2014 SEO Ranking Factors Study [Infographic]

Matthew Gates http://www.matthewgates.co 5m 1,165 #seorankings

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SEO is ever-changing and evolving, with each new year that passes. More ranking factors come into play, but there are always constants in SEO. These constants are high quality, unique, relevant, and knowledgeable content. Your content should serve some purpose to the reader.

If you write about something that no one wants to read, your content is not going to rank. If you write poorly, with spelling errors, incomplete sentences, run-on sentences, or paragraphs and blog posts that make no sense at all, the ranking factors for your website are going to suffer.

SEO is about writing to the people, for the people, and because of the people. The idea of SEO ranking and any algorithm produced by search engines: Write content for people, not for search engines, and not for bots. You want to be the content someone is looking for because they will be engaged in your content. Having people come to your website to read your content who have no interest is guaranteed bounce rates. It is more important to have people reading your content who want to be there.

If you write high quality content that people want to read, acquire the patience for search engines and people to discover your content, and also promote your content in a generous and genuine way, the rewards of SEO will be satisfying.

This infographic examines the SEO year of 2014.

2014 SEO Ranking Factors Study [Infographic]

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Based on Rank Correlations and Averages of Top Ten

SEO Rank Correlations and 2014 Ranking Factors Study

Use this guide to survive and thrive in a constantly changing SEO world.

What’s new in 2014?

Stronger focus on holistic and relevant content!

Good rankings are based on many factors, but the study revealed that nothing is more important to optimal SEO as high quality, relevant content. Whether that means providing more onpage material, extending keywords into entire phrases, or pertinent topics or keeping your technology up-to-date, without compelling content, you can kiss SEO goodbye.

Survival Tip #1: Increase User-Relevant Content

Content Factors That Increased From Last Year In Top Ranking URLs

8,313 Length in Text (in characters)
975 word count


  • Semantically comprehensive wording
  • Higher word counts using relevant topic terms
  • Provide other media such as images & videos
  • Fact: 130 Average number of internal links of URLs ranking in the top ten
  • Expanding keywords in a copy with reference to other relevant terms as people are search entire topics instead of content optimized for single keywords
  • Fact: Using relevant terms in website content is probably one of the most important SEO Ranking Factors


  • Advertising: People want holistic content. Adlinks were rare on top ranking pages.
  • Fact: Adlinks (Adsense too) both coorelate negative with good rankings and decrease overall in the top 30.
  • Keyword-Stuffing – Though keywords remain important onpage elements, their appearance as exact terms decreases.

Existence of Proof (Must-Have) and further relevant Terms according to word co-occurrence analyses HOLISTIC and RELEVANT CONTENT

Survival Tip #2: Create Robust Site Architecture

Increasing Technical Factors of Top Ten Ranking URLs

0.99 Seconds Sitespeed
98% URLs that have a Meta Description


  • Including a well balance amount of good internal links
  • 36 Average length of a top ten URL (in characters)
  • Keeping short loading times
  • Keeping the site up-to-date
  • Maintaining presence of all relevant Metas (like Title & Description)
  • Fact: 2,900 The average Search Volume of Domain Name (domain.tld)


  • Loose Focus
  • Do not focus only on technical aspects of your site. Having lots of backlinks and fast loading spee dmeans nothing if you offer no relevant content to the user.


Become a brand. In niches and/or the long tail, small brands can often take first spots on a SERP with their homepage, specific URLs, and/or their Wikipedia entry.

Survival Tip #3: Earn Quality Backlinks

Important Backlink Factors of Top Ten Ranking URLs

2,080 SEO Visibility of Backlinking URL

1,718 Referring Domains linking to Homepage

1,352 Number of Backlinks

6% Share of Nofollow-Backlinks


  • Well-balance Homepage Deeplink-Ratio
  • Fact: 29% Average share of links to the homepage domain. The rest is deeplinks.
  • Successful domains often feature a higher share of links anchored on their domain name and/or brand name/s.
  • Fact: The share of anchored texts containing the keywords has constantly decreased in recent years and is currently at about 13% in the top ten.

Survival Tip #4: Social Signals Are a Bonus

Average Social Signals of Top Ten Ranking URLs

143 Google+ Plus Ones
1,690 Facebook Signals
162 Tweets
36 Pins


  • Create good content
  • Fact: For search engines, likes, tweets, plus ones, etc. are primary signals


  • Using only social media to improve your ranking
  • Social strengths barely influences rankings. Yet, correlations are still high though they have decreased from 2013.

Survival Tip #5: Implement User Signals, They Are Crucial

Important User Signals of Top Ten

Important User Signals of Top Ten Ranking URLs

101 Seconds Time on Site

37% Bounce Rate

  • Fact: The highest ranking URL has a Click-Through-Rate (CTR) of 32% The 10th highest ranking URL has a CTR of 3%.

How to read & interpret the chart

How did we get these results?

  1. We gathered approximately 300,000 URLs with top search result positions (top 30) for 10,000 informational keywords.
  2. To determine why these URLs ranked at the top, we examined the presence and extent of certain factors.
  3. Our results are displayed by how these factors correlate with Google rankings – without necessarily implying causation.


The numbers are based on the respective average value for the TOP 10 rankings regarding each specific feature.

What is a “Spearman Rank Correlation”?

A statistical measure using ranks to calculate correlation between two sets of variables. If one variable changes, it also changes the second variable because they are correlated. Rank Correlation is used here to describe differences between entities (here: URLs) and is not to be substituted by causation. For example, “relevant terms” used in website content was found to be the feature with the highest correlation with rankings.

Click-Through Rate 0.67
Relevant Terms 0.34
Google + 1 0.33
Number of Backlinks* .031
Facebook Shares 0.28
Facebook Total 0.28
Facebook Comments 0.27
Pinterest 0.27
SEO-Visibility of backlinking URL* 0.26
Facebook Likes 0.25
Tweets 0.241
% Backlinks rel=nofollow 0.23
Proof Terms[1] 0.21
New Backlinks[1] 0.20
Backlinks from News Domains[1] 0.20
% Backlinks with Keyword 0.17
% Backlinks with Anchor-domain.tld 0.16
Number of internal Links 0.16
% Backlinks with Stopword 0.16
Keywords in Body 0.15
HTML Length 0.14
Text Character Length* 0.13
Word Count 0.13
Sitespeed 0.11
Keyword in external Links* 0.11
Word Count in Anchor Text 0.11
Position of Keyword in Title (Character) 0.10
Length of URL 0.10
Position of Keyword in Title (Word) 0.10
Keyword in internal Links 0.10
Time on Site 0.0209
Number of external Links 0.08
% Backlinks from same Country 0.07
H2 0.07
Image Count* 0.06
H1 0.06
Description 0.06
Video Integration 0.06
Bounce Rate 0.04
Keyword in Title* 0.02
Keyword in H2* 0.02
Keyword in Description* 0.01
URL is no Subdomain 0.00
-0.01 Title Character Length
-0.01 Keyword in URL
-0.02 Keyword in Domain Name
-0.03 Adsense Blocks
-0.03 Keyword in H1*
-0.03 AdLinks
-0.03 AdSense
-0.03 AdLinks (without Adsense)

  • User Signals
  • Social
  • Backlinks
  • Onpage (technical)
  • Onpage (content)

*calculation modified [1] … to homepage

No reading list is complete without Serchmetrics’ 2014 Ranking Factors Study. Get it. Learn it. Survive.



Matthew Gates is a freelance web developer and currently runs Confessions of the Professions.




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