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2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors Summary

Over time Google has made many changes to its algorithm which has affected the rankings of many websites According to Moz, Google changes its algorithm around 500-600 every year.  That’s more than an update a day.  Most of the updates are minor, but every few months Google rolls out a “major” update that affects results in a significant way.  People have become confused on the things that they should focus on and the correlation their efforts will have on the search rankings for their website.  We have summarized the findings from three correlations studies; Searchmetrics Ranking Factors Rank Correlation 2013, Moz 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors and Netmark.com Google Ranking Factors.

Ever since the Penguin update, experts have been focusing on cleaning up their backlink profile.  Backlinks continue to be one of the most important metrics in SEO and shows high correlation with rankings.  However, the number of backlinks isn’t the only aspect that search engines consider important.  Increasingly search engines are focusing more on the quality of the links rather than just the quantity.  Matt Cutts has suggested that Google is already developing a more sophisticated algorithm that will measure the link quality and remove link spammers. According to the July 2013 Netmark and the Moz study; the most correlated page backlink factor is the number of anchor text links from a domain to a page.  Anchor texts continue to be important and positively correlated with good search rankings.  However, the focus has shifted from keyword stuffing in the anchor text links to focusing on user friendly anchor texts.  Having multiple identical anchor text is now looked as manipulative and the shift anchor text that has content that provides a user with information and is clean and precise.  It’s really about the diversity of the keywords and the relevancy of the anchor text to the content.

Social Media has gradually become an important signal that search engines are starting to look at further.  We can expect Google to crawl and index Google+, which is the most highly correlated social media factor for both the page and domain level, According to Netmark.   Searchmetric also mentioned social media in their study stating that social signals may correlate with good search rankings.

Neil Patel co-founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg; conducted a study which showed results that Google prefers content rich site, Why, because users prefer sites with valuable information.  Basic on – page items such as h1, Meta descriptions, title tags, word count and keywords in the body remain to be important for ranking well, but search engines are taking a deeper look at the importance of content.

Search engines are focusing more into content that has more text and multimedia integrations.  Articles and guest posts with more authoritative content will help grab and maintain people’s attention and interest.  Adding multimedia into the content adds more value to users and creates stickiness to the article/post.

So what can we expect moving forward?  We see a shift from traditional ranking factors that held importance in the past such as exact match domains, keyword stuffed anchor text, keyword stuffed content and link strategies.

Search engines are now focusing on rich content, relevant anchor text, relevant links and social media shares.  Search engines are focused on providing the user with content that they are looking for.  SEO is becoming less about tactics and generating high quantity to focusing more on the strategy and quality of the content and links.  According to Moz, we are seeing an increase in authorship, in social media, in on – page strategies; overall the goal is to give users the type of content that will make them come back to a website over and over again.

Avani Vyas

SEO Strategist

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