Backlinko founder, Brian Dean, has dived deep into an analysis of 11.8 million Google search results to try and ascertain precisely what ranking factors correspond with first-page listings. Dean enlisted the help of Ahrefs as the data partner on this project and together they’ve delivered a collection of the findings that offer insights into what makes Google’s search results tick. The findings surprisingly counter what many of us thought to be “obvious” ranking factors and search marketing best practices.
Those companies doing search engine optimization (SEO) the wrong way can now enjoy big ranking boosts from implementing it the right way.
This incredibly in-depth piece is well worth a read for anyone who hopes to maintain a digital presence successfully. We don’t need to revisit how crucial it is for companies to ensure their online presence is visible and optimized right now. Retaining customers and driving profitable or engaging activity during this pandemic is made easier if your brand has a robust search strategy in place.
Dean’s research outlines the importance of acquiring backlinks to your web pages. In fact, the research indicates backlinks are the most important ranking factor. The No. 1 result in Google search has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions Nos. 2-10, according to the study.
Further findings indicate, however, some of the oldest SEO practices appear to no longer matter. For instance, the title tags in Google match the keywords they’re ranking for, but using the keyword in the title tag doesn’t increase rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Also, page load speed doesn’t seem to affect a page’s position in rankings either even though it will still increase your bounce rate, so you must continue optimizing your site for quicker page loading speed. What’s more, it seems the argument for whether Google prefers long-form, in-depth content to shorter, yet highly valuable, optimized content has been settled. The first page top 10 results have a word count that averages 1,447 words on the page. And the data supports that a site’s overall link authority directly boosts a site’s ranking position.
There are 12 key findings in total and Dean goes into detail about each one in a way that is concise and easy to understand. You can easily implement the changes that have been identified in the study as necessary to positively impact your SEO and link juice. Dean has included a link to the study methods used in this analysis and uploaded the raw data to Github. The commentary and responses beneath the article are an interesting read, too. Dean is actively responding to the comments, really allowing people to pick his brain about what has come out of this analysis.
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