On Internet, all websites are not equal, they have different level of reputation, trust factor, ranking potential, visitors count, popularity and influence score which they have earned by supporting Internet with the high-quality hard work they put on their website. And, if you are a webmaster, advertiser, business or blogger who needs to evaluate either own or competitor’s website to know it’s potential then you should consider taking these factors in account to calculate a website’s potential accurately.
Those days gone when you could consider just Alexa Rank, Google PageRank and Website’s traffic to a website’s quality back in 2006 because several spammy ways have been discovered since then which can manipulate these tough-looking but simple website quality metrics.
Lots of cases and blackhat techniques have been found to manipulate Alexa Rank, Google PageRank (PR) and Website’s Traffic with even control over demographic data such as gender, region, page views, pages per visit etc. I am not saying that these metrics are useless but considering only these factors to evaluate a website is not enough now.
Concerning about the same issue, many new ranking technologies and factors were introduced by reputed SEO firms and individuals online to evaluate a website better. These new metrics are much hard to trick and manipulating these individual metrics while balancing rest of others is almost impossible.
Here, I am writing down all those 15 ranking factors you should consider to appraise a website properly. Make sure to read below carefully as I am not only pointing down these essential website appraisal factors/metrics but also explaining them, their importance and how to use them properly along the way.
Well, depending upon your requirement, it can beat other ranking factors. If lets say, you are an official source to release some XYZ exam in country then your website’s information about that XYZ exam is most important than any many other sites which are covering it. Same is with other websites or blog. But if you or your competitor is not such official source for whom you want to appraise website, then below factors will have higher impact.
Search Engine Position Ranking (SERP)
High search engine position ranking is important and not for one or two random articles over some random keywords but for many articles on required keywords. If you’re ranking for the required set of keywords, you’ve planned and optimized your article for it then it surely is a powerful appraisal factor that advertisers, buyers and even competitors will consider. Webmasters can use tools like Google Webmasters Tool, Bing Webmasters Tool, Google Analytics etc. to fetch high-ranking keywords for free.
Competitor, Advertisers and even site owners themselves can get an extensive list of all keywords of a website by using other SEO & keywrod research tools like SemRush which can give a list of thousands of keywords for which a site is ranking.
Not very accurate but it is the simplest metrics that can help anyone to roughly appraise a website. Just go to Alexa.com, enter the domain name in search box and it’ll give it’s ranking (Alexa Ranking). Alexa Ranking is calculated after considering several factors about a website like traffic, demography, pages per visit, bounce rate etc. and hence give them it’s Alexa rank.
Alexa ranking metric is highly affected by users who have Alexa toolbar installed in their web browser and count visits from those users as traffic to a website so, it is not very accurate because there can be high traffic sites but without Alexa visitors which can rank lower than sites with very less traffic but just higher Alexa traffic due to this selfish factor.
Google PageRank (PR)
Google PageRank was very strong metrics in which Google provided PageRank (1 to 10) to blog/websites depending on their quality. PageRank could be checked for a URL using Google Toolbar but this visible metrics was discontinued from public eyes somewhere around March, 2014.
So the new PageRank data will not available publicly by any method even if Google is still going on with it. Those PR Checker websites which still exist and work (for ex, PRChecker.info) are showing Google PageRank data from years old cache. They don’t have fresh index. It’s possible that for the sites they are showing Google PageRank 4 are now at PR 2 or PR 3 and, for the sites they are showing Google PageRank 0 might be at PR 3 or PR 4.
Wrong metrics are even harmful then unknown metrics data so it’s better to avoid Google PR metrics to appraise a website. However, you can consider MozRank (read below) which is quite similar to Google PR.
Backlinks are the link-back from any other website to the target website (or URL). And, number of backlinks tells from how many different webpages a URL is getting link-back. The higher the number, the stronger target URL’s SEO. However, backlinks count are not the only factor there are lots of different factors to determine if a domain/link has solid backlinks profile or not. Some important factors includes:
- The number of backlinks from unique domains
- Attribute – NoFollow or DoFollow. Google doesn’t recognize NoFollow backlinks
- Authority of sites which backlinked a URL
- Type of site which is providing backlink – Web 2.0, Web Directory, URL Shortener, Social bookmarking, Guestbook, etc.
- Referring sites domain extension – TLD, ccTLD, .GOV/.EDU domains, etc.
- Type of Backlinks – Contextual Link, Image Link, Sitewide Link, Profile Signature, etc.
- Anchor Text, Diversity of backlinks, etc.
There are so many quality factors to calculate backlinks profile. They can easily confuse you so it’s better to use tools like Aherfs, Majestic, OpenSiteExplorer, etc. because they use some simple metrics like Ahrefs Domain Rank, DA/PA, TF/CF, etc. which will help you to determine any domain backlink profile’s quality quickly without having to review website’s each and every backlink manually.
Domain Authority (DA) & Page Authority (PA)
Domain Authority and Page Authority are the website appraisal metrics developed by Moz, the largest SEO firm online. These metrics are provided publicly through Moz OpenSiteExplorer. Both of them evaluate ranking potential of a domain or webpage by calculating their backlinks, SERP and authority that a page holds and hence provide it’s DA/PA score (between 1 to 100).
So, the domains with higher domain authority and the webpages with good page authority rank well in search engines and pass more quality to domain/links whom they linked.
“MozRank represents a link popularity score. It reflects the importance of any given web page on the Internet. Pages earn MozRank by the number and quality of other pages that link to them. The higher the quality of the incoming links, the higher the MozRank” – This is the definition of MozRank directly from Moz.com who have developed this metrics. Nothing more to add here.
But keep this in mind that Moz doesn’t provide data from live inde. However, the data is quite fresh as Moz team updates their database monthly where they fetches billions of URLs, subdomains, root domains and links. So, if your site is new, there is a chance that Moz OSE will not show your backlink profile or DA/PA because they might have not indexed your website and it’s backlinks yet. You check Moz update schedule here.
Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF)
Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) and ranking metrics provided by Majestic SEO Tool. Majestic collated many trusted seed sites based on a manual review of the web. Sites closely linked to a trusted seed site can see higher Trust Flow scores, whereas sites that may have some questionable links would see a much lower score.
Citation Flow measures link equity or “power” the website or link carries. It predicts how influential a URL might be based on how many sites link to it.
TF/CF Ratio = Trust Ratio
TF/CF Ratio is not a number but ratio. Which uses both Citation Flow and Trust Flow metric of Majestic SEO Tool. TF/CF ratio is near impossible to manipulate with SPAM and doesn’t lie. While spam will increase CF, it is very hard to manipulate TF using low quality links.
The ratio is directly provided in Majestic PRO but free users can know CF and TF of any domain and hence, they can manually calculate the TF/CF ratio or the domain.
Of course, we can’t ignore this important metrics. Most of the sites work harder, write content, do SEO, promote their website and content through advertisement or social media channels just to get quality traffic to their website. So, a website’s traffic is very important factor for appraisal. However, specifically you don’t really need tons of garbage traffic but quality web traffic even if that’s low.
For a target website, if you can’t access their stats or analytics, it’s hard to determine their traffic from any open-source tool. However, to get a rough idea, you can search the domain in SemRush which somehow predict’s a website’s traffic trend and shows it in graphical format. But, the estimated traffic in SemRush is too low. For any domain, traffic can be 2 to 3 times higher then the website traffic appearing in SemRush for that domain.
Domain attributes like domain extension, length and age can be very important factors. If a domain extension is gTLD (.com, .net, .org, etc.) it will be easily to rank internationally and attract traffic globally but ranking specifically for a country will be tough. Conversely, if the domain extension is ccTLD (.in, .co.uk, .ca, .au, etc.), it will be easy to rank in its country but attracting traffic globally will be comparatively tough.
Domain length is considered to be “the shorter the better” but it’s not true for everyone. May be a lengthy domain name makes more sense for your brand then a short-length name. If long domain length fits better for your business, it makes sense with the brand and people can remember it easily then it’s fine to have lengthy domain name, just don’t make it spammy.
Domain age matters. The sites having very old domain name and very long presence in Internet have higher reputation in Google’s eye as Google have watched these domain names and their work from very long time. So, it trust them more and rank their article higher in SERP.
There is a popular saying hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. And, it’s true even for online websites and blogs. Google and other search engine love quality content. So, if you’re providing high quality content but proper optimization, which are being loved by readers, they are sharing it, spending time to read it full and going back to search engine after reader many of your pages, Google will going to monitor these factor and rank you higher.
Google loves long webpages with high quality content and proper SEO optimization. It rank websites high if their links are getting more CTR from search results, readers stay on those page for long and contribution to long visit, higher number of pages per visit. They are providing lower bounce rate.
Social Engagement and Subscriptions
If a website is having powerful engagement with its fans in social media networks and fans/following is high then it surely is an impressive website appraisal factor – not for buying/selling or SEO but for brand’s visibility. So, if you are a brand who is looking to advertise your product via sponsoring products, holding giveaways, etc. websites with high social engagement are going to provide your brand very high exposure from quality readers.
If they have higher newsletter, RSS feed and podcast subscribers then it also reflects website’s strong brand influence because newsletter, RSS feed subscribers top quality readers which provide very high conversion rate.
Other Website Appraisal Factors
DMOZ listening, Number of Indexed pages in Google and other search engines, Archived pages (in Wayback Machine), HTTPS can be other important website appraisal factors.
If you’re buying a deleted/expired domain, checking a domain’s spam score is necessary too like if it is banned in Google (by putting site:example.com in Google search bar) or by Google Adsense (check it here). There can be other domain appraisal factors which I overlooked.
So, if you think I have missed some important domain evaluation metrics, please share them in comments section below.