Ranking Factors 2.0

+5 backlink-related factors
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How will you benefit from the study?
In June 2017, SEMrush conducted its first Ranking Factors research, based on the scope of 600,000+ keywords, in order to shed light on what really impacts search results. We analyzed the 12 most prominent and controversial factors and came up with a conclusion that direct traffic is the top ranking factor these days.
But we didn’t stop there. Now we’re ready to present the updated version of the study, with a whole new chapter focused on additional 5 off-page SEO factors - from total volume of backlinks to anchor texts. This way, the number of factors analyzed is now 17, which will help SEO specialists get a bigger picture of how their efforts may influence their positions in SERP.
What’s new?
Besides adding 5 backlink-related factors, we also analyzed all the factors at a more granular level: we explored how each factor influences not only the entire domain, but also a single URL in rankings, in order to figure out the pros and cons of ‘URL specific’ versus ‘domain-wide’ approach to SEO.
Read the updated study to find out how (and if at all) you should refocus your optimization efforts to see your rankings grow.
Ranking factors analyzed
Direct website visits
Time on site
Pages per session
Bounce rate
Total referring domains
Total backlinks
Total referring IPs
Total follow-backlinks
Content length
Website security (HTTPS)
Total anchors
Keyword in anchor
Keyword in body
Keyword density
Keyword in title
Keyword in meta
Video on page
not important important
is the difference in content length between Top-3 and 20th position
of domains ranking for high-volume keywords are HTTPS
is the difference in the number of referring domains between the 2nd and 10th positions in high-volume segment
is the bounce rate for the domains ranking within Top-3
of domains ranking for high-volume keywords don’t have the keyword in the body
pages are visited per one session when user lands on the website from search
more referring domains link to websites on the second position than to websites on the first — “branded keywords drop”
times more backlinks lead to URLs on the first position than to the URLs on the second — “high-volume spike”
of backlinks contain a keyword in the anchor text
Top 100 positions
for 600,000+ keywords gathered
Each page and domain analyzed
in terms of 17 factors including on-page factors, backlinks, traffic data on domain and URL level
Keywords grouped by search volume
low (1-100); medium (101-1,000)
high (1,001-10,000); highest (10,001 and up)
Search volume groups segmented
by long-tail & short-head
Machine learning algorithm applied
to determine the importance of ranking factors
For more details about the Random Forest algorithm and other methodology specs, read the article “SEMrush Ranking Factors Study 2017 — Methodology Demystified
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