In order not to lose traffic to the site in the near future, let's get acquainted with the most important Google ranking factors that will affect the formation of SERPs in 2020 and 2021.

Google Ranking Factors Relevant in 2021

1. Commercial Links

Google has always been wary of sites that use a large number of "artificial" / commercial links. Very often, such schemes are used by gray-scale optimizer for spam and manipulating page weight. The main feature of such schemes is the rapid and explosive growth of the link mass.

In 2020, the search engine algorithms have improved so much that now, in theory, it is not difficult to identify such spam links. Google says such links will have no impact on the project unless the URLs point to sites that are manually pessimist. However, many SEO claim that sites that use a large number of temporary links can be seriously pessimist.

2. Age of the site

Domain age is the value of any site his ranking factor has remained important for several decades and will play a decisive role in the coming years. Interestingly, Google employees continue to argue that domain age doesn't affect anything.

Age of the site

Links from old sites are much more valuable than from newly created ones. It makes no sense to engage in link promotion with the help of young spam donors (sites that consist entirely of links). Yes, traffic and SERP gains can be quite noticeable at first, but in the long run, these methods will not bring tangible results.

As far as young domains are concerned, links from them can be very useful, provided the site is trustworthy enough. If the search engines love the site, the link is white-useful, and it is often followed, you do not need to ban it.

3. Violations and re-checking the site

Websites with violations very quickly lose their positions in search results. That is why it is better to listen to all recommendations and notifications (they will be individual for each webmaster). You need to watch them in the personal accounts of GoogleSearch Console and Yandex Webmaster. If your site has already been pessimist, such violations cannot be triggered. It is necessary to eliminate them as soon as possible and send a request to re-check the site. If all violations are eliminated, the sanctions will be removed.

4. The total number of links from other domains

One of the top ranking factors that continue to greatly affect search results in 2020 is the total number of domains linking to your site. This is evidenced by a recent study of Google search results by backlinko SEO specialists.

Check this - Top Business Listing Sites List


5. Disavow Backlinks

Tool “disavow backlinks” is indispensable when you need to remove a large amount of advertising, temporary or other low-quality links. It looks like this:

Backlink Rejection disavow backlinks

You need to use this tool very carefully, because by removing important links, you can harm the site and drastically reduce its position in the search results. If Google imposes sanctions on your site, then Adsense monetization will also be disabled for problem pages or for the entire domain at once.

The good news is that most likely all links to your site are natural and you don't need to reject anything. The point is that unnatural links appear much less frequently than natural ones. You need to block URLs from openly garbage sites that are link dumpsters, doorways, attack visitors' computers or cover illegal topics.

6. The Value of Classful Routing

When the Internet was small, there were several classes of IPv4 addresses. Many SEOs notice that links from C-class IP addresses are valued higher than links from other IP addresses. Class C includes all IP addresses from to Spamming with such links is also unacceptable.

7. Google Dance

Google Dance is a unique phenomenon that occurs when data is overwritten / updated on Google servers. Due to the technical nature of DNS servers, Google databases, and different storage methods, Google servers do not update immediately. In the process of updating information, data exchange occurs with a delay. During such periods, the issue can look extremely unusual. For example, in the first places instead of old web resources with authoritative domains, very young sites are shown.

The Google dance is temporary. Interestingly, the company itself claims that the dance was done intentionally and is used as one of the ways to identify fraud among unscrupulous publishers and webmasters.

8. The total number of referring pages

This figure should not be confused with the total number of referring domains. The number of referring pages also has weight and greatly affects the position of the site in the search results. Here, again, Google discourages paid links or other fraudulent promotion methods. Remember that bulk link buying usually increases the number of donor sites, not the links themselves.


9. Sandbox

Conspiracy theorists claim that all new sites are in the sandbox for several months after creation. Sandboxing is a phenomenon that implies artificial containment of the site's positions, often a decrease in them.

Google claims there is no sandbox. There are only filters that are applied to all sites that receive a link explosion from the very beginning. The latter is especially typical for black optimization methods. Google limits the visibility of such sites in search and does not give them high rankings, but more often than not, it simply completely removes them from the search results. If you fall under sanctions, it's time to sound the alarm and get out of the search engine filters.


10. Link text

Filling out the page Meta thoroughly, optimizing it and working with tags is certainly good, but Google has become smarter and now analyzes the link text itself. The URL must be relevant to the page, otherwise, it will be very difficult to promote positions in the SERP.


11. Hidden links and text

Working with copywriters directly, I notice a funny thing: many of them still do not hesitate to replace characters and hidden text. Google is making it clear that it doesn't make sense to use hidden text, including the URL. You cannot place white text on a white background or off the screen, insert pictures over text, use fonts with zero point size - this is a direct way to pessimist the site.

12. Alt Tag in Images

Some SEOs claim that you only need to fill in the Alt tag in images if your site plans to receive traffic through Google Images. Others believe that filling in the Alt tag is necessary anyway for all images, as it has a positive effect on the site's ranking in the long term. I tend to believe the second option, as tags are an extremely important signal for search engines

Alt Tag in Images

13. Selling direct links

Is your site registered with GGL? Have you embedded strange codes into your website template? Do you use link exchanges regularly? Your site may permanently leave search results or receive a warning. Better not to indulge in all of the above.


14. Domains of state and educational institutions

Some SEOs argue that links from gov and edu domains will become especially important in the coming years. There is a theory according to which the listed domain zones are much more valuable: they allow the site to receive bonuses in ranking and take a higher place in the search results. Google employees say these types of domains do not affect rankings in any way. Probably, the truth is somewhere in between.

15. Page Rank

Page Rank in 2020 remains the most important domain authority metric on the Internet. This algorithm is used to identify the weight of the page, its significance. The Page Rank device looks like this:

Page Rank

The diagram above uses a logarithmic scale. We see: the C page is more important than page E . It is noticeable that there are fewer links from page C than from page E , but one of the links leading to page C comes from more important pages. This is why the above page has more weight.

This is how the Page Rank is calculated for each page on the Internet. Not only is the Page Rank of your domain taken into account, but also all web pages linking to it. An optimizer over-looping on Page Rank will also not lead to good results. For example, if you consistently and purposefully prescribe the no-follow attribute on all outbound links to your site, for Google this "craze" can be a sign of fraud.

Links from reputable sites carry much more weight than one-day links. The number of outbound links on the page itself is also important. A hyperlink posted on a page with a hundred more similar links will be far less valuable than a link posted on a page without links.

An important clarification since 2016, Google Page Rank indicators have ceased to be public, since the corporation believed that this data could be used for search spam. But there are services that allow you to reconstruct the calculation of link weight with a greater or lesser degree of reliability. There are many such services; we will not give links to them because of their controversy.


16. Links from media releases, article catalogs, advertising articles

The heavier the donor, the better for a young site. If your domain is being referenced by a major state-run media outlet, for example, this is a great signal to help your site rank higher.

17. Links

In 2020, links are still needed to promote websites. Mass uncontrolled link building is now prohibited: markups are instantly recognized by Google algorithms.

It is also known that age is important not only for the domain itself, but also for the link. Links from new pages (created later than the others) convey more weight, as they are considered more relevant.

Check this - Free Dofollow Bookmarking Sites List


18. Link from old and authority domain

You need to buy links only on old and proven sites that have high authority in the eyes of the search engine. Domain Authority is a unique characteristic that shows how well a domain can rank. This characteristic includes dozens of unique signals:

  • Popularity
  • Domain age
  • Audience trust (+ good behavioral factors of visitors)


19. Poisonous links

Links of this kind do not in any way make website promotion more effective. I will only note that the following types of URLs can be classified as poisonous:

  • International domain names, if the language of the content on them differs from the language of your site.
  • Domains with zero Page Rank
  • Using the no-follow tag - this detail is typical for unnatural links.
  • The link leads to a broken site, the service of which was stopped by the hosting or registrar.
  • The link leads to a site that contains malicious code or viruses.

There is no point in using poisonous links: it is unreasonably expensive and ineffective.


20. Competitive sites by topic or content

Links from competing sites on the subject are much more valuable than links from random sites. Ideally, the site that links to you itself should be in the top of the search results. The latter is especially true if the selected page is promoted for a specific search phrase.


21. Identical IP

If in a short period of time several links to sites with an IP address belonging to the C-class appear at once, then Google can very quickly respond to this by applying pessimization measures.


22. Poor quality sites bad topics

Links on low-quality and unreliable sites will only harm the promotion if you use them as donors. This could include web resources controversial topics, such as gambling, pornography, violence. Also, links that lead to sites with occultism, ritual and tragic themes, microloans, fraudulent schemes can harm the visibility of your site in the search.


23. Links in guest articles

Many foreign SEO experts point out that links in guest posts are no longer as important as they were recently. With the right approach, they still work. Keep in mind that a large number of guest posts can be viewed by Google bots as a sign that the webmaster is using gray-scale optimization.


24. Unnatural Reference Weight

Search Console alerts for unnatural link violations are regularly received by a large number of AdSense publishers. Such notification is often a harbinger of more serious problems associated with further pessimization of the site. In order not to receive such a warning, you should not use gray promotion methods, which include uncontrolled exchange of links, their purchase on special exchanges.


25. No follow links

Google gave the unambiguous answer that the link mass attributed with the no follow tag does not count at all. At the same time, John Mueller finally admitted that no follow links are still taken into account by Google's algorithms moreover, such links even transfer weight. Naturally, they will not help in promotion, but you should not completely neglect them either. Such links can provide a large amount of data, including informing the search engine about an artificial surge in the link mass. It would be strange if Google was not aware of this.

 Example -

 <a href="" rel="nofollow">Viral Content Spot</a>

26. One source of links

If all of the links to your site are from the same source type, this could alert Google's algorithms. For example, all incoming links to your site are placed inside the social network. Google's automatic algorithms can identify this link mass as unwanted, since, with a high degree of probability, it was received using mass spam. Natural link masses arise from several sources at once, not just from social networks, for example.

Less valuable in the eyes of Google are also links from sources that are commonly used by gray-scale SEOs. These include comments on free sites, forum posts, and free blogs. All links placed on such sites are second-rate for Google and are taken into account when building the search results to a lesser extent. Links from forums have also significantly depreciated, as they are used by unscrupulous optimizers.


27. Link redirects

Google doesn't like a lot of redirects, so it's best to only use redirects when you really need to. Apparently, redirects do not lower the Page Rank of pages in any way.

Google employee Matt Cutts notes that setting up a redirect from HTTP to HTTPS, for example, will have no effect on domain weight. If you manipulate whole chains, or 404-redirects, then the weight can decrease. Cutts also stated that the 301st will transfer 100% of the page's weight in cases where the page to which the redirect is configured completely matches the old one.


28. Penguin

If your site is listed under the "Penguin", it may completely or partially disappear from the search results. Usually, the "Penguin" victim simply becomes less visible in search results. The filter has been around for several years, but in 2020 it focuses exclusively on filtering harmful links, although more recently it was used to pessimist entire sites.


29. Location of links

Google has a lot of interesting comments about URL structure. Links that are placed at the very beginning of the content are more valuable than those that are inserted at the very end. Many SEOs note that the location of the key phrase in the title and within the content, in the text itself, matters.

The key phrase at the beginning of the heading has a positive effect on the ranking of the page, provided that it is sufficiently relevant to the request, and all other requirements for content and site development are met. Thus, the keyword in the title is still a great tool that can influence page rankings.

Another rule: a link directly within the content has more weight than one located, for example, in the footer.


30. Site Hacking

If Google decides that your site has been hacked, it will quickly be hidden from SERPs and may be permanently removed from the index.


31. Spam and Meta Errors

Novice SEOs love to spam, inserting a huge number of keys into tags and meta, which are absolutely useless there. Too many anchors in the page description, title and image alts will quickly lead to additional penalties


32. Wikipedia

Many SEOs point out that Wikipedia links work wonders and really help build a website's credibility in the eyes of Google. This data is not confirmed, moreover, links from the "Wiki", if they are used as a source of information, are always highlighted with the nofollow attribute

33. Affiliate programs

Google is wary of affiliate programs that are hosted on any site. If your site is monetized by affiliate networks, it is worth keeping in mind that Google may use additional ways to check your site for fraud. It is better to reduce affiliate programs to a minimum or even switch to another way of generating income. Google especially dislikes hidden affiliate links. It's best to remove them from your site as soon as possible.


34. Link exchange

Uncontrolled link exchanges are discouraged. It is one of the most common reasons for website sanctions. Here, again, it's all about the quality of links. For example, if a beautiful and useful link “Developed by Texter is placed in the basement of your site this will not only harm the promotion of the site, but will also have a positive effect on it.


35. Freddy

Google's Fred algorithm has had a big impact on SERPs in recent years. "Fred" shakes up SERPs all over the world and sometimes behaves in general unpredictable.

Initially, SEOs believed that this algorithm simply checks the quality of the content on all sites. Later it became known that this is not an algorithm, but a whole series of updates that should improve search results, making them more relevant to the end user. Today it is known for sure that the main goal of "Fred" is sites with junk and useless content.

36. Schema

Pages with Schema markup, in the experience of most SEOs, rank better than pages without such markup. Schema markup also has a positive effect on the click-through rate on the search results page.


37. Content Value

For Google, the quality of the content on the page where the link is placed is important . It's bad if it's copy-paste. A quality and useful rewriting is already better. URLs in long posts are much more valuable and carry more weight.


38. Low-value content

Google can automatically identify low quality content, including copy-paste and auto-generated text. Pages with this and other junk content very rarely end up in the SERP.


39. New in RankBrain

RankBrain is a component of Google's algorithm that uses input-based machine learning. RankBrain is used to determine the most relevant search results to the user's request. RankBrain has become much smarter in 2020 and now uses a complex interpretation model that takes into account many user factors: geo, personalization, passphrase and other data.


40. Over-optimization

Google is extremely wary of over-optimized sites. If your article uses mass tagging, highlighting, highlighting of search phrases, a large number of keywords on each page, then you are at risk. If you are not sure that you will be able to cope with the task yourself, contact the professionals for website optimization.


41. Annoying ads

Google has often stated that giveaway ads (like pop-up ads) have always been the main hallmark of low-quality sites. Sanctions also apply to sites that display ads in full screen, especially on mobile devices. Distracting advertisements and calls to click / support are also unacceptable.

Annoying ads

42. Will of the "Panda"

No, this is not about the eponymous Chinese online store, but about serious transformations in Google's ranking algorithms. "Panda" appeared in 2011, and for several years it has undergone significant changes in the appointment. Today, Panda is used primarily to pessimist substandard sites and so-called “content” farms. The Panda algorithm works to increase the relevant pages in the search results. Anyone who does not care about the quality of the materials produced can grab this filter.


43. Public audience on social networks

Google is able to distinguish between public consisting entirely of bots and communities of live users. The latter is proved by a special patent, which was recently registered by Google. Algorithms are able to analyze not only the number of posts in public pages, but also the number of participants and their behavioral factors. In the coming years, the presence on social networks will be taken into account by Google for absolutely all sites.


44. Social networks

The signals from social networks themselves continue to play an important role in shaping search results pages. It is good if the site has pages on most social networks, but they should not be empty.

In 2021, special attention will need to be paid not only to the usual social networks, for example, Facebook and Twitter, but also to less popular in our country, which may "shoot" in the near future: LinkedIn, Foursquare Flickr, Pinterest, Reddit. The more “live” subscribers a site has on social networks, the better.

Social networks


The ranking signal is the number of comments on the site page. Most often, thematic pages present in the top have a large number of comments. This information was confirmed by Google employees.

46. Images

"Alter" all the pictures that you use on the pages of your site. Images often appear in organic SERPs and generate additional traffic. An example of this output:

47. Call frequency

Sites with a lot of traffic and a corresponding number of visits / views get the best places on the search results page.

48. Regional search phrases

Sites can rank higher if they are dedicated to a specific city / region / country, and there is such a clarification in the search phrase. For example, a specific city is indicated.


49. Adult content

Please note that sites containing adult content will not appear in search results for most users, since all of them have Safe Search configured by default.



In 2021, key ranking factors will not change dramatically, but there will be a lot of new ones. When doing internal site optimization, do not forget about the quality of the content and the mission of the site. Links will also have to pay due attention, but it is still categorically unacceptable to use gray promotion methods. A big role in the coming year will be played by the authority of the domain, as well as the weight of the sites linking to it.