Every other year Moz presents a study of search ranking factors from over 150 marketing professionals. Professionals are asked to rank from 1-10 what are the most important attributes to get high results in a Google Search. In addition, Moz used its own Dr. Matthew Peters, who runs an extensive correlation study to determine which features of websites and webpages are associated with higher search rankings.
These results can provide insight on what elements rank a website high in Google search results. As “keywords” have reportedly diminished in importance, people are wondering, what factors can really help a web site rank high n search engine optimization? The experts, representing dozens of top-rated SEO companies from across the world, were given a series of online elements and were able to rank what they thought was most influential in terms of Search Engine Optimization.
- Domain-Level, Link Features: 8.22 This ranked highest possibly because the Moz report said it had such elements as a trust aspect – or as they call them “trust metrics. Other criteria included quantity of links and domain level page rank. Moz report stated, “…the overall links to a site’s root and subdomain showed a reasonably strong correlation to rankings. We believe links continue to play a prominent role in Google’s algorithm.”
- Page-Level Link Metrics: 8.19 While keywords are not exactly a factor in SEO rankings, link metrics hold that root domains, anchor and text distribution as well as linking sources show that it is still important in SEO rankings. Another intangible feature is relevance – to what degree the site offers relevant information for someone searching online could very well correlate to higher rankings according to MOZ.
- Page-Level Link-Based Features: 7.87 Many marketers are saying that links to and from a site are not as important as they used to be. In the past inbound links used to matter – how many links a site connects to and more importantly, how many other websites are linking to back to a site could matter. But the Moz research says despite the fact that many experts are discounting links as an important SEO factor, data is showing a different correlation. Moz notes, “These features describe link metrics to the individual ranking page (such as number of links, PageRank, etc.).” Despite rumors to the contrary, the data continues to show some of the highest correlations between Google rankings and the number of links to a given page.
- Page-Level, Keyword-Agnostic Features: 6.57 There are many factors that can help a site gain importance on a Google Search. Moz points out elements such as speed of page loading and even the length of the page as factors that can have a material effect on search results. Contrary to popular belief however, this category also covers the HTTPS element. While an HTTPS can make a Web site more “secure” the Moz research found little correlation with search success and HTTPS.
- Engagement and Traffic/Query Data: 6.55 According to Moz, this refers to the search engine results page data and measures visitors, users and traffic and other data measured by crawlers. According to Moz, this SEO also takes into account the Click Thru Rate (CTR) that can define whether people are truly engaging with a Web site.
- Domain Level Brand Metrics: 5.88 Can good PR, like press coverage or third party endorsement help? Do online reviews for a business matter? Moz asked experts to consider how offline usage of brand/domain name, can help a Web site? As Moz says, “Although there is strong reason to believe Google doesn’t use social share counts directly in its algorithm, there are many secondary SEO benefits to be gained through successful social sharing.”
- Domain Level Keyword Usage: 4.97 This refers how much impact keywords in the subdomain name might have on SEO. Moz said there is some evidence that keywords that match the domain name have influence in SEO ranking – and even aspects such as partial match of a keyword, and partial keyword matches can help a site rank higher in Google searches.
- Domain Level Keyword – Agnostic Features: 4.09 Do factors such as the domain name length, TLD extension and the all-mighty SSL certificate help? According to experts – it’s fairly lower on the rankings but certainly not elements to completely ignore. Another finding, areas such as the type of top-level domain (.com, .org, etc.) had little effect on the rankings in Google.
- Page Level Social Metrics: 3.98 This refers to the quantity and quality of tweeted links. As mentioned before, Google often denies that social media has much effect on SEO ranking,s though the MOZ report says there is a positive correlation between sites that are tweeted or shared on Facebook and the rankings that show up on a site.