Introducing SEO Ranking Factors
Search Engines are always seeking to improve ranking factors, Google changes and refreshes up to 6 times per day and that they make over 500 changes per year.
Every year they make a major update that puts the SEO sector in a spin, as previously mentioned the Panda and Penguin updates (prior to this Google Caffeine and Florida, etc). The purpose of these updates are with good intentions and also provides us with insight and direction to where SEO is going.
If we as search professionals stay within the guidelines we will be fine. SEO had become about ethics, what we could do, what we might get away with and what we should do.
It’s not the same as other forms of marketing is it? Now other websites / spammers can have a serious effect on our websites performance due to these new updates.
Although Google changed the guidelines in May 2012 to admit that the concept of negative SEO is a real possibility. Given the penalty’s that over-optimisation can cause, competitors have become a greater threat.
We are given notice of penalties via unnatural link warnings but often its too late. There’s is little we can do if others link to our content, it’s worrying when SEO is reverse engineered!
In 2008 Chief Editor of Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan summarised the evolution of search in four simple phases,
1) Keywords and text
2) Link Analysis
3) Integration of vertical results
He was right, when we look back in hindsight, but where do we go from here?
The below is adapted by a study by Eric Enge that considers other ranking factors which explores brand level metrics with associated considerations.
- Page level Link metrics
- Considers the inbound links
- Domain Level Link Metrics
- Cumulative link analysis
- Page Level Keyword Usage
- Keyword Density
- Page Level Social Metrics
- Sociability of each page
- Traffic and Query Metrics
- CTR from SERP’s
- Domain Level Keywords
- Structure of URL’s
- Domain Level Authority
- Distance from Spam inbound links
As we can see that trust has become an important factor, as we now know that bad links damage rankings as per the Penguin update. The quality deserves freshness update (QDF) saw sites with a high level of domain authority reach the top sometimes within hours, (newspapers /media sites are a good example of this.)
The top of the search results page over the past 12 months has changed. We have now seen an increase in other pages that aren’t solely optimised content.
A large part of the real estate on the top of the results page is taken up by extended P.P.C links, the new Google Knowledge Graph, Author Bios, News Results and Google Places to name a few.
Some say that diversity of domain level results has suffered as some sites with high levels of authority have ranked and cover the top spots for content that isn’t specific enough to the search query.
There’s been a lot of speculation about the rise of Social Media nobody knows how strongly social will effect on rankings. Social isn’t applicable to every business and fans; friends and follows are easier to gain than targeted links from trusted sources.
It’s just not clean enough yet to depend upon as a ranking factor and should be treated when considering the overall search marketing strategy.
Even although Google are heavily investing in their Google Plus Network, it’s just because they need to hold on to their dominance of the search market. Just imagine if Bing partnered with Facebook to provide integrated search to an audience of 900 million that would hit Google’s market share hard!
“The cobbler’s children often have no shoes”
It’s also been said that “Google is the rich kid that showed up to the Social Media party a little late and as a result nobody wants to speak to him or her!”
The Google Plus Network hasn’t grown at the level it should have compared to others over the past 12 months. Even although they have pushed this entire platform with all of their corporate might and integrated technologies to increase memberships such as Android Smart phones which includes Google Plus as an automatic update.
Also pushing this network onto Gmail customers The plus one button and profile badges as a Google link-building strategy hasn’t even gone mainstream by way of being adopted on websites as a trust signal like Facebook or Twitter.
But pictures of authors in the search have altered the click-through-rates. Once this has been fully adopted, it could become a strong ranking signal. Links from valid author bios that have a large social following could be better than traditional link from other websites due to personalisation.