A report by Searchmetrics has come out that reveals the important factors that help web pages rank well in Google searches. They analyzed results for over 10,000 keywords and 300,000 websites to find the factors that affect rankings. Following are the five key factors that they found:
1. Social Media = Huge Impact: Activity from social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter has shown that it correlates strongly with good rankings with Google. The amount of Facebook ‘shares’ a web page gets was the strongest force on the report with Twitter activity showing it as the 6th strongest factor.
2. Top Brands have Advantage over Competition: In the case of large, well known brands, typical SEO practices such as the amount of text on a page or having keywords in the headlines and titles have little to no effect.
Marcus Tober, CTO of Searchmetrics reports that “Not having keywords in headlines or having less text on a page seems to be associated with sites that rank higher due to the surprising data that shows a negative correlation between these factors and rankings – contradicting traditional SEO theory.”
The top 30 results showed that this holds true with highly ranked pages. The negative correlation held strongest with sites that were in the top position on page one of Google. Without embracing common SEO practices, strong brands manage to rank highly anyways.
3. Excessive Advertising Hurts: A negative correlation was shown for pages with too many advertisements or advertisements that took up too much space on a web site. Due to the Google Panda update, this dramatically lowers the search visibility of a website.
The biggest negative advertising factor was too many Google AdSense ads. Pages with multiple AdSense ads had severely lower ranks than those that didn’t.
4. Quality is Equal to Quantity of Links: Back links are still a powerful factor in impacting your web site’s Google ranking. An important thing to consider though is that those links need to look natural and not like a bunch of SEO experts planted them. What this means for you is that a balanced mix of links that include optimized keyword links that are ranked for as well as no-follow links (links without ranking purpose) and links that have stop words such as ‘go’ and ‘here.’
5. Domains with Keywords Still Hold Top Spots: Contrary to Google’s claims that keyword heavy domain sites won’t rank so high in searches, this doesn’t seem to be the case. These sites still rank high and affect the search rankings because of it.