We’ve already established that to be successful in search marketing, you need to be at the top of the results page. But how to get there?
It used to be that you could stuff your site with a bunch of keywords related to your brand and business, but today’s more sophisticated algorithms and marketing techniques require more sophisticated information and solutions. Search marketing company Backlinko evaluated one million Google search results to find the answer.
Among the findings, not surprisingly, is that backlinks correlate the most with top Google search rankings, as has been the case for years. All backlinks, however, are not created equal. References from a number of different domains correlates more commonly to high search results than those with a lot of links from one domain.
The study also finds that comprehensive content trumps shallow content in moving up Google’s ranks. To illustrate, the company uses the example of a news story from a reputable (and highly ranked domain, which also matters) about a simple change at an amusement park that follows all the “accepted” guidelines such as using the park’s name in the headline and in the first sentence of the story. A recipe for a satay sauce, however, which includes information on its Indonesian history, uses and nutritional information, ranks higher because of the comprehensive nature of the content, even without using the term “Indonesian Satay Sauce.”
And despite the general trend toward shorter, “snackable” items, Backlinko’s study finds that longer content increases search rankings. (The average word count of a first-page result is 1,890 words.) This is likely because the longer content increases the site’s overall topical relevancy, but other factors — longer items produce more social shares and/or longer content could be a reflection of a site owner’s care and expertise — could also play a part.
At the same time, you can’t ignore imagery. The study finds content that uses at least one image among its body of words fares significantly better than content with no imagery. However, sites filled with lots of imagery don’t necessarily perform better than those with only one image. The takeaway: Use art, but don’t go overboard.
Other areas that showed lesser correlation to high search ranking include the use of a secure “https” address; using an exact-match keyword in your title tag; site speed, and using short URLs that refer to the content on the page.
Overall, the study shows there’s a lot of factors that correlate to high search rankings, and the most successful search marketers will take advantage of as many as they can to reach the top of the pack.