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The Most Important Ranking Factors for Websites in 2014

Google and other search engines often update their algorithms, meaning different factors may assist or hamper in your efforts to get to the top of the natural ranking pages. The problem is that exactly what these factors are, or how they work together, is not always known! This means you must work on a variety of known SEO ranking factors to help your website perform well in the results lists.

SearchMetrics releases a study each year to outline the top SEO ranking factors, and the 2014 edition is the largest ever with nearly 100 pages and dozens of new factors. Marcus Tober from SearchMetrics said in the report that content is “no longer an addition to, but is the main focus of, SEO”.

It seems then that content is still king when it comes to the most important ranking factors in 2014, but there are many other elements you need to be working on too.

  • Content
    The correlation between quality content and ranking is clear, so sites must ensure their copy is relevant, unique, informative and engaging. The length of content is continuing to increase, and a good internal linking structure between content is an underrated SEO measure.
  • On-page SEO
    Your keywords must be represented in the on-page SEO elements like title, meta description, H1 tags and so on. But without it being stuffed in! Even these behind-the-scenes elements must be well written!
  • Backlinks
    Quantity and quality of backlinks are still important, and a dim view continues to be taken of links from sites with poor reputations.
  • Social signals
    The average value of social signals – mentions, shares etc on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – is slightly higher so it does pay to interact with your customers on these networks.
  • User signals
    Sites generally get better rankings when they have higher click-through rates and time-on-site stats. This is a signal that the site is useful and of interest to visitors. Top-ranking URLs also tend to have lower bounce-rates.
  • Brand reputation
    Special consideration does seem to be given for big-name brands, but if you are not one of them there is not much you can do about this!
  • Altogether this is a lot to think about and it may take you some time to decide what you need to do to enhance your website and just how you are going to do it. Moving up the rankings pages is not something that can be easily and cheaply done overnight – it takes time and effort to improve your listing ethically and sustainably – but start now and keep working on it and your site will steadily and continually improve for the bots as well as the human visitors.


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