Internet marketing software developer Moz has just released its 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors, and SEO resellers and consultants should definitely pay attention.
The biennial study analyzed correlation data using 17,000 keyword search results, as well as input from over 120 leading search engine optimization experts, to determine what might help or harm rankings. It also includes a “Future of Search” section, which predicts what factors will be most influential to the practice of SEO over the next 12 months.
So if you want “hints” at what’s working when it comes to Google and search engine optimization in general, read on.
Correlation Data: Page Authority, Links Stay Relevant
“Note that these factors are not ‘proof’ of what search engines use to rank websites, but simply show the characteristics of web pages that tend to rank higher,” explains the Moz blog. After all, Google uses over 200 closely guarded signals in its algorithm.
But based on the Moz correlation data, which was collected in mid-July, “Page Authority” is the most important ranking factor this year. The item gained a 0.39 score, making it one of the most highly correlated SEO metric the company has monitored.
Page Authority is actually a Moz-specific metric but in layman’s terms, it is simply the likelihood of a page to rank in Google. It takes into consideration over a dozen component factors, including the count of high quality links. “The best way to influence this metric is to improve your overall SEO,” according to Moz, adding that you should pay attention to your link profile and get more links from other well-linked-to pages.
Other page link authority features such as number of unique IPs linking to the page and number of root domains linking to the page also ranked high with 0.29, signifying that quality backlinks are indeed relevant.
Correlation Data: Google Plus Gets a +1
Correlation data showed that a URL’s number of Google +1’s is the second most correlated-SEO metric. This item posted a score of 0.30, beating other popular metrics like sum of Facebook shares, likes, comment; number of juice-passing external links to the page; and number of Facebook shares – all of which posted scores of 0.27.
This result is similar to the findings of a separate search correlation study by Searchmetrics, just a couple of months ago. In that study, the Google +1 metric posted a correlation score of 0.40 for the top spot. It also beat Facebook shares, number of backlinks, and Facebook total metrics – all of which posted similar scores of 0.34.
Cyrus Shepard of Moz cited three reasons why Google+ is showing up with a huge correlation to high ranking sites. First, posts are crawled and indexed almost immediately. Second, Google posts pass link juice. And finally, Google+ is optimized for semantic relevance (for example, each post has its own URL with the first 45-50 characters appearing in the title tag).
Survey: Links Rule Google’s Overall Algorithm
Apart from analyzing correlation data, the study also surveyed over 120 industry experts. Their insight provided a general overview of what is included in Google’s overall search algorithm.
Experts believe the biggest chunk of the algorithm – a massive 40% — is devoted to links. That chunk is divided into “domain link authority features” (20.94%) and “page level link metrics” (19.15%). Other than links, “page level keyword & content based” usage is also deemed important, getting a 14.94% portion of the pie. Other factors account for less than 10% each.
What’s noteworthy here is that respondents do not put much premium on social signals. They believe page-level social metrics account for only 7.24% of the current Google search algorithm. Ironically, social metrics such as Google +1’s and Facebook shares have a high correlation with better-ranking pages.
The Future of Search: Give Value to Users, Go Social
SEO professionals and marketers, however, seem to be headed to the right direction. Asked on which factors might impact Google’s search algorithm over the next 12 months, majority of respondents said Google Plus and other social networks will play a bigger role in the future of search. Some 89 of over a 120 experts said the overall influence of Google+ in the search algorithm will increase. Another 30 said it will stay the same while only 1 disagreed, and said its influence will decrease in the coming year. The perspective is nearly similar when it comes to social signals (shares, likes, +1’s). Some 82 experts said search will consider social signals more while 37 said their value will stay the same. Only one person believed otherwise.
The factor that’s believed to make the biggest impact in search is value for the user. Some 102 experts believe the analysis of a site or page’s perceived value to users will further influence search results. Another 19 said its current bearing will stay the same. Not one of the respondents believed it will decrease over the next 12 months.
Meanwhile, having exact keyword match domains (ex.: keyword.com) won’t be as important to the algorithm, majority (87) of respondents said.
Another advice for SEO reseller partners and marketers is to avoid paid links, according to 70 respondents. The influence of anchor text in both external and internal links is also expected to wane this coming year.
Search Solution: Create Quality Content, Share on Google +
If correlation data and expert advice is any indication, the direction search is taking is headed toward high quality, shareable content that gets back links from high authority sites. Once published, share it on social networks, particularly Google+, so that people will +1 it, like it, and then probably link back to you from their website. Needless to say, Google+ will play an important role in search this coming year and if you or your clients still do not have optimized Google+ profiles and business pages, this research should be a wakeup call.
Here at Endlessrise, your online marketing and web design outsource partner, we take advantage of the SEO benefits of Google+, not just its social properties. Our strategy leads to increased positive signals on Google search, better brand awareness, user engagement, and customer loyalty and intimacy. And these also potentially increase the number of natural back links.
Sign up as a white label SEO reseller now to start offering Google Plus services to your clients.