New research from Searchmetrics, the leader in Search Experience Optimization which includes SEO and Content Performance Marketing, concludes that Google is now better able and more focused than ever on giving higher search rankings to good quality web content that is easy to understand and relevant to the search query. Positive user signals such as time on site help Google assign relevance values to content. The company’s analysis indicates the days are numbered for old-style SEO tactics such as link building or emphasizing relevant keywords and search phrases.
Additional new findings include the fact that on average 30% of sites that appear in the top 30 Google US search results use responsive design to optimize the search experience by automatically adjusting the format to suit a mobile, tablet or computer. As increasing numbers of users search on the move, responsive web design is more important.
In its annual study Search Ranking Factors and Rank Correlations – Google US 2015, Searchmetrics once again analyzed the top 30 search results for 10,000 relevant keywords and 300,000 websites appearing on Google.com. The aim of the analysis (which has been carried out every year since 2012) is to identify the key factors that high ranking web pages have in common and provide insights and benchmarks to help marketers, webmasters and SEO professionals. The study measures the correlation between the presence of a wide list of factors amongst high-ranking Google.com search results.
The most important findings include:
The most important message from the 2015 study is that as the trend away from keywords and towards relevant content is continuing, high-ranking sites are shifting their focus from using keywords based on search queries to trying to understand the user’s intention as a whole and reflecting this in quality, logically structure content.
Marcus Tober, CTO and Founder of Searchmetrics reemphasizes this finding: “Our research indicates that simplistic tactics that may have been effective in the past – such as increasing the number of keyword mentions on the page or using keywords in the domain name – are not enough to lift you up the search results. You need to try and understand the searcher’s intention and ensure your web content gives them the information they are looking for, ensuring you cover topics in sufficient detail.”
To download the full, newly designed Searchmetrics whitepaper please visit:
An infographic highlighting the results can be viewed here:
 Searchmetrics analysis reveals that high ranking pages tend to have content that is easier to read and understand using the Flesch readability scale. In 2015 the analysis has found that pages in the top ten search results have a slightly higher Flesh readability score than 2014, indicating that higher ranking pages are getting easier even easier to read.