There are four key considerations that digital marketers should focus on to help their websites achieve and maintain high rankings within Google UK searches, according to a new report.
A new UK study from Searchmetrics emphasise the need for relevant content that comprehensively covers the topics that target audiences are searching for, as well as the importance of a strong technical site architecture, backlinks from other sites and visibility on social media.
Searchmetrics’ Google UK Rank Correlation and Ranking Factors 2014 study aims to identify the specific factors that high ranking web sites have in common. The findings are based on an analysis of Google.co.uk search results for 10,000 popular-keywords and approximately 300,000 websites appearing in the top 30 search results.
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According to the analysis, the four broad areas digital marketers need to pay attention to are:
1) Increase user relevant content
Good rankings are a based on a variety of factors, but the most important is probably high quality relevant content. The study found that quality content includes comprehensive, relevant wording (not just specific keyword matches), a higher word-count on the page, more images and videos, and fewer adlinks.
The emphasis should be on developing relevant and comprehensive content for users that covers more than just one aspect of a specific topic. For example Google’s algorithm now tries to account for the fact that people searching for web pages about Princess Kate would like content better if it not only contains information about her background and recent royal engagements with Prince William, but also content about Prince George, her second pregnancy and her younger sister, Pippa.
2) Create a robust site architecture
High ranking sites have a technically sound site in which pages load faster and include technical elements such as meta descriptions (information placed within the source code of a web page that helps search engines understand the content on the page). The top ten results within search results have an average site speed of 0.74 seconds and 99% have a meta description
3) Earn Quality backlinks
Search engines consider links to your page from other web pages as a vote of confidence in the content (especially if the links are from high profile online publications or blogs in your sector), so having a good profile of backlinks correlates with high ranking web pages. The top ten ranking URLs in search results have an average 732 backlinks and usually have a higher share of links anchored on the brand or domain name. 28% of backlinks for highly ranked pages link directly to the homepage, the rest are ’deep‘ links pointing to other pages on the site.
4) Generate social signals
While social media is not directly believed to influence search rankings, Searchmetrics‘ study found that high ranking pages have a larger volume of links from social media networks. On average the top ten ranked URLs tended to have 252 Google +1s, 2,798 Facebook likes, shares and comments, 253 Tweets and 16 Pinterest Pins. Having more social links indicates that a site has shareable, high quality content. They enable more people to see the content and so support the creation of backlinks from other sites.
Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics, stressed that good search visibility today relies on a combination of activities:“My advice to marketers who want to generate high rankings in Google searches is to focus on optimising the overall search experience for their targets. To do this they need to tick a number of boxes; create high quality, holistic content that is relevant and valuable to site visitors; ensure their site is technically excellent to support a good user experience; and promote web content using social media and PR to drive quality backlinks.”
A summary of the key findings of the Searchmetrics UK Google Rank Correlation and Ranking Factors 2014 can be found below.
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The Searchmetrics webinar, ”SEO Survival Guide 2014”, discusses the key findings and advice from the study. Listen to the webinar recording here.
The study analysed how strongly a variety of factors correlate with a high Google UK ranking Correlations were calculated using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient. A coefficient score of +1 implies a perfect positive correlation and a score of -1 implies a perfect negative correlation. In Searchmetrics’ analysis a high positive correlation coefficient occurs for a factor if higher ranking pages have that feature / or more of that feature, while lower ranking pages do not / or have less of that feature.
The study analysed Google UK (Google.co.uk) search results for 10,000 keywords and 300,000 web sites, featuring in the top 30 positions, as well as billions of backlinks, Tweets, Google plus ones, Tweets, Pins and Facebook likes, shares and comments. The correlations between different factors and the Google search results were calculated using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient.