New Google Search Engine Ranking Factors

The year 2012-13 witnessed Google’s Panda and Penguin updates destroy age-old keyword based SEO techniques. As these new Google search algorithms continue to perplex webmasters and compels them to adopt emerging SEO trends, website owners and businesses gear up to do what ‘real marketers’ should be doing – adopt a 360 degree digital marketing approach in order to not just survive but succeed in the post-Panda and Penguin era. Keywords are there, but do not guarantee success on their own.

Search Engine Ranking FactorsThanks to Google, the SEO landscape is in a state of flux. From being a ‘proper noun’, this search engine giant has now become a ‘verb’! It governs almost all digital activity on the Internet. Website owners need to stay abreast of Google’s latest search algorithms and regulations in order to implement better website optimization strategies. The year 2013 saw Google introducing several major changes in SERPs and ranking algorithms through various updates. These changes affected thousands of websites worldwide and baffled webmasters with new Google search engine ranking factors.

Today, SEO is no longer about adding keywords and establishing links. The traditional SEO Tips to get better Search Engine Rankings may not necessarily help, although following them would still be a good practice, generally speaking. In order to survive in this post-Panda and Penguin era, you must ensure your website is optimized beyond just keywords and backlinks.

Google Search Engine Ranking Factors

Let us take a look at the most important SEO trends in 2013 that affect the relationship among search engines, especially Google, and search rankings, i.e. the new Google search engine ranking factors that emerged in 2013.

Keyword links & domains have lost importance

The days of ‘hard keyword optimization’ is over. In fact, when used excessively, hard keyword links may have a negative effect to algorithms. As compared to 2011, keywords in the domain or URL have lost their importance. Instead, Google now emphasizes more on natural link profiles.

Brands and their websites stay privileged

If you own a reputed brand, there’s good news for you!  Brands continue to stay immune to new SEO trends in 2013, as they did last year, as compared to other domains. Your brand website is supposed to have more back links with the brand name in the link text. Thankfully, these ‘brand links’ are still not rated negatively by Google. Even average content from reputed brands or websites outrank great content from quality but lesser-known blogs.

Social media gains more importance

Do you have a well-positioned URL that tops all search engine rankings with its high number of Likes, Shares, Tweets and +1s? The new Google search engine ranking factors strongly indicate social signals to correlate positively with better search engine rankings. So, while you increase your activity on Facebook and Twitter, your frequently shared content helps you achieve better rankings!

Good content reigns supreme

As one of the major SEO trends in 2013, good quality and original content directly correlates with good rankings. Better rankings URLs have more text and a significantly greater number of additional media integrations as compared to last year. Good internal link structure also appears as an important quality factor amongst the new Google search engine ranking factors. However, as mentioned earlier, there are many cases where average content from reputed brands or websites have ended up outranking great content from quality but lesser-known blogs. That is why, I feel building a brand matters more today!

The number of backlinks continues to be important

Backlinks continue to play an important role in search engine metrics. Sites with more backlinks obviously rank better. However, Google’s new search algorithms check the quality of the backlinks as well as their quantity. In other words, backlinks from article directories won’t have much effect on your website’s reputation among SERPs. But if the backlinks are from already reputed websites, your chances of moving up in the rankings increase.

On-page technology remains one of the pre-requisites

The presence of on-page factors that form the technical backbone of good website development continue to stay important and affect better search engine rankings. Such factors include the length of URL, position of keywords in the title, keywords in domain name, description, header (H1, H2, H3 etc tags), multimedia integration, user engagement etc. Post and forget won’t be a good method. You’ll need to keep the user on the page (quality and concise content, provide methods of engagement (video or audio etc) and interaction (comments).

Read: What is Google RankBrain.


If you wish to survive in post Panda-Penguin era, develop a fail-safe plan by employing the above mentioned emerging SEO trends. Importantly, stay original, relevant and authoritative in order to achieve greater success on the World Wide Web. Moreover, Google Search now lays a lot if importance on Author Rank, and not just Domain Rank of the website. Please note that the above are not a comprehensive list of new search engine factors. They are just pointers to get you started on a better path for better exposure of your website and/or blogs.

General References:

  • Search Engine Watch
  • Search Engine Land
  • Web Master World
  • SEO Resources.


Special thanks to Pallavi Dubey for assisting me with this post on the new Google ranking factors. We’d like your feedback. Please leave a comment and add your own inputs to help us, and others learn more about the “search engine optimization post Panda and Penguin” or as we can put it, “Google SEO landscape post 2013”.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN

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