Moz's SEO Ranking Factors 2013 study

Moz’s Ranking Factors 2013 study

Moz have released their biannual ¬†findings from ¬†Moz’s Ranking Factors 2013 study. This follows on from the recent¬†Search Engine Land Periodic table of Success Factors covered here a few weeks ago. Note the difference in wording here between SEO Ranking and SEO Success.

Before looking at the study and becoming daunted by the volume of information and the sophistication of the analysis bear in mind the following:

“The study tries to determine which attributes of pages and sites have the¬†strongest association with ranking highly in Google

So this is not an accurate analysis of what the search engine algorithm is but an observation on what the best performing (highest ranked) sites have in common.  made the following comment in a blog post on this topic recently.

“The historical problem with ‚ÄúRanking Factors‚ÄĚ reports, studies, tables, and whathaveyou is that they DO NOT reveal what the search engines are doing. Rather, they show us what the search engine marketers are doing.”

SEO Ranking Factors

Google has over 200 different factors or signals that is uses in its algorithm, accompanied by more than 10,000 sub-signals. As it goes about its business these contributing SEO ranking items are in a constant state of flux with major and minor changes keeping SEO practitioners, theorists and commentators on their toes.

The Search Engine Land Periodic Table offers you a good view of the bigger picture and is an invaluable aid in reviewing your web presence. Get these factors right and you will have covered 90% of your SEO checklist. However this list is not exhaustive and if you are already engaged with your optimisation you will see that factors such as the use of key words in alt tags, H1 v. H2 or the proximity of keywords to the start of your page title do not get a mention.

If you have already got the basics covered and want to drill down further on where to apply your SEO effort then the Moz Study can help. Don’t forget that their correlation and analysis ¬†of the different factors is supported by opinion from some 120 SEO ¬†practitioners. Thats a lot of free advice and well worth paying some attention to.

Below are two charts and comment from the most recent posting of the findings. Look at the %’s in the pie chart – make sure that you SEO efforts and resources are directed accordingly by concentrating on the areas that will give you most return.

“According to our survey respondents, here is how Google’s overall algorithm breaks down:

We see:

  1. Links are still believed to be the most important part of the algorithm (approximately 40%).
  2. Keyword usage on the page is still fundamental, and other than links is thought to be the most important type of factor.
  3. SEOs do not think social factors are important in the 2013 algorithm (only 7%),¬†in contrast to the high correlations.”

SEO Ranking predictions

Take these points as tips on what you need to do next to stay ahead of the game. The experts are really predicting a much bigger emphasis on: Content quality, Authority and interaction with visitors (top 7 items). So look wider and take a more holistic view of your approach – think content or inbound marketing and you will be well on the way to adressing these predicted changes in emphasis for Search Engine algorithms.

“Looking into the future, SEOs see a shift away from traditional ranking factors (anchor text, exact match domains, etc.) to deeper analysis of a site’s perceived value to users, authorship, structured data, and social signals:”

SEO Ranking thoughts

  • The experts don’t always see eye to eye
  • Analysis is on what is observed not actually on what the algorithms are
  • There is consensus on the basics If you haven’t got them¬†right don’t worry too much about the rest
  • Concentrate on a holistic “inbound” view and you will do well as the algorithms develop


As ever if you would like some help in putting all this into practice or developing an SEO strategy for your site please get in touch