Quality Content, Social Media Ups Brands In Search Engine Rankings

by , Oct 14, 2013, 4:05 PM
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search socialA recent study aims to not only prove the longtime theory that Google and Bing favor brands, but that content quality, social media signals and backlinks are associated with higher-ranking pages in search engine query results (SERPs). 

Brand Web sites have an advantage when it comes to ranking higher in search engine query results on Bing and Google. Findings from the Searchmetrics SEO Ranking Factors–Rank Correlation 2013 for Bing USA study identify key factors helping Web pages rank well in searches on Bing in the U.S., and compare them with results from a similar earlier Searchmetrics study of Google U.S. results.

Content quality will become one of the most important ranking factors in the history of search engine optimization for Bing and Google. Overall, pages with more text tend to correlate 0.09 higher in rankings. Pages that rank in the top 30 Bing results feature about 100 more words than URLs that rank in the corresponding positions on Google search engine results pages (SERPs).

The study found that for Bing this relationship exists up to a limit of around 700 words on average; adding text to boost ranking isn't the answer. In terms of images, Bing differs from Google with respect to their values. In Google searches, the higher the number of images on a Web site, the better the ranking correlation in general -- about 0.08. For Bing, the correlation for the number of images is much lower, at 0.03.

Only 24.7% of Bing.com Web page URLs on page one also serve up on the first page of Google, but results do not necessarily serve up in the same order. The study is based on an analysis of search results from Bing.com for 10,000 popular keywords and 300,000 Web sites in the top 30 search results and picks out the issues that correlate with a high ranking on Bing.

While brand sites have an overall advantage, Google's algorithm seems to more effective identify brands. It also can distinguish them from non-brands. Both engines consider it natural for brands to have comparatively more backlinks with the name of the company in the link text alone.

The number of backlinks to a Web page from another site are closely linked to higher rankings on Bing, according to the research. For Bing, the number of back links has a high correlation of 0.29.

Web sites also should have "no follow" links that do not convey ranking benefits on search engines and links that contain in the anchor text neutral "stopwords" such as "in," "and," "to" -- as well as links that are generic words like "there," "here" and "page." 

The Searchmetrics study found that between 52% and 53% of Web site backlinks rank among the top 30 results on Bing contain keywords in the anchor text -- about 10% more than Google. And 2% of backlinks of pages ranked in the top 30 on Bing contain a stop word, compared with 10% on Google.

Web sites that rank in top positions on Bing tend to have a large number of social signals. Well-ranked URLs have many more shares, likes, comments, +1 and tweets. The quantity of social signals attached to the Web site tends to fall with its SERPs ranking. Google+ at 0.34 has the highest correlation, followed by Facebook comments at 0.32 and Twitter tweets at 0.30.

Social media and search photo from Shutterstock

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