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Seeing as Google isn’t giving away their search engine ranking factors playbook anytime soon, many people working in the search industry work constantly to discern as much as possible about how the biggest search engine ranks websites. One group of those people are SearchMetrics, who release a yearly ranking factors study.

As of yesterday, SearchMetrics 2014 ranking factors study is available to study, and they claim this year’s is the largest study they have ever done, with almost 100 pages and dozens of new ranking factors to review such as time of site, bounce rate, fresh links, and others.

Most importantly the study may answer one of the biggest SEO questions of the year; is content really the new king of search marketing? According to this report, the mantra of the SEO industry over the past few months is in fact true, as Marcus Tober comments that content is “no longer an addition to, but is the main focus of, SEO.”

Barry Schwartz broke down the most prominent ranking factors for Search Engine Land if you want the quick version, or you can get the full report directly from the source here.

ranking factors

google-security-360A few weeks ago, Google announced they would begin favoring sites who switch to HTTPS in search results. At the time of the announcement, most of the SEO community was skeptical at best and few believed the HTTPS ranking factor would have any effect on rankings whatsoever. Well, it has been a couple of weeks and we have the verdict.

The skeptics were absolutely right.

SearchMetrics decided to evaluate whether HTTPS had any discernible effect on search results of any form. According to Marcus Tober of SearchMetrics, there is no data to prove HTTPS has any effect on Google rankings after the launch of the ranking factor.

In a nutshell: No relationships have been discernible to date from the data analyzed by us between HTTPS and rankings nor are there any differences between HTTP and HTTPS. In my opinion therefore, Google has not yet rolled out this ranking factor – and/or this factor only affects such a small section of the index to date that it was not possible to identify it with our data.

Tober shared his data along with his report, and it all matches all the anecdotal evidence available as well. Site owners across the web rushed to update their site to the new favored HTTPS, but there is nary a single story I could find suggesting it had any ranking influence at all.

At the time of the announcement, Google did suggest that switching over could possibly influence rankings, but they also called it a “very lightweight signal” so there’s no need to grab your pitchforks. But, these results may have some lessons for those who were expecting and easy and quick ratings boost with minimal work.