2017 has been quite a year, and with it has come a handful of changes to the SEO world. If you work in SEO, you know that ranking algorithms are always changing and being refined. Therefore, search engine ranking factors are consistently changing as well. With each year that passes, some ranking factors that once had a huge impact on your placement in search results no longer matter as much, and new ranking factors take their place. When new ranking factors emerge onto the scene, it’s usually due to advancements in technology or user behavior, or a bit of both. Let’s take a look at what it takes to be a ranking contender in 2017…
The keyword dynamic is changing. A large-scale study on ranking factors revealed that 35% of the domains that ranked for high-volume keywords did not have the keyword in the title. This means that keywords in page titles are either becoming less important as a ranking factor, or Google is getting better at understanding context. In fact, there aren’t many links these days with keywords in the anchor text. Only 8% of link anchor text included a keyword, even amongst high volume keywords.
Website security is gaining a lot of tractions as a ranking factor in 2017, and will likely remain an important aspect of your website for quite some time. It was found that 65% of domains who ranked in the top three positions were already secured with an SSL certificate. Not only does switching your site over to HTTPS make your site more secure, but it also makes visitors feel more comfortable knowing they are navigating a site that is better protected from nefarious online activities.
Content is king, and content length is certainly a ranking factor in 2017. The large-scale study found that content length had a positive impact on search rankings. Furthermore, pages in the top three positions had content that was, on average, 45% longer than content ranked further on down the page. With some clients, it can be hard to come up with content pieces that run over a certain number of words. But, go forth knowing that lengthier content means higher rankings in search results.
These are just a few the ranking factors that influenced results in 2017. As we rapidly approach the new year, only time will tell if these factors remain on top in 2018. For now, though, focus on these factors and you’ll likely see better rankings.