Search Engine Ranking Factors

Search Engine Ranking Factors is a very comprehensive list of factors that affect the search engine ranking of a site, complete with the relative importance of each factor. I’ve seen other lists similar to this, but I haven’t seen one that is as comprehensive and easy to read. (via Sean Fraser)

Posted on October 1, 2005 in Quicklinks, Search Engine Optimisation


  1. Interesting to see the low ranking for “Use of H1, Bold & Other Visual Tags”…

  2. October 1, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Yeah. I’m not so sure how correct that is. In my experience, headings make a noticeable difference. Or maybe that’s just coincidence.

  3. Actually, that document is full of bullshit.

    As the SEO expert I can tell you that meta keywords are completely useless and if the author of that document thinks otherwise, then he is stuck in 98 or something.

    Google doesn’t give a dam about stuffed spammers meta keywords. Meta description is the different thing though. And certainly that ranking used by the author is absolutely wrong - giving the same relevance to meta keywords and meta description, since even SEO rookies know that keywords have 0% relevenacy to Google, albeit description could have up to 3 relevance by his ratings.

    Use of H1, H2 and H3 tags has very strong effect in reality compared to absolutely misjudged texts as he provides: “How search engines use this data is questionable, as it has been a source of so-called “over-optimization”.”

    Overoptimization does not make H1 less relevant in general, only in specific case when loads of H1 are used.

    Accessibility of document is not influenced by 404 errors - he doesn’t even use the proper phrase. It’s not “accessibility of document” - that’s just something absolutely different (user experience - of blind people etc.).

    Roger, I am pretty irritated that you linked this document as it is full of errors, omissions and silly mistakes. That guy isn’t very experienced in SEO obviously (but he makes some image by all this pseudo-rankings).

    PS: Also the methodology is clearly wrong as he gives 4 points to very important things, but also 4 points to mistakes you should not make. To clarify his points, he should have used red and green points marking what’s good and what’s wrong. But that’s just usability issue, I guess.

  4. Sorry for the rant, but that is just outrageous. How can somebody create such a document based on nithing but subjective findings. He should have at least asked someone more experienced.

  5. October 2, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    dusoft: After reading the document more carefully I agree that it contains some errors and values some factors too high or too low. Overall I still think it contains lots of useful info. Hopefully the author will make changes and additions to make it better. You could try contacting him to let him know about the problems you point out.

  6. Hello,

    I’m the author of the piece, and I take some exception to your characterization. If you read the document carefully, you will see that my personal views mimic your own on the topics of meta tags, Hx tags, etc. - these are merely mentioned because they “could” be ranking factors. My experience has shown them to be very limited and I believe the text characterizes them as such.

    I am a full-time SEO, and someone who takes both my job and my knowledge very, very seriously. In respect to contacting other SEOs; I have the opinions of more than a dozen, well-respected SEOs represented in the document and am working to get more and more people involved in making it an even more comprehensive document.

    The dichotomy between your post (dusoft) and those of the previous posters (Robert and Roger - who note that I have given these factors low weight, as you suggest they should have) is curious. My concern is that your criticism has come before reading the document fully, which is always dangerous.

    Please feel free to e-mail me or comment at SEOmoz if you’d like to continue this discussion. I certainly appreciate the links and attention and am always open to well-informed criticism.

  7. October 2, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    randfish: Thanks for clearing some things up. I’m still curious about headings - to me they really do seem to make a difference.

    A short explanation of how you came up with the number of points you’ve given each factor would be a nice addition to the document I think.

    Everyone: Please go to New Article Listing 93 Ranking Factors at SEOmoz to leave any further comments on the document and suggestions for improvement instead of posting them here.

  8. Ironically his homepage pagerank is 0.

  9. Unfortunately, I am required to sign up to comment at that website. This is my last comment regarding the matter.

    randfish: you seem to me to do SEO for SEO - that would explain why you ranked different things the exact way you ranked them. Hx tags are important in semantic way first (people), then for robots (not only spiders) and then SEO (same goes for lot of your tips). Also, we don’t provide ALT and TITLE attributes just for the sake of it (or sake of SEO), but for the people as an additional content (doesn’t matter what software they use - eventually their software could display/read it to them somehow). Meta description could be important for people when search engines display it. It’s always best to describe document’s content than just display a stripped part of it.

    I value your effort to compile the ultimate list of SEO dos and don’ts, but I am afraid there are lot of errors based either on fact you wanted to keep it short or something else. Also rankings are somehow strange to me and thus could mislead beginners.

  10. dusoft - Sorry the signup requirement put you off. Don’t confuse the list with a list of recommendations or “to-do’s”. It’s exactly what it purports to be - simply a list of items that may influence how the search engines rank a document in the SERPs.

    For recommendations about what to do on your own website, I would recommend looking far beyond just what search engines might want. However, those items are outside the bounds of this document.

    ivan - I note my homepage PR as 4… Perhaps you were looking at the document URL? Remember that Google only updates visible PageRank once every 3-5 months.

  11. Toolbar PageRank isn’t important to search rankings. Judging the quality of Rand’s selections of possible factors and his personal evaluation of the potential value of those factors by the TBPR of his homepage is not a very scientific approach.

    The list is comprehensive and exceptional. I have read many tutorials and pseudo-authoritative discussions on the Web with respect to SEO. Most of them are just wastes of time, as they rehash outdated ideas that are now largely nonsense.

    People who cannot get past “it’s all about linking” are living in a very small, tightly compartmentalized world that doesn’t include the realities of today’s search engines.

    dusoft, I agree with some of your concerns, but I don’t feel Rand’s document approximates anything like BS — especially not when compared to the endless blathering about PageRank that continues to dominate so many SEO forums and tutorials.

    And to his credit, Rand asked about dozen people (including me, I should disclose that) to rank the criteria in his document according to our own preferences. He’ll get a more representative sampling of opinion that way.

    But all we have to offer each other is our opinions, when it comes to quantifying what it takes to build consistent top rankings for effective search expressions in a variety of targeted industries.

  12. Search optimization is like constructing a topographic map of the Sahara with exact elevations: it’s accurate until wind blows.

    “Search Engine Ranking Factors” is a comprehensive map of things that should be considered for ranking prominence. For the moment.

    And, like Everyone, I believe it has concerns.

    After reading the surfeit of comments found in the blogosphere, I would offer that my concerns are not identical to Roger’s concerns which may not be identical to others’ concerns. I take the rankings as they are noted in the article, “an estimated ranking importance scale.”

    It’s an aide-mémoire.

  13. I stumbled into SEO after doing Section 508 work for a few non profit sites. These sites began to rank quickly. What we discovered was a simple premise to guide our SEO efforts:

    Google is constantly perfecting it’s algorithm to remove holes. If you constantly chase google, you’re going to be very unhappy. Make your site as accesible and logical as possible. Use semantic markup, minimize your markup, use HTML tags that were meant to be used (abbr, acronym, etc).

    The better the experience for your end users, the more people will share your content via linking. And that’s when you start to do well.

    That guy from AOL said it best: “Content is king.”

Comments are disabled for this post (read why), but if you have spotted an error or have additional info that you think should be in this post, feel free to contact me.