What does it take to rank well on search engines?

Moz release the full 2013 search engine ranking data survey results. What are the key points and what does it tell us about SEO?

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SEO ranking factors It is that time of year again.

The mighty Moz has announced their 2013 search engine ranking factors survey. This is always a good read and I look forward to the full results being published each year.

The survey is carried out on an annual basis and is supplemented this year with some real-world correlation data from analysis of over 17k keyword search results.

Just a short post from me today and I would encourage you to view the survey results for yourself, but here is my 1 minute summary of some of the more interesting findings and my thoughts on them:

  • links are still the most important factor
    • the number of links is important, but the quality of those links (measured by authority / trust) is key
  • on-page optimisation is still vital
    • who said that SEO was dead?! Good honest on-page expertise is crucial to help the spiders understand your content
  • social signals are not getting a huge amount of love
    • this is countered by a strong correlation between social signals and ranking success, so they may not be high on everyone’s priorities but I would humbly suggest that you would be mad to ignore social and sharing of your content
  • co-occurrence of keywords and your brand across the web is important
    • this is a strong sign that the search engines are getting better and better and understanding the context of a link and you really shouldn’t be worrying too much about anchor text – anchor contextuality is more important
  • unique content across the site is important
    • no surprise to the ‘content is king’ brigade. It is interesting to see that freshness of content is coming in at second place.
  • having a domain that has never been penalised is important
    • it surprises me that this is more important than domain age. Not encouraging news for anyone who has felt the wrath of Google…
  • keyword rich domain names are still very effective
    • this is a bit depressing. What about Matt Cutt’s telling us that exact match domains won’t be an effective shortcut to SEO success?
  • the authority of Google+ sharers is more important than the quantity
    • this is encouraging, although I still worry about people paying for social signals
  • it is very important to have a diverse range of anchor text pointing to any page
    • we have been seeing this for a couple of years. Be natural and don’t worry too much about anchor text

An interesting point on the future of SEO is that the perceived value of a page will be key to success. This is fantastic in theory, but very hard for the search engines to get right in practice. Once they get it right, it will certainly benefit those sites who invest the time and energy into creating something excellent rather than churning out optimised spam. That has to be good news!

What do you think? A useful survey?


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