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SEOmoz dissects Google ranking factors and peeks into the world of tomorrow

On Monday 6 June, SEOmoz released the results of their 2011 Search Ranking Factors Survey. The survey is conducted every two years, but this year marked a breakaway from previously used methods as a new element of research was added and the 0-5 point scale was replaced with a 100-point scale.

According to Rand Fishkin, the amount of data collected was enormous, which means the resultant report is enormous too. He’s outlined some key points for SEOs to takeaway, and provided a presentation on some of the more salient points, but anyone with a vested interest in website success should take a look at the whole thing.

Sections covered include:

  • Overall algorithmic factors
  • Age-specific link signals
  • Domain-wide link signals
  • Nofollows
  • On-page signals
  • Domain name match signals
  • Social signals
  • Highest positively and negatively correlated metrics overall
  • What the future holds for ranking factors

One of the points Fishkin takes pains to emphasise is that correlation does not mean causation. All subsequent information should be viewed with this in mind.

Over the course of the study, SEOmoz consulted 132 internationally renowned SEOs and used 10 271 Google search results.

Based on the presentation, here are some points to consider:

  • SEOs no longer believe in the absolute power of links – although they are still important.
  • Partial anchor text match in external links appears to outweigh exact match.
  • Nofollows can improve rankings.
  • Longer documents rank better than short titbits.
  • Long titles and URLs are still ill advised.
  • The sooner you can use keywords in documents or on a page the better.
  • In the future social signals will play an increasingly important role in ranking factors.
  • Perceived value to users will also be a factor.
  • Exact keyword match domains will become increasingly unimportant.
  • Paid links will continue to lose effectiveness.

SEO is one of the most dynamic industries in the world; it’s one of the reasons people in SEO love it. The challenge is to keep up with the changes, and, if possible, stay one step ahead. As the old saying goes, forewarned is forearmed, so put these survey results to good use.

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