What Ranking Factors Matter in 2017?
Last year, Google made a bit of a revelation when it announced what it considers to be the three most important factors in ranking high in search results: fresh content, backlinks, and RankBrain. Of course, in the SEO community, this was just a drop in the bucket next to the hundreds of other factors professionals are tracking endlessly. Recently, a number of studies were published by some of the leading SEO companies out there like Moz and Local SEO Guide. We’ve dug through the many white papers and data dumps to bring you a simple summary of the SEO ranking factors you should be investing in this year.
First and foremost, backlinks still are seen as having the most weight in how well a page ranks for a certain query. But it’s not just the number of backlinks, but the quality of them that counts. While Google’s PageRank might not be updated anymore, it’s still a good gauge alongside Ahref’s Domain Rating for assessing the quality of a specific backlink.
Of course, content isn’t far behind and inventive and relevant fresh content remains the best way to get quality links. But when it comes to content, it seems quantity does matter as SEMRush found that the average first page result on Google contains 1,890 words. Similarly, another study found that content considered to be in-depth and topically relevant outperformed pages that merely glossed over a topic. So when you’re creating a new page, keeping it focused and relevant is key.
In some of the more surprising news, several studies have shown that SCHEMA–the mark-up language designed to better communicate what a page is about to GoogleBots–does not seem to play a significant role in gaining a site higher ranks, though it’s still something worth investing in for the long-term. However, converting a site to HTTPS did live up to the hype as Google’s promised rankings boost has turned out to be a reality for many domains.
In Local SEO, backlinks have also proven to be the definitive ranking factor, barely edging out Google Reviews as having the most significance in the SERPs. And for all the hype citations have had, mentions of your businesses on other websites that aren’t links, they don’t appear to have quite the effect many strategists had predicted. Additionally, pages with more words were found to rank higher in Local SEO searches as they did in national searches.
Of course, in the local space, reviews from sites like Google and Yelp are still a massive ranking signal, as well as user-submitted photos. And having a keyword in a business’s name still appears to have significant weight at the local level. Finally, pagespeed is an important factor at both the local and national level and can make a decisive difference.
So start investing in in-depth content that caters to your audience’s interest and will attract the linking power of both local and national publications. But if you are already investing in link building efforts, keep up the work. And when it comes to local SEO, reviews can make or break a business so encourage your customers to upload photos and leave feedback on Google and Yelp.