With so many speculations and misconceptions about the search engine ranking factors Search Metrics have published their latest findings which examine all of the technical, onpage and backlink elements to see what actually make the website rank in 2015. In this first part we will examine technical elements that websites that rank in the top 30 positions share and have implemented.
1. Keyword in Domain URL
The significance of having a keyword within the domain name has now decreased even further and as a ranking factor have lost their previous effectiveness.
2. Secure Server or HTTPS
This is a new metric which have been confirmed by Google as a minor ranking factor earlier this year. However, this encryption approach is not for everyone and predominately important for the ecommerce websites that process sensitive client information. Secure websites will provide consumers with extra confidence and trust.
3. Url Lenth
Higher ranking urls are shorter as it seems the top spots are reserved and are currently taken by the homepages. The average number of characters in the top 10 ranking domain is 43
4. Home Page, Internal Pages and Subdomains
From all of the pages within positions 1-30 examined 90% pages that ranked positions 2-30 were internal website pages and the 30% of homepages ranked at position number 1.
Also, the most important content that need to rank in search engines should sit on the root domain rather than the subdomain.
5. Urls – .com versus other domains
Looking at all of the domains that rank within 1-30 search results it seems that most of the domains i.e. 84% are .com. Compared to the previous year the significance of having a .com domain extension have increased in 2015 according to Search Metrics.
6. Domain file sizes
From all of the domains that rank between positions 1-30 (average 25,171 bytes) the domains with larger files sizes ranked higher. However large file sizes could also affect the website speed, so it is important to keep an eye on the website speed.
7. Use of Flash On the Pages
The domains that had Flash incorporated ranked lower than the domains that did not use flash. The number of domains that ranked in the top 30 positions and had on-page flash elements have decreased compare to 2014.
8. Website Speed
Although Google stated the page speed is not a ranking factor, during the test of top 30 ranked pages we could clearly see that the pages of an average desktop load time of 1.16 seconds are ranking in the top 10 positions.
9. Meta Description
Optimized Meta Description improves the user experience, click-through rates and bounce rates, which will in turn improve rankings.
10. H1, H2, H3 Page Titles
The onpage title tags are an increasing ranking factor compared to 2014 as most of the website that rank in top 30 have optimized onpage title tags.
11. Brand Searches
Well-known brands often rank on the first page or occupy top positions, which means that brand and brand + keywords searches also influence the search results for generic keywords. Domains with a high SEO visibility also obtain higher rankings with their URLs due to search engine trust and authority.