Yandex, a search engine in China, that was built by ex-Googlers and matches the Google index about 70% of the time. Since the Yandex data leak, the SEO community has been trying to ID potential items that may actually impact ranking in Google.
We’ve found two really great articles that help to spell out what appear to be possible ranking indicators that Google may… or may not be using. You can visit the links at the bottom of the page to read all the gory details.
In a nutshell, however these are the items that from my years of experience appear to ring true as Google rankings.
• PageRank – Google does not show PageRank anymore, but years ago this was a really important factor and Google may still be using it. PageRank was a combination of factors such as inbound links, authority, and site freshness.
• Clicks and CTR – I have long felt that with Google having access to websites’ Google Analytics accounts that clicks and click through rate would eventually become a ranking factor.
• URL Construction – We have long known that Google like keyword driven URLs. We like to use hyphens versus underscores in our URL building for SEO optimized websites. The Yandex leak goes a step farther and says that too many trailing slashes is an issue and numbers in the URL are problematic.
• The Web Host – The Yandex leak goes farther into stating that web hosts also impact rankings. Low budget host will flow a lower ranking indicator to sites that are hosted on their servers. Reliability (downtime) may also be an important factor.
• Query Relevance that Matches Meta Titles and Page Text – This rings true to me as a Google index factor as Google is all about relevance. We know the meta title tag is very important for ranking but should reflect page content and not be spammy.
• Presence of Ads on the Page – Yandex might be using this as a ranking factor, but more likely a quality factor. The leak states that Yandex does look for ads and adult ads, but does not reveal if this is a ranking factor. I do not see Google using that for index rankings nor Yandex.
• Age of Links – Yandex appears to be weighting pages with newer inbound links and depreciates older inbound links when deciding page rank. This rings true to me as a Google index item. Google has done much to drop link numbers in various algorithm updates; impacting the placement of websites organically.
• Page Freshness – Yandex is looking at the age of pages and how frequently site updates are done. We have long know that site freshness is a Google indicator. This is one reason why we like blogging as a way to build organic placement over time.
• Bookmarks – Yandex ranks sites higher in the results if more visitors bookmark the page. Google may or may not be doing this, but I am leaning closer to may versus may not.
We encourage you to view the following article for more information. Does this give us enough to move the needle for organic placement. No, but it does give validation to many things we know that do move the needle over time for organic placement improvement.