Every two years, the marketing software company Moz conducts a survey of leading search marketing and SEO professionals in order to find out what they consider to be the most important factors which affect rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). Additionally, the 150 or so experts are asked to predict how they think Google’s algorithm will change over the course of the next year.
The true nature of Google’s algorithm is of course kept secret, so to some degree this is guess work, but who better to give their opinion than the people at the forefront of the search industry. The results are now out, so in this article we briefly summarise the most important changes in SEO ranking factors, as believed by many of the industry’s most prominent and experienced figures.
Factors that will increase in impact
The following factors are thought to now have more influence, in descending order:
- A mobile-friendly site
- A site that delivers value to users
- The amount and quality of instant answers in search results
- Click-through rates, user engagement, and time spent on the site
- Design and user experience of the site, and well written content
- The use of structured data
- Association with apps and their popularity
- Clickstream data from outside the SERPs
- Site loading speed
- Having an HTTPS secure site
So essentially, the industry experts believe that the factors which will have the greatest effect on rankings are based around user experience, a site that is secure, loads quickly, is well structured and is easy for search engine spiders to crawl and understand.
Factors that will have a similar level of impact
It’s thought that the following factors will have a similar amount of impact, listed here in descending order of importance:
- How relevant your backlinks are to your industry or niche
- How many paid results are in the SERPs
- How many social media signals your content has
- The ratio of advertising and useful content on your pages
- Domain Authority
- URL structure and formatting
- Internal links
In summary, the search professionals believe that traditional ranking factors involving links, URLs, Domain Authority, ad-free pages, and social media signals will remain roughly as influential as before.
Factors that will decrease in impact:
It’s believed that the following factors will have less of an impact, in descending order:
- The importance of paid links
- How influential anchor text is
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the SEO’s who were surveyed believe that factors which are easier to manipulate such as paid links and anchor text will carry less influence.
Some more questions were asked about specific page and domain-level factors. Those thought to carry the highest influence are listed below:
On-page keyword factors – including your keyword in the title tag
Domain-level keyword factors – having your keyword also in your domain
Page-level link factors – how many backlinks you have from high-authority websites
Domain-level link factors – how many unique linking domains you have
Domain-level brand factors – the volume of searches for your brand or domain
Page level social factors – how much engagement your content has on social media platforms
Page-level non-keyword factors – how unique your content is
Domain-level non-keyword factors – how unique all of your content is across your website
This all matches up with what Google has been saying for a few years now:
don’t try to manipulate your site and content for rankings; instead focus on providing the user with a high quality experience. From Google’s perspective this makes sense, as they want their product to be popular, which can only happen if users receive the most relevant and helpful responses to their search queries.
Perhaps it doesn’t have to be repeated, but these are the beliefs of those at the forefront of the industry who work with search on a daily basis, however none of this is gospel!
At So Motion, we like to focus on helping our clients develop a website and online presence which is designed with their customers in mind and have found that focussing on the user, rather than the SERPs themselves, is most often the best approach for increasing online visibility.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you to improve your online presence, please email [email protected] or call us on 01273 921501 and we will be happy to help your business become more visible, influential, and lucrative.