knows where your users were before the document and, more importantly, where they clicked after. This is also analyzed. Of course, this doesn't work with every user, but thanks to various tools, Google gets statistically relevant data for every page.

For stores: Number of products in the document, "variety

A fairly simple ranking factor. If I had a choice, for the term "Sony laptop," I would take the store that carries the most Sony laptops. Many stores lose significant ranking points here by displaying too few products on a landing page. However, Google is big on "many products on one page". Why not try it and instead of 12 products per category, use 24.

Full mention of relevant "buzzwords

Call it WDF*IDF, semantic optimization or whatever you want. Google checks whether the topic has been fully covered and knows which words should appear in relation to certain other words. On the topic of "kebab", for example, we find (without looking) the terms "patty", "meat", "skewer", "spicy" and "garlic", among several others.

Uniqueness of content compared to other websites (no duplicate content)

Duplicate content is really a huge problem for Google. I once heard that on average, each document exists about five times on the web. Google hates duplicate content, not only because of spammers, but also because crawling the same content multiple times is a huge effort. So you need to pay special attention to where your (product) texts are published. A classic example is online stores that have 1:1 product descriptions on their store, on Amazon and on price comparison sites. You should avoid this as much as possible.

Uniqueness of content compared to other documents in the same field (recurring text modules)

Duplicate content can also be a problem within a domain. Google writes:

"Minimize recurring blocks of text: Instead of including lengthy copyright notices at the bottom of each page, you can just have a brief summary with a link to detailed information."

Make sure you don't have too much text on your domain that is the same on every page. Every word counts! In my experience, it helps to remove all unnecessary words from the domain.

Document loading speed

The speed at which a document loads can be a deciding factor. It's not the most important ranking factor, but it can become the most important if you're simply too slow. Performance isn't everything, but if you're really slow, you'll be punished with poor rankings - and lower conversion rates.

Document file size

In 2014, we typically have 30 % of mobile traffic to our websites. If you use images that are too large, you annoy mobile users and thus create bad signals for users. So it's very important to not just scale down images in mobile versions, but to provide them in a smaller file size.

Response time / server speed

Here again, the following rule applies: if the server goes down with only 100 visitors per day, Google will not allow you to increase traffic. A powerful server is the alpha and omega. This is often a problem, especially for online stores, if the loading time is too long on Sunday evening, for example, because many customers visit the site. Monitor your server continuously and not just with short spot checks.

Number of other documents on the same topic in the field (= topic-specific field vs. field with many other topics)

Google often has a bias when it comes to domains. For example, Computerbild manages to rank well for all computer-related topics, while it probably won't have much success even with an excellent fashion article. Google divides entire domains by topic and ranks documents accordingly. So stick to your theme!

Content is visible "front and center

The main content of a document must be clearly visible without scrolling. In its internal documents, Google abbreviates this term as "front and center". If your products or article content are only visible after scrolling, you will have ranking problems. The dilemma is often that Adsense account managers tell you to put your banners as prominently as possible "front and center". However, the Google Adsense team and the search quality team are not exactly best friends. So think about what's more important: good rankings or lots of ad revenue? Tough topic!

The document is clear and easy to read - sub-headings and paragraphs are arranged appropriately

Text deserts of 1,000 words or more without any paragraphs are simply not possible these days. If you have a long document (like this one), think about how best to format it. Include images, bullets, tables, and simply space dividers, especially for long text!

Thematic relevance of external link domains

Is your document related to thematically relevant areas dealing with the same topic or to interesting but totally off-topic areas? The more domains that are in your area, the better. Ideally, domains that are also in the Top 10 for that search term should link to you.

Number and quality of links in the document

Different algorithms are used here, but: when it comes to editorial articles, good external links are useful. They show that you have done your research and that you are citing your sources. Of course, you don't need to do this for the category description in an online store. But it is very important for editorial articles. Also, do you link to reliable domains or cheap affiliate sites?

Number of images and videos

Images and videos can be essential for a good ranking. Of course, it depends on the keyword: In the financial sector you don't necessarily need a lot of images, in the fashion sector they are essential. Google knows exactly where users expect a lot of images and where they do not. Look at the competition!

The timeliness of the document ("Query deserves freshness")

Some search queries are given the abbreviation "QDF" in the algorithm. These are keywords that should not only give good search results, but for which the search results should also be very current. Examples of this are search queries for news, but also for "iPhone". Because even a very strongly linked page on the Iphone 4 no longer corresponds to what users are looking for. The majority of users who search for "iPhone" want to know about the iPhone 6. More information on this subject on the Sistrix website.

Less important ranking factors

Number of keyword repetitions in the document

We should not work with the "Keyword density nowadays, but it obviously makes a difference whether I mention the main keyword once or several times in a document. Nonsense word repetitions are of course nonsense, but every now and then a keyword appears if a text revolves around it.

Include the keyword in the alt attribute of images

Of course: the keyword must be included in the alt attribute. As long as you can see the keyword in the image! You should not spam with alt attributes, but actually describe what you see in the image. This is also important for people with visual impairments!

The keyword is included in the description

If the keyword is contained in the description, it will be written in bold type when a search query is made for that keyword, which will increase the click-through rate.

File name of the document keyword.html

The same applies to the file name of the document. Also, it is important to note that many external links only display the URL and no keywords. If you link to seokratie.de/seo/ , it is better than seokratie.de/?pageid=12 . In the first case, the keyword is included in the link text, in the second case, not!

Number of words in the document

In theSearchmetrics Ranking Factor Study 2014Marcus Tober has noted that Google is moving more and more toward longer documents. It's obvious: a document of more than 2,000 words on ranking factors is probably more complete than a 200-word document on the same topic. I think it also depends on the topic, but in principle it is true: the more words, the better the ranking. At least up to a certain length.

Include titles and keywords in the title

Of course, Google appreciates that a document is structured in a logical way. However, headings are much less important than you might think. Google can already recognize graphic text tags and sees them when some words are bigger or smaller than others. The keyword should appear in the main title, in the small subtitles, I prefer to focus on related terms and especially the terms of the semantic environment (WDF*IDF).

Number of external links from different domains

Until mid-2012, this was the most important ranking factor, at least for one area. In 2014 (almost 2015), this factor is not as important anymore. It depends on the quality of the websites that link to the document. Many documents are also not necessarily link-friendly.

Links on category pages of online stores

Many webshop operators want their category pages to rank well, because they also contain good keywords. This is the case with the /men's-sneakers/ page. This is why SEO agencies very often refer to these very landing pages. The problem: On the "normal" web, links to category pages are extremely rare. As a user (or webmaster), I link either to the homepage ("Hey, Store XY is great")or to a product detail page ("I bought Nike Air Max XY")


For quality evaluators, it is often easy to discover manipulative links. A quick glance at pages that have links but shouldn't - and link buying is already exposed. That's why my advice: in 2014, you should move away from "link targets" and focus more on overall domain authority. Link to what's good. The power of links can then be passed on internally, for example through wisely placed internal links!

Include a keyword in external links (Warning: Penguin!)

The last ranking factor is also the most ambivalent. According to the theory, a document is ranked higher if the keyword appears in the text of external links. In practice, however, the Google Penguin update is a good reason not to do it. If you overdo it, you will suddenly be ranked 60th instead of 2nd (instead of 3rd). The Google Penguin update has only been updated very rarely, so a Penguin penalty is (in my opinion) one of the worst things that can happen to you. However, according to Google, an update of Penguin will take place in the next few days. Maybe already tomorrow?

As mentioned before, these were the ranking factors if you consider a document individually (without its domain). Of course, there are also factors for the whole domain,

What do you think?


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