What Google Loves (And Hates) About Your Website

Did you know that Google reportedly uses more than 200 factors in its ranking algorithm to determine search engine placement? Although Google hasn't furnished a complete list of these ranking factors (Google closely guards this proprietary information), SEO experts who have studied Google rankings have found that certain SEO practices tend to help (or hurt) rankings more than others. The following are agreed-upon factors in determining whether a website soars or sinks in Google.

Top Generally Accepted Positive Ranking Factors

External Link Popularity

Basically, the more websites that point to your website, the better, right? Well, yes and no. Before going out and getting millions of links willy-nilly, consider that Google also factors in whether or not the links are coming from reputable, relevant sources. Are the links to your website using keyword-focused anchor text that matches the content of your website? Are your links from a few or many different reputable sources? With Google, it's not just about quantity; it's also about quality.

Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag

The purpose of a page's title tag, which appears in the browser, in SERPs and on external websites, is to succinctly and accurately describe the contents of your website. Including primary keywords in the title tag (preferably as closer to the beginning as the possible) lets human and non-human visitors know exactly what this web page is about. However, keep in mind that adding too many keywords to the title tag can dilute its focus. For best results, keep title tags short and to the point.

Domain Trustworthiness

The credibility of a website weighs heavily in Google rankings. One way to determine a website's trustworthiness is its linking distance from established, trusted websites. The closer to these trusted sites, the better your website is likely to rank.

Top Generally Accepted Negative Ranking Factors

Cloaking

Cloaking is the practice of presenting search engine spiders and robots with a fake SEO-optimized HTML page to crawl and index while displaying another page to human users in order to manipulate rankings. Content can be cloaked by using different IP addresses or User-Agent HTTP headers. Google considers cloaking a major violation of its guidelines and bans sites that engage in this black hat technique.

Bad Linking Structure

Although achieving external linking popularity is important to ranking high in Google, gaining tons of inbound links at any cost without evaluating their quality can result in big-time penalties. Buying paid links or linking to spammy or otherwise low-quality websites can affect rankings very negatively.

Site Inaccessibility

Essentially, if your website is down often and therefore unreachable, Google's search engine bots can't crawl and index content and human visitors can't view your website. For best results, make sure your site is hosted reliably on a server that provides plenty of bandwidth in order to prevent downtime and other accessibility issues.

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