Historically everyone in the SEO industry has known that building links to your website was a great way to get better rankings. Over time Google has put more and more pressure on to us SEO experts to make sure that those links are good quality and relevant, and not just coming from a host of sites that have nothing to do with the intended source. We have to spend a lot of time building good quality links these days if we are to show our clients real success.

Of late, there have been a number of people recently who have suggested that linking to your website may be something to avoid. That is a bold statement so I went in search of some answers.

SEO Factors

I cam across a good article from Rand Fshkin – Weighting the Clusters of Ranking Factors in Google’s Algorithm who is one of the industries leading experts over at Moz.

In this article what Rand has done is to go and ask a host of leading industry professionals what they believe is the most important factors when it comes to SEO and Google rankings. Now these answers are from Google itself, but they are coming from the senior guys who handle SEO with major companies, globally.

The findings were pretty interesting, hence I though it worth writing about to share the results.

Below you will see a good graphic of how the results turned out. Let’s take a quick look through them.

SEO Ranking factors

You can see the biggest ranking factor on the chart was the “domain level link authority features” such as the amount of links coming into a site and the quality & trust of those links.

At just under 21% it was not too much different to the second biggest ranking factor which was the “Page Level link factors” which includes things like Page Rank, quantity of link links, anchor text distribution, quality of link sources and item like that.

So that is a big chunk of the ranking factors that has to do with links coming into the site. And this is not me saying this, you have 128 well known industry experts who gave us their thoughts on this one.

The next section you will see is all about content in terms of the quality of that content and the relevance of it. We say all the time that quality content is a great way to improve your rankings and that is empathized in these findings.

The next few sections are all relatively similar in the 5 – 10% bracket but is is useful for us to highlight. Those sections are:

Page level, Keyword Agnostic features – content length, readability, uniqueness, load speed.

Domain Level Brand features – offline usage of brand / domain names, mention of brand / domain in news, media, etc.

User, Usage & Traffic / Query data – traffic / usage signals from browser, toolbars, CTR, etc

Social Metrics – Facebook shares, Google+, Tweets, etc

Domain Level Keyword Usage – for example exact match keyword domains

Domain Level keyword Agnostic Features – domain name length, TLD extension, HTTP response time, etc.

You can see there are a lot of factors governing the rankings in Google, and indeed the other search engines. It is not right to say that this case above is how it is, exactly. There are plenty of examples of websites that are ranking really well for specific search terms that do not follow the pattern above. As a general guide for website owners, and those involved with SEO, the data above is coming from a quality and trusted data source so it’s worth paying some attention to it.