SEOmoz has released a list of search engine ranking factors for the past 6 years. This is usually just a survey of a bunch of internet marketers. However, this year they actually produced some correlation-based analysis through data they collected themselves from thousands of keywords.
I always take what the “SEO Herd” says with a grain a salt and put more weight on actual data, so this year’s ranking factors deserve closer attention. Because there is so much data I decided to condense it to what I see as the main takeaways but be sure to checkout the full list.
- The number of unique root domains with partial-match anchor text linking to your domain is still a huge factor.
- If you held a gun to my head and asked me to choose one metric for analyzing SERPS I would go with this one. I have been using it for years as my most weighted metric and its nice to see SEOmoz data backing that up.
When you are looking at your competition make sure you know how many unique root domains are linking to their entire domain as well as how many unique root domains are linking to the exact page that is ranking in the SERPS.
- Exact match domains still work although exact match subdomains have lost some of their luster.
Exact match domains have gone down in value but if you build links to them they still work like a charm. Stick to .com .net & .org though and don’t overdo it.
- Facebook shares & comments seem to be a big factor. Tweets as well.
- Of course pages that get a lot of social mentions usually also get a lot of links. So it is impossible to tell just how much weight Google places on social signals but they defiantly do.
Start treating social mentions as you would text links. Go after them aggressively!
- On Page Factors – Keyword is the first word of a page title.
- I don’t spend too much time covering on page because for the most part if you just do the basics you will be fine. However, SEOs have been telling clients forever to place their most important keywords first in their Title Tag. I have seen good results from it and SEOmoz data definitely backs that up.
Make sure your most important keyword is at the beginning of your title tag. (Duh!) Although, above all make sure your title tag is readable and will make a user want to click it.
- Slow response times and long urls can be a negative factor.
- Who likes waiting for a page to load? I have a very fast connection and if I am waiting more than a couple of seconds I am already unhappy and so is Google.
- Also, do you trust long urls with a million keyword stuffed folders and hyphens? According to SEOmoz data, neither does Google.
Don’t freak out about your load time unless it’s very slow. Download Google page speed and test your site out. Have your IT staff do what it recommends and you will be fine. The main problem again is when your site is very slow compared to others in your space.
- I also don’t think the length of a url is a huge factor its just one of those things to keep in mind and not abuse with keyword stuffing. Usually a really long url path is not getting a lot of internal links and that is why it is not ranking, not just that it was a long url.
Keep building links to your site from unique websites on unique Class C IP blocks. This is the same thing you should have been doing for years now and it still works. Of course try and keep that as relevant as possible so you don’t look suspicious to a manual reviewer.
Make sure you engage in social channels especially the big sites like Facebook and Twitter. Encourage your users to share, like and retweet your site because social signals are becoming increasingly important. We have found running social media contest to be very helpful for this, especially if you’re in a difficult niche that doesn’t easily lend itself to social sharing.
Take a good look at your site and make sure you are prepared for the ever-changing SEO landscape. It is always better to be ahead of the curve then playing catch up!