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What Is A Ranking Factor?

What Is A Ranking Factor

Date First Published: 12th November 2022

Topic: Web Design & Development

Subtopic: SEO

Computer Terms & Definitions

Difficulty: Medium

Difficulty Level: 4/10

Learn more about what a ranking factor is in this article.

A ranking factor, also known as a ranking signal, is a factor that influences the position of pages in SERPs. When indexing pages, search engines use lots of complex algorithms to evaluate pages and determine the order they are listed. These are known as ranking factors.

For example, PageRank, an algorithm used by Google uses lots of ranking factors once pages have been crawled and indexed. Without any ranking factors, search engines would not be able to determine the order that search results with similar content are displayed for queries that match the title, description, and URL. Search engines use ranking factors all the time to determine the order that millions or even billions of results come up in SERPs.

What Ranking Factors Does Google Use?

Below is a list of known direct ranking factors used by Google along with whether they are minor or major ranking factors. There have been a lot of ranking factors that people believe influence the position of pages on Google (e.g. bounce rate), when they actually don't. These are also listed here.

The following factors are known direct Google ranking factors:

Note: Info Icon

This is not a full list of every ranking factor that Google uses. Although certain factors have been confirmed, Google's exact algorithms are not disclosed. These are the known ones and there may still be some hidden factors that Google uses, but has never announced.

Even though internal links do not boost the ranking of webpages in comparison to other websites, which is what backlinks do, internal links can help search engines understand and rank pages and provide a hierarchy of the pages of a website. It can help boost the ranking of webpages within the same domain name. For example, if someone searched for the name of a website and filtered the results within that domain name only, the pages with the most internal links, such as the homepage are most likely to appear at the top because it indicates to search engines that they are more important than others.

The following factors are not direct Google ranking factors:

Difference Between A Direct and Indirect Ranking Factor

The main difference between a direct and indirect ranking factor is that a direct ranking factor directly influences the ranking of a page in the SERPs, whilst an indirect ranking factor does not directly influence the ranking of pages in SERPs, but can still indirectly affect SEO. For example, SSL/TLS is a direct ranking factor as Google directly gives pages that use this security feature a minor ranking boost. The length of the URL is not a direct ranking factor as it does not directly affect the ranking of pages, but it can indirectly affect SEO in that it influences the behaviour of searchers. For example, a searcher is much more likely to trust and click on a result with a relevant, appealing, and short URL rather than a result with a long, irrelevant, and spammy URL.


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