Google’s Negative SEO Ranking Factors

Google’s Negative SEO Ranking Factors

Negative SEO Ranking FactorsMany SEO businesses focus on Google’s ranking factors, but a successful SEO campaign should also take account of negative ranking factors.  Positive factors for SEO include, for example, the correlations between social media shares and higher rankings, Professional SEO Companies like KPI look at all the factors, including those at the bottom of the list.

Negative ranking factors are those SEO characteristics correlated with lower SEO rankings and you need to know about them in order to avoid them.

Some Positive SEO Ranking Factors

Page authority

is the ranking factor with the biggest positive correlation with a 0.28 correlation to higher rankings (remember correlation does not equal causation).

Exact match domains

also have positive correlation to ranking e.g. if your domain name is “” you have a good chance of ranking for the keyword “diamonds”.

Linking root domains with partial anchor text

is a 0.25 correlation i.e. a broad diversity of domains that link to you with partial anchor text.

Negative SEO Ranking Factors

There are SEO ranking factors with the opposite effect, with negative correlation to ranking position.

Domain Name Length

an obvious negative correlation is the domain name length, 0.07. If you had a domain,, this tends to rank better in search results than something like Remember, correlation does not equal causation.

There could be lot of reasons for this. For example,, is probably a much older domain name, with a lot of back links going to it. looks a little spammy and is probably not going to earn a lot of links.

Looking at these correlation statistics, dashes in domain name are another negative factor. The more hyphens a domain name has, that is actually another negative correlation factor.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use long domain names, it just means they tend not to do as well for SEO in the search engine rankings.

Response Time

The Tortoise and the Hare, but here the Hare wins. 0.05. Slower web pages, slower servers are associated with lower rankings. This isn’t a huge correlation, but we see that these pages tend to rank a little lower than others. Faster websites, faster response times present a better user experience. If you have a slow web site, it is definitely worth getting fixed as a high priority SEO task.


This is surprising. Many people believe that if you use Google services, such as Google Analytics or Google AdSense, that Google tends to favour those websites and that you’ll rank higher. Correlation data shows exactly the opposite. Google AdSense slots correlated with lower rankings, 0.06.

Web pages that are filled with AdSense Adverts tend to not rank as well as pages with fewer AdSense slots. There is also a correlation with the number of pixels, not just the number of Adsense Adverts, but the pure amount of space on your website that is taken up by AdSense. Are you more likely to link to a page that carries lots of Adverts? Probably not. Take note in your SEO campagins.

Percentage of Followed Linking Pages

Domains with all links pointing towards them followed tend to rank a little lower. That seems to be couter-intuitive for SEO Professionals, if all your links were followed you should rank well. But think of domain diversity, web sites that rank well tend to have a lot of sites linking to them, with big sites like Wikipedia that have no followed links and a diverse overall link profile. Web sites that are working too hard on SEO to build links often don’t take care to build a natural back link portfolio (unless KPI is doing their SEO and Link building).

These are only a few of the negative SEO ranking factors. For a complete list refer to 2011 SEOmoz Ranking Factors.  Acknowledgements: SEOMoz

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