10+ SEO insights from SEOmoz report simplified
Every year SEOmoz, an authority on SEO, releases search ranking factors report. The report is a composition of data SEO insights and comments for SEO thought leaders. This report is available to anyone who wants to see how search rankings change over time and what’s ahead.
The latest report came out somewhere in May 2011, so there’s hope that the 2012 search ranking report is coming soon. In the meantime I wanted to post about key insights from the last report in simplified terms. These should give you some ideas on things to do to improve your site’s performance in search engines. Here’s the list of things:
The power of links has declined but remains strong overall
This means that SEOs are finding creative ways to trick Google by building tonnes of links to sites automatically. Google, at the same time, recognizes those attempts and starts to place less importance on links. Links are still important though, but make sure your link building efforts are as organic as possible (avoid automated submission services).
Diversity of links is more important than quantity
100 links from 100 different websites is better than 1000 links from 10 websites. It’s like 100 people telling good things about your product once vs. 10 people telling that good thing 100 times each. So make sure that you’ve got more links from a diverse collection of websites, blogs, directories, social networks.
Exact-match anchor text is less important than partial
Anchor text is text on a page that is linked to another page. This is anchor text. We used to think that if we put a keyword in anchor text (i.e. we recommend you sign up for his website review services) then this will give the strongest signal to Google that the page we’re linking to is the most deserving of high rankings. Today, SEOmoz data tells that exact-match anchor text looks mechanical and unnatural. So, the recommendation is to start mixing things up and use partial anchor match such as “we recommend you to review your site with this Alex”.
Nofollow links matter too
PageRank sculpting used to me all that SEOs talked about. Some links passed Google Juice (authority) to linking pages, and some didn’t. Those link that pass Google Juice are called dofollow links, and those that don’t – nofollow links. So everybody was chasing sites that allow passing the authority onto other sites. SEOs were saying that only dofollow links counted. Based on the data from SEOmoz, nofollow links also have value to Google. Feel free to check you links inventory including dofollow and nofollow links using Open Site Explorer.
Very tough to differentiate with on-page optimization
Search engine optimization has historically been split into on-page SEO (site architecture, page content, page code, meta-tags, etc.) and off-page (link building, guest posting, etc.). Recent data from SEOmoz shows that it’s very difficult to stay competitive based on on-page SEO alone. Off-page SEO factors play a huge role in determining your website rankings. I suggest that you first, clean your “on-page house”, then focus on consistent (monthly) off-page efforts because in many cases off-page is what will differentiate you from your competition.
Longer documents rank better
Not much to explain here. There is statistical significance that documents with more text tend to rank better. So my recommendation is to keep your target page copy between 300 and 500 words. This will allow you to explain the page to users and ensure that there’s enough copy on the page for search engines (to prove substance, I guess).
Long titles and URLs are not so good for SEO
Depending to colleagues I discuss it with I hear different approaches. Some say that the shorter the title the better. This way each word in the title has higher significance. And with a title like “Keyword Research Calgary” there’s a high chance this page will rank at the top. To be honest, I used to subscribe to this group some time ago. Another group says that your titles should be exactly 70 characters (3-5 character deviation is ok). Yet the third group says that your titles can run for 150 characters and Google will pick the right words from the title automatically.
To me all three groups make some sense. I strongly believe that optimizing a website is a very industry-specific matter. In other words, what works well in one industry may not work as well in another. So I like to do quick industry researches before I approach any website tweaking. I look at what competition is used and understand if title length (or other factors for that matter) play significant role in them taking higher positions.
Use keywords earlier in the doc
Again, a pretty self-explanatory point. Just make sure that your first 100 words of the page (meaning content, things that come inside your first <p> paragraph) contain your key phrase once.
Facebook shares get more results
Today you have a number of options to share your content on social networks. I recently wrote an article for Search Engine People where I talked about ways to increase Twitter shares of your blogs posts. Anyways, one of the comments was “which is better Facebook shares, Twitter RTs or Google +1s?”. My reply was “in this order: Google+, Facebook Share, Twitter RT”. Based on SEOmoz report we see that Facebook shares are correlated with higher search engine rankings. Please note, not Likes, but Shares (of links to your website pages).
Re-tweets on Twitter affect your search rankings
Another social signal comes from Twitter. But again, let’s be clear, we’re not talking about number of links you share on your Twitter account (although that may not be a bad idea), but about re-tweets of your shared links by others on Twitter. This tells Google that others are finding your content valuable and want to share it (re-tweet) with their networks. So, make sure you create quality content that people want to re-tweet because this will affect your search engine rankings.
These insights were drawn from the search rankings factors 2011 report by SEOmoz. I like how they ask SEO community leaders for the insights. So, I strongly recommend you checking the report out for more details here. And of course, stay tuned for the 2012 version of the report.
Also, feel free to share this article with friends and colleagues that can benefit from better understanding of search engine ranking factors. And if you want to stay in the loop with my new blog posts, sign up for email updates at the top of the right sidebar here on the blog.