The American SEO tool manufacturer SEOmoz publishes an article called “Search Engine Ranking Factors” every 2 years, where SEO experts worldwide are supposed to evaluate individual metrics. This data is processed by SEOmoz and then put online. This year there is again a detailed article by SEOmoz on the Search Engine Ranking Factors, this time with an addition: not only the opinion of the experts is given, but also the correlation of individual metrics with actually placed pages / domains.
More than 10,000 search queries were included, but if you want to know more about the methodology, you can read it here.
We would like to go into the individual topics of the survey and the correlation data and name our most important findings. By the way, a correlation of 1.00 would mean that there would be a 100% match between the metric and the rankings on Google.
- Search term usage at domain level (Domain Level Keyword Usage)
- Domain Level Link Authority Features
- Keyword-independent factors at domain level (Domain Level Keyword Agnostics)
- Domain Level Brand Metrics
- Page Level Social Metrics
- Page Level Link Metrics
- Search term usage at page level (Page Level Keyword Usage)
- Page level traffic data
- Search term-independent factors at the page level (Page Level Keyword Agnostic)
Search term usage at domain level (Domain Level Keyword Usage)
Not surprisingly, the use of the domain keyword.com is advantageous for ranking . Compared to 2010, however, this factor has decreased significantly (from 0.38 to 0.22) and will probably continue to decrease.
Domain Level Link Authority Features
Link texts that contain the keyword (not link texts that correspond exactly to the keyword!) Are very important for the ranking on Google. The “authority” of a domain, which is not directly tangible, and the well-known IP popularity and domain popularity also play a major role. It is also nice to see in the study that the values ”mozRank” and “mozTrust” are apparently meaningful because they have high correlation values.
What is really interesting, however, is the last point, which suggests that pages with few (or no) nofollow links tend to rank badly:
But that is not really surprising either, since the topic of “natural link images” is on everyone’s lips for a reason.
Keyword-independent factors at domain level (Domain Level Keyword Agnostics)
Unfortunately, not all data could be collected for the correlation, but the 3 data that are available are all negatively correlated. In other words: the more characters a domain has, the worse the domain will probably rank. In this case, however, the correlation is also negligible.
The opinion of the experts, however, is interesting: in addition to the well-known points (unique content, fresh content), the relatively new points bounce rate and organic CTR are also mentioned.
Domain Level Brand Metrics
Unfortunately, there is no correlation data on this point, but the opinion of the contributors is summarized. The greatest agreement in the brand or brand metric is found in the search volume for the brand or domain. Mention on well-known news portals also plays a major role.
So if you want to become a “brand”, you should ensure that the first 3 points in this category are covered.
Page Level Social Metrics
A very high correlation between top rankings and Facebook activity – some had suspected that, but actually everyone had Twitter on their radar. The dominance of Facebook in this data is definitely surprising, but it shows once again that as an SEO, you are slipping more and more into the field of social media activities.
Certainly the biggest surprise for us from this year’s Search Engine Ranking Factors . Rand Fishkin wrote a very good post on this a few weeks ago: Facebook + Twitter’s Influence on Google’s Search Rankings
Update: at the SMX Advanced, Matt Cutts said that Google cannot / may not access Facebook shares (see robots.txt from Facebook) and that Facebook shares therefore have no direct influence on rankings. A very good example of the difference between correlation and causality – according to the data one would have to say that Facebook shares with a correlation of 0.28 are a very important factor for the ranking. In this case, however, the correlation probably comes from the fact that good content (which is placed well) is also automatically “shared” by the users. Danny Sullivan also gave detailed information on this explicit case: It’s Not “He Said, She Said” Over Google Rankings & Facebook Shares
Page Level Link Metrics
Together with the social metrics, these metrics play the largest role in ranking, according to the data. As with the link metrics at the domain level, the “authority”, the domain popularity and the IP popularity play a major role here. Again, according to the data, it is not important that the anchor text exactly matches the keyword, but only partially.
The negative correlation of the number of followed links confirms the metric that we saw here at the domain level.
Overall, it can be said that the links to individual pages in the entire study have the highest correlation with well-placed pages, so this factor seems particularly important. In the last few years, too, this study has always been associated with good rankings the most.
Search term usage at page level (Page Level Keyword Usage)
According to the SEOmoz data, what we would call keyword-based on-site factors has a much lower correlation than the 2 points mentioned above. But even if the correlation is not as high here as with some other metrics, you can still see the importance of the title tag and the number of keyword repetitions on the page. There is also a great deal of agreement among the experts with regard to the title tag. The internal linking with the keyword as anchor text is also mentioned by the experts – but overall there is not much new or surprising in this category.
Page level traffic data
Here, too, there is “only” the opinion of the experts, who attach relatively high importance to the click rate and the bounce rate. But at this point we would like to quote one of the experts:
This is such an unknown area, it’s impossible to claim any level of authority when theorizing. – David Lindop
Search term-independent factors at the page level (Page Level Keyword Agnostic)
Nothing that would surprise you with the correlating data, and the correlation is nowhere near as high as with other metrics. Only the negative correlation of the loading time (even if only -0.05) is certainly not uninteresting.
We rightly point out in our blog how you can optimize the loading times of your website. Here, too, we would like to quote one of the contributors:
I feel the need, the need for speed. Speed coupled with unique content is a winning combination. – AJ Kohn
The social metrics are certainly the most interesting and exciting to watch in this year’s edition of the Search Engine Ranking Factors. Compared to the output 2 years ago, it can be said that more and more factors play an increasingly balanced role. In 2009, the points “Trust / Authority”, “Link popularity”, “Anchortexte der Backlinks” and “Search term usage on the website” were able to cover 75% -80% of the algorithm (calculated by SEOmoz), today it looks much more diversified:
So it is definitely worth taking a look at the Search Engine Ranking Factors 2021, as there are far more interesting figures and opinions than we are presenting here.
However, one thing must always be kept in mind: Correlation does not mean causalit