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Search Engine Rankings Factors: Research from SEOmoz
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Whew, it's been a busy couple of weeks so I have not had much time to post. I did want to take this time to let everyone know that Rand Fishkin and the team over at SEOmoz have released their 2009 report on the top search engine ranking factors based on a research survey/interviews that they have completed with some folks from the Search industry.

Participants were asked to apply the ranking factors to Google’s search engine. Here is a look at some of the findings. It's a pretty extensive list and while we do not necessarily with all of the findings, we do concur with most.

Top 5 Ranking Factors
  1. Anchor Text from External Links - this is one of the three components of improving your Inbound Linking (IBL) Quality Score. (With the other key elements being keyword in the title tag of the linking site and keywords in the copy of the page linking.) As Andy Beal states: "Keyword use in external link anchor text is one of the top SEO factors overall. I’ve seen sites rank for competitive keywords—without even mentioning the keyword on-page—simply because of external link text."

  2. Keyword Use in Title Tag - a key factor in communicating to the engines as to what the page is about. While not a meta tag per se, the title tag serves the same purpose of "providing information about information". Keywords in the title tag helps the engines determine the relevancy of a page.

  3. Raw Link Popularity - quantity/quality of external links. Keeping in mind that it is quality over quantity that will have the most impact.

  4. Diversity of Linking Domains - links from many unique root domains; not having links from the same couple of domains but receiving links from various related resources thereby helping improve the relevancy of your page being linked to.

  5. Keyword Use in Root Domain- this has especially been noticeable in the past 12-18 months as we have seen keyword-rich (not keyword-spammed) domains jump up in organic/algorithmic results.

Overall Ranking Algorithm


Top 10 On-Page Ranking Factors (Keyword Related)
  1. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag
  2. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) of the Title Tag
  3. Keyword Use in the Root Domain Name (e.g. keyword.com)
  4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the H1 Headline Tag
  5. Keyword Use in Internal Link Anchor Text on the Page
  6. Keyword Use in External Link Anchor Text on the Page
  7. Keyword Use in the First 50-100 Words in HTML on the Page
  8. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) in the H1 Tag
  9. Keyword Use in the Page Name URL (e.g. seomoz.org/folder/keyword.html)
  10. Keyword Use in the Page Folder URL (e.g. seomoz.org/keyword/page.html)

Top 5 On-Page Ranking Factors (Non-Keyword Related)
  1. Existence of Substantive, Unique Content on the Page
  2. Recency (freshness) of Page Creation
  3. Use of Links on the Page that Point to Other URLs on this Domain (interlinking)
  4. Historical Content Changes (how often the page content has been updated)
  5. Use of External-Pointing Links on the Page

Top 5 Page Specific Link Popularity Factors
  1. Keyword-Focused Anchor Text from External Links
  2. External Link Popularity (quantity/quality of external links)
  3. Diversity of Link Sources (links from many unique root domains)
  4. Page-Specific TrustRank (whether the individual page has earned links from trusted sources)
  5. Iterative Algorithm-Based, Global Link Popularity (PageRank)

Top 5 Site-Wide (non-link based) Ranking Factors
  1. Site Architecture of the Domain (whether intelligent, useful hierarchies are employed)
  2. Use of External Links to Reputable, Trustworthy Sites/Pages
  3. Length of Domain Registration
  4. Domain Registration History (how long it’s been registered to the same party, number of times renewed, etc.)
  5. Server/Hosting Uptime

Top 5 Usage Data Ranking Factors
  1. Historical Click-Through Rate from Search Results to the Exact Page/URL
  2. Historical Click-Through Rate from Search Results to Pages on this Domain
  3. Search Queries for the Domain Name or Associated Brand
  4. Use of Query Refinement Post-Click on a Search Result
  5. Average “Time on Page” Duration

Top 5 Negative Ranking Factors
  1. Cloaking with Malicious/Manipulative Intent
  2. Link Acquisition from Known Link Brokers/Sellers aka Buying Links
  3. Links from the Page to Web Spam Sites/Pages
  4. Cloaking by User Agent
  5. Frequent Server Downtime & Site Inaccessibility

Top 5 GEO-Targeting Factors
  1. Country Code TLD of the Root Domain (e.g. .co.uk, .de, .fr, .com.au, etc.)
  2. Language of the Content Used on the Site
  3. Links from Other Domains Targeted to the Country/Region
  4. Geographic Location of the Host IP Address of the Domain
  5. Geo-Targeting Preference Set Inside Google Webmaster Tool
For more details on each of the criteria visit:

About the survey

Every two years, SEOmoz surveys top SEO experts in the field worldwide on their opinions of the algorithmic elements that comprise search engine rankings. This year features contributors from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, the Ukraine, the Dominican Republic and many more.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, August 25, 2009  
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