Moz has just released a brand new study looking at the 10 most important ranking factors for search engines in 2015. In the interest of supporting their work and helping you build a better website – we publish their findings in their words (words we heartily agree with):
- We continue to see lower correlations between on-page keyword use and rankings. This could likely be because Google is smarter about what pages mean (through related keywords, synonyms, close variants, and entities) without relying on exact keyword phrases. We believe matching user intent is of the utmost importance.
- While page length, hreflang use, and total number of links all show moderate association with Google rankings, we found that using HTTPS has a very low positive correlation. This could indicate it’s the “tie-breaker” Google claims. Negatively associated factors include server response time and the total length of the URL.
- Despite rumors to the contrary, the data continues to show some of the highest correlations between Google rankings and the number of links to a given page.
- While there exists a decent correlation between exact-match domains (domains where the keyword matches the domain exactly, e.g. redwidgets.com) and rankings, this is likely due to the prominence of anchor text, keyword usage, and other signals, instead of an algorithmic bias in favor of these domains.
- Our study showed little relationship with the type of top-level domain(.com, .org, etc.) and rankings in Google.
- While not quite as strong as page-level link metrics, the overall links to a site’s root and subdomain showed a reasonably strong correlation to rankings. We believe links continue to play a prominent role in Google’s algorithm.
- Use of anchor text was another prominent feature of high-ranking results, with the number of unique domains linking with partial-match anchor text leading the way.
- Always controversial, the number of social sharesa page accumulates tends to show a positive correlation with rankings. Although there is strong reason to believe Google doesn’t use social share counts directly in its algorithm, there are many secondary SEO benefits to be gained through successful social sharing.
- Time until domain registration expiration was moderately correlated with higher rankings, while private registration showed a small negative correlation.
- Engagement metrics from SimilarWeb showed that pages with lower bounce rates, higher pageviews, and better time-on-site metrics were associated with higher rankings.
SEO is a badly under-utilized tool in the battle for market share and sales. And the ranking factors that matter change all of the time. Don’t be discouraged. Just make sure you call on experts to guide you. SEO is hard – but the rewards are worth it.