Every year the guys over at Search Metrics publish their ranking factors that they calculate based on analysis of their SERP data and website data from a data pool of 10,000 keywords which are picked from keywords with the highest search volume. From these keywords the guys pull the top 30 ranking websites to use for their analysis. It always makes for interesting reading and it is worth noting that you should, as with any part of SEO, use your own judgement along with these results and use them to guide your strategies.
1. Average Load time of the websites in the top 30 is a mere 1.27 seconds, you should look to use CDN’s and optimising your website using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to highlight areas that you can improve your websites load time.
2. There are an average of 130 internal links on the sites in the top 30
3. Better Content = Better Rankings, now this is simple and it is mentioned on about every blog that you read “Content is King” but it does show that the websites with better content rank better. The average character count on the pages that ranked well was 77,169, now that is a few more than a twitter status. Make sure that your content is high quality and covers the subject well (where needed, you don’t need to write an essay about a simple topic). Use the Flesch Scale to check the readability of your content and ensure that it is not to difficult to read.
4. User experience is also key, optimise your websites user experience and internal link flow, more links are better but only if they are relevant. Add pictures and videos to your pages, pages with more images performed better in the rankings.
5. 9/10 site on page 1 have at least one internal, self referencing link.
6. Websites that perform better in the SERPs have more deep links pointing to their website. Ensure that you have variety in your link building, promote internal pages/articles and products to build links throughout your website and not just to your homepage.
7. The vast majority of your anchor text should be unique, “It seems as Google treats links as unnatural when they are linked with the same keyword/anchor text. It seems very unlikely that a large number of webmasters would link to the same page independently using the same anchor text”
8. Social signals as a ranking factor are decreasing but are still high, Use social as a footing for your brand building and not to directly affect your rankings.
9. The better the websites Click Through Rate the higher its ranking, this makes sense, a website that is of high quality and entices people to visit it is regarded by Google as a more authoritative source of information for the given phrase.
10. Websites with their domain name (without its .tld) as its most used anchor text rank better than those with something different. (e.g. ‘seocandy’ as our most used anchor text).
You can see the full report here along with this great infographic that the guys have pulled together;