We recently analyzed 1 million Google search results to answer the question:
Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?
We looked at content. We looked at backlinks. We even looked at site speed.
And today I’m going to share what we found with you.
Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:
1. Backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor. We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.
2. Our data also shows that a site’s overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher rankings.
3. We discovered that content rated as “topically relevant” (via MarketMuse), significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth. Therefore, publishing focused content that covers a single topic may help with rankings.
4. Based on SERP data from SEMRush, we found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.
5. HTTPS had a reasonably strong correlation with first page Google rankings. This wasn’t surprising as Google has confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal.
6. Despite the buzz around Schema, our data shows that use of Schema markup doesn’t correlate with higher rankings.
7. Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images. However, we didn’t find that adding additional images influenced rankings.
8. We found a very small relationship between title tag keyword optimization and ranking. This correlation was significantly smaller than we expected, which may reflect Google’s move to Semantic Search.
9. Site speed matters. Based on data from Alexa, pages on fast-loading sites rank significantly higher than pages on slow-loading sites.
10. Despite Google’s many Penguin updates, exact match anchor text appears to have a strong influence on rankings.
11. Using data from SimilarWeb, we found that low bounce rate was associated with higher Google rankings.
The Number of Referring Domains Has a Very Strong Influence on Rankings
You may have heard that getting backlinks from the same domain has diminishing returns.
In other words, it’s better to get 10 links from 10 different sites than 10 links from the same domain.
According to our analysis, this appears to be the case. We found that domain diversity has a substantial impact on rankings.