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SEO Ranking Factors 2014 Study Released By SearchMetrics

Date Tuesday, 09 September 2014 Michael Bunn , In: Digital Marketing

SEO Ranking Factors 2014 Study Released By SearchMetrics

SearchMetrics ( have released their in depth study of the ranking factors that lead to strong SEO performance in 2014’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This year’s study document can be downloaded here.

The study offers a detailed insight into the factors that affect organic search listings within Google’s results pages, based on the U.S. Google index. Plenty of information and analysis can be taken away from this data. We’ve broken down the report with the key findings you should be implementing in your SEO efforts.

Onpage Technology

  • Keyword presence continues to hold importance for SEO, more often than not made use of in the page title, description, body content and H1 tags. However, keyword stuffing certainly shouldn’t be carried out.
  • Site load speed is an important ranking factor, with top pages loading significantly faster than pages in lower ranking positions.
  • Strong site structure is essential.

Our tip: Ensure your site has a good balance of internal links, keep the site up to date and well-maintained, aim for minimum page load times and ensure page Meta titles and descriptions are present.

Onpage Content

  • Quality of content has become more important, with top ranking sites having more text and relevant supplementary content than lower ranking URLs.
  • Good internal linking between content is crucial.
  • There is a trend towards holistic content targeting whole topics rather than individual search terms or keywords.
  • Integration of onpage advertising has decreased for sites in top ranking positions.

Our tip: Try and use higher word counts on pages, making use of holistic content with a range of keywords and terms relevant to topic. Include supplementary content and other media such as images and videos and avoid advertising on pages where possible.


  • Quantity and increasingly, quality of backlinks still play a large role in search rankings.
  • Anchor text containing keywords has decreased again since last year.
  • Top ranking pages tend to have more new links, more referring domains, more links from new domains and more deep links.

Our tip: Aim for a balanced ratio of homepage to deep links, with anchor text focused on brand name or domain name, not keywords.

Social Signals

  • Social signals correlate strongly to better rankings, with Facebook ahead of Google, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Higher ranked sites have more social cues than sites lower down in results pages.
  • Social signals help indicate new content on a site.

Our tip: Continue to create good content – likes, plus ones, shares, tweets etc. help search engines identify where good content is. Although social media plays a role in ranking your site, it only has a very small influence so ensure not all of your focus is placed here.

The Brand Factor

  • Brands have risen to the top of search results, regardless of certain factors not being fulfilled that some of the lower ranked sites have.

User and Traffic Signals

  • Top ranking sites have higher click-through rates and a longer amount of time spent on site by users than lower ranked sites.
  • Bounce rate is lower for higher ranked sites.

Our tip: Make use of analytics software to see how pages are performing – look at pages that have high bounce rates for instance and see how these may be improved.

Overall Ranking Factors

If you wish to achieve top search rankings then all of the factors talked about must be considered and implemented. You won’t gain the positions you seek by simply incorporating a few of these here and there. Search engine algorithms are becoming more complex and multifaceted, with rankings determined by many different factors combined.

Although all factors should be considered, one of the main keys to success lies with content. This has become the main focus of SEO, with relevant, great quality and holistic content achieving the best results in the search rankings.

Michael Bunn

Michael Bunn

Digital Director

Mike officially joined Blue Frontier in 2015 when the company acquired Dynamics Digital. Mike was the founder of DD and built the business up single-handedly. He combines genuine, market leading expertise with strong leadership and heads up the Blue Frontier Digital Team. The addition of the skills and experience of DD has meant that Blue Frontier can now offer a full end-to-end digital service. Mike sits on the board of directors, and is instrumental in guiding BF marketing strategy.

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