Each year, Searchmetrics provides a detailed report entitled Search Ranking Factors & Rank Correlations 2015 that offers webmasters, SEOs and content marketers with the latest insights regarding ranking factors for Google.com search results. As Google changes its search metrics and is veering away from dependency on keyword rankings, marketing and web professionals need to be in the know and understand what makes a website score high ranking in search results.
One of the findings suggest that relevance and good quality content is still important. Sites that are content rich and up-to-date will find they still rank high in searches and page experience matters to search engines. The report cites, that these high-ranking sites are shifting their focus from using keywords based on search queries and instead “…trying to understand the user’s intention as a whole and reflecting this in quality, logically structure content.”
Mobile Sites and Responsive Design:
Today many webmasters are using “responsive design” which ensures the user experience/interface is catered to the device the individual is using – tablets, laptops and mobile smartphones. For instance, if the user is on a tablet when searching, the screen interface is optimized for the tablet screen. Given the popularity of searching the web while outside the office, responsive design is another way webmasters are ensuring their sites rank high in searches.
Hard to believe that after so many years of working toward one goal – finding the right keywords to use to optimize your site – that the premise of using the keywords to boost ranking results is nearly gone. Other factors, besides keywords, are now important to search ranking results including optimizing for the right device. The report says that high-ranking URLs are not using the corresponding keyword in the body or description. While keywords will always play a role in search results, they are no longer the key factor for success: relevance and content are king.
Back Links – No longer a factor in boosting search results:
Backlinks or incoming links from external web content are no longer correlating to high search ranking results. The report cites that these links play little if no role in search metrics.
Social media activity could play a part in search metric rankings. “Google maintains that it does not directly use these signals as a ranking factor, but… data shows… a positive correlation between amount of social signals and rankings.” Social media still is an important factor for branding and promotions and will provide a boost in organic search results.
When we started our SEO company in New York several years ago, we wanted to avoid “short term tricks” in favor of delivering long-term results, so our focus moved to content marketing in lieu of “keyword stuffing” and “bulk backlinks” and the latest report from SearchMetrics suggests this strategy was right all along.