The team over at seomoz has been conducting surveys for a years, intending to better understand which factors top search engine optimization professionals think are most important to Google rankings. At SMX Munich Rand Fishkin presented the results of the most recent survey and compared it with the 2009 survey. You’ll find the results in graphical format below, but first a few notes on the ranking factors themselves.
Metrics on both surveys
Page-Level Link Metrics
The number and quality of links pointed to a specific website page
Domain-Level, Link Authority Features
Generally, what is the number and quality of links pointed to the entire domain.
Page-Level Keyword Usage
How keyword relevant is the specific website page.
Page-Level Keyword Agnostic Features
This includes minor ranking factors like load time, name server reputation, and other technical factors
Page-Level Social Data
This includes links to the page from social networking and bookmarking sites.
Domain-Level Keyword Agnostic Features
This includes technical factors similar to page level agnostic features, but includes data for the website as a whole
New Metrics for 2011
Page-Level Traffic/Query Data
Now Google considers, not only domain traffic overall, but also traffic a specific page. Higher traffic pages are seen as more important, and rank higher.
Domain Level Brand Metrics
This has to do with overall traffic, online reputation, and target market. Brands which are recognized as an authority in a certain market will enjoy higher rankings for related searches.
Domain Level Keyword Useage
When the relevant keywords are used throughout the site, the site is more likely to appear for related searches.
Understanding the Charts
Looking at the charts above, you can see that seo ranking factors have become more diverse. Where page and domain link authority used to make up over 60% of the equation, they now combine for only 43%. Page level keyword importance did not change much. This survey also recognizes the increasing importance of social media indicators. The biggest change overall is the drop in the importance of page level link metrics. Rather than focus on how many external links a particular page has, Google is now looking more to social indicators, and overall brand impression.
What does this mean for my SEO campaign?
As search engine optimization becomes even more complex, and ranking factors get more diverse and complicated, working with a professional SEO marketing company only becomes more important. Many tactics which worked quite well under old ranking algorithms are now ineffective. Staying on top of changes to the Google algorithm is the only way to earn and retain a competitive advantage in the search engine wars.