Solving the mysteries of SEO is a legitimate modern dilemma, if not one of the great philosophical challenges of the ages. We hear one thing, we hear another, rumors of great change alarm site owners and then conflicting rumors fail to put us at ease. The only rules accounting firms and others in the same boat can really cling to with confidence are that page rank is important and that it’s a puzzle. Not a lot to go on.
Here to alleviate the confusion, or at least add a teensy bit of enlightenment, are the results of a survey of 150 SEO marketing experts. Their consensus about what matters now and what will matter more and less in the coming year may not shine any bright lights on the subject but can serve as a gentle guide as we fumble in the dark recesses of the page ranking chamber of secrets.
The study by Moz asked SEO professionals about a variety of elements that have some influence in Google’s page-ranking algorithm, and about how they expected the balance of these elements to change in the next year. Surprisingly, keywords did not appear as the most important factor and social media success was less important that most people imagine.
Current factors listed were ranked with page-level social metrics (number and quality of Facebook shares, Tweets, etc.) at the very bottom and domain-level link features (including number of links, trust factors, domain-level page rank information and other data) in first place. The second and third most important SEO aspects of a website were page-level link features (2) and page-level keyword and content factors (3) like content relevance, keyword optimization and content quality.
As for the next 12 months, SEO experts predicted the biggest increase in the significance of:
- How mobile-friendly a page is
- How the page or site scores for perceived value
- Number and quality of instant answers that appear in the search engine results page (SERP)
The ranking factors expected to count for less are:
- Effectiveness of paid links
- How influential the anchor text is rated
It’s not all in flux. Survey participants said they expect several factors will remain about as influential for overall page rank value as they are currently. These include:
- Internal links
- URL formatting, structuring and optimization
- Raw domain authority as conferred by the links directing to the page
- Relevance of links to the topic searched
- Number of paid SERP entries
- Social metrics
- Relative balance of content to advertising
Do any of these results take you by surprise? If so, it’s just more proof that these are deep, dark mysteries not meant for the minds of mortals. Only the Old Ones (such as they are) at Google are truly privy the workings of the SEO world. Just take the glimmer of insight and do with it what you will…or consider sacrificing a nice goat.