Winning Search Engine Rankings in 2014: It’s not what you think

by Andrew Krebs-Smith | October 13

google hummingbird

Google recently released it’s latest search engine update: Hummingbird. Although the science behind the change is complex, the implications for your marketing are simple:

1. Create unique, valuable content
2. Make that content easy to access (across all devices)
3. Prove that your content is valuable through social media “signals”
4. Focus less on keywords and PageRank

These guiding principles haven’t changed since Panda, Penguin, Penguin 2.0, or now Hummingbird. Google wants to be able to deliver people accurate search results – their business literally depends on it. The best way for them to incentivize this is to ensure that websites give people what they want. In a way Google is sort of the referee of the web, setting the standards for what makes valuable content.

Now although the above marketing guidance is helpful, we as marketers of course want more detailed information. Wouldn’t you love a checklist of things that you could use to ensure your website is hitting all the most-important points when it comes to pleasing Google? Of course you would. Here is a list of some of the factors that are most correlated with the rankings of websites in 2013:

Search Engine Ranking Factors in 2013

Study specifics: The study for the image above was conducted by Searchmetrics. The study measured the extent of the above variables in websites, and used a correlation to devise the aspects of websites that are most common among highly-ranked sites. You can read more about the Searchmetrics study here.

So what are the take-aways? Clearly social media “signals” such as shares, likes, comments, etc. are a huge factor for your website ranking. Here is our simplified list of the top 4 areas to focus on, in order of priority:

1. Social media signals. Inbound links from relevant and high-authority sources.
2. The quality of your content, i.e. uniqueness and formatting.
3. Technical website basics, i.e. site speed, redirects, IP canonicalization, etc.

At the end of the day, the simplest path forward is not focusing on each specific issue. Rather focus on aligning your content with the philosophy that Google enforces – create unique and valuable content that is easy to find, consume, and share.

If you want to know where your website stands regarding some of the above metrics, feel free to check out our newly launched Free Website SEO Analysis. You simply tell us the website you want to analyze, and we will give you an in-depth report on all the different ranking factors of your website, and what you can do to improve your standing.

Free Website SEO Analysis

Andrew Krebs-Smith
About the author

Andrew Krebs-Smith

Helping B2C Retail/Ecomm companies test, measure, and scale digital marketing. Trying to fix the agency model so that agencies are accountable to every client media dollar they spend.