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According to marketing consultant Mathew Barby in his recent article How to Rank Number One in Google: A Study of 1 Million Pages, some of the most common elements of top ranking websites in Google are:

  • Backlinks
  • Anchor text
  • Page titles
  • Target keywords
  • URLs

In this blog post we are going to discuss more of Barby’s findings of what it takes to rank on Google in 2017 and provide a brief rundown of how this might impact your SEO roadmap.

Backlink Quantity

Barby found that backlinks outperformed any other aspect of the study with the Top 2 Google results sharing 38% of all backlinks of page 1 search results. As always, organic and natural link building is clearly an area on which to focus.

Backlink Variety

Pages ranking #1 had 168% more linking domains that pages ranked #5. This indicates that the number of backlinks from multiple domains is more fundamental to search results than a large number of backlinks from one domain. A natural backlink profile with a diverse set of authoritative domains is important.

Anchor Text Focus

Anchor text driven by keywords is still a significant ranking factor. Pages holding the #1 ranking position had the keyword they were ranking for take up 5.4% of the anchor text. Focussing on your anchor text and keyword placement within it are a priority.

Shorter Titles & URLS

The optimal length for page titles was shown to be 8 words. The shorter the URL length, the higher the ranking position of the page. Barby’s study found that URLs under 60 characters also equate to higher ranking, and when combined with short page titles, could make excellent snippets that have high Click-Through-Rates which in turn can further strengthen the ranking. Optimizing in this way for snippets alone can be an extremely effective tactic.

Title/URL Keyword Placement

Surprisingly, the keyword presence in the title for 15.8% of number 1 pages has less to do with page presence itself than the consequence of click-throughs on the search snippet. As always, keyword placement within the URL was significant as well. If you are interested, read our recent article 3 Ways Featured Snippets in Search Can Boost Your Website Traffic to learn more about the implications of a featured snippet ranking.

HTTPS Ranks!

This study reports that 33% of pages ranked in the first 3 positions had implemented HTTPS. Google has confirmed the importance of HTTPS and in their continued efforts to make the web more secure will undoubtedly put more ongoing weight behind it where page ranking is concerned. For more information, check out our HTTPS Everywhere page.

Utilizing the items discussed in this article as next step advancements or maintaining them as an on-going part of your SEO strategy will likely improve your SERP presence. Don’t abandon other important aspects of SEO such as schema markup or mobile friendliness. Instead, include them as parts of a diversified, comprehensive, and ongoing web presence master plan.

If you have any questions about the development of your website SEO, call us today at 1-888-262-6687. Or, you can reach us by email at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

Backlinks and the process of link building has reached a unique position where website owners are being told two very different messages. The first is that Google says to avoid backlink building because it can do more harm than good. The other message is that you can’t rank without backlinks.

So what is a website owner to do?

We have recently come across three great articles about Link Building and thought they are worth sharing here on our blog to help you better understand the right way to naturally go about obtaining backlinks to your website.

Link Building: No Longer about Manipulation

In this article over at Search Engine Land, Andrew Dennis makes the statement that manipulation is no longer a sustainable route to link acquisition.

Instead he challenges website owners to question how to improve their authority, relevance, and value online. The purpose of link building in a Post-Penguin era is to ensure that Google recognizes your website’s importance.

Dennis also revisits four main reasons we link to other sites that were relevant before Google incorporated links into its ranking algorithm that are still just as true today:

  1. Navigation – you create a pathway for your visitors to see another site.
  2. Reference – you provide your visitors with more information on the topic.
  3. Citation – you need to acknowledge the original source of the content.
  4. Endorsement – you genuinely want to support another person, company, product, event, etc.

Rather than trying to manipulate the Search Engines with links focus on acquiring links with an audience-first perspective. Always keep in mind the four reasons why links are used. Dennis challenges readers to reach out to real webmasters and actively seek out websites that are relevant to both your website/ industry and to your audience.

It’s worth checking out Dennis’ comparison of good verses bad examples backlinks in guest posting, resource link building, directory listings, and blog commenting.

Earning Links through Trust

In another article posted on Search Engine Land over six weeks ago, columnist Jim Yu argues that neglecting critical on-page elements, site design, and content quality will impact your ability to gain natural links to your website. He touches on several key points:

  • Quality Over Quantity – as Google becomes better at understanding the actual language on your website rather than just strings of text it will depend more on the quality of content rather than the quantity of backlinks pointing to the content.
  • Website Design – your website design will impact who and how many people will want to link to your website. Factors such as page load speed, a simple design that reflects customer expectations, fewer advertisements, high quality and suitable graphics, page layout, and navigation are all factors that will impact who will link to you. Backlink acquisition aside, these factors also have a huge impact on how your own visitors interact with your website.
  • Value of Content – “good” content is what will attract people to your website in the first place, entice them to come back, and even illicit them to link to you from their own website. Yu suggests that quality content needs to meet several criteria including understanding visitor personas and educating them on topics of interest. Keeping your content updated regularly is another key factor.

11 Ways for Local Businesses to Get Links

Over on the Moz Blog Casey Meraz offers up practical ways for local businesses to get links to their website. Here are some of the favorites:

  • Try to get a nomination from your Chamber of Commerce, “Best Of” List, or other local awards for businesses
  • Sponsor a local event
  • Help host a community event
  • Support a local club, organization, or charity
  • Offer discounts for students, alumni, seniors, or another special group
  • Ask for links from manufacturers and wholesalers as they likely have an authorized reseller list or store locator on their website
  • Leverage business relationships (ex. if you are a mortgage broker your best Realtors may want to link to and recommend you to their visitors)

As one commenter points out, these ideas are great not only for SEO value but also for driving traffic and generating awareness among your local audience.

Link Building Key Takeaways

So what can be learned from the general attitude towards link building in 2015?

  • Backlinks are for discovery and visibility, not ranking value.
  • A good backlink will provide value to the person who sees it.
  • Your site needs to be valuable, professional, and inviting for others to link to.
  • You should market your business appropriately through links.

For more information about natural link building please contact our office at 1-888-262-6687.

 

The recent buzz over Search Engine Land is about how a group of researchers at Google are proposing new ways to determine the trustworthiness of a web page. The Google research team published this paper on Knowledge-Based Trust (KBT) which explains how Google may soon look at the accuracy of the web page to determine the quality of the web page rather than backlinks which are easily manipulated:

“The quality of web sources has been traditionally evaluated using exogenous signals such as the hyperlink structure of the graph. We propose a new approach that relies on endogenous signals, namely, the correctness of factual information provided by the source. A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy.”

What do you think? Even if this shift in evaluating trustworthiness is far in the future it’s a good time to double check the accuracy on your website:

  • Is each one of your services properly represented on your website?
  • Are prices correct?
  • Are your business hours up to date?
  • Is product information up to date? Are out of stock products marked as out of stocked?
  • Do you provide references for statistics you use on your blog?
  • Are your blog posts attributed to an author that is credible?

Spend some time reviewing all the pages on your website and ask a few others to do the same. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is all it takes to spot accuracy issues.

In a recent Google+ Hangout John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst of Google Switzerland, answered the point blank question, “Is link building in any way good?”  Depending on your opinion of backlinks you may or may not be surprised by his answer:

That is a good question.

In general, I’d try to avoid that.

So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.

We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.

So what can you take from John’s response?

  • If you haven’t already stop making link building your primary focus, in fact, try to avoid link building.
  • Building links for the sole purpose of links is a poor strategy.
  • Purposefully building links can cause you problems.
  • A lot more goes into Google’s ranking algorithm than just number of backlinks.
  • Look at how easy you make it for others to link to your content.
  • Make sure your content is interesting and well written, even if no one else links to it.

If you are interested in learning more from John Mueller you can watch his recent Google hangout with Webmasters.