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In our two other parts of our SEO series, we talked about what SEO is and some quick tips to use on your own site. Today, we're going to look at 20 of the most important ranking factors within Google's algorithm and expand into what they mean for your sites ranking.

Ranking Factors

#1. Domain Age

While Matt Cutts from Google has said it's not an incredibly important factor, the age of a domain does play some significance. A domain that's been around for 6 years will rank different than one that's only 6 days old.

#2. Domain Registration Length

Legitimate domains are normally bought for several years in the future, while low quality or spam domains are normally only registered for a year at a time. Google looks at your registration length and uses it as a small factor in your sites ranking.

#3. Public Vs. Private WHOIS Information

Matts Cutts at PubCon in 2006 said that domains with WHOIS information hidden tend to have something to hide. While someone hosting only one or two sites with hidden information  is normally fine, a whole group of sites linking to each other with hidden information can be penalized.

#4. Country Domain Extension (.us, .ca, .cn)

Google will rank the site a bit higher for the specified country but may hinder its ability to rank globally.

#5. Penalized WHOIS

If Google determines that the same person is repeatedly registering domains to low quality or spammy websites, future site registrations may be automatically penalized.

#6. Keyword in Title

Having the keyword somewhere in your title (preferably near the front) sends a strong signal to Google that this is what the page is about.

#7. Keyword in Description

Putting your keyword in the description can help give your site an added boost, though it's appearing the importance of this factor is declining.

#8. Keyword Most Common Phrase In Content

Using the keyword you're trying to rank for more than any other phrase in your pages content helps Google determine the relevancy of your page for a particular query. Be careful about using it TOO much though, as Google may penalize you for keyword stuffing.

#9. Keyword in H1 Tag

Your H1 tag is like a second title tag, and therefore weighted rather heavily in the rankings.

#10. Content Length

Having more content is always better in the eyes of Google. They prefer longer, detailed articles over short and and shallow ones. Most top 10 results contain 2,000+ keywords.

#11. Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords

Some keywords might need some context for Google to see what they're really about. A keyword like "Shell" would need some LSI keywords to differentiate the gas station from sea shells.

#12. Page Load Speed

Google looks at how long your page takes to load, and has started penalizing slow load times. Plus, a slow load time reduces the amount of people who link to it which could double hurt your site.

#13. Duplicate Content

Having the same content on two pages of the same site (especially if it's slightly modified) can incur you a huge penalty from Google.

#14. Image Details

Image filename, alt tag, title, description, and caption are all indexed by Google and if they contain your keywords, can help your site rank in Google. Google CANNOT read text that is placed inside an image.

#15. Grammar and Spelling

While it may not be a direct ranking factor, having proper grammar and spelling will certainly increase the amount of backlinks and shares your content gets. Matt Cutts has said it may be a quality signal.

While nearly none of these factors on their own will get you to page one, or drop you completely from the rankings, when you combine all of these key components together they can make a big impact. If your competitors are all doing these 20 steps and you've only tackled 18, you will be losing the battle. You can look at all 200 factors here, and let us know which you're using on your site. Need help with your current SEO strategy? Reach out to us, and we can discuss how JMC Brands can help you climb in the rankings.