Why You Rank Where You Rank: New Report from SEOMoz.org

August 31, 2009

To create the latest edition of their now biannual Search Engine Ranking Factors report, SEOMoz.org conducted a survey of more than seventy top SEO experts from around the world and compiled the results on a single information rich webpage.  The report is an essential read for anyone even slightly concerned with how their company’s sites rank and where they should focus their efforts to improve performance and I highly recommend reading it.

Interestingly enough, three of the top five factors from 2007 have simply bounced around this year’s top five.  Perhaps things don’t move quite as fast we think they do in the world of search?  Of 2007’s top factors, only domain age has dropped off the map in terms of importance, moving from the top five to barely a factor at all, with the more sophisticated measure of trustworthiness taking up the slack.

Here’s how the top five shape up:

1. Keyword Focused Anchor Text from External Links (#3 in 2007)

While Google’s official opinion of SEO practitioners seems to range from ambivalence to antipathy, optimized anchor text is clearly a more important factor than ever.  Descriptive anchor text (think “free press release podcast” rather than “click here“) acts as a signpost to readers and robots indicating what they should expect at the tail end of each link.  There’s no time like the present to start being more mindful in the words you choose for your hyperlinks.  In the case of press releases, Business Wire clients can use our keyword tool within the Press Release Builder to discover and optimize for relevant and frequently searched keywords in news searches.  Other popular tools include the Google AdWords keyword tool.

2. External Link Popularity (#2 in 2007)
3. Diversity of Link Sources

The more links the better!  Building links from a wide range of quality sites can be very effective to help you climb the search mountain and outrank competitors.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  A sustained linkbuilding effort may not always pay immediate dividends, but should reap rewards over time.  A periodic press release distribution can be a key component of your campaigns.

4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag (#1 in 2007)Much like anchor text, page titles benefit greatly from the inclusion of keywords and phrases that are important to your company.  Though not mentioned specifically in this section of the report, it’s widely considered a best practice to ensure your keywords are also within the first 60 or so characters of your page titles to ensure they show up to readers on Google, Google News, Yahoo!, Bing and elsewhere.  Also worth mentioning is that your release’s headline will also serve as your page title in the world of press releases.


5. Trustworthiness of the Domain

Trustworthiness refers to a site’s mozRank, which is a “10-point measure of global link authority or popularity . . . very similar in purpose to the measures . . . used by the search engines.”  The trustworthiness of a domain casts a wide net of influence across its rankings instead of a narrow range of search keywords.

Personally, my main takeaway from the report is that how you link and where you get links are as important as ever in helping you to achieve your search goals.  As always, press release distribution can be an essential component of your marketing-pr mix.  Where else can you create compelling and keyword rich webpages, links with custom anchor text, and push your message out to a broad mix of authoritative sites?


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