How To Rank Number 1 – 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors

SEOmoz has collected dozens of the world’s best search marketers to get their opinion on search engine ranking factors. This year, for the first time, SEOmoz presented correlation-based analysis with comments from this 132-person panel.  We also attended the webinar of these findings presented by Jamie Steven, and Matthew Peters, PhD of Applied Math.


SEO Moz 2011 Ranking Factors
Source: SEO Moz

Correlation and Causation Significance in Ranking Factor Analysis

To understand what the difference is between correlation and causation as the SEO Moz study presents see our examples below:

 Correlation and Causation Example:

  • In summer, there is an increase in people at the beach and there is also an increase in shark attacks.

There is a correlation here because both items increase and the correlation is directly proportional.  The causation exists because the shark attacks increase since more people are in the water.

Correlation only example:

  • In summer, beer sales increase. In summer, ice cream sales also increase. But beer sales do not increase ice cream sales so though there is a correlation between them there is no causation.

Thus, these factors mentioned in the SEO Moz study might be correlated to each other, but there is no proven direct cause between ranking improvement and one of these factors.

SEO Moz Ranking Factors Findings

This research shows several segments of the search-ranking algorithm such as page specific, link level features, and domain-level, keyword features.  Their Search Engine Ranking Factors study demonstrates the power of statistical analysis in SEO. This survey and statistical analysis provides us with a good idea of what the majority of internet marketers believe affects website rankings.

Since search engines do not disclose completely how their algorithm works, SEO professionals rely on each other for the best tips in ranking well. Now, with so much information out there, these tips and conclusions are subject to different interpretations.

One of the items in the study showed that websites that rank higher on search engines generally have a high volume of links or other unique features. This does not necessarily mean that those links are the reason these sites are ranked higher. Rather, it is because higher rankings and links are related or correlated.  Listed below are some other important factors that you should keep in mind when you are marketing on the internet.

Domain Level – Keywords

One of the most successful search engine marketing and optimization factors that you should remember is the inclusion of keywords throughout your website content and structure.  When your domain matches a search term exactly, this increases your chances of having a user click on your website in the results pages.  It’s important to remember, however, the more unrelated characters, especially punctuations, that are included in the domain search, the less chance the users will find your site.

The length of the domain name, the numeric characters, and the number of hyphens included the domain name all could negatively impact rankings. Try to have a domain name that includes keywords without punctuation or numbers, and no more than 3 hyphens.


 Branding is also another important element to search engines. It’s essential that many users recognize your site. Having your brand mentioned in nonaffiliated sites, such as social media sites like Facebook or Twitter will increase your search volume. The more you spread your brand in various places on the internet, the more users will visit your website. So, get your brand out there and create your trend.

 Page Level – Keywords

 In the same way as the domain level, keywords are extremely important. When users select specific words and search for something, they will look for those specific words in the result. It’s important to have the correct set of keywords present in title tags and content on your site.  As long as your site contains the information and relevant content, which users are looking for, your site will most likely to be viewed based on the popularity of their keywords. It’s always better to have keyword rich, descriptive tags so that users can easily make out what your website is about and decided if they want to click or not.  Remember users like to read interesting, valuable, unique content.

 Page Level – Social Media

Social media is often correlated with website rankings. Indeed, social media is a great candidate for best website advertising. For example, sharing the domain on Facebook, or having Facebook comments or likes are all influential factors in spreading your brand. Twitter also helps with circulating your brand, products or services. When someone tweets about your brand, it increases varieties of the audience and authority for your brand.  Also, tweet connections attract specific individuals based on their interest and needs. Additionally, when reputable or authoritative users in the social sphere make multiple references about your site through Facebook or Twitter, your site becomes more credible and preferable among the broad audience.

Page Level – Links

Links are also extremely important especially on an individual page level. The quantity of links definitely employs the keyword as part of the anchor text. Those links must be unique and contextual. The overall page authority is of course a necessity in boosting traffic, but root domains, partial match in keywords, and unique linking naturally back up your traffic volume.

In conclusion, just because there is a connection between ranking improvements and for example Facebook likes to a page, doesn’t mean the Facebook likes caused the ranking improvement.  Instead, it could mean the content was good in itself, which contributed to it being deemed valuable to users by search engines and that is why it was ranked higher. Your best bet is to do all of these items well, but always keep the user in mind.

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