Google Ranking Factors: Results from a Million Search Results


djbaxter

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We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here's What We Learned About SEO
by Brian Dean, Backlinko.com
Jan. 21, 2016

We recently analyzed 1 million Google search results to answer the question: Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

  1. Backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor. We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.
  2. Our data also shows that a site?s overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher rankings.
  3. We discovered that content rated as 'topically relevant' (via MarketMuse), significantly outperformed content that didn?t cover a topic in-depth. Therefore, publishing focused content that covers a single topic may help with rankings.
  4. Based on SERP data from SEMRush, we found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google?s search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.
  5. HTTPS had a reasonably strong correlation with first page Google rankings. This wasn?t surprising as Google has confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal.
  6. Despite the buzz around Schema, our data shows that use of Schema markup doesn?t correlate with higher rankings.
  7. Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images. However, we didn?t find that adding additional images influenced rankings.
  8. We found a very small relationship between title tag keyword optimization and ranking. This correlation was significantly smaller than we expected, which may reflect Google?s move to Semantic Search.
  9. Site speed matters. Based on data from Alexa, pages on fast-loading sites rank significantly higher than pages on slow-loading sites.
  10. Despite Google?s many Penguin updates, exact match anchor text appears to have a strong influence on rankings.
  11. Using data from SimilarWeb, we found that low bounce rate was associated with higher Google rankings.
Read more...
 

Linda Buquet

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Psychic!

I had that on my list to share, but didn't get around to it. So thanks for sharing David!
 

Tim Colling

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I found these two to be surprising. Am I the only one? :confused:

  • HTTPS had a reasonably strong correlation with first page Google rankings. This wasn’t surprising as Google has confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal.
  • Despite the buzz around Schema, our data shows that use of Schema markup doesn’t correlate with higher rankings.
 
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I thought Schema was an interesting one too. I think even if that one doesn't become a bigger ranking factor per-se, it'll get more important for other reasons in 2016. Maybe Schema's one of those things where there'll need to be a little bit of a change in how it's viewed. Even if it ends up getting more and more important it might be more for helping to maintain data integrity and providing more ways to manage business information (especially for multi location businesses) than for directly impacting rankings.
 

Linda Buquet

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8. We found a very small relationship between title tag keyword optimization and ranking. This correlation was significantly smaller than we expected, which may reflect Google’s move to Semantic Search.
That would have surprised me except earlier this week John Mueller said it. Barry's post:

<a href="https://www.seroundtable.com/google-title-tag-critical-21499.html">Title Tags Are Not Critical To A Page Says Google</a>

I still think smart title tags are important for local tho. Often SMBs don't do title tags right so doing them super smart I think still can give an edge, providing content and everything else is done right.
 

Laustin1878

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I'm kinda surprised nobody here has taken point #6 on the list to task. It seems like such a household name around here yet, they are saying it's not a major correlation to ranking well. There are many sources out there that state it does Schema is very important.

Another of those SEO conundrums I suppose....
 

djbaxter

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The study wasn't looking at local search as I understand it, just general search. I think you'd need to break it down by type of site and type of search to really tie down the relationships.

Always the problem with broad aggregate research.


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