What Matters Most for Search Engine Rank?

Moz, formerly known as SEOmoz, released its 2013 ranking of search engine optimization factors this week, which is a very big deal to people involved in SEO. Moz surveyed 120 search marketing experts for the study, and also did data analysis of more than 17,000 keyword search results to gauge how 80-plus search ranking factors actually correlate with high placement in search results.

MozPullQuoteI’m just starting to dig into some of it now (late on a Friday; yes, this is how I spend my weekends), and I’m going to be digesting and learning from it for quite some time. But here are some interesting key points that have jumped out already:

  • Links pointing to your domain and your individual web pages are still believed to be the single most important factor influencing your placement in Google search results. The second most important factor is your use of keywords on the page.
  • Despite how closely social shares correlate with search rank, the 120 search marketing experts interviewed by Moz survey don’t actually believe social factors are very important in Google’s algorithm. (The difference between correlation and causation is important here. Read the Moz Blog post if you want a refresher.)
  • It’s still really, really important to have good, keyword-rich linking text pointing to your pages. “While the correlation with on-page keyword usage has declined over the years, the correlations with page-level anchor text remain as strong as ever,” according to Cyrus Shepard’s MozBlog post announcing release of the new study.
  • The single factor most closely correlated with high-ranking placement in search results is page authority.
  • Overall, high search results placement is more closely correlated with page-level link metrics than with domain-level link metrics.

Moz presents its findings in a whackin’ cool interactive chart that lets you filter in or out different categories of search ranking factors (e.g., page-level keyword usage or doman-level page authority) to compare specific categories in any way you want. And they’ve made the chart embeddable, so I get to show it to you here, and you can play with it yourself.


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