There are some prominent market research organizations which research and publish studies looking at search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) – namely to quantify potential algorithmic changes over time in these ever-changing facets of web development. SearchMetrics recently released their latest report on changes in over 10,000 keyword ranking pages. There are some general tips that webmasters can take away from the results which may help them improve their own rankings as well:
Shorter URLs seem to have preference. Over the past few years, it seems as Google has caught onto the semi-black hat technique of keyword stuffing in URLs to gain a ranking advantage. In a potential effort to combat these long-tail URLs, it seems as if big G is now preferring shorter URLs in general, likely because they witnessed a correlation between longer URLs (especially past a certain point) and lower quality of websites.
Readability is very important. With the explosion of the mobile device market and the percentage of views that are now seen on small screens as opposed to traditional desktops and laptops, Google seems to be placing more emphasis on the readability of your content. The average font for top ranking websites is somewhere between 12 and 14, generally considered standard sizes on computers.
There has also been a shift to longer content. Those short made-for-rankings articles will no longer cut it. Google wants to see you are providing value to its users and one of the ways it may be doing that is by giving some more weight to longer texts which are also supplemented with other forms of content- videos, audio, images, interactive bits, etc.
Going along with having more content on a page is that sites which retain users for a longer period of time tend to be higher up in the rankings. This really goes with the last idea in creating engaging and meaningful content.
Backlinks have lost their reign as the ultimate powerhouse in determining rankings, but they are still very important. There is still a correlation between top rankings and high number of backlinks, but quality of backlinks is tremendously important here.
Social signals are one of the aspects that have cut into the weight of backlinks. It is important to be present on some of the more popular social networking websites and to link them with your primary domain. It is important to grow these properties synergistically with your website.
Make sure you have technical elements that are needed for your niche. If you are a site dealing with secure info, etc. you want a HTTPS encryption. Other such necessary technical elements are being considered in rankings.
The last couple of things are the big ones that everyone should know by now: mobile matters a ton and will matter even more in the future and content is king. Optimize your websites for mobile browsing as more and more of the world gets on to the little screen and while you’re at it, make sure your content is actually helping people. Do this and you will pave your way to success.