Uncover the pivotal shifts within Google’s ranking algorithms and signals, and empower your SEO strategy using our comprehensive guide on the 2023 Ranking Factors.
The past year has witnessed substantial shifts in search, rendering the classification of ranking factors increasingly intricate.
Google has not only revised its terminology for several previously well-documented “ranking systems” by consolidating various technical signals into a singular “page experience” evaluation but has also placed a greater emphasis on content standards by introducing “experience” alongside expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
Consequently, discerning which elements genuinely influence webpage rankings in Google’s algorithms has grown even more complex.
So, how can you accurately identify the factors that hold sway over webpage rankings today? And how can you devise an effective SEO strategy amidst this prevailing confusion?
If you need guidance on what actions to take and which to avoid as you move forward, our 2023 Ranking Factors guide is the ultimate resource to steer you in the right direction.
Within this ebook, we delve into the intricacies of Google ranking signals, dispel certain misconceptions, and shed light on the latest developments in search for the year ahead.
In this year’s edition, we’ve introduced several key updates:
- We’ve revised our stance on five ranking factors.
- We’ve eliminated four elements due to their obsolescence or consolidation into other aspects.
- We’ve enriched various factors with fresh insights and information.
Grab your copy today to understand how these alterations will influence your strategy.
Ranking Factors Change Log
Updates in “Page Experience”
Google has removed “page experience” from its documented “ranking systems.”
Although various ranking signals are still used to assess page experience, it is no longer categorized as an independent ranking system.
Factors like mobile-friendliness, page speed, and HTTPS have also been excluded from the “systems” documentation.
Google’s representatives have explicitly stated that their algorithms reward good page experience. It’s integrated into the ranking systems, even if it isn’t a standalone system.
To maintain clarity in light of these changes, we have updated several chapters, but the following factors remain confirmed ranking criteria:
- Page Speed.
- Mobile Friendliness.
- Core Web Vitals.
It is important to keep in mind that alt text exclusively serves as a ranking factor for Google image search and does not hold any specific weight in general search. In available search, alt text is treated like any other text on the page and is considered by algorithms, but it does not receive any distinct treatment.
We have removed the authorship entry as it is increasingly encompassed within the scope of E-E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness).
The contextual links entry has been removed because it is progressively integrated into other aspects, such as anchor text, natural language processing, and overall content considerations.
Deep Link Ratio
SEJ’s stance has shifted from deeming it “UNLIKELY” to asserting that it is “DEFINITELY NOT” a significant ranking factor.
SEJ’s assessment has evolved from “PROBABLY” to “CONFIRMED.” It is crucial to note that ranking signals remain unaltered even when a domain changes ownership, implying that any algorithmic penalties previously imposed will persist.
We have substantially updated the content to incorporate the concept of “experience.” However, our opinion remains unchanged, indicating its importance in ranking considerations.
SEJ’s perspective has transitioned from “PROBABLY” to a more definitive “DEFINITELY.” It’s essential to emphasize that Google automatically detects language, and the use of language-specific domains, HTML tags, and related elements does not substantially influence ranking.
SEJ’s perspective has shifted decisively from deeming it “UNLIKELY” to asserting that it is “DEFINITELY NOT” a notable ranking factor. The origin of this myth was a 2006 Google patent mentioning “link churn,” but it’s worth noting that the patent no longer references this term.
Altering a link may cause a delay in the crawling process, but this is the extent of its impact.
Physical Proximity To Searcher
We have removed this entry as it falls within the purview of factors such as Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.
SEJ’s opinion has transitioned from “UNLIKELY” to “POSSIBLY.” It’s crucial to acknowledge that mishandling syndicated content can indeed have a detrimental effect on rankings:
- If a website automatically scrapes and republishes content, this is regarded as spam.
- Sites that syndicate content without implementing a “noindex” tag can potentially outrank the original content, despite Google’s efforts to prioritize original reporting.
We have decided to eliminate this entry because it is considerably outdated concerning Google’s contemporary algorithms and natural language processing. If you have concerns about TF-IDF in 2023, revisit some fundamental SEO principles.
While our overall perspective on this ranking factor remains unchanged, we have made updates to enhance clarity. Despite being a confirmed ranking factor, it predominantly influences specific instances where Google has never indexed content previously. Once the content is indexed, its significance becomes negligible.
Modifications to Google’s Ranking Systems Documentation
Systems & Signals
One noteworthy emphasis in this ebook is the shift in terminology from “ranking factors” to “ranking systems and signals,” reflecting Google’s current approach.
Although “ranking factors” remain prevalent, they no longer precisely convey how Google establishes web rankings. Google has been gradually transitioning away from a model in which a set of quantitative elements determines ranking. Instead, it is constructing collections of qualitative signals that combine to address broader, more human-centric inquiries and decisions.
A system, essentially a fusion of signals, is evolving into a set of principles or values. For instance, E-E-A-T is no longer viewed as a mere ranking factor; it embodies ideals. The ultimate objective is for your content to display expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Even though Google lacks a direct measure of trust, it relies on a series of signals that contribute to calculations, forming a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes authority.
Google recently made a notable alteration by downgrading “page experience,” which encompasses several fundamental technical SEO metrics, from its “ranking systems” documentation.
However, quantifying the extent of this downgrade still needs to be discovered. Regrettably, there is no definitive method for qualitatively assessing the “degree” of influence that any ranking signal or system wields.
We understand that page experience and some constituent signals, such as speed, security, and Core Web Vitals, continue to be documented. Google has verified that they still play a role, and ranking systems acknowledge the significance of page experience. Nevertheless, not all ranking factors hold equal weight, particularly in today’s SEO landscape.
As conveyed in a statement from Google’s Search Liaison account on X (formerly Twitter):
“We recently revised our page on ranking systems. It’s important to differentiate between ranking systems and ranking signals, as systems often incorporate signals. Some content on that page concerning page experience was categorized as ‘systems’ when, in fact, they were signals. Their removal does not imply a disregard for aspects of page experience; instead, they were reclassified as signals employed by other systems.
In essence, these recent changes pertain to organizational adjustments and not functional alterations to algorithms.
‘Page experience’ does not constitute a standalone ranking system. Instead, it comprises a set of ranking signals that multiple ranking systems can and do utilize to assess and reward pages offering a favorable user experience.”
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