Secret Ranking Triggers in the Google Algorithm

Insights from Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz on possible hidden SEO triggers

In our every day SEO-ing, we generally have a very vague idea of what gets our pages ranked. The Google algorithm is complex and when they teach SEO lessons to publishers, they basically tell us to “write good content and they will come“.  As research-driven and strategic as we are, even the more advanced SEO experts only know the tip of what Google uses to rank a website. We know our SEO basics, which include using our targeted keyword in:

  • headlines
  • <h> tags
  • Body copy
  • image filenames
  • URL strings
  • anchor text

We also know that getting inbound links to any content will drive us up the search engine rankings. Combining amazing SEO with inbound links is a sure-fire way to get listed at the top of the Google food chain.

I could certainly go on about SEO Campaign Management Basics, but just talking about using keywords and getting inbound links is only scratching the surface layer. There is so much we don’t know about the algorithms of search engines.

In Fishkin’s Ranking Signals Hiding Beneath the Surface article on,  he talks about “mentions of a domain / brand name”, especially when the name is mentioned on sites labeled by Google as “news”, like or

More particles in the universe of SEO that may lead to better ranking are “Nofollow links from trusted sources”. Fishkin says that SEOMOz’s correlation data “suggests that a high number of links/linking root domains with nofollows does correlate to better rankings.” This means that an abundance of inbound links from a site that uses the nofollow tag could still increase your ranking.

One more major item that he mentions is user-generated content on blogs, aka comments. Since good content attracts more comments, Fishkin thinks it’s entirely possible that Google could leverage “comment RSS feeds, trackbacks and content uniqueness analysis” to decipher a well-read and liked article.

For more items that Fishkin mentions as possible Google rank indicators, read the rest of his article. For more about search engine optimization, read our free SEO Campaign Management Basics white paper.


    I would add internal links as another key factor… contextual links in particular.

    Great post…



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