We look forward to these every year! In the world of search engine optimisation, where very little is released from official Google sources about what actually constitutes a ranking factor, and indeed the weighting associated with each, the release of Search Metrics’ Ranking Factors 2015 this August, coupled with of Moz’s Search Ranking Factors 2015 from back in April, come very welcome. These sites conduct thousands upon thousands of searches and correlate the commonly-accepted ranking factors to the actual search results.
We strongly encourage you to check them out for yourself, but here’s a quick snapshot of Moz’s:
It’s no surprise that links still play a large role in pushing sites up Google’s rankings. They are becoming harder and harder to manipulate and Google expends a lot of effort in making sure that only deserved links are accounted for in its algorithms.
Next up comes the value of a web page’s content – and rightly so. Content is the soul of the web and it’s what users are ultimately browsing for. The emphasis here is on the word quality. Content for the sake of content is going to do your website more harm than good. Each piece of content you produce must offer great value to your users; it must never be over-optimised; it must answer the user’s query and much more besides; it should drive engagement, and it should be worthy enough to encourage other websites to link to it.
It’s also pretty obvious that traffic and engagement comes high up the list too. What better way to judge the value of a web page than to look at how an audience reacts to it? Again, this is a strong push towards non-manipulable factors becoming all the more valuable in search. Cater well to your users, and Google will reward you in kind.
Strong Brand Presence
If your website and brand become known and recognised within your industry, to the point that searchers actually type your name in when looking for products or services you offer, it makes sense that Google recognises this and gives your website a one-up with its algorithms. You’ve been recognised as the go-to place and Google, again, recognises this in turn. Don’t let up on your offsite marketing: get your brand known far and wide and encourage users to search for you and only you!
We are seeing this year in, year out: the decline of the keyword as a ranking factor. Using keywords is often the most universally-understood thing about SEO, and it’s true, search engines do need keywords, but the optimal usage of them is becoming ever-more-skilful. In order to judge a web page, Google now uses many other factors in its algorithms such as semantic terms and related words. The overall context of content is now far more important than repeating keywords you want to rank for.
Although all this is hugely useful for site owners, SEOs, and digital marketers, it’s really important to note, however, that these factors are only correlative. They are not set in stone, and although Moz and Search Metrics are highly-respected authorities within the industry, they receive the same fundamental knowledge of algorithms as we all do. In saying that, they are certainly worth a look and using as a guide as to what the top-ranking websites in the world are currently doing.