The new 2013 Searchmetrics’ study of 300,000 websites reported that social sharing behavior is even more strongly correlated with high page rank.
Top highlights of 2013:
- Keyword domains and keyword links have lost relevance
- Brands are the exception to many rules
- Social signals continue to correlate very well with better rankings
- Good content is always important: it comes to quality!
- The number of backlinks remains immensely important
- On-page technology remains one of the basics
The updated report is available in its entirety here: http://www.searchmetrics.com/en/services/ranking-factors-2013/
According to the report, sharing engaging content in social networks correlates with higher search rankings much more than traditional SEO techniques. See the chart below.
Pretty much mimics the 2012 results, except that social signals are even stronger predictors of search performance.
Takeaways from this study for me include:
- Sharing your content on Facebook and Twitter and getting people to engage with it is much more strongly correlated with SEO performance than all traditional SEO methods save one: the number of backlinks. The quality of those backlinks wasn’t measured in this study, but Google is prioritizing quality.
- As I hypothesized in my earlier version of this post, Google+ beats other social networks when it comes to SEO.
- Many traditional SEO tactics aren’t as effective as social sharing. This includes positioning Keywords correctly and making sure the right Keywords are in your URLs, Title and Description.
Search geeks, take heed: according to Eric Schmidt, social signals will become fundamental to ranking well – for human factor reasons that are hard to argue. In his new book he says,
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.
To learn more about the changing relationship between social sharing and SEO performance, check out SEOMoz’s Daily SEO Blog / Social Media section. Rand Fishkin’s blog team does an awesome job covering the really important topic.
Here are some recent posts about this subject:
- Your Guide to Social Signals for SEO
- How to Prepare for AuthorRank and Get the Jump on Google
- Rand Fishkin reminds us that correlation does not necessarily mean causation.
About the Searchmetrics Study
The study analyzed Google search results for 10,000 keywords as well as billions of backlinks, Tweets, Google +1s and Facebook likes, shares and comments. The data was collected in early 2013. The correlations between different factors and the Google search results were calculated using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient.
The corpus of content related to these keywords include:
- 30,000 SERPs (search engine result pages)
- 300,000 titles, descriptions, URLs, etc.
- Approx. 150 GB of data
- Approx. 600,000 AdSense blocks
- Approx. 5,300,000,000 backlinks
- Approx. 4,150,000,000 Facebook shares
- Approx. 12,950,000,000 Facebook likes
- Approx. 600,000,000 Facebook comments
- Approx. 1,000,000,000 tweets
- Approx. 330,000,000 Google plus ones
- Approx. 14,500,000 Pins