Searchmetrics studied 10,000 top keywords; 300,000 websites; and millions of links, shares and tweets. The company compared potential ranking factors and found that social media signals are strongly correlated with good rankings in Google’s index.
“The biggest unknown in SEO is always the algorithm,” according to Searchmetrics. “Many myths and rumors surround the what and how of Google results and their sorting and how you can best influence them.” This study aims to clarify the hot topic.
Using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient, Searchmetrics found that the top rankings factors in the U.S. are:
Facebook shares (0.37)
Number of backlinks (0.36)
Facebook total (0.35)
Facebook comments (0.33)
Facebook “likes” (0.30)
Percent of backlinks with “rel=nofollow” (0.15)
Keyword in domain name (0.11)
Percent of backlinks with keyword (0.10)
Percent of backlinks with stop word (0.05)
The lowest-impact factors are word count, position of keyword in title (word), position of keyword in title (character), AdSense, AdLinks, AdSense blocks, title character length, keyword in H1 and keyword in title.
Searchmetrics noted that Google +1s exhibited a 0.41, which would make it the strongest ranking factor.
“However, we have not included this figure in the overview because we consider it to be too unreliable,” the company noted. “This is because Google+ does not currently have enough users and the possibility of a +1 leading directly to changes in SERPs follows accordingly, since pages receive +1s in the order that they would already be placed without them.”
Among the key takeaways are that social signals are, obviously, important for ranking well in Google search results. However, too much advertising or advertising done poorly can harm the cause, which is supported by the latest Panda algorithm update.
While backlinks are still very important, it’s no longer just about quantity – stop words and “nofollow” should be included in link mixes.
Also, keyword domains are still doing well in Google search rankings, according to Searchmetrics.
Google’s search algorithm recently got a boost in Knowledge Base, a body of 500 million data items. It will help Google to shift search experiences from strings of characters to objects and entities.