The Most Important Ranking Factors of 2014
Everyone wants to know the secret search algorithm that Google uses for their rankings. It is clear that a variety of factors go into the rankings of a Google search. To view the most relevant results to each user, the algorithm is updated and refined on a regular basis.
The exact formula for sorting its search results is something only Google knows. Still, analysis provides evidence of their strategy. The leading provider of SEO platforms, Search Metrics, published its 2014 ranking factors study recently. The study examined what differentiates the top results on Google from poorly ranked pages.
The following factors have won this year in importance:
1st: Holistic, user-relevant content
According to the analysis of Search Metrics, the focus for Google in 2014 is more than ever on high-quality, relevant content. High-ranking sites have more content as a general rule. the content is enriched with media such as images and videos. The length of text located on sites in the top 10 search results average 821 words. Advertising, however, is become less frequent on the best-ranked pages. What’s more: with the Hummingbird update, Google has refined semantic search and understands the context of queries even more thoroughly.
This update focuses on content clusters, or the topics that can form around keywords. This is the idea that the more related subjects that are shown in the text, the more holistic the site is. This can make different search intentions relevant based on the context.
Experts have come to the same conclusion as Search Metrics: The use of relevant, keyword-related terms in content is probably one of the most important ranking factors.
*If you stay competitive and want to improve your ranking, invest in high-quality content on a larger scale. Although the trend is toward this large amount of content, relevance and usability should always have priority. Since content features have become more important in the ranking, content should be enriched by pictures and videos.
*Take pure keywords and create entire themes. That is, content should not only be relevant for a keyword, but for a topic and related terms. The experts at Search Metrics recommend to extend to all keywords genres to cover more aspects of a topic.
How can this be done?
The basis for creating these keyword genres is a data-based analysis of relevant keywords. Different tools, such as the Google Keyword planner, are available. Ask yourself: What are the main searches of my viewers? The content of a website should be matched to the search intention of users.
Know clearly which keywords should be in clustered topics and what kinds of useful content needs to be created. Synonyms and variations should be taken into account to attract more traffic.
2nd: Technical performance and link quality profile
The basics of on-page techniques include robust page information architecture with a balanced internal link structure, short loading times and meta tags. The ideal target of internal links per URL seems to be between 120-140 – this of course depends on the particular site. Hard keyword links that contain the keyword are to be avoided.
The quantity and quality of backlinks continues to play an important role. Backlinks from pages with high visibility in the search results seem to be more valuable than links from pages with low SEO Visibility.
* A sophisticated page information architecture and short loading times are necessary basics for SEO ranking.
* A good internal linking structure is also important. The site should always be understandable from the perspective of the user.
* Filling out the standard metatags such as Title and MetaDescription is essential.
3rd: User signals and social signals
According to Search Metrics there is a strong correlation between the ranking position and user signals such as click-through rate, bounce rate and visit time. The pages with the highest positions in Google have a lower bounce rate and higher retention. The average click-through rate in the top 10 search results is eight percent. However, it varies greatly depending on each type of site and user.
Social signals are evaluated more as a bonus factor. The fact is, however, that better-ranking sites generally have more social signals. After analyzing these signals, it is clear that Facebook signals show the most ranking, followed by Google Plus, Twitter and Pinterest.
On average sites that appear in the top 10 of the search results, Facebook has 294 signals, Google + has 19 and Twitter has 12.
*Content should be relevant to the user, understandable and easy-to-read. It makes the viewing experience a positive one.
*Google emphasizes that social signals are not incorporated into rankings. However, Shares, Likes and Tweets provide the search engines clues as to what is good and relevant content. Finally, good content is much more commonly shared in social media–and search engines want to deliver users such content. The creation of high-quality, relevant content for the user is the key to success.
Good ranking can not be achieved by individual factors, they are always a combination of several elements.
While technical-side components represent only the basis for rankings, good and relevant content for ranking in 2014 is crucial.
The results of Search Metrics do not show anything fundamentally new. The importance factor of content has only been strengthened. A holistic content approach to cover complete themes and to fully exploit the potential content of a website is increasingly important.