Google says its algorithm takes more than 200 signals into consideration when ranking webpages.

But Google doesn’t list all of those 200+ ranking factors. Not anywhere.

And most of those who claim to know all 200 Google ranking factors are lying – either to you or to themselves.

That’s why we have set out to uncover the truth about Google ranking signals. Or, at least as much truth is as possible with a company that is as secretive about its algorithm as Google is.

So if you’ve ever wondered what is and isn’t a ranking factor – or had to make the case to do or not to do something “because it’s a Google ranking factor” – this guide is for you.

The Search Engine Journal team has spent more than 200 hours researching and compiling our findings on 88 signals that have been declared, at one point or another in time, to definitively be Google ranking factors.

And now you can read our results in Google Ranking Factors: Fact or Fiction.

With this investigation into the validity of supposed ranking signals, our team has done its best to avoid guesses and speculation. We wanted only the facts (e.g., evidence from patents, confirmation from the source, and reputable third-party sources) – not opinions.

Because, let’s be honest, correlation studies on ranking factors may be interesting and entertaining, but they’re nothing more than that.

We developed our R.F.M. – or Ranking Factor Meter – to detect which category each of the supposed ranking signals fall into:

Together with our partners, Internet Marketing Ninjas, Conductor, and 1SEO, we created this guide to help you understand what are, are not, and could be ranking factors.

Rank MeterConfirmed: There is direct confirmation from Google, or someone who works at Google, that this signal is used for ranking.

Probably: There is a strong amount of evidence (e.g., public comments, patents, third-party data) indicating Google uses this ranking signal, though neither Google, nor a representative of Google, has officially confirmed it.

Possibly: There is some evidence that Google is using this signal, but no official confirmation from a Google rep and/or conflicting/unreliable data.

Unlikely: This signal hasn’t been ruled out completely, but there is little/no evidence that Google is using, or has used it, to rank results.

Not Anymore: This used to be a ranking signal but is now outdated or no longer used by Google.

Definitely Not: A ridiculous idea with zero evidence – or even direct refutation by Google – that this signal is used for ranking.

This guide determines whether the following are Google ranking factors.

  • 301 Redirects
  • 404 & Soft 404 Pages
  • AdSense Usage
  • Alt Text
  • AMP
  • Anchor Text
  • Authorship
  • BBB Rating
  • Bounce Rate
  • Breadcrumb Navigation
  • Canonicalization
  • Chrome Bookmarks
  • Click Depth
  • Click-Through Rate
  • Co-Citation
  • Code to Text Ratio
  • Contact information
  • Content
  • Content Length
  • Core Web Vitals
  • Crawl Errors & Crawl Budget
  • Deep Link Ratio
  • Direct Traffic
  • Disavow Tool
  • Domain Age
  • Domain Authority
  • Domain History
  • Domain Name
  • Dwell Time
  • E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust)
  • .edu Links
  • First Link Priority
  • Fresh Content
  • Google Ads
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines
  • .gov Links
  • H1
  • H2-H6
  • HTML Lists
  • HTTPS
  • Images (Number of)
  • IP Address
  • Keyword Density
  • Keyword Prominence 
  • Keyword Stemming
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Language
  • Link Stability
  • Link Velocity
  • Links (Contextual)
  • Links  (Inbound)
  • Links (Internal)
  • Links (Nofollowed)
  • Links (Outbound)
  • Links (Paid)
  • Links (Sitewide)
  • Local Citations (NAP)
  • LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing)
  • Manual Action
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Meta Keywords
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • MUM
  • Page Speed
  • Physical Proximity to Searcher
  • RankBrain
  • Deep Link Ratio
  • Reading Level
  • Reconsideration Requests
  • Relevance, Distance & Prominence
  • Review Sentiment
  • Schema Markup
  • Social Signals & Shares
  • Spelling & Grammar
  • Subdomains & Subdirectories
  • Syndicated Content
  • Tabbed Content
  • Text Formatting
  • TF-IDF
  • Title Tags
  • TF-IDF
  • URLs
  • User Search History
  • User-Generated Content
  • Website Quality Score
  • WHOIS
  • www vs. non-www
  • XML Sitemaps

This guide is composed of 88 chapters and 625 pages of expert insights written exclusively by the editorial team at Search Engine Journal.

THE MYTHBUSTERS TEAM: Anna Crowe, Miranda Miller, Matt Southern, Kristi Hines, and Danny Goodwin.

THE REVIEW PANEL: We also put together a panel of respected SEO experts to review our findings: Dave Davies, Jeff Ferguson, and Ryan Jones.

Ready to find out which Google ranking factors actually matter? Download this ebook now.