In John Mueller’s hangout on 09/24/2021, he explained that Google is moving away from talking about using 200 ranking signals.
It’s been a long-time myth in the SEO industry that Google uses 200 ranking signals. Some SEO professionals believe it and flaunt it, and others do not.
There are also those who believe that the 200 ranking signals began breaking down around 2005.
What, Exactly, Are the Top Google Ranking Signals?
Most SEO professionals will agree that top Google ranking signals include content, links, and technical SEO as the top three ranking factors that will influence where your site appears in the Google SERPs (search engine results pages).
As a general rule, you have content, links, and technical SEO, of which there are hundreds of different permutations and implementations depending on your competition and what it will take to rank that site.
If you focus on content—providing content that matches the user intent of the query people are searching for, links—earning the right links to your site so you can work on increasing your website’s authority in your niche, and technical SEO—increasing the quality of your website, then you are certain to increase your rankings over time.
What Do Others Claim?
There are a number of claims about 200 ranking factors throughout the SEO industry. Some are based on well-thought-out paradigms:
While others are based on pure fallacy and are just concepts:
The problem with the above is that Google does not use E-A-T in their ranking algorithms. It’s purely a concept for Google Quality Raters—laypersons who don’t understand algorithms and evaluate websites.
But some in the industry have taken it to mean that it’s a viable part of Google’s algorithms. Sure, maybe if you take the kitchen sink approach. Eventually, you’re going to get a hit. But this is not real SEO.
Danny Sullivan even states this, and Google states this every time there is a discussion around E-A-T:
“Once raters have done this research, they then provide a quality rating for each page. It’s important to note that this rating does not directly impact how this page or site ranks in Search. Nobody is deciding that any given source is ‘authoritative’ or ‘trustworthy’. In particular, pages are not assigned ratings as a way to determine how well to rank them. Indeed, that would be an impossible task and a poor signal for us to use. With hundreds of billions of pages that are constantly changing, there’s no way humans could evaluate every page on a recurring basis.
Instead, ratings are a data point that, when taken in aggregate, helps us measure how well our systems are working to deliver great content that’s aligned with how people—across the country and around the world—evaluate information.”
The Last Word on Ranking Factors
Ranking factors include things like content, links, and technical SEO.
E-A-T is in no way a ranking factor, and known ranking factors have hundreds of different permutations depending on what your competition is doing.
Prioritizing things like content, links, and technical SEO is your best bet to achieving higher rankings.
How you pursue content, links, and technical SEO will be dictated by the things your competitors are doing.
John Mueller 09/24/2021 Hangout Transcript
And then among all of the 200 ranking signals, which are the most important. I don’t like to rank ranking signals, so I can’t give you an answer there and kind of the other small thing there is we’ve kind of moved away from the over 200 ranking signals number because it feels like even having a number like that is just kind of misleading in the sense that, oh, Google has a spreadsheet with all of the rankings’ signals. And they can just sort them by importance and tell me which ones they are. And that’s definitely not the case. So like, a lot of these things just take into account so many different things. You can’t just isolate them out.
This occurs at approximately 49:47 in the video below: