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Peter’s Blog Star Date 14th August 2015

In which I muse about Search Engine Ranking Factors, Advertising, Christmas, and Happiness……

It’s been a week dominated by surveys, in particular two key ones about how search engines rank pages and how this is changing so let’s cut to the chase and get right into it.

I got 99 problems but the keyword ain’t one

German SEO Software Company Searchmetrics last week brought out their annual study of (US) search engine ranking factors and ranking correlations. The study rates a vast number of Technical, User Experience, Content, Social and Backlink factors and their correlation into how pages/sites ranked. Some of the key points were:-

Technical Factors

  • Technical factors continue to be important for achieving high rankings with good content and not likely to change.
  • Significance of “keyword” factor continues to decline
  • Ever increasing number of pages are highly optimized and feature a meta description as well as H-tags. This means, in addition to improved crawlability, an enhanced user experience.
  • Page documents getting larger but average loading time of top 30 results falling.
  • Domains with high SEO Visibility have higher rankings

User Experience Factors

  • Percentage of websites in top 30 rankings integrating Google AdSense ads is declining
  • Content of higher ranking pages are better structured, contain more interactive elements and are more comprehensible and interpretable for both users and robots.
  • Top positions dominated by responsive sites and those which don’t use Flash.
Be Responsive but Don’t Use Flash

Be Responsive but Don’t Use Flash

  • User signals are essential for content and rankings. Reaction of users offers search engines direct feedback about their satisfaction with content.

Content Factors

  • Content of top 30 pages has become more extensive; average text length has increased yet again (25% more than 2014)
  • Content has also become more holistic. Popularity of proof terms remains unchanged at high level – percentage of websites that use relevant terms has increased.
  • Though longer and more holistic, the complexity of content has decreased
  • Importance of keywords in internal and external links declined.
  • Pages with most relevant content for a search query likely to rank better.
  • Keywords are natural part of content but not significant without relevant content and logical context.
  • Relevance and text length go hand in hand. Good idea to write longer texts, with relevant sub-topics

Social Factors

  • Social correlations remain high, however, questions about real impact of social signals on rankings remain. More likely that social signals are one of several signals to show search engines where and what new and relevant content is.

Backlink Factors

  • Statistically backlinks still prerequisite to high rankings and correlations between respective ranking factors correspondingly high.
  • Relevance of links will decline in favour of other factors in future.
  • In backlink anchor text, domain name increasingly occurs instead of the keyword and now refer more to deep link URLs. This probably relates to Google’s attempts to combat “unnatural” link formation and rollout of Penguin 3.0.
  • Proportion of nofollow backlinks has increased strongly

Summing Up

The guide concludes that sites should create relevant content based upon the search intention and type of the user, i.e. whether their need is transactional or informational and if they are viewing that content on a desktop or mobile device.

Site owners need to stop thinking in keywords or focusing too narrowly on particular keywords as users’ searches are so diverse, even if they may have similar intentions. It is important to structure topics in clusters of closely related terms and decide on an individual basis which topics belong together on a landing page and which should have their own page. It is better to work with mind maps or topic clouds rather than lists.

It is also vital to offer content to users at the highest possible technical specifications. Your content should be optimized for readability and ease of interpretation and through structure and design should offer an optimal user experience.

Here’s a snazzy infographic that sums this all up:-

2015 Ranking Factors Infographic image credit: searchmetrics.com

2015 Ranking Factors Infographic
image credit: searchmetrics.com

Anything You Can Do……

Hot on the heels of Searchmetric’s Study, US SEO & Inbound Marketing Software Company MOZ released its own biennial Ranking Factors Study. An important element of this was a poll of 150 leading SEO experts in which they were asked to predict the future and assess what they believe will be the most important rank driving factors within Google’s Algorithm.

Christmas is coming……

EBay is predicting that poor weather in August could kick start the Christmas Shopping season.

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is Coming

Based on analysis of last year’s Hurricane Bertha induced bad weather in August, they saw a massive increase in Christmas related searches and early peak in toy and game relates searches, as parent’s prioritised their children’s presents.

Happy Talk

We all know Zelst is a happy place but Harrogate, the place where Zelst is based was last week named the happiest place to live in the country for the third year in a row. Harrogate has also got the second highest concentration of people who drink alcohol to a dangerous level, the highest concentration of drink drivers in the UK and is the online pornography capital of the country.  I’m not sure of the correlation between all these factors, maybe I should invite a panel of experts to discuss the matter.

Happygate

Happygate

It pays to advertise

A survey by display advertising company Criteo found that many people can recall seeing only one ad a day and admit to having an often negative knee-jerk reaction to brand advertising. It also found that:-

  • 40% of respondents between the ages of 16-34 confirmed they instantly feel ‘positive’ when they see an online advert which reduces to just one in six for grumpy over 55’s.
  • Grumpy Old (and Young) Men are more likely to feel ‘extremely negative’ almost instantly, compared to less than 10% of women and a quarter of males only need to see an ad once to actively start disliking a brand.
  • Nearly a quarter of UK adults said the colour red makes them notice an online advertisement most, maybe that’s why so many men don’t like adverts.
  • Women (22%) are more attracted to colour-rich advertisements compared to men (15%), with purple creating the greatest divide.
  • A third of Britons said they generally need to see an advert up to five times before they start to feel positive about that company.
  • 10% of 16-24 year olds only need to see an advert once to feel positive while a third of over 45’s take on average two to five times before an ad resonates positively.

So, until the next scintillating instalment……..