Every two years, Moz surveys the brightest minds in SEO and search marketing with a comprehensive set of questions meant to gauge the current workings of Google's search algorithm. This year's panel of experts possesses a truly unique set of knowledge and perspectives. We're thankful on behalf of the entire community for their contribution.
In addition to asking the participants about what does and doesn't work in Google's ranking algorithm today, one of the most illuminating group of questions asks the panel to predict the future of search – how the features of Google's algorithm are expected to change over the next 12 months.
Amazingly, almost all of the factors that are expected to increase in influence revolved around user experience, including:
The experts predicted that more traditional ranking signals, such as those around links and URL structures, would largely remain the same, while the more manipulative aspects of SEO, like paid links and anchor text (which is subject to manipulation), would largely decrease in influence.
The survey also asks respondents to weight the importance of various factors within Google's current ranking algorithm (on a scale of 1-10). Understanding these areas of importance helps to inform webmasters and marketers where to invest time and energy in working to improve the search presence of their websites.
On-page keyword features
These features describe use of the keyword term/phrase in particular parts of the HTML code on the page (title element, H1s, alt attributes, etc).
- Highest influence: Keyword present in title element, 8.34
- Lowest influence: Keyword present in specific HTML elements (bold/italic/li/a/etc), 4.16
Titles are still very powerful. Overall, it's about focus and matching query syntax. If your post is about airplane propellers but you go on a three paragraph rant about gorillas, you're going to have a problem ranking for airplane propellers.
- AJ Kohn
Keyword usage is vital to making the cut, but we don't always see it correlate with ranking, because we're only looking at what already made the cut. The page has to be relevant to appear for a query, IMO, but when it comes to how high the page ranks once it's relevant, I think keywords have less impact than they once did. So, it's a necessary but not sufficient condition to ranking.
- Peter Meyers
In my experience, most of problems with organic visibility are related to on-page factors. When I look for an opportunity, I try to check for 2 strong things: presence of keyword in the title and in the main content. Having both can speed up your visibility, especially on long-tail queries.
- Fabio Ricotta
Domain-level keyword features
These features cover how keywords are used in the root or subdomain name, and how much impact this might have on search engine rankings.
- Highest influence: Keyword is the exact match root domain name, 5.83
- Lowest influence: Keyword is the domain extension, 2.55
The only domain/keyword factor I've seen really influence rankings is an exact match. Subdomains, partial match, and others appear to have little or no effect.
- Ian Lurie
There's no direct influence, but an exact match root domain name can definitely lead to a higher CTR within the SERPs and therefore a better ranking in the long term.
- Marcus Tandler
It's very easy to link keyword-rich domains with their success in Google's results for the given keyword. I'm always mindful about other signals that align with domain name which may have contributed to its success. These includes inbound links, mentions, and local citations.
- Dan Petrovic
Page-level link-based features
These features describe link metrics for the individual ranking page (such as number of links, PageRank, etc).
- Highest influence: Raw quantity of links from high-authority sites, 7.78
- Lowest influence: Sentiment of the external links pointing to the page, 3.85
High-quality links still rule rankings. The way a brand can earn links has become more important over the years, whereas link schemes can hurt a site more than ever before. There is a lot of FUD slinging in this respect!
- Dennis Goedegebuure
Similar to my thoughts on content, I suspect link-based metrics are going to be used increasingly with a focus on verisimilitude (whether content is actually true or not) and relationships between nodes in Knowledge Graph. Google's recent issues with things, such as the snippet results for "evolution," highlight the importance of them only pulling things that are factually correct for featured parts of a SERP. Thus, just counting traditional link metrics won't cut it anymore.
- Pete Wailes
While anchor text is still a powerful ranking factor, using targeted anchor text carries a significant amount of risk and can easily wipe out your previous success.
- Geoff Kenyon
Domain-level brand features
These features describe elements that indicate qualities of branding and brand metrics.
- Highest influence: Search volume for the brand/domain, 6.54
- Lowest influence: Popularity of business's official social media profiles, 3.99
This is clearly on deck to change very soon with the reintegration of Twitter into Google's Real-Time Results. It will be interesting to see how this affects the "Breaking News" box and trending topics. Social influencers, quality and quantity of followers, RTs, and favorites will all be a factor. And what's this?! Hashtags will be important again?! Have mercy!
- Marshall Simmonds
Google has to give the people what they want, and if most of the time they are searching for a brand, Google is going to give them that brand. Google doesn't have a brand bias, we do.
- Russ Jones
It's already noticeable; brands are more prominently displayed in search results for both informational and commercial queries. I'm expecting Google will be paying more attention to brand-related metrics from now on (and certainly more initiatives to encourage site owners to optimize for better entity detection).
- Jason Acidre
Page-level social features
These features relate to third-party metrics from social media sources (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc) for the ranking page.
- Highest influence: Engagement with content/URL on social networks, 3.87
- Lowest influence: Upvotes for the page on social sites, 2.7
Social ranking factors are important in a revamped Query Deserves Freshness algorithm. Essentially, if your content gets a lot of natural tweets, shares, and likes, it will rank prominently for a short period of time, until larger and more authoritative sites catch up.
- Dev Basu
Social popularity has several factors to consider: (1) Years ago, Google and Bing said they take into account the authority of a social profile sharing a link and the popularity of the link being shared (retweets/reshares), and there was more complexity to social signals that was never revealed even back then. (2) My experience has been that social links and shares have more power for newsy/fresh-type content. For example, a lot of social shares for a dentist's office website wouldn't be nearly as powerful (or relevant to consider) as a lot of social shares for an article on a site with a constant flow of fresh content.
- Laura Lippay
Honestly, I do not think that the so-called "social signals" have any direct influence on the Google Algorithm (that does not mean that a correlation doesn't exist, though). My only doubt is related to Twitter, because of the renewed contract between Google and Twitter itself. That said, as of now I do not consider Twitter to offer any ranking signals, except for very specific niches related to news and "news-able" content, where QDF plays a fundamental role.
- Gianluca Fiorelli
Page-level keyword-agnostic features
These elements describe non-keyword-usage, non-link-metrics features of individual pages (such as length of the page, load speed, etc).
- Highest influence: Uniqueness of the content on the page, 7.85
- Lowest influence: Page contains Open Graph data and/or Twitter cards, 3.64
By branching mobile search off of Google's core ranking algorithm, having a "mobile-friendly" website is probably now less important for desktop search rankings. Our clients are seeing an ever-increasing percentage of organic search traffic coming from mobile devices, though (particularly in retail), so this is certainly not an excuse to ignore responsive design – the opposite, in fact. Click-through rate from the SERPs has been an important ranking signal for a long time and continues to be, flagging irrelevant or poor-quality search listings.
- Rob Kerry
I believe many of these will be measured within the ecosystem, rather than absolutely. For example, the effect of bounce rate (or rather, bounce speed) on a site will be relative to the bounce speeds on other pages in similar positions for similar terms.
- Dan Barker
I want to answer these a certain way because, while I have been told by Google what matters to them, what I see in the SERPs does not back up what Google claims they want. There are a lot of sites out there with horrible UX that rank in the top three. While I believe it's really important for conversion and to bring customers back, I don't feel as though Google is all that concerned, based on the sites that rank highly. Additionally, Google practically screams "unique content," yet sites that more or less steal and republish content from other sites are still ranking highly. What I think should matter to Google doesn't seem to matter to them, based on the results they give me.
- Melissa Fach
Domain-level link authority features
These features describe link metrics about the domain hosting the page.
- Highest influence: Quantity of unique linking domains to the domain, 7.45
- Lowest influence: Sentiment of the external links pointing to the site, 3.91
Quantity and quality of unique linking domains at the domain level is still among the most significant factors in determining how a domain will perform as a whole in the organic search results, and is among the best SEO "spot checks" for determining if a site will be successful relative to other competitor sites with similar content and selling points.
- Todd Malicoat
Throughout this survey, when I say "no direct influence," this is interchangeable with "no direct positive influence." For example, I've marked exact match domain as low numbers, while their actual influence may be higher – though negatively.
- Kirsty Hulse
Topical relevancy has, in my opinion, gained much ground as a relevant ranking factor. Although I find it most at play when at page level, I am seeing significant shifts at overall domain relevancy, by long-tail growth or by topically-relevant domains linking to sites. One way I judge such movements is the growth of the long-tail relevant to the subject or ranking, when neither anchor text (exact match or synonyms) nor exact phrase is used in a site's content, yet it still ranks very highly for long-tail and mid-tail synonyms.
- Rishi Lakhani
Domain-level keyword-agnostic features
These features relate to the entire root domain, but don't directly describe link- or keyword-based elements. Instead, they relate to things like the length of the domain name in characters.
- Highest influence: Uniqueness of content across the whole site, 7.52
- Lowest influence: Length of time until domain name expires, 2.45
Character length of domain name is another correlative yet not causative factor, in my opinion. They don't need to rule these out – it just so happens that longer domain names get clicked on, so they get ruled out quickly.
- Ross Hudgens
A few points: Google's document inception date patents describe how Google might handle freshness and maturity of content for a query. The "trust signal" pages sound like a site quality metric that Google might use to score a page on the basis of site quality. Some white papers from Microsoft on web spam signals identified multiple hyphens in subdomains as evidence of web spam. The length of time until the domain expires was cited as a potential signal in Google's patent on information retrieval through historic data, and was refuted by Matt Cutts after domain sellers started trying to use that information to sell domain extensions to "help the SEO" of a site.
- Bill Slawski
I think that page speed only becomes a factor when it is significantly slow. I think that having error pages on the site doesn't matter, unless there are so many that it greatly impacts Google's ability to crawl.
- Marie Haynes
The future of search
To bring it back to the beginning, we asked the experts if they had any comments or alternative signals they think will become more or less important over the next 12 months.
While I expect that static factors, such as incoming links and anchor text, will remain influential, I think the power of these will be mediated by the presence or absence of engagement factors.
- Sha Menz
The app world and webpage world are getting lumped together. If you have the more popular app relative to your competitors, expect Google to notice.
- Simon Abramovitch
Mobile will continue to increase, with directly-related factors increasing as well. Structured data will increase, along with more data partners and user segmentation/personalization of SERPs to match query intent, localization, and device-specific need states.
- Rhea Drysdale
User location may have more influence in mobile SERPs as (a) more connected devices like cars and watches allow voice search, and (b) sites evolve accordingly to make such signals more accurate.
- Aidan Beanland
I really think that over the next 12-18 months we are going to see a larger impact of structured data in the SERPs. In fact, we are already seeing this. Google has teams that focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning. They are studying "relationships of interest" and, at the heart of what they are doing, are still looking to provide the most relevant result in the quickest fashion. Things like schema that help "educate" the search engines as to a given topic or entity are only going to become more important as a result.
- Jody Nimetz
For more data, check out the complete Ranking Factors Survey results.
2015 Ranking Factors Expert Survey
Finally, we leave you with this infographic created by Kevin Engle which shows the relative weighting of broad areas of Google's algorithm, according to the experts.
Searching for Reasons of the Season
Filipinos are known worldwide as perpetually Christmas-spirited people – or at least, many put on their Yuletide attitude when September (the first “brrr” month) arrives. And when it comes to celebrating as a barkada or company, late November and early December already ring out the merrymaking spirit into second-gear, which eventually reaches its fast-and-furious climax on and beyond December 25, until it quickly wanes into a smoky whimper the early dawn of New Year’s Day when all the fireworks have left nothing but a thick smog in the air. The following day, Filipinos wipe out the dark soot that has accumulated on their floors and in their noses.
For LGO, the Yuletide spirit came early December this year via an out-of-town trip from Subic to Baguio City on Friday, December 4. On board an aircon bus were more than thirty vacationers led by their indefatigable Ms. Rose Castillo for a three-day stay at the family’s newly-acquired townhouse at Ciudad Grande 2, Bakakeng Area. The long road trip from the surrounding tropical forests of Zambales ended within the pine forests encircling Mines View Park where the entourage had light breakfast or coffee and some heavy window-shopping and/or real-shopping. Brunch came after; and then, more strolling and shopping.
While sightseeing, one will notice newly-built medium-rise and low commercial structures housing fast foods, boutique shops and souvenir stalls welcoming visitors to this traditional tourist spot. An early hunt for pasalubongs or holiday gifts practically used up the whole morning of the group which had arrived around eight in the morning.
Then it was time to catch up on sleep at the townhouse. The bus parked at Burnham Park and the group rode jeepneys to Bakakeng near the new SLU campus which teemed with students just coming out of their classes in droves, causing traffic in what used to be quiet, pine-tree groves before the subdivisions and the large university campus sprouted. But one can understand why Ms. Bhabes chose to buy a property in the area – not just to have a venue for more LGO events in the future, perhaps, but to allow her and her children to live – or study -- in the cool city of Baguio with its rarefied, pine-scented air and sunflower-dotted hills. Undoubtedly, Baguio City has become the prime university city of the North, next only to the megapolis we know as the National Capital Region, because of its alluring character.
The next day came with LGO deciding to hold the much-awaited games at Ciudad Grande and not at Melvin Jones football field in Burnham Park. It was a wise decision as the whole field was overrun by hundreds of kids playing soccer. The sight of those energetic children playing under the heat of the noonday Sun made one feel both happy and sad. Happy that they could experience the thrill of competing in sports, but sad that city officials have resolved to turn that vast field into a parking building for Baguio residents and visitors.
Pity that LGO never held its own games on the field; it would have been their last chance to be children again, running and laughing on that historic field that has hosted millions of people in programs, parades, concerts, picnics, games and exhibits before the “old guards” will turn it into a moneymaking venture of a dull concrete box. But it might give a small consolation that officials have “compromised” and “promised” to paint the façade GREEN in order to make the future building blend into the surrounding landscape of Burnham Park. Ironically, our peso is not green; so we have no clue as to what really motivates our officials.
The irony of spending Christmas early in Baguio City is experiencing not just the day heat in what should already be a chilly December. Old folks used to tell of Kennon Road and its frozen water by the side of the road early in the morning. Or the frost that formed on the grass as the dawn temperature dropped to zero.
Perhaps, it is the El Niño phenomenon, or the presence of more people that has brought about this condition. Strolling down Session road, which is a must for Baguio visitors, somehow tells you people flock the city not merely to enjoy its all-year-round Christmassy weather but also for so many other reasons. For some it could be just to stroll inside the quaint public market to buy veggies and pasalubongs. Or to look for bargain ukay-ukay clothes and bags at the many flea-market stalls around Burnham Park.
We would venture to say that there were as many reasons for visiting Baguio as there were LGO people last week. But one common reason that everyone shared was the opportunity to reconnect with oneself and with fellow workers in a way that leaves you refreshed and reenergized to face the coming new months and new years ahead. Certainly, having a late lunch at four in the afternoon at Solibao restaurant in Burnham Park did that to LGO guys after some hard and noisy games even for a coming final evening together in Baguio.
But the young never tire, unlike the aged, it seems; they just get hungry and sleepy. Life -- and vacations -- must go on. The holidays have just begun and there was more shopping and sightseeing to do. For that moment, LGO people bonded with one another everywhere they went.
Life is so full of challenges and mishaps that without a process of redirecting toward a personal and a common goal life would not be worth living.
Obstacles, mistakes and tragedies lie in front of us all children of God. One reason God Himself came to visit as an infant and to become a suffering human just like anyone of us was for Him to experience the same heat of the Sun we feel, the same frustrations from political and religious leaders we harbor, the same hunger for rice or tilapia we all go through, the same joy we feel when we see flowers blooming and the same glory we see when we see the infinite beauty of God’s creation during a sunset.
One thing is sure: It is never too early or too late to celebrate the many reasons for the coming – or has it really come? -- Season of Joy, Peace and Love. The purpose of every little or big thing we see and do gives us the reason for relishing and cherishing life and its abundance each day of our lives – together as a family or a company.
Have a Happy Season of a Million Wonderful Reasons for Life!
Get off from your chair and grab a pillow to hide from those creepy scenes that will freak you out.
Look who's behind you!
Come and join us this Halloween!!!
LGO, a top SEO outsourcing company, is capable of getting your copy print-ready and audience-friendly. Plus, we have the much-needed team of grammar Nazis and spelling police to go over every word.
Of course we can't promise to be soft and kind to your materials, but at least we'll get the tough job done. Even if that means you'll lose some of those words in the process. (For example, is everything written really relevant to the material as a whole? You know, most readers just scan over a body of text looking for stuff that they think are important and skipping over what they think are just fillers.) In line with that, we'll need to know your perspective or the company's culture to be able to edit your materials accordingly.
Most importantly, we recognize the value of confidentiality in every piece of written work that we handle. We don't retain copy of your submitted pieces nor do we disclose them in any way.
1. Know what a website can do to your business or line of work
A website is nothing more than a shop display window where a tailor or an artist displays his or her wares. And if you are a construction company or a shipbuilder, it would be an entire building complex where you can exhibit all your people, materials and resources needed to do an entire project for any client.
A website, however, brings your window to your clients anywhere they may be. There is practically no time, place and cultural constraint, unless there is no Internet connection.
Hence, a website is one of the cheapest and fastest ways of finding clients for your products and services. It is also the most effective as it can clearly exhibit all aspects of your work: scope, details, prices and other design and service requirements. Do you compose music for online games? YouTube, Vimeo and other online video servers can be your best partners for promoting your wares; but without a website to bring them to your showroom of various samples (plus HD visual input and unique add-ons) you could be left behind by the competition.
2. Designing a website is like building a house
Just as a showroom or display window need to have walls, ceilings and floors to contain any products, a website needs to have the proper structure to house your wares as well. If a writer tries to sell books online, he or she will have a library practically or at least a table upon which to allow a visitor to touch the book and taste its contents, if possible. We cannot simply show a book nowadays to people; we must try to convince them to buy it (unless we are talking of a bestseller, which is more an exception than a rule).
This is what Amazon does – show you a colourful photo of the book cover; but, in general, there is no access to the book’s content, whether list of chapters or foreword. LogicGateOne can do better than that! What’s a whole chapter or two to tease readers to buy? Bookstores do this now and you can, too, online – as easily as swiping on a tablet.
3. Get as much info as to the technical side of the project
Unless you are a techie as well, designing a website can be a challenging task to comprehend. So, how does one measure a designer’s capability? Easy -- look at some of their actual work in the past and any ongoing projects they have. They can outline the technical requirements (LogicGateOne does this on their website).
Or you may already have the person in your company who can do the evaluation of the designer’s abilities. Collaborating with good website designers in the Philippines on specific requirements you may have will make the process a lot easier for everyone concerned.
4. Seek LGO’s advice on which servers can best suit your needs
As we said, YouTube and Facebook may be the only things you are aware of as an Internet user. LGO can provide an overview as to which Web 2.0 sites can best suit your needs.
Do these steps with a couple or so web designers and decide which one satisfies you. Happy hunting!
Customer support service by UserEcho