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Does Google rank pages as individual web pages or does Google rank websites as a whole? The answer is really both. Google evaluates your site’s quality overall and that can impact your site during broad core updates, in Google Discover, whether Rich Results are shown for your site, and whether individual pages of your site rank.

Google of course has many algorithms, I do not pretend to know what or how each of those algorithms work. But on a simplistic level, from being outside of Google, I’ll try to explain how I believe this works.

Those algorithms can assign scores of some sorts to each URL within a website. So you have many scores assigned to many web pages across a single site. Those scores include BOTH individual web page scores and overall site level scores. And the truth is, sometimes one URL on a website may even have an individual score for that URL but the next URL on that same website might use a site level score for that URL. Let me give some examples…

Let’s look at maybe page speed, Google might have metrics about web page A on your site because it has enough data from its various sources to assign an individual score to that URL for ranking purposes. But then you publish a new page and that page does not have enough metrics for Google to score the page in terms of page speed. So Google looks at the overall score of the whole site in terms of page speed and maybe it assigns that overall site score to that new individual URL. That is one example.

But there are other examples where each URL on a site may be assigned scores or metrics at the overall site level. I mean, we see it all the time with core updates, where a core update roll out, virtually it hits in a negative or positive way the whole site, each and every web page across the whole site. It is obvious to anyone who was impacted by a core update that Google does rank web pages based off of overall site metrics. But I do believe that overall site metric is assigned on a URL by URL, a page by page, basis of a site. But with some quality metrics, like core updates, those are such highly weighted ranking signals or scores that the whole site, every page on that site, is impacted.

That is how I understand it based on my history covering everything Google has said about algorithms and their lawn chairs since 2003.

I like the Twitter thread over here that kicks off one of the many debates around this topic this week. It is from Cyrus:

Here are more:

John Mueller of Google even chimed in to say “Google looks at things on a broader level than just URLs” specific to this debate:

He also added “of course we rank page” but said “we also have other signals that are on a broader level.”

I’ve of course written about Google’s statements about overall site quality for years. I love how Glenn Gabe went on a tweet storm linking to many, not all, of John’s comments about overall site quality impacting the overall site’s ranking, not just individual web pages.

Here they are:

So yes, Google does rank individual web pages but those web page’s rankings in Google can be greatly influenced in a huge way by overall site factors and site quality.

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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