Report sheds light on SEO high rankers…

For webmasters and SEO professionals, the internal workings of Google are always of great interest, and from time to time information comes to light that can help them to improve their own SEO. A recent has revealed a wealth of information that can be used to determine what really matters when it comes to getting to the top of Google.

Searchmetrics analysed 10,000 search terms and 30,000 search engine results pages on Google UK. The various on-page and off-page SEO ranking factors were then correlated to the highest ranking positions on Google using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient.

Social signals and word counts matter

One significant development is the increasing correlation between higher word counts and higher rankings. While word count showed a negative correlation with higher rankings this time last year, now it is showing a positive correlation of 0.04. This suggests that Google has shifted towards favouring longer, more in-depth content over briefer pages.

The report also highlights the correlation between social ranking signals such as likes, shares and tweets, with signals from Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest all showing significant positive correlations.

The number of backlinks were predictably a strong correlator at 0.34, but what is interesting is that the correlation between backlinks with keywords in the anchor text has fallen by 0.08. This is perhaps a result of the overuse of this as a tactic for ranking higher, prompting a response by Google to reduce the significance of this factor.

The significance of keywords appears to continue, with the keyword in the title and the description showing an increasing correlation. In contrast, the correlation of having the keyword in the domain name has decreased. Having keywords in the body of the content and in internal and external links also continue to show strong correlations towards higher rankings in Google.

It is of course worth pointing out that these are correlations rather than causal factors, but they can provide valuable insight for SEO professionals and webmasters into what may be going on at Google, and what steps they can take to climb up the SERPs.

Report by Searchmetrics (