You may have wondered if you can find out the exact factors Google uses in their algorithm. Fortunately, there are a handful of industry leaders who have figured it out, and regularly publish their findings on the Internet. With these publications, you can get a working knowledge of what factors Google uses to rank sites. These surveys are typically updated every second year, but these factors don’t change often, so you can use them to your advantage by knowing which areas to focus on. Here’s a short list of some of the strongest factors found in sites ranking in the top 10 search results, in the most recent study by Search Metrics:
– Overall content relevance.
– HTTPS—security certificate installed on site.
– Font size in main content area (presumably people find larger fonts more readable and leads to higher engagement).
– Number of images.
– Facebook total activity.
– Pinterest total activity.
– Google+1 activity.
– Number of backlinks.
If your competitors have more of the above features than yours, then it’s likely they will rank higher than you. If you have more of the above features than competitors, then it is likely you will rank higher.
Combine this knowledge with an understanding of the Google updates covered in later chapters, and you will know what it takes to achieve top rankings.
The above factors are from the Search Metrics Google Ranking Factors study released in 2016. Regrettably, after releasing the study, Search Metrics said they would stop publishing their search rankings whitepapers in the future, but you can be sure content relevance, user engagement, social activity, links, site security (HTTPS), and most likely mobile support, are among current ranking factors. If you want a deeper look into the study, you can browse the full report by visiting the link below. I cover more recent updates to the algorithm in the Google Algorithm updates chapter later in this book.
Search Metrics: Google Ranking Factors US
http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/ Another well-known authority on the SEO industry, called Moz (previously SEOmoz), releases a rankings study every several years. Moz also publish this information for free, and available at the following page.
Moz Ranking Factors Survey