A new study into the correlation of rankings factors in 2013 has been conducted by SearchMetrics and we are reviewing the key highlights from the study. The study was quite extensive, analysing 30,000 SERPs, 300,000 URLs, 1.25 billion Facebook shares, 1 billion tweets and 4.3 billion backlinks. Thanks for analysing that for us! Whilst it was an analysis of rankings in Google US we still feel it has relevance to us over the pond.

Here is our take on the findings and all you need to know from the report…

Social: The huge importance of Google+

Social is shown to be the most important ranking factor now, even ahead of backlinks.

Not only does this show that social networks are becoming more popular and more used, it is also showing that sharing of content is an integral ingredient to achieving search engine rankings.

Google plus is the most influential ranking signal, followed by Facebook shares, comments, likes, Pinterest pins and Tweets, in that order of importance.


The number of backlinks is still the second most important criteria, but interesting is the rise in the correlation with no follow links. Maybe another reflection of how social media is important to achieve rankings.


With the rise of social media endorsements the best way of increasing social citation is through good quality content. Good content will have internal links that reference other content within a site that is relevant, and the length of the content should be suitable lengthy that people feel it is meaty enough to be newsworthy. Both of these factors are in the top three ranking indicators for content.


Brands are able to get away with a higher percentage of links with branded anchor text keywords because they are seen as higher authorities. They are able to gain high volume of natural links whereas the mere commoners like us have to work for our brand exposure.

Despite having poor on-page performance in so many cases, brands are able to achieve top rankings from good off-page optimisation using brand anchors.

On-page SEO

Keywords in Domain or URL have lost a lot of importance, no longer having the benefit that we saw a year ago and certainly not having the same clout as exact match premium domains of 4/5 years ago.

The position of the target keywords in the anchor text are also important. Many of the on-page factors are seen as pre-requisites to a good site, not just good SEO.