SEO Ranking Factors – Are You Focusing on the Right Tasks?

The internet marketing company, Moz, posted a video on their “whiteboard friday” feature, presenting some opinion data collected from SEO industry experts.  They asked the experts which search engine ranking factors were most important. The results below are not only useful as list of activities you should be engaged in when promoting a website, but also in giving you an idea on how much time you should be spending on each task:

moz ranking factor cluster chart


And with some OCR, courtesy of Microsoft One Note, the text version:

Weighting of Thematic Clusters of Ranking Factors in Google (based on survey responses by 128 SEQ professionals in June 2013)

  1. Domain-Level, Link Authority Features (e.g. quantity of links to the domain, trust/quality of links to the domain, domain-level PageRank, etc.) 20.94%
  2. Page-Level Link Features (e.g. PageRank, TrustRank, quantity of link links, anchor text distribution, quality of link sources, etc.) 19.15%
  3. Page-Level KW & Content Features (e.g. TF*IDF, topic modeling scores on content, content quantity/relevance, etc.) 14.94%
  4. Page-Level, Keyword- Agnostic Features (e.g. content length, readability, uniqueness, load speed, etc.) 9.8%
  5. Domain-Level Brand Features (e.g. offline usage of brand/domain name, mentions of brand/domain in news/media/press, entity association, etc.) 8.59%
  6. User, Usage, & Traffic/Query Data (e.g. traffic/usage signals from browsers/toolbars/clickstream, quantity/diversity/CTR of queries, etc.) 8.06%
  7. Social Metrics (e.g. quantity/quality of tweeted links, Facebook shares, Google +ls, etc.) 7.24%
  8. Domain Level Keyword Usage (e.g. exact-match keyword domains, partial-keyword matches, etc.) 6.98%
  9. Domain-Level, Keyword-Agnostic Features (e.g. domain name length, TLID extension, domain HTTP response time, etc.) 5.21%

One way to use this data is to proportion your hourly effort based on the importance of the task. Given a 40 hr work week:

Link Building: 16 hrs (2 days)

Content Optimization:  9.9 hrs ( a little over a day)

Social Networking:  2.9 hrs (1/2 hr per day for those of us with 6 day work weeks)

The rest of the stuff: The rest of the time

Ok, maybe that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I like the idea. Of course I forgot about the local ranking factors, but you still have evenings and Sunday available, right?

The obvious take-away from the data is that link building is still by far the most important factor in improving your ranking, according to the experts. It is certainly not dead. Another item that stands out is that the importance of social metrics as a ranking factor does not appear to be as proportionally important as the weight it is given by many internet marketing companies. Due to the huge amount of BS that dominates commercial social networking activities, I think that is a good thing. What do you think?

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