Welcome to the first installment of our new series on Demystifying Google Ranking Factors.

In this 10 part series we will review the leading factors Google’s algorithm uses to rate and rank your franchise website relative to pages of search results. This series will allow you to review your franchise website and determine how many of these ranking factors are being utilized and how many you have overlooked. With the right ranking factors you can make sure your franchise website appears on page 1 all the time, every time.

Part 1: How Your Domain Influences Your Google Ranking

Careful planning can raise your Google rankings. Many factors contribute to page 1 rankings of a given domain on Google, including name, age, and history. Consider how these factors can work to your benefit.

For maximum rankings, lead with a target franchise keyword. Placement in the middle or end of a name limits its impact on search results. Incorporating your franchise keywords into subdomain names boosts rankings as well. Content increasingly trumps exact match domains (EMDs). Google used to promote EMDs, as they represented the best correlation between search terms and domain names. However, Google recently adjusted their algorithms to steer users clear of EMDs with poor content.

Know that Registration Matters

In determining a site’s legitimacy, Google examines the domain registration. Valuable, trustworthy sites tend to be paid for years at a time. Conversely, less reputable domains generally register for only a year. Whenever possible, secure a domain name for at least three years. Purchasing a domain for this length of time demonstrates a professionalism and seriousness that Google’s algorithms reward.

Additionally, a site’s age factors into search engine ranking. While you can’t make your site older than it is, know that restarting a site may impact your rankings negatively, and – at least in this instance – older is better.

How Your WHOIS Can Hurt You

WHOIS is a query protocol that allows search engines to examine site and owner information. If a site’s WHOIS results demonstrate volatile or dropped ownership, Google will zero out traffic history on the site. You must then re-earn hit ratings from zero. If Google identifies a spam site in a WHOIS query, it will look for other sites belonging to the same owner. These alternate sites will then be marked as affiliated with the spam incident and scrutinized.

While it may seem like a good idea to make your WHOIS private to avoid such complications, know that Google considers this, too. Doing so may set off a red flag in Google’s system, as it can mean the administrator has something to hide.


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