Skip to main content
(02) 4948 8139 0421 647 317

Decoding Google Search and Ranking: Part 4 – Rumoured and Disproven Ranking Factors

Any search engine marketer should understand what factors are not important to Google in determining which websites to rank at the top of the results, as well as those that are important. In the final part of our series about Decoding Google Search and Ranking, we now take a look at the rumoured but not confirmed ranking factors and the core disproven ones that can be ignored by SEO marketers.

You can read our previous blogs on Decoding Google Search and Ranking:
Part 1: Power of Key Signals and Navboost;
Part 2: Confirmed Ranking Signals;
Part 3: Unconfirmed but Suspected Ranking Factors.


Rumoured but not Confirmed Ranking Factors:

Authorship of the content
Google has recommended adding a byline with the author information into article schema so it’s possible that authorship expertise does play a part in E-A-T. (Google’s E-A-T framework assesses Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness).

HTML lists
Ordered or unordered HTML lists could be a weak ranking factor signal, especially if it can help to get a featured snippet spot shown.

The Multitask Unified Model (MUM) was rolled out in 2021 to help the algorithms better understand language so Google can more effectively answer complex search queries. It’s not a known ranking factor right now, but it could be in the future, especially since Google has discussed how MUM has improved some search results in early tests.

Text formatting
Using HTML elements to format text with bolded or italicised wording can help both readers and Google’s crawling tools quickly find important parts of website content, so it may impact ranking.


Disproven Ranking Factors:

Bounce rate / 404 and soft 404 pages
According to Google, a website’s bounce rate has no impact on ranking and neither do 404 pages which do not effect how a site’s other URLs rank. Broken links and pages however, can provide a poor user experience (so they should be found and updated when possible).

Google Display Ads
Having ads from Display Ads on a web page can lower site loading speeds, especially if there are a large number of them. Just having the ads won’t directly hurt the ranking, but having a slow loading page due to many of them may do.

Click-through Rate
The click-through rate (CTR) has long been rumored to be a ranking factor, but Google has confirmed that it isn’t.

Meta descriptions
Having a strong meta description is a great SEO best practice to drive a higher CTR to the website, but Google hasn’t used it as a ranking signal since between 1999 and the early 2000s.

Domain Age / Authority / Name / Type
The age of the website’s domain can help with a third-party tool’s site authority score overall, but both are not ranking factors and neither is the domain name or type (such as .gov or .edu).

First link priority / Recency of content
Google doesn’t care which link comes first on a website or how recent the content is (but the thoroughness and quality of the article matter).

Keyword density
‘Keyword stuffing’ can be counter-productive and density is not a factor.


If you want to know how extensive knowledge of the confirmed and disproven Google ranking signals can help to improve your business search results, please get in touch.