SEO Ranking Factors for 2015

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Having your business website rank in Google for your targeted keywords is something every business owner wants, but few are sure how to achieve. Ever year, the internet marketing and search engine optimization industry’s best minds get together and put out a report on what, according to their vast amounts of data, seem to be the leading SEO Ranking Factors for that year.

In this article, I will list those results in addition to explaining what those SEO ranking factors actually are, and what we can infer from the change in the ranking weight from 2014 to 2015.

SEO Ranking Factors Breakdown for 2015

SEO Ranking Factors for 2015

SEO Ranking Factors: My Business Signals – 14.7%

0% from 2014

Business signals account for just under 15% of total website ranking. These signals include the following types of SEO ranking signals:

  1. Keyword in Business Title
  2. Proximity to Searcher
  3. Category of Business

These three items account for 14.7% of how a website is ranked. This is one of the only categories that uses the geographic location of a searcher.

Change Year over Year

We can see that this category of SEO Ranking Factors did not change at all from 2014 to 2015.

SEO Ranking Factors: External Location Signals – 13.6%

↓ 1.9% from 2014

External locations signals are what most people call local business listings or local business profiles. These business profiles are spread all over the internet on different search engines and profile websites. Yelp, Yahoo Local, Google+, & Bing Local are a few examples of these.

The two main SEO ranking factors in this section are:

  1. Aggregator Name, Address, & Phone (NAP) Consistency
  2. Number of Business Listings Online

This section that accounts for around 13.6% of how you rank in local SEO can be defined by the accuracy of and the number of local business listings that you have on the internet. In this case, both quality and quantity affect how your local seo.

Change Year over Year

We can see that this category of SEO ranking factors decreased in rank weight by 1.9% from 2014 to 2015. This change represents a slight change in the search engine algorithms moving away from relying on 3rd party listings as a relevant source for ranking.

SEO Ranking Factors: On-Page Signals – 20.3%

↓ 0.7% from 2014

SEO Ranking factors for onsite metrics have always been a very strong ranking factor for websites. On Page SEO signals are comprised of various pieces of information found (or should be found) on each page of a website to help search engines determine what that website, as a whole and as individual pages, is about or focused on. Being very specific and including keywords in the following areas will help rank a website for the target keywords and phrases. For example, if the title, url, and headings of a page are dedicated to “muffins,” one would try to gear them towards “St. Louis  blueberry muffins” or “[insert city or area] [insert type of muffin] muffins.” The more specific one is with these items, the more confident a search engine will be in the ranking of that page/website for those keywords/phrases.

On page seo is so crucial for a website that the SEO ranking factors here contribute largely to organic and local seo. Those factors are:

  1. Page Title
  2. Page URL
  3. Heading 1 Tags
  4. Heading 2 Tags
  5. Image URL
  6. Image Title
  7. Image Alt Text
  8. Keyword Density
  9. Inbound Links & Anchor Text
  10. Schema Markup
  11. Google Webmaster Submission
  12. Bing Webmaster Submission
  13. Sitemap Creation & Submission
  14. Fleischman Reading Test

Each of these factors will contribute largely to how a website is ranked as these are all very crucial SEO ranking factors. Simply increasing the specificity in a few of these areas on multiple pages  and/or the website as a whole will help the websites SEO rank. However, optimizing ALL of these factors will ensure a solid ranking for this page and for the overall website as long as they are standard practice on existing pages and new pages.

Change Year over Year

We can see that this category of SEO Ranking Factors did decrease 0.7% from 2014 to 2015. This signals an ever-so-slight adjustment in search engine algorithms away from trusting the website content entirely; meaning that search engines are putting less stock (marginally) in the website and more into other areas for ranking purposes from 2014 to 2015.

SEO Ranking Factors: Link Signals – 20%

↑ 1.7% from 2014

Link signals have always been a major player in SEO ranking factors. Search engines use inbound links to a website to help formulate the quality of the website and the content that is being linked to. The more links, the higher the quality, the more stock a search engine will put into the website that is being linked to.

The 3 areas of inbound linking signals are:

  1. The Quality of the Inbound Links
  2. The Quantity of the Inbound Links
  3. The Anchor Text Associated with the Links

If getting 3rd party websites and users to link to your content was not hard enough, it is a well known fact that not all links are equal. In terms of seo ranking factors for inbound link signals, quality will always beat out quantity. Getting inbound links from relevant (same industry) websites and high page-rank and domain authority websites like Microsoft, Adobe, Facebook, etc are imperative.

Anchor text is the verbiage associated with a link, it is the actual written words that you click on. Make sure you avoid anchor text like “Click Here” and use more descriptive anchor text like “St. Louis Website Design.

Change Year over Year

We can see that this category of SEO Ranking Factors increase in rank weight 1.7% from 2014 to 2015. This means that the search engine algorithms are focusing more on inbound links as a weight to determine the quality of a website.

This makes sense as each inbound link signals to a search engine that the website/content being linked to is of a high enough quality that a 3rd party is quoting it, using it for research, or writing an article on the content on that linked page. All of these build confidence to the content quality in the eyes of search engines.

SEO Ranking Factors: Review Signals – 8.4%

↓ 1.4% from 2014

Reviews are highly revered by search engines as indicate several very important things that search engines are looking for.

  1. Business is still in operation
  2. The quality of goods and services provided
  3. Customer Interaction with a brand or website (social signals-ish)

Reviews are also helpful because they give insight, other than your own, into your business and its products and services. This non-biased opinion is great for other consumers and therefore highly weighed by search engines for local SEO rankings.

Change Year over Year

We can see that this category of SEO Ranking Factors decreased in ranking weight a total of 1.4% from 2014 to 2015. Although a small reduction in the big picture of things, this is a large drop in confidence by search engines for reviews.

One can attribute this marginally large drop in confidence in reviews by the multiple hits the online review website industry took in 2014 & early 2015.

The two biggest cases of recent has been with Yelp, Facebook, & Amazon. Yelp has been labeled as the, “Mafia of online marketing,” from many small business owners who feel extorted by them.

The larger issues are the reviews themselves. In previous years, reviews have been weighed so heavily as SEO ranking factors, that it has encourage the buying and selling of fake “likes” and reviews from internet market places like Fiverr. Facebook purged over 300,000 fake “likes,” and Amazon followed suit by suing 1,114 Fiverr users selling reviews in exchange for cash.

SEO Ranking Factors: Social Signals – 5%

↓ 0.8% from 2014

Social Signals are important local SEO ranking factors for the same reasons reviews are; they offer search engines non-biased recommendations of content and properties via likes, +1’s, follows, re-tweets, mentions, etc.

Getting more people to like, add, mention, and share the content from your social media platforms will ultimately increase the value of your local rankings.

Change Year over Year

We can see that this category of SEO Ranking Factors decreased 0.8% in rank weight from 2014 to 2015. I would attribute this to the same reasons seen for the reduction in value of online reviews.

SEO Ranking Factors: Behavioral Signals – 9.5%

↑ 2.6% from 2014

Behavioral signals as an SEO ranking factor focuses primarily on user experience and user interaction with the website or web property.

  1. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  2. Bounce Rate
  3. Page Views per Visit
  4. Mobile Click-to-Calls
  5. Mobile Click-for-Directions
  6. Average Length on Website
  7. Bookmarks
  8. Form Submissions

As stated, these SEO ranking factors revolve around your website, how user-friendly it is and the quality of the content. If you have great content and truly add value to the online world, visitors to your website will stay longer, bounce less, click through more pages & eventually visit or contact your business. Search engines take these factors and assess them for their value in the overall ranking of local SEO.

Change Year over Year

We can see that this category of SEO Ranking Factors increased a dramatic 2.6% from 2014 to 2015. What this tells me is that Google and the other search engines are requiring that a website not only be built properly, but be relevant to users and searchers.

With this massive jump (138% increase over last years rank weight), we can see that the quality of the content and the structure of the website alone will not only be a major factor in ranking.

While still only 9.5% of overall SEO ranking factors weight,  this signal gives some insight that in the near future, a website will be based more and more on how it performs and not just by the content, links, and structure.

Curious Increase in Rank Weight for Behavioral Signals Observation:

Whether it is an engineered plan by Google and other search engines or just an honest attempt at assigning higher SEO rank to websites that perform well with clients, it should be noted that purchasing paid advertisements through search engines, according to this report, would have an increased (and direct) affect on how a particular website ranks via increased behavioral signals like:

  • Website Visits
  • Click-through-Rate (CTR)
  • Page Views
  • Form Submissions
  • Time on Site
  • Page Views Per Visit

SEO Ranking Factors: Personalization – 8.5%

↑ 0.1% from 2014

Every person that searches the internet is different; thus, cookies and smart internet browsers cater a search to the tenancies of the searcher. For example, if a smartphone user tends to always look up Yelp listings on her local searches, her browser will instinctively show Yelp results higher than others.

This type of “personalization” in local SEO is completely out of the hands of the business or website; it is simply a reflection on the preference of the person who is making the search inquiry.

Change Year over Year

We can see that this category of SEO Ranking Factors increased 0.1% from 2014 to 2015.

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