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Every year, Moz publishes a complete review of the search ranking factors that most influenced the search results pages for the year. Now, they have released their latest study, which they say is the largest they have yet to do.

The study attempts to lift the veil on Google’s search ranking factors by surveying industry experts and using correlation studies to measure the search results and rankings. This year, Moz interviewed over 150 leading search experts, as well as using data from their own correlation studies and data from SimilarWeb, DomainTools, and Ahrefs.

The most notable finding from the new study is that, despite continuous cries of “links are dead”, links to the domain and page level are still the highest ranking factor for Google. The lowest factors included in the study were social metrics, TLDs, and basic on-page markup such as schema.

The infographic below summarizes the findings of the study, but you can also see the full study for more in-depth details.

rankingfactors-info

Every year, Moz details the local ranking factors they can identify in Google’s algorithm to help small businesses get a foot up in the listings. Earlier this week they announced the release of this year’s findings and everything seems… surprisingly the same.

Analysts have only found a few notable changes, but the findings are largely the same as last year’s. However, David Mihm did highlight a few important things to notice in the findings, including:

  1.  Behavioral signals such as click through rate, are more of a factor this year that others.
  2. With Pigeon‘s release, experts are saying Domain authority is more of a signal today.
  3. Google may have tuned up the proximity to searcher factor as well.

You can see the charts from the study below, or you can get more details from the results over at Moz.

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Source: Search Engine Roundtable

Source: Search Engine Roundtable

Chances are you are just beginning to get adjusted to Google’s widely-talked about search engine result pages (SERPs), but you may not have noticed the smaller details that have been tweaked to make the page look clean and coherent. For example, several eagle-eyed members of the SEO community have noticed that the redesign appears to have affected the visible title tag length for results.

The title tag, or the blue clickable link in the Google search results, doesn’t really have a defined number of characters allowed. It isn’t like Twitter, where you have a hard character limit. Instead, Google uses an algorithm to determine exactly how many characters are shown.

Obviously, Google hasn’t disclosed the details of their algorithm, but Pete Meyers from Moz says the title lengths range from 42 to 68 characters allowed, with most showing 57 to 58 characters.

Most importantly, this change has no direct impact on rankings. Google still reads your entire title and uses everything to helped determine rankings. However, this could make some titles less click friendly or attractive as they used to be.

You won’t be punished directly by Google for using the same strategy you previously have for titles tags, but you might refine your technique slightly to keep future titles as appealing to readers as possible.

Top 20 Local Search Ranking Factors

Local ranking has grown into its own over the past couple years. A combination of increased visibility and more shoppers using their smartphones to find local business on the go has made local SEO a significant part of online marketing and it can almost be treated entirely seperate from traditional SEO practices. By that I mean that while traditional SEO will still help your local optimization efforts, local SEO has its own list of unique ranking factors that local marketers have to keep in mind.

Starting in 2008, David Mihm began identifying and exploring these unique local SEO ranking factors. After 5 years, Local Search Ranking Factors 2013 has found 83 foundational ranking factors. Each factor helps decide your placement in online search results and how well you manage all of these individual factors help how you end up ranking. They can be the difference between a boost in business and a heightened profile in your market or a wasted investment and floundering online presence.

While you can find the full list of ranking factors on the Moz page for Local Search Ranking Factors 2013, the Moz team also took the time to create an illustrated guide to the 20 most important ranking factors for local businesses. While none of the factors they illustrate will come as a surprise to an experienced local marketer, they will help new website owners get their business out of the middle and in the top of the local market.

Keeping up with the local search ranking algorithm can often be at best confusing and at worst a complete mystery. It seems there are just as many, if not more factors involved, yet less coverage of exactly what search signals Google is using for local businesses. That can make it very difficult to know where to put your focus.

There are so many places you could put your energy too. Should you focus on the completeness of your Google Places profile? Or maybe citations and reviews are more important? Is your business hurt just because it isn’t near the center of the city? All of those are considered, and that is just skimming the surface.

While Google probably isn’t going to be delivering definitive answers about their search algorithms any time soon, David Mihm and Moz are working to find the answers with an annual survey focusing on local search ranking factors. They released their report of their findings for the year already, but Doublespark took their concise results and turned them into an infographic.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

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Source: WikiCommons

Everyone working in SEO knows that Google has a multitude of factors they use to determine the order of search engine results, and the majority of these ranking factors are based on either the content of the webpage or signs of authenticity or reputability. That was the case for the longest time, but since 2010, Google has made significant shifts towards a focus on usability, and the harbinger of this change was the inclusion of website speed to ranking factors.

The problem is, website speed and other usability issues aren’t exactly objectively defined. What exactly is a slow loading site? What is the cutoff? No one has gotten a definitive answer from Google, but in June Matt Cutts explicitly stated that slow loading sites, especially on mobile platforms will begin seeing search rank penalties soon.

Obviously these changes are good for searchers. Searchers want sites that load quickly, offer quality user experience, and deliver great content. And, the emphasis on speed is certainly highlighted on mobile platforms where on-the-go users are likely to go back to the results if the site takes too long for their liking. The issue we face as search optimization professionals is trying to figure out exactly what Google is measuring and how that information is being used.

Matt Peters from Moz decided to break through Google’s intentionally vague information to figure out exactly how site speed affects rankings with the help of Zoompf. They can’t explicitly disprove causation between site speed and rankings, due to the number of other algorithmic ranking factors that complicate the study. But, their results did show very little to no correlation between page load time and ranking.

I wouldn’t take this information as gospel, but it does suggest that loading time isn’t a huge consideration into long tail searches and doesn’t need to be worried about too much. If your site is loading quickly enough to please the people coming to it, your site will also likely pass Google’s expectations.