Key Issues Summary:
- SEMRush has released its second ranking factor study for the year, listing what it believes to be the 17 most important ranking factors.
- The data was pulled from 600k keywords and analysed against a different statistical analysis from pure correlation.
- The starkest conclusion was that direct traffic was the most important ranking factor.
- This caused a bit of a stir in the SEO community!
Key Actions To Take:
- Head to SEMRush and download the full study. It is interesting reading.
- Read it with a weather eye and understand its limitations.
- The top 4 ranking factors are products of great content. Think about that.
- And then build great content, which people want to engage with, read more of, which meets user needs.
- Click here to contact me to discuss how to interpret the SEM Rush Ranking Factors report.
Insights & Discussion:
I’ve got immense respect for people who put out these studies, even when they suspect they may get pilloried because of them.
As I’ve posted elsewhere, levels of Direct Traffic traffic are not a prerequisite for ranking well in organic search. To truly establish that you would have to consider all websites’ Direct Traffic levels and then consider how many of them perform well, and how many of them don’t. It’s likely as many sites with huge volumes of Direct Traffic perform poorly.
It is, however, an indicator that you are likely to perform well, because big, popular sites tend to accrue more links, tend to accrue more mentions and, generally, tend to be expected to appear in search results. Google has made it plainer over the years that users have certain expectations that certain websites will appear in SERPs and have engineered their algorithms to facilitate that.
As I say above, the top 4 factors of direct traffic, time on site, pages per session and bounce rate are factors of great sites with great content, so if you really want to take something away from the study, you should be looking at building a great site with great content which really focuses on the user first, middle and last. Everything else is secondary.
That said, if Google only focused on popular sites, then their rankings would become a popularity contest where only the biggest brands which can reach the most people could rank. And we really don’t want that. It’d be like DMOZ all over again.
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