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The changing ranking factors in Google search

The Search Engine Journal website, which I frequently refer to here, produces an extensive guide to Ranking Factors in Google search which can be downloaded for free. Usefully, it’s listed the changes that have gone into the latest edition, which gives us a nice list of developments in recent times.

Perhaps the biggest is that ‘page experience’ has been removed from Google’s ‘ranking systems’ documentation. There are many ranking signals which make up ‘page experience’, including ‘HTTPS’, page speed, mobile friendliness and ‘Core Web Vitals’, and these remain ranking factors, but also including their overall effect (‘page experience’) was proving confusing. The authors say: “Google is (and has been for some time) shifting away from a model where a collection of quantitative factors determines ranking. Instead, it’s building collections of qualitative signals that come together to approximate bigger (human) questions and decisions. A system, which is essentially a collection of signals, is increasingly becoming a set of values or ideals.”

The way that Google assesses web pages continues to get more complex, but it’s still worth knowing the basics. As ever, if you think something is going to help readers, it’s probably a good thing for SEO. If it’s there just because you think the search engines will like it, the chances are that it will have little (or even a negative) impact.