I read a lot of articles attempting to analyse what factors are most important in SEO at the moment, but I was particularly interested in this study on the eConsultancy site last month. SEO ranking factors analysed: The importance of brand relevancy looks at some of the most popular online industries in the UK, such as insurance, and assesses why the top 10 results in Google might be where they are. I’d recommend giving it a read if you’ve got time, but if not, here’s the TL;DR.
It seems that many of the ‘must have’ factors in SEO, while still important, aren’t critical. These include the site’s “domain trust”, its number of referring domains, page speed and the switch to HTTPS. What the top sites do have is:
- Mobile-friendly design (actually, better than friendly);
- “Self-referencing canonical tags“; and
- A decent word count on the page.
Keywords for the search in both the title and any meta tags are also essential.
The most interesting finding, however, is in the author’s conclusion: “The stand out factor for me throughout this entire piece was the weight that seemed to be conveniently placed on average ‘brand plus keyword’ search volume. Three out of the five market leaders had weaker metrics across the board, bar this – in which they were the best performers. This shows to me that sometimes you may excel in every ranking signal, but if your brand is not relevant to the product in the customer’s eyes then it isn’t in Google’s. This shows the importance of building brands and not placing sole digital marketing strategies on link and authority acquisition.”
In other words, if you want to appear top for searches on ‘blue widgets’, you need to have people searching regularly for ‘[your company name] blue widgets’. How you make this happen is not going to be easy.