Website owners and SEO specialists love discussing the various Google factors that influence search rankings, but there is only limited discussion on the aspects that don’t. This article will highlight the website elements often mistakenly believed to influence the Google algorithm and, in so doing, will help you streamline your SEO strategy and improve your site rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
SEO is a multi-billion-dollar industry. It aims to get websites to conform with Google’s ranking factors. However, staying on track with all 200 Google ranking factors may take a lot of work. So to help you streamline your SEO strategy and optimize your site effectively, we’ve gathered the ranking factors that Google claims it doesn’t use to determine where your site ranks within organic search results..
This article will highlight some of the most frequently mentioned website elements that do not affect search rankings. We will also look at what Google says about organic search rankings and its algorithms to help set up your SEO strategy for success.
Factors That Don’t Affect Organic Rankings
Let’s examine which factors do not affect organic rankings and why you should focus more on search intent, high-quality content, and your long-term goals.
1. Website Age
In the past, it was a common belief that a website’s age influenced its ranking. The argument stated that older sites have a longer time to accumulate the necessary features that signal search engines and affect a site’s ranking.
This argument certainly has merit, but it is worth noting that the elements or features included in the website, not its age, affect a site’s ranking.
2. Domain Age
In the past, people believed that domain age affected a website’s ranking. The argument stated the longer Google has a domain indexed or registered, the stronger the domain will be and the higher it will rank.
In 2017, John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, refuted this belief. When asked on Twitter if domain age is a factor influencing a website’s ranking, Mueller replied with a decisive no. Furthermore, Google has stated that domain age does not affect its ranking on Search Engine Results Pages, SERPS.
The pogo stick is a wooden pole with a spring attached to the bottom, which people stand on and bounce off the ground. The online practice of “Pogo Sticking” is named after the pogo stick, and it involves quickly navigating or bouncing back and forth between search result pages.
In the past, some have theorized that pogo sticking can negatively affect a website’s rankings; however, according to Google’s John Mueller, pogo sticking is not a factor influencing search page results ranking.
Pogo-sticking can be used to test internal ranking changes, comparing them against one another, quality control, or other purposes. Still, it is outside the core algorithm and, as such, does not influence organic rankings on SERPs.
4. Page Content or Word Count
Many people mistakenly believe that the total page content or word count influences the google search algorithm. However, this belief is incorrect. John Mueller, a search advocate for Google has stated that the amount of content or word count, “is not a ranking factor for the Google search algorithm.”
Instead of ranking by word count, the Google algorithm looks for word content that is new, relevant and high quality. This stops content providers from simply filling a website with irrelevant content in an attempt to signal the Google algorithm.
5. LSI Keywords
LSI keywords refer to words and phrases that Google considers semantically related to a topic. For example, if the topic is cars, the LSI keywords will be words like tire, road, engine, chassis, and suspension, to name just a few.
LSI uses complex mathematical formulas to determine the relationships between words or phrases in a collection of documents. However, John Mueller has tweeted “there’s no such thing as LSI keywords — anyone who’s telling you otherwise is mistaken, sorry.”
Given the uncertainty regarding LSI keywords, some SEO experts recommend using a search rankings checker that looks at competitor rankings instead. You can use the checker to determine what keywords other sites are ranking for, how authoritative their sites are, and the type of content that helps them rank.
6. XML Sitemaps
Opinions vary on whether an XML Sitemap affects a site’s ranking. Some experts claim that XML Sitemaps help rank your site higher, while others claim XML Sitemaps have no signaling value.
An XML Sitemap is a file that lists the essential pages of a website. An XML Sitemap helps search engines quickly find the essential pages of a website, and it helps search engines understand the structure of your website. Put another way, an XML Sitemap makes your site’s codebase and taxonomy more robust.
Some experts believe that an XML sitemap will affect search engine rankings. However, John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, has stated, “HTML sitemaps can be handy in Google crawling your site naturally, not with an XML Sitemap.”
The bottom line here is that there is no doubt an XML Sitemap is a crucial part of any website, but whether it can affect search engine ranking is still a matter of debate.
7. Subdomains or Subdirectories
The extent to which Subdomains and Sub-directories affect a website’s search result ranking is still a subject of much discussion. But before we delve into that discussion, let’s first define what Subdomains and Subdirectories are.
In a video presentation, John Mueller stated that Subdirectories and Subdomains help Google with crawling; however, the debate around whether they affect rankings continues. Some experts claim that Subdomains and Sub-directories receive “authority” from inbound links but don’t share this authority with the root directory. This means they don’t affect Google search engines or rankings.
The counterargument states that Subdomains and Sub-directories help make your website easier to navigate and more user-friendly, which can affect search engine ranking.
In conclusion, Subdomains and Sub-directories are essential components of any website as they make a site more easily navigable; however, how much this affects search engine ranking is debatable.
Several elements of a website are mistakenly believed to affect its search page ranking. These elements include site and domain age, Pogo sticking, word count, LSI keywords, XML sitemaps, and subdomains and sub-directories. Some experts claim these factors affect search page ranking, while others claim they have little to no effect.
Unfortunately, there is no easy formula to acing search rankings, but focusing on user intent, high-quality content, and your long-term goals is a good start.
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