Study on Google Ranking Factors: These are really relevant

As part of a study, Backlinko determined the importance of individual Google ranking factors. With some long-known, but also with surprising results.

Backlinko, run by SEO expert Brian Dean, analyzed 11.8 million Google search results in a study. The aim of the study was to find out which factors are related in which way to the Google rankings of the analyzed pages. In cooperation with Ahrefs, a list of twelve findings has come out that provides some SEO optimization approaches.

Backlink profile at domain level

The link authority of the analyzed websites is said to have correlated with better Google rankings. The more quantitative and qualitative the backlinks that linked to a domain, the higher all rankings for the entire domain were. In the study, the link authority was determined using the Ahrefs domain rating.

Number of backlinks

Websites with a lot of backlinks are said to have achieved higher rankings. On average, the pages in Google’s pole position had 3.8 times more backlinks than the pages following in the rankings in positions two to ten.

Holistic content

Websites with extensive and in-depth content are said to have achieved higher rankings than pages that only touched on topics. In the study, the content grade of the SEO optimization tool Clearscope was used to determine the content depth and quality .

Page load time

Surprisingly, according to the study, the loading time of a website is not an important ranking factor. There was no clear correlation between the speed and the rankings, so that even websites with long loading times should have achieved high rankings.

Diversified backlinks

The number of backlinks from as many different websites as possible should be relevant for the rankings in Google. Many backlinks from external sites have a positive effect on the rankings.

Keywords and title tags

In the vast majority of the analyzed search results, the given title tags are said to have matched the keywords for which the websites appeared in the search results. However, the use of keywords in title tags should not have played a role for the level of the rankings.

Authority of individual subpages

The authority of individual URLs on a website has a weak correlation with the rankings. This was determined in the study of Ahrefs’ URL rating. This shows the strength of the link profile of a URL on a 100-point scale. The larger the number, the stronger the link profile. The rating takes into account both internal and external links.

Length of the content

Websites in the first position of the organic Google search results are said to have an average length of 1,447 words. The number of words is said to have been evenly distributed over the first ten search results.

Amount of data in the HTML codes

The amount of data in the HTML code should not be relevant for the Google search results, so that websites with data-intensive HTML codes can also rank high.

Length of the URL

There is little correlation between the URL length and the rankings. According to the Backlinko study, short URLs only have a slight ranking advantage over longer URLs.

Structured data

Even if websites with schema markup help the Google bot, are usually more present and noticeable in Google search results and are consequently clicked more often: Structured data should not be relevant for high Google rankings.

Length of stay

The length of stay should affect the level of the rankings. According to this, websites whose visitors stay long tend to have higher rankings. A length of stay that was three seconds longer is said to have correlated with higher rankings in the study.

Check optimizations carefully before implementation

The results of the study provide website operators with useful optimization approaches, but should nevertheless be viewed with caution. According to the study, loading times, for example, should not be related to high rankings. Nevertheless, long loading times would most likely lead to high bounce rates and short dwell times – which, according to the study, should in turn be relevant for high rankings.

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