With the advancement in technology, search engines are becoming better equipped at finding user intent and are returning results accordingly. The search engine ranking algorithm is constantly improving and undergoing changes.
A panel at SMX East conference recently sought to answer what are the main SEO ranking factors of 2017. Based on the extensive research studies done by SEMrush, among others, the conference put forward the following factors as main SEO ranking factors of 2017.
Website security (HTTPS) – In the research done by SEMrush it has been revealed that 65% of websites in top 3 positions for very high volume keywords are already secure using HTTPS. Though it is not a very important ranking factor, it is recommended to switch to HTTPS to help with conversions as well as to build trust among the visitors of the site.
Content length – Content length appears to have a positive influence on the search engine rankings. On an average the content for pages in the top three positions are 45% longer than the content on the pages in the 20th position. At the same time one mustn’t add content just for the sake of it, as it would be counter-productive.
The best thing to do is to create a sufficiently long content that is relevant and matches user intent. The content that brings more value to the customers will always win hands down.
Keywords – Contrary to conventional wisdom, researches done by SEMrush found that 35% of domains in the ranking for high volumes keywords don’t have the keyword in the title. It would possibly mean that Google algorithm has improved considerably and can now understand context and synonyms or that keywords in page title is no longer an important ranking factor.
Website traffic – The researches done by SEMrush has revealed that website traffic has a positive impact on high-volume keywords. They also noted that search traffic specifically did not appear to have any impact on rankings, however direct traffic does.
Bounce rate – Studies conducted by SEMrush show that bounce rate for domains in the first three positions is low, but gets higher as we move down. This could suggest that domains in the higher position have more relevant content, site speed, user trust and cater to what the users are actually looking for.
Links – High quality links have always been a very important ranking factor and the researches done by SEMrush re-validate this fact. Both in terms of referring domains and followed backlinks, high quality link building is extremely important.
As a conclusion it can be said that the researches done by SEMrush show that user signals like bounce rate and direct traffic appear to be the most important factors as far as search engine rankings are concerned. It could well be because most top ranking sites are well optimised and hence Google needs new criteria to differentiate between different sites.
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