2013 Google SEO Ranking Factors

SEO insiders at Moz recently released their annual study charting Ranking Factors for 2013. Below, I simplify the study’s conclusions and explain what the data means to you. With Moz data and ORM expertise from Brand.com, you’ll get a clear picture of the future of Google rankings — in 2013 and beyond.

Here are five essential insights for 2013:

Backlinks are rising, and Domain Keywords are losing ground.

Moz says: The Page Authority model within the Mozscape index addresses ranking ability based on links. Links created the study factor that was most strongly correlated with high Google rankings.

When comparing exact match and partial match domains, Moz concluded that Google was still adjusting their ranking guidelines. The study analysts speculate that Google may be removing low-quality exact match domains, which would account for those domains ranking higher in the search engine results pages despite being less prevalent.

2013 Google SEO Ranking Factors image Krystal pic 300x148Brand.com Reveals 2013 Google SEO Ranking FactorsBrand.com Takeaway: The role that keywords play in URLs and domain names has decreased significantly in terms of ranking when compared to 2012 data. These keywords are rapidly losing their relevance. Hard keyword optimization is no longer the end-all be-all when it comes to ranking.

The number of backlinks remains a critical factor and one of the top ranking metrics reported by Moz. To put it simply, sites with a large number of backlinks rank better. But as you consider backlink volume, DO NOT overlook quality. When it comes to backlinks (and multiple other search engine optimization areas), quality is an increasingly important consideration in optimizing ranking. Don’t miss the addition guidelines on strong content below.

Brands hold a position of privilege.

2013 Google SEO Ranking Factors image Krystal pic 2Brand.com Reveals 2013 Google SEO Ranking FactorsMoz says: Anchor text continues to display a vital correlation with higher search rankings. Moz notes that this correlation continues in spite of Penguin updates. While Google attempts to cut down on over-optimized anchor text options, correlations remain high for both partial anchor text and exact match anchor text.

Brand.com Takeaway: Brands and their domains do not undergo the same level of scrutiny as other sites such as a personal domain. Google appears to consider a high volume of brand-named backlinks, or brand links, fairly acceptable for brand sites. These assets are not punished for having multiple backlinks with the brand name alone in the link text.

Social Signals are (still) essential.

Moz says: Google +1s and Facebook shares remain vital. Both were highly correlated with strong Google rankings. Social signals in general held one of the strongest correlation positions of all SEO dimensions examined in the Moz study. As Moz noted, Google+ is edging out Facebook and Twitter, primarily due to the intimate link between the network and its parent search company.

Brand.com Takeaway: We’ve known for years that social signals are essential attributes. Well-positioned URLs almost always exhibit a high volume of shares, likes and re-Tweets. When users are looking at top-ranking search results, URLs with high amounts of social activity stand out clearly. True, social networking activity is increasing across the board. But regardless of general activity levels, highly-shared content continues to correlate strongly with search rankings. Don’t overlook social signals – their correlation with rankings isn’t going anywhere but up.

Strong Content is your number one asset.

Moz says: Based on 2013 findings, Moz predicts that traditional ranking factors, including anchor text and exact match domains, will be dwarfed by new site assessment guidelines. A site will be judged by its perceived value to readers, content authorship and social signals among other factors.

Brand.com Takeaway: Brand.com has been emphasizing the vital nature of content since the beginning. High-quality and engaging content is always going to outstrip the competition in terms of rankings. Engaging content titles are essential, as are quality tags. Indicate to searchers exactly what they can expect to find within. Engage and generate interest. Don’t overlook these simple elements – you will jeopardize your search engine rankings if you fail to effectively implement the basics.

Content must be engaging and original at all times. As Google aims to optimize the user search experience, the engine will attempt to determine which sites deliver useful, relevant and engaging content and which sites fall short. Plant yourself firmly in the first category by maintain content that is fresh, meaningful and of high quality.

Promote your engaging content with social signals. As outlined above, social signals remain an essential ranking tool. Encourage users to read, respond and engage with effective social management.

Don’t let On-Page Standards slip.

Moz says: The study found a relatively high correlation between rankings and title tag, HTML body, H1 tags and meta descriptions. In other words, on-page keywords are still correlating significantly with search engine rankings.

Brand.com Takeaway: As you consider on-page keyword saturation, carefully consider if your site reflects optimum on-page technology implementation. Basic tech requirements must be met if you expect a site to rank. But keep in mind that fulfilling the criteria for on-page and tech-oriented keyword usage will not inherently secure strong rankings. Web pages that FAIL to meet the criteria, however, are guaranteed to fall short in rankings. Consider on-page tech and keyword building to be building blocks that MUST be established before you move on to more significant ranking approaches.

2013 Google SEO Ranking Factors image Krystal pic 5Brand.com Reveals 2013 Google SEO Ranking Factors

In short, 2013 search ranking factors indicate the strengthening of some elements (backlinks, brand privilege, social signals) while others fade (domain keywords).

Evolve with the times. Cover the basics by implementing strong and effective on-page keyword standards, and let quality content be your guide as you enhance your search engine status.

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