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WorldWide Merchant USA Bytes is WorldWide Merchant's blog in which we keep our clients informed about tips, tricks, updates, and new features of the WWM content management system.

How Google Ranks Your Pages

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A look at a few of the factors that Google uses to rank your website (as of early 2014).

Using somewhere around 200 variables, Google’s search ranking algorithm is an incredibly complex, dynamic thing which keeps us SEO professionals on our toes!

No one knows exactly how the search algorithm works, because the people over at Google guard their recipe like a dragon guards treasure. Still, they’re nice enough to give us search marketers clues as to what Google looks for in a website.

Google’s most recent major update, codenamed “Hummingbird,” was announced at the end of 2013. Hummingbird set the SEOverse all a-twitter. Would keywords still be relevant? What role would social media play in the new rankings? How much more value would Google place on quality content?

In the end, the Hummingbird update came and went with little fuss. There was some shuffling of rankings in the SERP’s (search engine results pages). But ultimately the dropped listings were low-quality sites and, for most companies, it was business as usual with little more than a hiccup in rankings.

Google Ranking Factors

Google uses about 200 factors in ranking your webpages for any given keyword. These factors range from things you can control (your content, your hosting provider, your site’s optimization), to things you have limited control over (quality of linkbacks and traffic statistics), to things you have no control over whatsoever (a searcher’s physical location, their browser history, and the keywords a searcher enters in Google).

The level of importance that Google gives to each of these factors is unknown and varies over time and from site to site, depending a variety of other factors.

At the Server Level
  • Server reputation
  • Server response time
  • Site uptime
  • SSL Certificate (for ecommerce sites)

At the Site (Domain) Level
  • Domain
    • Age
    • History
    • Registration length
    • Privacy settings
    • Penalized Whois owner
    • Country TLD extension
    • Site trust level
  • Keyword in Domain
    • Keyword position
    • Keyword in subdomain
    • Exact match domain (except when site is low quality)
  • Sitemap (XML)
    • Presence of
    • Frequency of updates
    • Freshness of updates
  • Content
    • Frequency of changes
    • Scope & magnitude of changes
    • History of page updates
    • Site architecture
    • Existence and completeness of Contact Us page
    • Existence of Terms of Service and Privacy pages
    • Number of pages
    • Mobile optimization
    • Site usability
  • SEO efforts
    • Use of Google Analytics
    • Use of Google Webmaster Tools
    • DMOZ listing
    • Yahoo! Directory listing
    • microformats
  • Business brand signals
    • Site has Facebook page and likes
    • Site has Twitter profile with followers
    • Legitimacy of social media accounts
    • Site has official LinkedIn company page
    • Employees are listed at LinkedIn
    • Site has employee profiles
    • Site has a blog
    • Number of RSS subscribers
    • Business has physical location with a Google+ Local listing

At the Page Level

  • Page load speed via HTML and via Chrome
  • Page age
  • Priority in sitemap.xml
  • Number of other keywords for which the page ranks well
  • Keyword Formatting
    • Use in meta title tag
    • Prominence in title tag
    • In meta description tag
    • Use of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords in title and description tags
      (LSI keywords put your keyword into context. E.g. Sage the accounting software or sage the herb?)
    • In H1 tag, in H2, H3, etc., tags
  • Keyword Use in Content
    • Relative density
    • Keyword prominence
    • Keyword word order
    • LSI keywords
    • Natural language keywords – natural variations of your target keyword
  • Content
    • Content length (The average top 3 sites for any keyword contains between 2,400 and 2,500 words)
    • Content age
    • Frequency of updates
    • Content syndication (Do you use syndicated content on your site? Google would rather offer people the original source.)
    • Content uniqueness (both on-site and off-site)
    • Content provides value & unique insights
    • Use of multimedia
    • Helpful supplementary content (loan interest calculators, interactive recipes)
    • Grammar and spelling
    • Reading level
    • Tags (for blog content)
    • Content formatting
    • Bullets and numbered lists
    • References and sources
    • User-friendliness of content layout
    • Overall content quality
  • Image Optimization
    • File name
    • File size
    • File format
    • Alt tag
    • Title tag
    • Description
    • Caption
  • Links
    • Outbound link quality
    • Outbound link anchor text
    • Outbound link theme
    • Number of outbound links
    • Broken outbound links
    • Use of affiliate links
    • Number of internal links pointing to the page
    • Number of external links pointing to the page
    • External inbound link anchor text
  • URL
    • Length
    • Path
    • Use of keyword in
  • Page Code – HTML Errors / WC3 Validation
  • Page Category 

Traffic Factors

  • Organic click-through rate for a keyword
  • Organic click-through rate for all keywords
  • Bounce rate
  • Repeat traffic
  • Chrome bookmarks
  • Number of comments
  • Direct traffic
  • Time on site

Off-Page Factors 

  • Backlinks
    • Number of total backlinks
    • Age of backlink
    • Authority of source domain
    • Links from competitors
    • Links from bad neighborhoods
    • Participation in affiliate programs
    • Anchor text of backlinks
    • Diversity of link types
    • Context of backlinks
    • Number of contextual links
    • Link title attribution
    • Country of referring domain
    • Link location in content or on page
    • Page level relevancy
    • Link velocity
    • Natural link profile
    • Reciprocal links
    • User generated content links
    • Word count of linking content
    • Quality of linking content
    • Forum spam links

  • Social
    • User reviews / site reputation (,, Google+ reviews, etc.)
    • Overall number of shares
    • Number of tweets
    • Authority of Twitter user accounts
    • Number of Facebook likes
    • Number of Facebook shares
    • Authority of Facebook user accounts
    • Pinterest pins
    • Number of Google+1’s
    • Authority of Google user accounts
    • Verified Google+ authorship
    • Votes on social sharing sites
    • Social signal relevancy
    • Site-wide social signals

  • Search
    • Number of other keywords for which the page ranks well
    • User browser history
    • User search history
    • User geo targeting
    • Google+ circles
    • Google+ local searches
    • Safe searches
    • DMCA complaints
    • Transactional searches
    • Shopping results
    • Big brand preference

On-Page SPAM Factors

The following will negatively impact your rankings.

  • Low quality content
  • Links to bad neighborhoods
  • Excessive or Improper use of redirects
  • Pop-ups or distracting ads
  • Site over-optimization
  • Page over-optimization
  • Above the fold ads
  • Hiding affiliate links
  • Monetized affiliate sites
  • Autogenerated content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Keyword cloaking
  • Meta tag spamming
  • Flagged IP address

Off-Page SPAM Factors 

  • Unnatural influx of links
  • Link profile with high percentage of low-quality links
  • Linking domain relevancy
  • Links from the same class C IP
  • Poison anchor text (use Disavow Tool)
  • Manual penalty
  • Selling / buying links


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Welcome to Bytes!

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Bytes is WorldWide Merchant's blog where we provide tips, training, and keep you informed about new features and updates.

Bytes is WorldWide Merchant's new blog. It's here to keep you updated on new features, system updates, tips and training, and more. We're constantly adding new features to the WorldWide Merchant content management system and e-commerce solution.

Most recently we finished a few tweaks and testing to ensure the Site Editor generates 100% compliant CSS-based code in all major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. 

We've also added a new "file hyperlink" feature in the editor. This feature lets you upload a file and create a hyperlink to the file at the same time. This is especially useful when you're uploading PDF or DOC files.

We hope you'll subscribe, read, and comment as we keep you posted on all of WWM's news!

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