The Searchmetrics Ranking Factors study 2015 for Google.com is finally here! Once again we made the annual epic journey to the center of our data pool, analyzed, averaged and correlated for our lives, and more than once burned the midnight oil. Our mission as always: To figure out just what it is the top-ranking sites have in common, and what elevates them above the rest; to discover just how Google stacks the deck. So how strong is your hand? Our comprehensive study provides answers.
User experience: do you like this page?
I certainly hope so. If you stay longer, and follow the links, then you probably won’t be heading for the “back” button (as quickly). In other words you are creating positive user signals which Google can measure and use to assign this post a relevance value. This means higher rankings for your website -or in this case blogpost!
Even if you didn’t find this post via the organic rankings (perhaps via a social media post), I still want you to enjoy this post, to read it to the end (I’ll keep it short, I promise), and ideally to “like” it, share it and leave a comment. In writing this post, my goal is not to rank first on Google.com with “Ranking Factors 2015” or “Google Ranking Factors”. If you enjoy the content and like it then it will reach further readers. That’s the goal. And our study suggest this should be your goal too: create captivating content that grabs users’ attention and keeps them on your site.
Ranking Factors whitepaper: brand new design – all key data at a glance
Why not open the ranking factors study in a new tab via the button below? This way you can refer back to this page and download the whitepaper whenever you have time.
This year we have given our study a fresh coat of paint and slimmed it down without losing any of the quality.
Less correlations, more take-home lessons
In the past – despite many attempts at clarification – we have often founds ourselves looking at bemused faces on presenting our bar and line charts. This year we have decided on a new approach. We have made the charts much more intuitive and easier to interpret. Let me explain using an example:
Here you can see all important information relating to each ranking factor at a glance. Averages for the top 10 and top 30, the curve progression year-on-year, the correlation values – and lastly the arrows, showing you the trends for each KPI to 2014.
…. secondly we have reinvented our infographic and had a little fun with it at the same time.
Let Searchmetrics deal you the best hand
The Searchmetrics ranking factors are now available as a card game! Have a look at all our ranking factors as playing cards in our infographic, compare cards – or just play with this one-of-a-kind Searchmetrics deck.
Wait a second. Why does the deck only have 36 cards? Good question. Our special edition card deck is based on the German national card game Skat. (The perfect time to add a new card game to your repertoire. As with many things German, a real-life German supervisor or friend is advised).
We are planning a print-run of the card game, but we are still thinking about how to get the cards to you. Each person who likes us will certainly get one (any ideas? Let us know in the comments.) And of course we will once again produce a poster of the infographic. You want to get the infographic now? No problem:
The 5 most important take-home lessons from Ranking Factors 2015
Relevant, holistic content is more important than ever
Ranking factors including word count and Flesch readability both increased this year, indicating in general longer texts that are easier to read. The trend away from keywords and towards relevant content continues amongst high-ranking sites.
User experience – beyond the desktop
Responsive web design may be having a positive effect on rankings. Optimizing your site for different end devices will continue to grow in importance. (P.S. Don’t miss the Searchmetrics mobile ranking factors study due later this year).
Keywords are becoming increasingly obsolete
Whether internal or external links or domain names, keyword correlations across the board are decreasing. Additionally, increasing numbers of high-ranking URLs are not using the corresponding keyword in the body or description.
Backlinks – correlations are decreasing
While backlinks still show quite high correlations with rankings, the times of unnatural link building and maybe of links in general are or may soon be over. In general, year-on-year correlations in this category are decreasing and our data suggest that this downward trend is set to continue.
Social signals – a bonus for organic rankings
The question remains open as to exactly how social media signals such as likes, tweets and +1s boost rankings. Nevertheless, social signals remain important for brand awareness and help to drive organic traffic to top ranking sites.
If you’ve made it this far, then I’m pleased you read the article to the end. User signals are one of the most important ranking factors and through your positive reaction to this post, I’ve done my job. Please share any of your feedback in the comments…