Backlinko took 1 million Google search results, analysed them and came up with some common factors that push up ranking. They looked at site speed, content and backlinks. The study was also partnered by SEMRush, Ahrefs, MarketMuse and SimilarWeb. We take a look at it all, paying particular attention to the key content tips which will dictate your writing in the future.
Backlinks are still important. More than any other factor, this directly correlated with rankings. The number of referring domains and the diversity of those domains is key. So make sure that your content is good enough to be naturally shared by relevant sites. Make your content attractive to a number of sharers. As Backlinko points out –
“…it’s better to get 10 links from 10 different sites, than 10 links from the same domain”
It’s the same for overall link authority for the site. You want your domain to have the authority, the page your content is on is less important. So getting links across the site bolsters the overall link authority and therefore authority on other pages.
As with most things, it’s quality over quantity! Natural links are far more preferable. Buying links from all and sundry is a no-no. Anchor text – still a source of confusion. Despite Penguin cracking down on using exact match anchor text within backlinks, it does still seem to effect rankings significantly. That said, it’s still frowned upon, so it shouldn’t be used as part of your SEO strategy, however tempting it may be!
Content needs to be ‘topically relevant’. The more in-depth the better. Longer content is also better. How long though? Well, according to the study, the average first page result has 1,890 words. Google isn’t looking for the number of times a keyword is used in an article, it’s looking for relevance and breadth of information provided.
Longer content shows you are interested in providing a depth to the topic.
There was a time when the ideal blog article was between 400 and 600 words long, because that is all it was thought the user could be bothered to read. Well, it seems that these days people are more attracted by longer articles. It’s more likely to get shared, because it is seen as more authoritative – both by the end-user and Google.
Pandu Nayak, technical staff member at Google and, you guessed it, the creator of the Panda algorithm update (we love that fact) said:
“Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.”
From this study, it appears that Google are no longer attaches that much importance on an exact keyword match in the page’s title. It looks further. And it’s more clever than perhaps we give it credit for. Google knows nuance – it’s part of the semantic search. Better to have an attractive page title that entices people to click on the link and read the article.
Above all, write for your audience. Pitch it at their level, talk the way they do. Don’t stuff keywords in to attempt to appease the Google Gods (they don’t exist, by the way). Better to use lots of different ways to say the same keyword, rather than the same word or phrase repeatedly. Your readers will know. And they won’t appreciate it.
Structure is still important, hierarchy in terms of tagging headlines (H1, H2 etc) is still important. But don’t just do it for Google’s sake – think about your readers. Yes, they like long content with lots of helpful information on a specific topic, but they may be looking for one particular piece of information initially. Once they have that, they might read the rest of the article, they might head off onto another article. Or they might share the link on social media for their like-minded friends.
Security – A big consideration – httpsS rank highly. Google have already confirmed this is a factor. Images – Content with at least one image ranked higher than those without. It just makes sense. Site speed – Slow loading sites are penalised. Not much of a surprise there. Shorter URLs – The longer the URL, the more it looks like it’s further from the page with the most authority on the site (i.e. homepage). Which means lower rankings of course. Let Google understand the topic of your page quicker by giving it something short and sweet. Bounce Rate – The lower the bounce rate, the higher the ranking.