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In August, Moz published their highly-anticipated Search Engine Ranking Factors study. Every two years, the Seattle-based SEO platform gathers the opinions of industry experts and conducts correlation studies to advance their understanding of Google’s algorithms.
This year, the company asked 150 of the world’s leading search marketers to give their expert opinions on over 90 ranking factors. For the correlation segment of the study, Moz teamed up with SimilarWeb, DomainTools and AHRefs and used their data for analysis.07
With the correlation study and the expert survey, Moz was able to come up with their biggest, most comprehensive study yet.
The primary purpose of Moz’s Ranking Correlation Study was to see which attributes of websites and pages can be associated to higher rankings in SEPRs. These include keyword usage, page load speed, anchor text and over 170 other attributes. Their methodology consisted of Data Set Construction and Statistical Analysis.
They computed various metrics between search position and the ranking factors. They also determined a factor’s overall visibility in the search results.
Using the analysis, they put the factors in order of most influential to least influential and gave an estimate of the relative influence of different factor types (e.g., social signals vs. link vs. on-page factors.)
Moz reiterates that the study doesn’t reveal or confirm if search engines actually use these attributes in their ranking algorithm. Rather, it shows which site and page features are most linked with better rankings. The company says this is “a fine, but important distinction.”
Looking at the chart, you will see the features describing link metrics of the individual page, such as page authority and number of links, and their correlation to higher rankings.
This chart contains features describing how keywords are used in the subdomain name, and how much value this can have on the rankings.
Link-based and keyword features, as demonstrated in these examples, are only two of the categories they examined. Their complete correlation study includes 12 different categories of data.
Moz believes that while correlation data can provide valuable insight into the workings of Google’s algorithm, SEOs can also benefit from the collective wisdom of search marketing experts.
The researchers asked over 150 marketing professionals and SEO specialists to rate the influence of broad areas of ranking factors. The following data illustrates the respondents’ opinions on the value of factors assumed to take part in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Respondents ranked Domain-level Link Features the highest (8.22/10). These features include quantity of links, trust, and domain-level PageRank. It’s followed by Page-level Link features (8.19/10), which involve the quality of linking sources and anchor text distribution.
There weren’t a lot of surprises in the study. In fact, it only served to confirm existing notions on what’s helping and hurting a website’s visibility. And despite a few rumors that claim the contrary, the results show strongest correlation between Google rankings and the number of links to a given page.
On the page level, it appears that the most important factors include topical relevance of linking pages and domains, raw quality of links from high-authority sites, keywords appearing in the title element and the main content, the uniqueness of content, and mobile-friendliness. On the other hand, important domain-level factors include quality of linking domains and content uniqueness across the whole site.
Here are other few important takeaways from the study:
Since Google’s algorithm updates faster than most SEO specialists can keep up with, Moz’s biannual correlation study proves useful and valuable in understanding Google’s ever-mysterious mechanism. The survey is a great refresher and starting point for SEO firms to improve their approach and highlight key strategies.
As a Denver SEO Company ourselves, we understand the need to stay on top of the news. If you want to gain more knowledge of the field and leverage it for better visibility, let our experts show you the way. Contact us today.