What are the most important factors to look at when you’re trying to rank? Well, Google won’t tell us exactly what’s important, but we can look as some correlation and determine what seems to be the most important. Of course, correlation does not equal causation, but if you look at what the top ranking pages all have in common, you can at least get a fairly accurate idea of what Google finds important for ranking a page in the top 10.
Every couple of years, the digital marketing giant Moz conducts an SEO survey. Essentially, they ask experts and look at the top ranking pages to see what they all have in common. We’ve addressed the 2013 list briefly in the past, but today, we want to go through it point by point. It’s full of a lot of interesting stuff, and we can’t wait to really dig into which factors have the largest affect on SEO.
Let’s get started!
For starters, let’s take a look at their raw results. These numbers show the correlation between the factor and the ranking. The higher the correlation, the bigger the affect the factor has on rankings.
1. Page Authority
The first factor you need to look at when determining how well a page is ranking is the Page Authority. This is the most accurate factor for a reason: it was custom developed by Moz to be the most accurate factor, and they did a wonderful job. Page Authority takes into account a myriad of other factors, and when you need a quick idea on how well a page is performing in SERPs, checking Page Authority is a great way to get it. You can check Page Authority with one of Moz’s paid tools, with a toolbar like SEO Quake, or with a free site like Moonsy.
2. Number of Unique Cblocks Linking to the Page
The next biggest factor, and in our opinion, the most interesting item on this list, is the number of unique cblock links. Here is a great description of what cblocks are all about:
Cblocks refer to the part of the IP address that’s different. The same class C address means something has the same third octect in the address. In the following, the first three IPs are in the same class C, and the fourth address is not.
The reason we care is that it’s a hint to Google that the sites are all related to each other and on the same server, and that the links may not be very natural since there is the good possibility that the same person set them up.
Clearly, cblocks are just another innovative way for Google to ensure no one is gaming the system.
3. Number of Unique IP’s Linking to the Page
This one is similar to Cblocks, but it refers to specific domains. This can be spoofed or spammed on the small scale, but when you’re talking about hundreds and thousands (and hundreds of thousands) of links, only the real McCoy will get you on page 1.
4. Number of Root Domains Linking to the Page
The root domain is the primary domain level. For instance, for Wikimotive, Wikimotive.com is the root domain. Being linked to from root domains is especially valuable because that is the primary area of most sites, meaning they value your page enough to link to it from somewhere that will more than likely be seen.
5. Number of Subdomains Linking to the Page
The subdomain comes at the beginning of your primary domain. For instance, many sites have a blog subdomain set up as blog.domain.com. Being linked to from a subdomain is important because these are still usually very active pages, but not quite as important as the root domain.
6. Number of Unique Cblocks with Followed Links to the Page
This is the same as number two, but with one important twist: these links are followed. When a link is followed (as opposed to rel=”nofollow”) it passes on the maximum amount of link juice. A followed link means that not only are you being referred to, you are trusted enough that the referring site doesn’t mind your site reflecting back on theirs.
7. Number of Unique IPs with Followed Links to the Page
This is the same as point 3 but with the followed link benefit. Followed links are better than nofollowed, but total links still win overall, hence why this is ranking factor 7 and the overall number is 3.
8. Number of Unique Domains with Followed Links to a Page
This is the same as the above again. You want as many links as possible from different pages, and you want as many of those links to be followed as possible. Never say no to a no-followed link though, as those still pass on juice and in aggregate have a lot of power.
9. Number of External Links to the Page (Followed and Non)
This is referring to the number of total links, followed and non, no matter where they come from. This used to be the primary ranking factor, and it’s the reason you still see so much link-spam all over the web. As you can see, it’s still an important factor, but don’t be mislead by how important it seems to be. Total volume of links is still important, but if those links are all garbage spam, you’ll be hit with a penalty as soon as you start to rank. That’s just the way it is in 2013, and there’s no getting around it.
10. Number of Unique Domains with Followed Links to the Subdomain
This is an interesting one. The ranking of your primary domain can be influenced by the links pointing at your subdomain. This is especially interesting because it shows that there isn’t a huge risk in hosting something like your blog on a subdomain, because it will still help the primary domain rank as it collects links.
11. Number of Subdomains with Followed Links to the Subdomain
This is the same as above but subdomains pointing at subdomains. What we’re learning from this list is that subdomains are as powerful as ever, and should be treated as such.
12. The MozRank of the Subdomain
MozRank is provided by SEO Moz and is another means of rating the value of a page to search engines. Pages are given a ranking from 0.00 (no value) to 9.99 (high value) depending on backlinks to the page and linking websites quality. To have a high MozRank, you need a quality page with a lot of quality links. This is similar to Page Authority in that it’s a good measure of ranking because it’s designed to be. Still, between MozRank and Page Authority, Page Authority is the winner.
13. Number of Root Domains Linking to Subdomain / 14. Number of Subdomains Linking to Subdomain
These are the same story again. Roots and subs linking to roots and subs. Again, the main takeaway here is that subdomains have almost the same amount of power as root domains. Use this to your advantage.
15. Domain Authority
Domain Authority is another ranking from Moz, and it predicts how well a site will perform in search engine rankings. The best use of Domain Authority is to compare your site to itself as it grows over time. It’s ranked on a 100-point, logarithmic scale. What that means is that it’s easier to move from 10 to 20 than it is to move from 70 to 80.
Page Authority measures a single page, but domain authority measures an entire domain including all of the subpages (but not subdomains).
Domain Authority, like MozRank and Page Authority, are easy to keep track of. They’re just numbers you can pull up through Moz, so do yourself a favor and keep track of them.
In the end, the overarching theme of this list is that you need links to rank, but as I said earlier, that is a little misleading. What you don’t get from this list is that the links need to be quality. Shoot for links and pay attention to your rankings, but remember that quality is more important than quantity these days. The high ranking pages have a lot of GOOD links, not just links. You can have more links than any other page in the world, but if they’re all garbage forum spam, you’ll be penalized, not rewarded.