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:
- Anchor text
- Page titles
- Target keywords
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.
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.
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.
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.
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