The world of search engine optimization is buzzing about Google's new Hummingbird algorithm, and the question on everyone's mind around here is, "How will this affect Google's ranking factors?"
It's natural to expect that a Google algorithm overhaul will bring about change in how the search engine yields results. But the more you get to know Google, the more you realize that seismic shifts in their Ranking's Ocean often feels more like gentle waves that wash over the Web, slowly. When that happens, some sites float and others sink. So let's find out why that is while also discovering a few ways to ensure that your ecommerce website stays afloat.
Below is SearchMetric's recently released ranking factors and rank correlations results for 2013. It's important to understand that the data presented is correlation data, not causation data. That means SearchMetrics found the following factors correlated to sites that ranked well. And because no one has direct access to the Magic 8-Ball Google uses for its algorithm, correlation data is the best we have.
Moz's 2013 Survey and Correlation Data yielded somewhat different results and yet most factors matched up. The biggest difference is the role of page authority and the value of backlinks as ranking factors. Page authority was the top ranking factor according to Moz, followed closely by Google +1's and a variety of backlink metrics like unique cblocks and unique IPs linking to a page, number of root domains linking to a page and number of root domains linked by using partial keyword matches.
After comparing both sets of data, a few things stand out.
Adopting SEO Strategies Based on Changes to Ranking Factors
Social SEO signals continue to rise in correlation with high-ranking sites. This is especially true now that personalized search is expected to be the standard. Proximity, Google+ reference data and Twitter mentions will all continue to play a role in how results are formed. Things like Facebook shares, likes and comments matter as well. Also important is brand and domain mentions across the social landscape (as measured by the Fresh Web Explorer). Therefore, in order to achieve SEO, you must implement social strategies around your brand, its products and your industry.
Google+ cannot be ignored. Use it.
Keyword-rich (anchor text) links and exact-match domains have lost relevance. But backlinks are still important. That hasn't changed and likely won't change. What has changed is how narrowly you should focus on a keyword when building links. Mixing up anchor text and varying linking domains from a variety of IPs and cblocks is the key to a good link profile. Build links to your site that are varied and relevant.
Brand links are a key part of entity search. And they appear to be the exception to over-optimization anchor text link rules. Build links around your brand name.
"Last year, brands held a privileged position. This has also been confirmed in this year's study: for brands – and their websites – search engines do not seem to apply the same criteria as for other domains. For example, it seems as though Google considers it natural for brands to have comparatively more backlinks with the name of the brand in the link text alone – what we refer to as 'brand links' – and still not be rated negatively." -- SearchMetrics, SEO Ranking Factors – Rank Correlation 2013
Word count and the variety of keywords and phrases in the body of your content now play a bigger role than ever before. Google's ability to discern between great and mediocre content has gotten much better. The contextual metrics that allow Google to return results for In-Depth Articles makes the new challenge to add depth as well as breadth to the content of your ecommerce site. Establishing authority through the use of great content works in more ways than any other SEO factor. It yields relevance, encourages social signals, baits link building, etc... Unlike in previous years, the number of words on a page now shows a high correlation to better rankings. Building high-quality content in quantity is not just important, it's vital to the future success of your online store. Make it a point to educate, enlighten and entertain your audience with rich content.
On-page SEO factors are still relevant. Page title tags, clean HTML code, clear and inviting meta descriptions, and H1 headers continue to be important. In other words, mind your Ps and Qs. On-page SEO best practices from a year ago, last month and last week have not changed and will not change, so continue optimizing around best practices.
Using Resources to Bank on Ranking Factor Changes
3dcart has a ton of SEO tools available. From those found inside the Store Manager to mobile-friendly website themes and guided search marketing services, there's a lot to be gained from simply digging into the online marketing toolbox already at your disposal.