Google Ranking Factors – SEO Checklist

seo-1Google Ranking Factor Checklist  

  1. Positive ON-Page SEO Factors

  2. Negative ON-Page SEO Factors

  3. Positive OFF-Page SEO Factors

  4. Negative OFF-Page SEO Factors

Notes for the Above Factors
Brief Google Update List – Panda
The Sand Box
Sources

There are “over 200 SEO factors” that Google uses to rank pages in the Google search results (SERPs). What are the search engine optimization rules?
Here is the speculation – educated guesses by SEO webmasters on top webmaster forums. Should you wish to achieve a high ranking, the various confirmed and suspected Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Rules are listed below.
The SEO Rules listed below are NOT listed by weight, and not by any presumed relevance – THAT exercise is left up to the reader!
20390 – 45030

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1. Alleged
POSITIVE ON-Page
SEO Google Ranking Factors (38)

(Keeping in mind the converse, of course, that when violated, some of these factors immediately jump into the 
NEGATIVE On-PageRanking Factors domain.)

The term “Keyword” below refers to the “Keyword Phrase”,
which can be one word or more.

Green rows confirmed by Google patent of Aug. 10, 2006
Note –
Patent
Claim
#
Factor
#
POSITIVE
ON-Page SEO Factors

Brief Note

50
KEYWORDS
Google patent – Topic extraction
For keyword selection,
try Google Ad Words – Google Trends
HOT
1
Keyword in URLFirst word is best, second is second best, etc.
HOT
2
Keyword in Domain nameSame as in page-name-with-hyphens
Keywords – Header
HOT
3
Keyword in Title tagKeyword in Title tag – close to beginning
Title tag 10 – 60 characters, no special characters.
4
Keyword in Description meta tagShows theme – less than 200 chars.
Google no longer “relies” upon this tag, but will often use it.
5
Keyword in Keyword metatagShows theme – less than 10 words.
Every word in this tag MUST appear somewhere in the body text. If not, it can be penalized for irrelevance.
No single word should appear more than twice.
If not, it may be considered spam. Google purportedly no longer uses this tag, but others do.
Keywords – Body
6
Keyword density in body text5 – 20% – (all keywords/ total words)
Some report topic sensitivity – the keyword spamming threshold % varies with the topic.
7

Individual keyword density

1 – 6% – (each keyword/ total words)
HOT
8
Keyword in H1, H2 and H3Use Hx font style tags appropriately
9
Keyword font size“Strong is treated the same as bold, italic is treated the same as emphasis” . . . Matt Cutts July 2006
10
Keyword proximity (for 2+ keywords)Directly adjacent is best
11
Keyword phrase orderDoes word order in the page match word order in the query?
Try to anticipate query, and match word order.
12
Keyword prominence (how early in page/tag)Can be important at top of page, in bold, in large font
Keywords – Other
13
Keyword in alt textShould describe graphic – Do NOT fill with spam
(Was part of Google Florida OOP – tripped a threshold – may still be in effect to some degree as a red flag, when summed with all other on-page optimization – total page optimization score – TPOS).
14
Keyword in links to site pages (anchor text)Links out anchor text use keyword?
NAVIGATION – INTERNAL LINKS
SITE
15
To internal pages- keywords?Link should contain keywords.
The filename “linked to” should contain the keywords.
Use hyphenated filenames, but not long ones – two or three hyphens only.
SITE
16

All Internal links valid?

Validate all links to all pages on site.
Use a free link checker. I like this one.
SITE
17
Efficient – tree-like structureTRY FOR two clicks to any page – no page deeper than 4 clicks
SITE
18
Intra-site linkingAppropriate links between lower-level pages
54
NAVIGATION – OUTGOING LINKS
55

19

To external pages- keywords?Google patent – Link only to good sites. Do not link to link farms. CAREFUL – Links can and do go bad, resulting in site demotion. Unfortunately, you must devote the time necessary to police your outgoing links – they are your responsibility.
56

20

Outgoing link Anchor TextGoogle patent – Should be on topic, descriptive
61, 62

21

Link stability over timeGoogle patent – Avoid “Link Churn”
22

All External links valid?

Validate all links periodically.
23
Less than 100 links out totalGoogle says limit to 100,
but readily accepts 2-3 times that number. ref 2k
121
(added)
Linking to AuthoritySome say this gives a boost –
Others say that is absurd. However, it certainly is the opposite of linking to trash, which WILL hurt you.
OTHER ON-Page Factors
24
Domain Name Extension
Top Level Domain – TLD
.gov sites seem to be the highest status
.edu sites seem to be given a high status
.org sites seem to be given a high status
.com sites excel in encompassing all the spam/ crud sites, resulting in the need for the highest scrutiny/ action by Google.
Perhaps one would do well with the new .info domain class.<update> – Nope. Spammers jumped all over it – no safe haven there. Not so much, now – .info sites can rank highly.
25
File SizeTry not to exceed 100K page size (however, some subject matter, such as this page, requires larger file sizes).
Smaller files are preferred <40K (lots of them).
26
Hyphens in URLPreferred method for indicating a space, where there can be no actual space
One or two= excellent for separating keywords (i.e., pet-smart, pets-mart)
Four or more= BAD, starts to look spammy
Ten = Spammer for sure, demotion probable?
6, 7
12, 13

27

Freshness of PagesGoogle patent – Changes over time
Newer the better – if news, retail or auction!
Google likes fresh pages. So do I.
8, 9

28

Freshness – Amount of Content ChangeNew pages – Ratio of old pages to new pages
27

29

Freshness of LinksGoogle patent – May be good or bad
Excellent for high-trust sites
May not be so good for newer, low-trust sites
30
Frequency of UpdatesFrequent updates = frequent spidering = newer cache
31
Page ThemingPage exhibit theme? General consistency?
32

Keyword stemming

Stem, stems, stemmed, stemmer,
stemming, stemmist, stemification
33

Applied Semantics

Synonyms, CIRCA white paper
34

LSI

Latent Semantic Indexing – Speculation, no proof
35
URL lengthKeep it minimized – use somewhat less than the 2,000 characters allowed by IE – less than 100 is good, less is even better
OTHER ON-SITE Factors
5

36

Site Size – Google likes big sitesLarger sites are presumed to be better funded, better organized, better constructed, and therefore better sites. Google likes LARGE sites, for various reasons, not all positive. This has resulted in the advent of machine-generated 10,000-page spam sites – size for the sake of size. Google has caught on and dumped millions of pages, or made them supplemental.
4

37

Site AgeGoogle patent – Old is best. Old is Golden.
3

38

Age of page vs. age of siteAge of page vs. age of other pages on site
Newer pages on an older site will get faster recognition.
Note: For ALL the POSITIVE On-Page factors listed above,
PAGE RANK can 
OVERRIDE them all. So can Google-Bombing.

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2. Alleged
Negative ON-Page
SEO Google Ranking Factors (24)
Note
Factor
#
NEGATIVE
ON-Page SEO Factors

Brief Note

BAD
39
Text presented in graphics form only
No ACTUAL body text on the page
Text represented graphically is invisible to search engines.
BAD
40
Affiliate site?The Florida update went after affiliates with a vengeance – flower and travel affiliates were hit hard – cookie-cutter sites with massive inter-linking, but little unique content. Subsequent updates have also targeted affiliates.
BAD
41
Over optimization penalty (OOP)Penalty for over-compliance with well-established, accepted web optimization practices. Too high keyword repetition (keyword stuffing) may get you the OOP. Overuse of H1 tags has been mentioned. Meta-tag stuffing.
BAD
42
Link to a bad neighborhoodDon’t link to link farms, FFAs (Free For All’s)
Also, don’t forget to check the Google status of EVERYONE you link to periodically. A site may go “bad”, and you can end up being penalized, even though you did nothing. For instance, some failed real estate sites have been switched to p0rn by unscrupulous webmasters, for the traffic. This is not good for you, if you are linking to the originally legitimate URL.
BAD
43
Redirect thru refresh metatagsDon’t immediately send your visitor to another page other than the one he/ she clicked on, using meta refresh.
BAD
44
Vile language – ethnic slurIncluding the George Carlin 7 bad words you can’t say on TV, plus the 150 or so that followed. Don’t shoot yourself right straight in the foot. Also, avoid combinations of normal words, which when used together, become something else entirely – such as the word juice, and the word l0ve. See why I wrote that zero? I don’t even want to get a proximity penalty, either. Paranoia, or caution? You decide. I always want to try to put my “best foot forward”.
BAD
45
Poison wordsThe word “Links” in a title tag has been suggested to be a bad idea. Here is my list of Poison Words for Adsense. This penalty has been loosened – many of these words now appear in normal context, with no problems. But watch your step.
BAD
46
Excessive cross-linking– within the same C block (IP=xxx.xxx.CCC.xxx)
If you have many sites (>10, author’s guess) with the same web host, prolific cross-linking can indicate more of a single entity, and less of democratic web voting. Easy to spot, easy to penalize.
“This does not apply to a small number of sites” .. (this author guesses the number 10, JAWG) . . . “hosted on a local server”. . Matt Cutts July 2006
BAD
47
Stealing images/ text blocks from another domainCopyright violation – Google responds strongly
if you are reported. ref egol
File Google DMCA
BAD
48
Keyword stuffing thresholdIn body, meta tags, alt text, etc. = demotion
??
49
Keyword dilutionTargeting too many unrelated keywords on a page, which would detract from theming, and reduce the importance of your REALLY important keywords.
??

50

Page edit – can reduce consistencyGoogle patent –
Google is now switching between a “newer” cache, and several “older” caches, frequently drawing from BOTH at the same time.
This was possibly implemented to frustrate SERP manipulators. Did your last edit substantially alter your keywords, or theme? Expect noticeable SERP bouncing.
6 – 7

51

Frequency of Content ChangeGoogle patent – Too frequent = bad
32, 33

52

Freshness of Anchor TextGoogle patent – Too frequent = bad
??
53
Dynamic PagesProblematic – know pitfalls – shorten URLs, reduce variables (“. . no more than 2 or 3”, M.Cutts July 2006), lose the session IDs
??
54
Excessive JavascriptDon’t use for redirects, or hiding links
??
55
Flash page – NOTMost (all-?) SE spiders can’t read Flash content
Provide an HTML alternative, or experience lower SERP positioning.
??
56
Use of FramesSpidering Problems with Frames – STILL
57
Robot exclusion “no index” tagIntentional self-exclusion
58
Single pixel linksA red flag – one reason only – a sneaky link.
59

Invisible text

OK – No penalty – Google advises against this.
All over the place – but nothing is ever done. (The text is the same color as the background, and hence cannot be seen by the viewer, but can be visible to the search engine spiders.) I believe Google does penalize for hidden text, since it is an attempt to manipulate rank. Although they don’t catch everyone.
60

Gateway, doorway page

(I see changes here – not only does the doorway page disappear, but the main page gets pushed down, as well – this is a welcome fix.)

OK – No penalty – Google advises against this.
Google used to reward these pages.
Multiple entrance pages in the top ten SERPs – I see it daily. There they are at #2, with their twin at #5 – 6 months now. Reported numerous times.
61

Duplicate content (YOUR’S)
Duplicate content (THEIR’S) below (Highjack)

OK – No penalty – Google advises against this.
Google picks one (usually the oldest), and shoves it to the top, and pushes the second choice down. This has been a big issue with stolen content – the thief usurps your former position with YOUR OWN content.
62

HTML code violations
(The big G does not even use DOCTYPE declarations, required forW3C validation.)

Doesn’t matter – Google advises against this.
Unless of course, the page is totally FUBAR.
Simple HTML verification is NOT required (but advised, since it could contribute to your page quality factor – PQF).
Since the above 4 items are so controversial, I would like to add this comment:
There are many things that Google would LIKE to have webmasters do, but that they simply cannot control, due to logistical considerations. Their only alternative is to foment fear and doubt by implying that any violation of their “suggestions” will result in swift and fierce demotion.
(This is somewhat dated – G is fixing these things.)
IN GENERAL, this works pretty well to keep webmasters in line. The fallacy of this is that attentive webmasters can readily observe continuing, blatant exceptions to these official pronouncements.There are many anecdotes about Goggle “taking care” of a problem. Google states that they do not provide hand-tweaked “boosts”, but are silent about hand-tweaked demotions. They occur, for sure. To believe otherwise is naive. Wouldn’t YOU swat the most obnoxious flies? I would.It is becoming easier to determine the best thing to do. Try to avoid any Google penalties or demotions.
119
(added)
Phrase-based ranking, filters, penaltiesFeb. 2007 – Google patent granted. Do not use phrases that have been associated and correlated with known spamming techniques, or you will be penalized. What phrases? Ahh, you tell me.
122
(added)
Poor spelling and grammarPages that are higher quality and more reputable (i.e. higher PageRank) tend to use better spelling and grammar. Demotion for bad spelling is highly logical.

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3. Alleged
POSITIVE OFF-Page
SEO Google Ranking Factors (43)
Note
Factor
#
POSITIVE
OFF-Page SEO Factors

Brief Note

INCOMING LINKS :
HOT
63
Page RankBased on the Number and Quality of links to you
Google link reporting continues to display just a SMALL fraction of your actual backlinks, and they are NOT just greater than PR4 – they are mixed.
64

Total incoming links (“backlinks”)

Historically, FAST counted best (www.alltheweb.com).
No more – Yahoo (parent) broke it.In Yahoo search, type in:
linksite:www.domain-name.com
linkdomain:www.domainname.comTry MSN –
http://beta.search.msn.com
Use link:www.domainname.comCurrent TYPICAL Backlink Reporting Ratios –
Google – 30 links
MSN – 1,000 links
Yahoo – 3,000 links
65

Incoming links from high-ranking pages

In 2004, Google used to count (report) the links from all PR4+ pages that linked to you. In 2005-2006, Google reported only a small fraction of the links, in what seemed like an almost random manner. In Feb. 2007, Google markedly upgraded (increased) the number of links that they report.

66

Acceleration of link popularity
(“. . . used to be a good thing” … Martha)
Google patent
Link acquisition speed boost – speculative
Too fast = artificial? Cause of -30 penalty?
Sandbox penalty imposed if new site?
FOR EACH INCOMING LINK :
67

Page rank of the referring page

Based on the quality of links to you
HOT
68

Anchor text of
inbound link to you

Contains keyword, key phrase?
#1 result in SERP does NOT EVEN need to have the keyword(s) on the page, ANYWHERE!!! What does that tell you? (Enables Google-bombing – search for “miserable failure”)

69

Age of link

Google patent – Old = Good.

70

Frequency of change of anchor text

Google patent – Not good. Why would you do that?
71

Popularity of referring page

Popularity = desirability, respect
72

# of outgoing links on referrer page

Fewer is better – makes yours more important
73

Position of link on referrer page

Early in HTML is best
74

Keyword density on referring page

For search keyword(s)
75

HTML title of referrer page

Same subject/ theme?
28

76

Link from “Expert” site?

Google patent – Big time boost (Hilltop Algorithm)
Recently reported to give a big boost !
77

Referrer page – Same theme

From the same or related theme? BETTER
78

Referrer page – Different theme

From different or unrelated theme? WORSE
79

Image map link?

Problematic?
80

Javascript link?

Problematic- attempt to hide link?
DIRECTORIES :
81

Site listed in DMOZ Directory?

The “Secret Hand” DMOZ Issues
1. Legitimate sites CAN’T GET IN
2. No Accountability
3. Corrupt Editors
4. Competitive Sites Barred
5. Dirty Tricks Employed
6. Rude dmoz editors

Flawed concept – communism doesn’t work
Free editing? Nothing is free.
DMOZ Sucks Discussions
DMOZ Problems Discussions

The Google Directory is produced by an unknown, ungoverned, unpoliced, ill-intentioned, retaliatory, monopoly enterprise, consisting of profiteering power-ego editors feathering their own nests – the ODP. AOL is making millions, and needs to police it’s run-amok entity. Enough already!

This is a tough one.
Google’s directory comes STRAIGHT from the DMOZ directory. You should try to get into dmoz.
But you can’t.
Be careful whom you approach with the old spondulix –
Formal DMOZ Bribe Instructions.
It is almost impossible to get into DMOZ. This site cannot get in, after waiting over 2 YEARS (33 months). Not even in the lowest, most insignificant category, “Personal Pages”. I guess I just don’t “measure up” to the other 20,000+ sites in the personal category.
I’m not the suck-up type – I kissed them off long ago. What a waste of time!UPDATE: This page (not site) finally got indexed in June 2007, thanks to a legitimate editor. No money was paid.

Google needs to DO SOMETHING about populating its own directory with the skewed, incomplete, poorly determined results from the dysfunctional Open Directory Project – the ODP!
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
82

DMOZ category?

Theme fit category?
General or geographic category? Both are possible, and acceptable.
HOT
83

Site listed in Yahoo Directory?

Big boost – You can get in by paying $299 each year.
Many swear it is worth it – many swear it isn’t.
84

Site listed in LookSmart Directory?

Boost? Another great vote for your site.
85

Site listed in inktomi?

Inktomi has been absorbed internally by Yahoo.
86

Site listed in other directories (About, BOTW, etc.)

Directory listing boost (If other RESPECTED directories link to you, this must be positive.)
87
Expert site? (Hilltop or Condensed Hilltop)Large-sized site, quality incoming links
HOT

88

Site Age – Old shows stabilityGoogle patent
Boost for long-established sites, new pages indexed easily
The opposite of the sand box.
89
Site Age – Very New BoostTemporary boost for very new sites – I estimate that this boost lasts from 1 week to 3 weeks – Yahoo does it too.
90
Site Directory – Tree StructureInfluences SERPs – logical, consistent, conventional
91
Site Map and more site mapComplete – keywords in anchor text
92
Site SizePreviously, many pages preferred – conferred authority upon site, thus page. Bigger sites = better SERPs
Now, fewer pages preferred, due to proliferation of computer-generated pages. Google has been dropping pages like crazy.
93
Site ThemingSite exhibit theme? Use many related terms?
Have you used a keyword suggestion tool?
A thesaurus?
PAGE METRICS – USER BEHAVIOR:

Currently implemented through the Google tool bar?

34, 35

94

Page traffic

Google patent – # of visitors, trend
15,16,21

95

Page Selection Rate – CTR

Google patent – How often is a page clicked on?
36, 37

96

Time spent on page

Google patent – Relatively long time = indicates relevance hit
45, 46

97

Did user Bookmark page?

Google patent – Bookmark = Good
47

98

Bookmark add/ removal frequency

Google patent – Recent = Good?
99

How they left, where they went

Back button, link clicked, etc.
SITE METRICS – USER BEHAVIOR :

Currently implemented through the Google tool bar?

34, 35

100

Site Traffic

Google patent – # of visitors, increasing trend = good
101

Referrer

Authoritative referrer?
102

Keyword

Keyword searches used to find you
103

Time spent on domain

Relatively long time = indicates relevance hit
Add brownie points.
38
DOMAIN OWNER BEHAVIOR :
40

104

Domain Registration Time

Google patent – Domain Expiration Date
Register for 5 years, Google knows you are serious.
Register for 1 year, is it a throw-away domain?
39

105

Are associated sites legitimate?

Google patent – No spam, ownership, etc.

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4. Alleged
NEGATIVE OFF-Page
SEO Google Ranking Factors (13)
Note
Factor
#
NEGATIVE
OFF-Page SEO Factors
Brief Note

120
(added)

Traffic BuyingHave you paid a company for web traffic? It is probably low quality traffic, with a zero conversion rate. Some providers of traffic for traffic’s sake may be considered “bad neighborhoods”. Can Google discount your traffic (for true popularity), because they know it’s mostly phony?
Have you read about Traffic Power?
22-29

106

Temporal Link AnalysisIn a nut shell, old links are valued, new links are not.
This is intended to thwart rapid incoming link accumulation, accomplished through the tactic of link buying.
Just one of the sandbox factors.
18

107

Change of MeaningsQuery meaning changes over time, due to current events
BAD
108
Zero links to youYou MUST have at least 1 (one) incoming link (back link) from some website somewhere, that Google is aware of, to REMAIN in the index.
BAD

109

Link-buying

(Very good IF you don’t get caught,
but don’t do it –
when caught, the penalty isn’t worth it.)

Google patent – Google hates link-buying, because it corrupts their PR model in the worst way possible.
1. Does your page have links it really doesn’t merit?
2. Did you get tons of links in a short time period?
3. Do you have links from high-PR, unrelated sites?
41, 42

110

Prior Site RankingGoogle patent – High = Good
BAD
111
CloakingGoogle promises to Ban! (Presenting one webpage to the search engine spider, and another webpage to everybody else.)
??
112
Links from bad neighborhoods,affiliatesGoogle says that incoming links from bad sites can’t hurt you, because you can’t control them. Ideally, this would be true.
However, some speculate otherwise, esp., when other associated factors are thrown into the mix, such as web rings.
BAD
113
Penalties – resulting from
Domain Hijacking
(work with Google to fix)
Should result in IMPRISONMENT, forthwith!
Grand Theft, mandatory minimum sentence.
The criminal COPIES your entire website, and HOSTS it elsewhere, with . . . a few changes.
114
Penalty – Google TOS violationWMG is the worst offender – gobbles up tons of Google server time by nervous Nellie webmasters. Google evenmentions them by name. I think that Google will spank you when you cross the threshold, of say, 100 queries per day for the same term, from the same IP. Google can block your IP. Get a Google API.
??
115
Server Reliability – S/B >99.9%What is your uptime? Ever notice a daily time when your server is unavailable, like about 1:30 AM? How diligent must Googlebot be? This is the worst reason to get dropped – you just aren’t there! An ISP maintenance interruption can cause delisting..
116
No more room
Pages being dropped from large sites
The 232 problem – Google has hit the 4.3 Gigabyte address space wall. Bull! Google now has over 8 Gigs of indexed pages.
Thousands of pages are disappearing from various huge websites, but I think that it is G just cleaning house, by dumping computer-generated pages.

117
Rank Manipulation by
Competitor Attack

(1. Content theft causing you to get a duplicate content penalty, even though your content is the original – Google has problems tracking original authorship. People are still stealing my content, but nobody trumps me (in Google) with my own content – hats off to Google.)

Examples –
Site-Wide Link Attack
and
302 Redirect Attack
and
Hijacker Attack

Impossible by Google definition (except for a few nasty tricks, like making your competition appear to be link spammers)
Ideally, there SHOULD be nothing that your competition can do to directly hurt your rankings.However, an astute observer noticed that Google changed their website to read :
Old verbiage = “There is nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking …”
New verbiage = “There is ALMOST nothing a competitor can do …”
An obvious concession that Google thinks that at least some dirty tricks work!Of course, there will always be new ones!
118
Bouncing Ball AlgorithmAt least 2, and often 3 identifiable Google Search Algos are currently in use, alternating pseudo-randomly through the data centers.
G has moved to a daily dance. Multiple changing factors are applied daily. GOOD LUCK NOW on trying to figure things out!IN ADDITION, some the above factors are being “tweaked” daily. Not only are the “weights” of the factors changed, but the formula itself changes. Change is the only constant.An algo change can boost or demote your site. I put this in the negative factors section, because your position is never secure, unless of course, you are huge (PR=7 or greater). If you simply cannot achieve top position, your only alternative to first page SERP exposure may beGoogle Ad Words (you pay for exposure).Today, I searched for an extremely competitive “2-word term”, and I found that NOT ONE of the top ten Google SERPs had even one of the words on the page.
YOWSA! 
Today’s theory – when it doesn’t matter, anybody can get #1 in a second, if they know the on-page rules. BUT, after a certain “commercial competitive level”, the “semantic analysis” algo kicks in, and less becomes more. The keyword density rules are flipped upon their noggins. I think that we are witnessing the evolution of search engine anti-seo sophistication, right before our very eyes. Fun stuff.

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Notes to the Above 122 Google Ranking Factors

1

I have tried to summarize the best opinions of many webmaster forum posters.

2

There are no published rules – this is my continuously changing compilation of SEO chatter. This is my semi-annual, one-way technical Google ranking blog, if you will.

3

If your keywords are Rare and Unique, then Page Rank doesn’t matter.

4

If your keywords are very Competitive, then Page Rank becomes very important.

5

The fewer incoming links that you have, the more important on-page factors are, for noncompetitive terms.

6

There are a million ifs, ors, buts . . . I am attempting a concise summary.
Exceptions to EACH of the POSITIVE ON-Page factors are frequent and many.
However, I feel that it is important to score highly on as many factors as possible, since factor weight and even factor consideration are changing constantly – CYA. Not to mention the other SEs.

7

A few words about the LANGUAGE used on the Google site –
in a phrase – “soft spoken”. We see it everywhere these days.
I am referring to understatement, sometimes even to the point of confusion.
“significant”, “may”, etc.
For example, when Google states that maybe it might not be a good idea to do a particular thing, what they SOMETIMES really mean is “If you do it, you are history”.
Some Google suggestions are actually commands (STRONG HINTS) in disguise.
At some point, you begin to realize this.
Google just can’t tell us everything, literally. Sooooooo, take the hints.

8

Become religious. Seek the light. It’s there, but you gotta look.
LISTEN UP! Read the rules. Read between the lines. Carefully.
Differentiate. Project. Carefully analyze your own situation.Webmaster Guidelines
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769How does Google rank pages?
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34432Google Facts and Fiction
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22google+facts+and+fiction%22Search Engine Optimizers
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291

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Historical Updates
The “Panda” Update of February 23, 2011
(AKA “Farmer” Update, “Farm” Update)Much is being said about the Google “Content Farm” update. Opinions and counter opinions are rampant. Here are some theories and conclusions that have been advanced, by webmasters at Webmaster World. 

Site Problem
Suggested Solution
1. Determine which of your pages were hardest hit.
2. “Thin” content is being hit hard.
3. “Article sites” are being hit hard.
4. “Copied content” is being hit hard.
5. “Duplicate content” is being hit hard.
6. Sites with high ad-to-content ratios are being hit hard.
7. Sites using AdSense are NOT being hit as hard (eHow).
1. Immediately drop all your “hardest hit” pages.
2. Add more original content to your pages.
3. Get out of the “article submission” business.
4. Eliminate all scraped, spun, and “copied content”.
5. Use only “unique content” on EVERY page.
6. Reduce the number of ads, especially at the top of the page.
7. Use AdSense on all your pages – it certainly won’t hurt.
The Huge Dichotomy – Google Search vs. Google AdSense
Whatcha Gunna Do?

To RANK WELL (in the Panda update),
Google Search wants to see
VERY FEW ADS,
especially at the top of a page.

USER EXPERIENCE is paramount.

To MAKE MONEY,
Google AdSense wants you to use 3 ad units, 3 link units,
and 2 search units on every page.
Elevendy-seven ads aren’t going to help you, if your
page doesn’t rank, because it has TOO MANY ADS!REVENUE MAXIMIZATION is paramount.

The other dichotomy –
Google Webmaster Tools strongly advices
to speed up page load time,
by eliminating javascript and “lookups”.

USER EXPERIENCE is paramount.

Google AdSense advises placing 3 ad units, 3 link units,
and 2 search units on every page.
Google also advises using Google Analytics.
This advice conflicts with Google Webmaster Tools.REVENUE MAXIMIZATION is paramount.
It remains to be seen, just how Google is going to resolve these profound conflicts of interest.
For every question, I always use the “logic test”.

Would it be logical for Google,
to rank websites near the top,
if those websites are serving AdSense ads?

eHow, an AdSense-prominent content farm, has
not only escaped Panda, they have been rewarded.
eHow is owned by Demand Media,
who have been accused of creating
the ultimate MFA (Made-For-AdSense) websites.

Are they doing it now? Most certainly, for eHow,
which makes Google millions.
Will they do it for others in the future?If revenue maximization is paramount,
is this not inevitable, at some point?
It would be “common sense”, if maximizing shareholder value is the primary objective.Is AdSense money corrupting the Internet, just as lobbyist money has completely corrupted our congress?
Are we going to end up with only mega-MFA sites
on page one of the SERPs?

Would it be logical for Google,
to rank websites near the top,
if those websites are NOT serving AdSense ads?

No.
On the other hand, it would be logical to avoid this accusation, which is easily measurable.
BUT, there is no money in it.
Is Google going to populate the top of their SERPs
with websites that run Bing ads exclusively?
Now, THAT is not logical. It would be dumb.
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Historical Updates
Brief, Partial Google Algorithm Update List
2007
2007
Daily ranking.
-30 penalty noticed, -350 penalty noticed, -950 penalty noticed
2006
2006
Nov.
Unnatural links are anathema to Google SEO – minus 30 SERP positions penalty
Aug.
Everflux is the rule of the day – many small updates.
Sandbox (aging delay) alive and well
July 27th update
Big Daddy
2006 – July – July 27 update, plus quality landing page update
2006 – Feb. – Big Daddy update
2005
2005
Novem. 5 – Jagger 3 Update

Nov.10 all done – settling out.October 26 – Jagger 2 Update
More SERPs churning – OLD is highly valued.
October 17 – Jagger 1 Update
Recent Links, Recent Sites = SERP Turmoil
Google has declared war on phony (low-grade) links
Devaluation of reciprocal from unrelated-subject pages
Devaluation of links from “link houses”
Devaluation of purchased links
Big allinanchor changes
Large companies thrust to the top of the SERPs
Sandbox update
Lowering of sandbox threshold – re-sandboxing
Too fast link accumulation – links acquired too quickly
Deeper sandbox (longer – over 6 months)
Some suggest that one’s site really had to be online before January 2004,
in order to avoid all ramifications of the sandbox.
2005 – Sept. – the “False” Update (Sep.22 – Big update, many changes)
2005 – May – Bourbon Update
2005 – Febr.- Allegra Update – Feb.17, 2005, Some sites released from the sandbox, but many remain.
2004
2004 – Feb.- Brandy Update
2004 – Jan.- Austin Update
2003
2003 – Nov.- Florida Update
2003 – June – Esmeralda Update
2003 – May – Dominic Update
2003 – Apr. – Cassandra Update
2003 – Mar. – Boston Update
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The Google Sandbox –
The Single-Biggest SEO Ranking Factor for New Sites

Google is clearly fighting spam by sacrificing SERP newness for higher SERP quality.

March 2004
Edited August 2006THE GOOGLE SANDBOXThe sandbox is alive and well.
In March 2004, Google implemented a new filter, now referred to as “The Sandbox”. This new “effect” took months to notice and quantify.The sandbox is also referred to as an “aging delay”. Two aging delays have been suggested – one for link weight, and one for competitive term ranking.The sand box only applies to highly COMPETITIVE terms, revolving around money, such as the words attorney, loans, viagra, real estate, etc. The more lucrative the keyword, the longer the wait.Yahoo has a sandbox, as well. Opinion seems to indicate that the Yahoo aging delay is not quite as long as the Google Aging Delay.
Yahoo does seem to provide an initial boost, that will disappear after about 4 weeks.MSN appears to have no sandbox. New sites with new pages, targeting competitive terms, can rank well very quickly (weeks) for those terms.



HOW IT WORKS
If you subscribe to the spam reduction theory, Google’s thinking was, NO NEW SITES get good ranking, until they prove themselves.
Spammers generate thousands of new pages daily, along with millions of new links to go with them. This penalty is new-site based. Long-standing sites have no trouble ranking new pages.
Link Weight Aging Delay
Google WITHHOLDS “link juice” on new sites, by deprecating the new links, for 2-8 months. If the domain and backlinks have existed for a certain length of time (6 months?), then maybe you are OK, and escape from the sandbox.
Over time, the newly generated links are given weight, and eventually the sandbox effect is lifted.
Competitive Term Aging Delay
Google WITHHOLDS high ranking ability on new sites, for highly commercial keywords, such as loans, real estate, viagra, etc.
Eventually, the new site will rank well for the competitive keywords, and the sandbox effect is lifted. Six months is mentioned most frequently.


SOLUTIONS

Two methods are currently being used to get around the Sandbox penalty for new sites.One method is to join the Google Ad Words or Adsense program, in which case your pages get spidered in MINUTES. Your site will be checked initially with an algo or human “smell test”. If you smell good, you’re in. Good rankings will follow (provided of course, that you have good on-page SEO, and a few good backlinks).I speculate that if you are a Google partner (“approved”), then you are not going to be penalized, unless you subsequently “go bad”.The second method is to buy an old domain, just for it’s longevity, and old backlinks. Many have bought up old domain names for this purpose. This may work right now, but the rules will soon change again. They always do.
Good luck!
Sources
“These optimization opinions are too strong –
Too much speculation – I wanna see your SEO data! “. . . OK. Here it is –

Google Webmaster Forums

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Disclaimer 
This is NOT A Google, Inc. Site
In no way, did this data come directly from Google, Inc.
This page consists of a compilation of public information, commonly available on the Internet, at multiple sites, as well as public webmaster forums, and found by performing simple manual tests, using an Internet browser.
The opinions stated above are merely the often misguided personal opinions of the author.
I am not privy to any inside information.
This information is continually changing, and may not be relevant when you read it.
Although the author makes every effort to verify the information on this page, no information on this page is guaranteed to be correct, and any data contained herein may be erroneous.

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