How does Google rank content?
We know that measuring the relevance of individual ranking factors and the potential impact of a single factor is difficult, if not impossible.
Over the years, Google has become more transparent in sharing information and guidance with webmasters and SEOs. We don’t have access to the same data as Google, which is able to track user engagement on the SERPs. Nor do we know how Google applies certain weights to these factors.
Therefore, this study should be an inspiration, as SEO is often more challenging than people think. Our insights, and examples that influence rankings, should spark a conversation about the many different facets of SEO and help SEOs think outside the box.
We analyzed a sample of 16,298 English keywords, all of which have more than 100 monthly searches. For each keyword, we collected the search engine results pages (SERPs) and analyzed the top 20 positions and their performance across a number of factors, ending up with a total of 300,000 positions.
Our goal was to understand how specific factors correlate with search engine rankings. To do this, we calculated a correlation score for each factor.
We use traditional ranking factors along with some new ones, like measuring the relevance of a page to the query, using word embeddings, which is similar to how Google deconstructs content. And we use features to determine how strong a domain is using direct traffic (branded traffic) and correlate that with rankings.
From the importance of content relevance and quality to our findings around the degree of correlation with direct traffic share, we hope this report opens up new avenues for your marketing strategy and helps you challenge some long-standing ideas.
Factors Influence, Top-20 Results
Correlation of a factor with the position on SERP