One of the most popular posts on his blog is his "complete list" of Google's 200 ranking factors.
It was first published back in 2013. Since then Dean has updated and modified it as new information becomes available. Over three years on from its first publication date, however, and it is still one of the most popular articles on his blog.
It is a 6,000 word behemoth, but before you go off to trawl through each of the 200 factors, the main things you will learn are outlined below.
What Is Google's 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List About
Before going into the five things you will learn, let's look briefly at what the post is about. It is widely known that Google's search algorithm uses over 200 ranking factors when it decides where to position web pages in a search result.
For anyone interested in SEO, knowing and understanding these factors is a passionate quest. After all, if you know what the Google algorithm considers when it looks at your site, you can take action to improve your position.
The problem is that nobody really knows what those ranking factors are except for a small group of tight-lipped Google engineers. Dean admits this himself on his blog post, saying the 200 ranking factors in his list are based on information that Google has released plus his own research, gut instinct, and speculation.
It is still a fascinating read though, and you will get more out of it once you know what to look out for. So, here are the five things you will learn from Brian Dean's blog post: Google's 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List.
Takeout 1 :
Google is obsessed with its users.
Google states this repeatedly, so it should really not be a surprise to anyone. Look what they did to mobile search results, for example - website owners were warned to improve the quality of mobile user experience and those that didn't were dumped from mobile search results pages.
Still, it is striking to see this obsession with delivering on user expectations as you move down the list of ranking factors. Take number four as an example. It is about the registration length of a domain. Admittedly, it is probably a very minor factor, but it does show the way Google thinks about users. Dean quotes a Google patent which essentially says that domain names that are registered several years in advance appear more legitimate than domain names registered for just a year.
Google's advice to forget about how the algorithm works and just concentrate on creating a brilliant user experience is probably still the best SEO advice you will ever get.
There are two reasons for this. The first is the sheer quantity and breadth of the ranking factors listed - it is enough to make your head spin. You only really realize that once you sit and read through it. You will also understand why it takes a machine to make these decisions - no human could consider all the factors and weigh them fairly every time.
The other reason is much more pragmatic. As you read through the list you will realize you will tick-off as complete many of the factors simply by creating great content and a good user experience.
Number 18 on the list is a good example. It is about latent semantic indexing keywords. If you haven't heard of this before it is all about synonyms. When Google looks at the content on a page, it expects to find synonyms of the main keyword. This is not something you have to take action on, however. Instead it is something that will appear naturally if you create content that delivers exceptional user experience.
You will still learn something that you don't know.
Despite what was said in the last point, you will probably still learn something useful about SEO. They are peppered throughout the list. Here are a few examples:
* Number 88 - links from competitors who rank well for the same keyword/s are more valuable than other links.
* Number 71 - having an SSL certificate helps
* Number 182 - pop up ads could be damaging
* Number 25-27 - updating pages is important
Some of them are really obscure, while others are so minor it was barely worth the 30 seconds it took to read Dean's paragraph.
Number 153 is a good example. It is about Easter egg results. These are results where Google engineers have decided to have a bit of fun. The example Dean gives is a search for the phrase "Atari Breakout". Go ahead and try it - open a new browser window and punch it into a Google Image search.
It has nothing to do with your SEO or search results page position.
An example of a minor factor is the first one on the list - domain age. Dean gives a quote from the well-known Google engineer Matt Cutts:
"The difference between a domain that's six months old versus one year old is really not that big at all."
In other words, for any practical purpose, it is irrelevant.
Out of the 200+ factors on the list, you should only worry about 10 or so.
Dean's post will probably make you less interested in Google's complete list of ranking factors in the future.
This is because the information that Google does divulge is undoubtedly the most important, so your time is much better spent concentrating on that rather than the strange, obscure and irrelevant.
Don't let that last takeout put you off reading the post. It all comes down to the knowledge you expect to gain. If you expect to dramatically increase your knowledge of SEO while picking up invaluable tips, you will be disappointed. The best SEO advice is to create brilliant user experiences and, when you have a spare 30 minutes, spend it reading Dean's 200 Google ranking factors.