So, as we’ve been discussing, if the secret to success in Google is to learn the rules and play by them better than the opposition, what are the rules? Of course, we don’t know. They’re not published anywhere. But the people who at least know better than anyone outside Google do give their combined opinion every couple of years, and last month saw the latest publication of where they do so: the Moz.com Ranking Factors study.
I’d recommend reading that introductory discussion if you like getting technical. But as a summary, here’s a list of the things affecting your site’s performance in the Google results, in the collective opinion of the many experts who contributed to the study.
What does this mean? Well, immediately you’ll see that the experts reckon that links to your site remain the most important aspect of ranking well in Google. The overall number and quality of links to your site just edges out the links to the page you want to rank, but both factors still have a clear lead over anything else.
This is followed by the correlation of the search term to the page content. In other words, if you want to rank for “blue widgets”, you really need to have those words appearing in the title, the description meta tag, the headline and the body copy. This won’t be any surprise, of course, but it’s amazing how many people express frustration at their inability to rank for a term, while forgetting this most fundamental aspect. It’s something which is entirely under your control, and which can be fixed in moments – unless the German/Japanese/French head office won’t let you have any input to your own website, like at least half a dozen of our clients.
Note also that “page level social metrics” doesn’t rank that highly, from which you might infer that a load of links from Twitter doesn’t help much. Whilst that may be true, the more coverage you have on social media, the more your message is spread, and the more likely you’ll pick up web links over time. Social media is still, in some respects, a means to an end.