One of the big mistakes that people tend to make when they first enter the world of SEO is that they assume Google's algorithms are the same across all search engines. Whilst this is untrue, Google is the best search engine to optimise for as it is the most popular and the most discerning – if you can rank highly in their search engine results pages (SERPs), then the chances are your rankings will greatly increase in other engines as well.
Recently, a team of search engine optimisation specialists took an in-depth look at 1 million different Google search results and analysed the results to offer a series of best practices for optimisation strategies through 2016. They looked at content, site loading speed, backlinks and many other factors to provide as accurate a look at the state of modern content marketing and optimisation techniques as possible.
What Does A Million Google Search Results Show?
- Backlinks Are Essential – We already know that backlinks are an extremely powerful ranking factor on Google and other search engines. The study showed that the number of domains linking to a specific page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.
These quality signals are a major indicator as to how useful a site is, along with how trustworthy the entire website is. Domain diversity is extremely important and receiving 10 links from different sites are far more effective than 100 links from the same site.
Similarly, a single link from a high-ranking, authoritative site is much more valuable than a dozen links from lower-ranking sites. Chasing those higher-quality backlinks is extremely important, and it is no longer enough to submit articles to syndication sites that have little in the way of authoritative returns.
- Topical, Informative Content – Now, brace yourself for a big shock; the better the content is, the more SEO benefits it will offer you! For those of you who have spent the past few years creating high-quality, informative content on specific matters, that's great news. For those of you who still happen to think that content is an unpleasant necessity, that's really bad news.
It's been years since Bill Gates first declared “content is king" and we're all tired of various SEO experts treating that phrase as mantra – but that doesn't make it any less true. In fact, it might be truer than ever before.
In the earliest days of search, Google would determine the topic of a page by looking strictly at the keywords that appeared on the page itself. However, modern SEO has been hugely changed by the various updates the search giant has implemented. Thanks to the Hummingbird algorithm, Google now has the capacity to understand the topics of every page.
Comprehensive content significantly outperforms similar shallow content, and can even out-perform SEO-optimised content if it covers the topic in enough depth!
- Longer Form Content Is More Search Friendly! – As we said some time ago, long-form content is more essential for SEO than ever before. It is much better to have a single blog post, going in depth on a specific topic, than creating four or five posts which barely go into any detail regarding specific areas of interest. You can see this developing across the internet, with Facebook's re-imagined Notes developing into a truly effective long-form content platform.
The average word count of a Google first page result is an astonishing 1,890 words – which seems even longer when compared to the short and snappy content that a lot of people have supported in recent years. Longer content tends to mean lowered keyword densities, as well as significantly increased social shares.
Many people tend to believe that long-form content is simply a good representation of the site owner's commitment to publishing better content. As the study itself was only one of correlation, it is practically impossible to pinpoint why longer content tends to rank better, as there are dozens of reasons why it might do so.
- Does HTTPS Really Offer Higher Rankings? – Last year, Google actively called on webmasters to switch their sites over to HTTPS in order to make them more secure. They even went so far as to call it a “Ranking Signal" and at the time there was really consternation in the SEO world revolving around the move, particularly when the major information site Wikipedia made the move.
As the benefits it appears to offer don't outweigh the actual headache of switching over to HTTPS, we wouldn't recommend making the switch solely for SEO reasons. However, if you're creating a new site, you should ensure that it features HTTPS from day one.
- Shorter URLs Tend To Rank Better Than Longer Ones – After 5 words in a URL, Google will start to judge them as less and less important. For practical use, a longer URL is a lot harder to remember than a shorter one. These shorter URLs can really help to give Google heightened awareness about the content and focus on your page.
- Content With One Image Ranks Better Than Imageless Content – For a number of years now, industry experts have really been pushing for an increase in visual content within written content. However, it might surprise people to know that, whilst a single image offers benefits over the imageless, multiple images don't add any real advantage over a single one.
A single image will still offer the same benefit in terms of social shares and total views, but multiple images will offer no other benefits.
- Faster Loading Websites Rank Much Higher Than Slower Ones - Since early 2010, Google has been very vocal about using site speed as an official ranking signal. The recent research undertaken by this study has shown that faster-loading websites are significantly more likely to rank higher in Google.
Take These Factors Into Consideration For Your SEO
If you're currently undergoing a long SEO campaign, you need to be aware that there are other features to consider besides keyword optimised content. That might have been enough to rank highly in the past, but there are now dozens of different features that search engines like Google take into consideration.
For more information on the very latest in best SEO practices, get in touch with Promote today on 0845 050 2500. Alternatively, you can email any questions or concerns that you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org today!