Blog / Articles17 December 2017

12 “ranking” factors that are not so important for Google

In a website search optimization the complex approach is important: lots of factors that affect the change of the positions in Google search results have to be taken into account (e.g. inner and outer). Wherein, the significance of some indexes (e.g. keyword in Title or site reference profile) is not in doubt, while others appear to be not so important. Some of these factors have lost their role because of Google search algorithm updates and corrections, while others have never been taken into account by the search engine. At the same time, many webmasters still pay too much attention to them and do not get the expected impact. In this article, we are going to discuss some indexes that are insignificant according to the words of Google employees.

1. Caps Lock in site URL and Title

Google representative Gary Illyes answered the question in Twitter: «Is there a ranking/spam penalty for putting certain words in a title tag in ALL CAPS?» shortly «No». John Mueller, a specialist from search quality department, also claimed that capital letters in site URL do not have any influence at its search ranking.

Gary Illyes' Twitter

It is worth to note that Google do not recommend to use special symbols (commas, colons, quotes etc.) in site address.

2. Keywords in the top-level domain

The discussion of keyword effectiveness in a TLD (Top Level Domain) was caused by the publication of a research, which shows that a law company has risen up in search results after changing the domain from .com to .attorney. Google representatives reacted to this article in their Twitter accounts: John Mueller reminded that «keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search», and Gary Illyes pointed to the fact that the study was conducted only at one domain and suggested that it can be flawed.

John Mueller's Twitter

Gary Illyes' Twitter

3. Mistakes in HTML code

It does not matter how hard you try to create an ideal HTML code that works correctly in any situation, it is always easy to make a mistake. Webmasters note that errors can be found even during website analysis. Therefore, it would not be fair if the search engine took into account such inaccuracies on other websites. Matt Cutts, a Google distinguished engineer, confirmed this in one of his videos. According to his words, the search engine tries to work with real pages in real world rather than require some ideal optimization.

4. Domain age and registration term

John Mueller confirmed that domain age is not important for its search ranking, answering to a question in Twitter. Earlier he also claimed that registration term of the domain name does not matter because many registrars just do not provide such an information in public domains.

John Mueller's Twitter


John Mueller's Twitter

5. Time to First Byte (TTFB) parameter

Loading speed is an important index of efectiveness of any site and one of its indicators is TTFB metrics. It is considered that decrease of this index positively affects both on server productivity and loading of particular pages. According to John Mueller, Google does not use this metric nowadays as a ranking factor. They advise to use it as a user-oriented speed index but not to focus on it as an SEO parameter.

John Mueller's Twitter

It is worth to mention that Google considers site loading speed in ranking only when it is critically low. In other words, only in a negative light. Site owners with a normal work speed should not trouble a lot. You can listen to John Mueller's words about it in the video:

Updated 19.01.18. It should also be mentioned that the recently announced Google Speed ​​Update, planned to be released in July 2018, will affect the ranking in mobile search: the download speed of the mobile versions of pages will be considered (currently, any devices take into account the download speed of the desktop version). Google employees assured that the update will affect a small percentage of requests. As in the case of desktop search, only the pages that load slower than all will be lowered in mobile search results.

6. Grammar and spelling on pages

During one of webmasters hangout, John Mueller confirmed that grammar mistakes in site content or in comments on its pages does not influence at the ranking. According to his words, the company is unlikely to have algorithms that can appraise grammar, and even on the Internet, where there is a number of languages and dialects, it is too hard to do it. On the other hand, too many mistakes can repel users, so it is worthwhile to follow the literacy.

7. 301 and 302 redirects

Webmasters and optimizers still debate about which redirect answer code version is better: 301 or 302. In the video presented below John Mueller clarifies that because of some corrections made by Google nowadays both of them have to transfer page weight equally, correctly and fully. According to his words, the difference between them is that in the case of 302 redirect an old page address will be shown at first, because it is considered that the page has been moved temporarily; eventually, URL in search results will change to real one all the same as in 301 redirect case.

8. 404 errors

Gary Illyes in his Twitter clarified clearly that links on website pages that give out an error 404 do not affect their position in the search. Appearance of links to non-existing pages can be caused by many factors, for example, redesign of resource referred to the link or its temporary inaccessibility. It would be unfair to punish webmasters for other sites' problems.

Gary Illyes' Twitter

9. Content update speed

Google does not provide an advantage in ranking for those sites that publish more content and update it more often than other resources. John Mueller declared that in his Twitter. Of course, the presence of quality original content increases the chances of good ranking positions, but it's not affected by the fact that a certain site posts one article per week and its competitor – 5 articles per day. (Added 12 March 2018)

John Mueller's Twitter

10. RSS feed

RSS feed is a convenient feature for users that allows them to know quickly about the updates on your site. However, Google says that the usage of this function does not give the site any advantages in search ranking. For example, John Muller said so in his response to a Twitter user. (Added 21 April 2018)

John Mueller's Twitter

11. CSS file size

If you are afraid that a large CSS file on the site can harm its search ranking, then you should know that there is no direct connection between these indicators. However, it’s true within a reasonable limit: John Muller said in his tweet that CSS files up to 10 megabytes are not a problem. On the other hand, too large CSS file can slow down loading of the page, so it's better to optimize it if possible. (Added 21 April 2018)

John Mueller's Twitter

12. «Domain authority»

We have put this factor to the last place because it is the most questionable from the listed. Although Google employees (Gary Illyes in Twitter and John Mueller on the hangout) claimed that there is no such an index in their arsenal, many webmasters fully or partially do not agree with it. It is quite possible that the search engine uses similar complex indexes, that cannot be fully identified as «authority».

Gary Illyes' Twitter

Added 02/11/2019. As it turned out recently, Google operates some metrics that are similar to domain authority. Will Critchlow, the founder of Distilled, asked John Mueller about this at SearchLove conference in December 2018.


"I don't know if I'd call it authority like that, but we do have some metrics that are more on a site level, some metrics that are more on a page level, and some of those site wide level metrics might kind of map into similar things," – Mueller said.


According to Google employee, the effect of such metrics can be seen, for example, when the new content on the site is discovered. This content will partially inherit the overall metrics of the site, so it can rank better if the site has high quality. He also mentioned that these metrics are based not only on links, that is, they are not analogous to PageRank at the domain level.

To sum up, you can note: indexes named in this article are not important for Google directly, but it does not mean that they do not need to be traced. Too many spelling mistakes on pages, HTML code bugs, slow site loading or a number of incorrect links can negatively affect the behavioural factors. Speed up and optimize your website for users rather than for the search engine, but do not overdo it and remember the main ranking factors!

Nikolay Ashpin
SEO, blog editor
I have been engaged in copywriting since 2014, in SEO - since 2017. I am interested in Internet marketing modern trends and search engine optimization, as well as in the capabilities of the Google My Business tool, and I share the experience of using it at seminars and conferences. If you have a question about this article, please write to

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