As an SEO Strategist here at emagine, it’s not uncommon for clients to ask “Why is that site ranking above me in Google? Our page is optimized”. My usual answer is that Google uses hundreds of factors to determine its rankings. Literally, hundreds. So, it’s not always possible to know which of these factors are working together to make your site (or a competitor’s site for that matter) rank well in organic search results. While this can be frustrating for businesses, and SEO consultants, that’s actually what intrigues me so much about SEO. It’s always changing, and there are always more things to learn and improve upon. So, not surprisingly, one of my favorite things is Moz’s annual Search Engine Ranking Factor Study.
Moz, the long standing King and trusted resource of the SEO world, puts its unimaginable amount of SEO data to use by formulating a correlation study of the top Google ranking factors every year. Since Google’s algorithm, and therefore SEO best practices, are updated constantly, this type of data is an invaluable look at which factors are truly responsible for rankings today.
For those of you who are not giant SEO nerds and are therefore just looking for a brief summary of the data, here it is! Each factor was given a score from 1 to 10, 1 being the least influential for rankings and 10 being the most influential.
Key takeaways from Moz’s Recent Google Ranking Factors 2015 Study:
- Link factors, including the number and quality of backlinks to a page or domain and the anchor text attributed to those links, still remain as the biggest SEO ranking factor. While the quantity of backlinks has always been important, the quality of links has become increasingly more important in recent years. So, make sure that you’re not just building more links, but more relevant and high quality links. Domain level link factors landed an 8.22 out of 10, and page level link factors was slightly below that at 8.19.
- Coming in second place in the ranking factors study were on-page keyword and content factors, with a 7.87 rating. It’s no secret, content is invaluable for SEO success. Similar to links, it’s necessary for content to be high quality, unique, and useful to web visitors. Google’s goal is to provide searchers with results that will provide them valuable resources and answers to their questions. Having relevant and intriguing content on the site helps tell Google that your site should be viewed as a resource.
- Page level factors other than keywords and content quality were next on the list, at a 6.57 rating. These factors include things like structured data markup, page load speeds, readability, content length, and HTTPS certificates.
- Engagement and traffic data came up next at 6.55, very slightly below the keyword agnostic page level factors. What many people don’t know is that visitor traffic and usage signals such as click through rate, bounce rate, etc. are also considered by Google. So, if many users are going from search results to your page, then immediately back to search results, it can tell Google that your page is not meeting the needs of searchers for that query.
- Factors like brand mentions, exact match keyword domains, top level domain extensions, and social signals from likes, shares, and tweets were among the least influential ranking factors.
Here’s the full study, including all factors and correlation data. How many of these factors is your B2B optimizing for?