42 responses

  1. Lumin
    July 18, 2011

    This is an amazing write up. I haven’t checked out the academic paper, book look forward to it.

    I’m particularly surprised about what the study says about both domain and page age.

    I would have thought domain age was a bigger factor…and for page age to be negatively factor is surprising as well.


  2. Jim Rudnick
    July 21, 2011

    @Ted…while I’m still working my way thru the paper, this blog piece is very well done!

    As an SEO practitioner I was also more than surprised, that this blog piece plus the paper itself has (as yet anyways) NOT been widely promoted by others…seems like coconutheadphones is a spot that not many come to…cept those of us who really “hunt” for great SEO blogs.

    Hat’s off, Ted….great catch here!




  3. Alexander Kasten
    July 22, 2011

    Great article!

    Any chance we’ll get to read your posts on google+ soon?


  4. precom BLOG
    July 22, 2011

    looks really interesting.weight of some ranking factors seem to be a bit strange, but i will check out at my own pages.


  5. SEO Analyst
    July 23, 2011

    Thanks for sharing this.
    It’s really nice information for SEO peoples.


  6. Erik
    July 23, 2011

    @Lumin – Page age as a negative factor can be balanced out by external link freshness.


  7. Christoph C. Cemper
    July 24, 2011

    Hi and thanks for this really amazin post and paper.
    I do appreciate the time and effort you have made with the experiment but have to point out a MAJOR flaw in your experiment.

    The keyword sets you have chosen four categories are Linux commands, chemical elements, as well as music and astronomy terms.are all what we as SEOs call “non-commercial” or low competiive words. In other words, people don’t do SEO for it b/c it usually doesn’t have the potential to make big money as is in financial, health or insurance keywords for example.

    That being said in this case leaving out the whole “link graph” including anchor text distribution didn’t affect the results probably as it would have in other keyword group categories.

    The wrong assumption is also that Google does use “one” weighting for variables – this is the major flaw in SEOoz “ranking factors” as is with this paper. Truth is that based on the theme the ranking factor weighting works differently… heavily linked/SEOed industries work different than low-competition areas where on page factors as listed might make the major difference.

    I do however believe this is awesome material to start from and I would love to see this repeated for keywords like “credit cards”, “home insurance” or “digital camera” to name a few high potential keywords.

    Best regards
    Christoph C. Cemper


  8. Jason
    July 28, 2011

    Great article Ted and I appreciate the additional insights provided by Christoph.


  9. Christoph
    August 12, 2011

    really good article. That the anchor text is not so important is new to me and I would not expect. I made the experience, that Keyword rich domains are extremely useful, especially if they have no dashes in it.


  10. Ted Ives
    August 19, 2011

    Correction – the “ANCH” factor (anchor text of links pointing externally) as originally published here had a typo weight of “.95”, it should read “.05”. I’ve corrected it.


  11. Frank
    August 20, 2011

    Thanks for the great review of the paper. These factors don’t really surprise me, as all this stuff is already mentioned by Google themselves in their SEO-Guidelines (except from facebook likes and twitter) but I am happy to see this confirmed by a third party and that i have done quite a good work with my websites so far.


  12. Michael
    August 24, 2011

    Thanks vor this Articles.



  13. Jason K | Webfor
    September 9, 2011

    Very interesting article. You know, even if the findings aren’t 100 percent accurate, at least it gives you a fairly good idea of what to concentrate on in SEO.


  14. Karen Madson
    October 2, 2011

    The timing of this article is amazing, I own a small bookkeeping firm Able Bookkeeping and have been trying for some time to optimize my website http://www.ablebk.com for 1st or 2nd position on Google for the keyword phrase bookkeeping Rogers. Through all of my reading I had come to the conclusion that I would be better off starting over with a new url http://www.bookkeepingrogers.com and putting all of my efforts into that url. I published this new url this morning and hope to have a better ROI like you described in your article. I wish I had read this article 6 months ago. (Great Article)


  15. Christopher Evans
    October 11, 2011

    Great Piece Ted. Working through the white paper now. Fantastic blog all around. Thank you !


  16. Anthony young
    October 11, 2011

    Thank you so much for this easy to understand, SEO best practice piece and the link to the paper of which you have adapted. Great blog


  17. Hape Etzold
    October 25, 2011

    Thanks a lot. Just was looking onto the backlinks of a client with Google Ranking <30. Although the client has more and better backlinks he is outranked by a competitor with poor backlinking (top 10), but main keyword combination in the domain name.


  18. Mikhail Tuknov
    December 4, 2011

    Ted, thank you for sharing this great information with us. I think as you have mentioned, Search engines change their algos all the time to confuse se optimizatiors, but if you follow the simple well established, white hat seo methods, you will be fine. Simple optimization, content, links!


  19. Masood
    December 20, 2011

    Hi, Ted
    Thanks for sharing this interesting and thorough study. keep writing good thoughts.


  20. Barry Adams
    January 11, 2012

    It appears a good study on the surface of it, but the results do raise a few eyebrows. Aside from the keyword density factor (I’m sceptical as I’m a kw-density-naysayer) it lists meta description as a rather significant ranking factor. This is, of course, entirely false. Also the great emphasis placed on PageRank seems to collide with what we know about how (TB)PageRank actually works in Google’s rankings…


  21. Ted Ives
    January 11, 2012

    Barry, I think you’re right that meta-description is not a direct ranking factor, but I believe that it’s correlated to your CTR relative to your competition, in that a good meta-description increases your CTR. Some (myself included) believe Google is using relative CTR as a ranking factor:



  22. Barry Adams
    January 11, 2012

    Ted, hmmm, yeah, you could be right on that. Meta description – when Google bothers to use the one you’ve supplied instead of something else it thinks is more relevant – is definitely a CTR improvement opportunity, and if indeed the big G uses CTR as a factor (which it does in personalised search – I’m not so sure in unpersonalised results [but then, we see less & less of those]) then yes I suppose you could see meta description as an indirect ranking factor. Still, .50 seems a heavy value to me…. but then that might be consistent with the pervasive personalisation of SERPs.


  23. Ted Ives
    January 13, 2012

    Henry, I keep seeing comments like yours here, and I’m having a hard time understanding them – how can people state that PageRank, or keyword density (a previous commenter), or (pick your favorite factor) are not ranking factors as such?

    No one can, unless they’re either from Google and wrote the algorithm and know, or unless they run a massive correlation study and come up with some kind of evidence one way or the other. The study referenced above is very strong evidence..

    True, correlation does not imply causality so we should be wary, but what better evidence can we have than someone reverse engineering SERPs, training a machine learning program using variables pulled from the pages, checking it against test data, then pulling the variables weights out of their machine learning system? The evidence is in the numbers – the study is really strong evidence that PR matters, as is SEOMoz’s yearly correlation studies.

    Not trying to slam you in particular Henry, I just keep seeing these types of comments and I don’t understand why people have such a hard time believing numbers out of a pretty scientific study. Is it because of what they’re hearing around the industry? Caveat Emptor in that case. Google even says they still use PageRank, right on their website under “Technology Overview”.

    Reminds me of this story!


  24. Ted Ives
    January 16, 2012
  25. BRAVI
    August 3, 2012

    Very interesting perspective – particularly on the usage of anchor text. Obviously low hanging fruit of on site optimization needs to be handled first. Good stuff!


  26. Karen Madson
    August 23, 2012

    This is a follow up to a post I made in Oct, 2011. The new site I published with the keyword in the url has in fact done very well with only 2 backlinks. I just published another site http://www.eureka–springs.com to not only promote but also check the validity of keyword in url, title, description, and h1. I’ll check back in a couple of months and let you know. Thanks again for this site it is a great resource.


  27. Nick
    January 2, 2013

    Great post, nice little experiment.

    But Christoph is right, the keyword are non-commercial and low competitive. I think you should repeat this experiment for keywords like “buy viagra” or “payday loans”. You’ll get very different results.


  28. Barry Connolly
    March 6, 2014

    The title for this post completely sucked me in when I came across this!!! I thought I’d found something new…..several years late to the party.

    These ranking methods are very outdated now.


  29. Rakesh Desai
    March 28, 2014

    Very interesting and I completely roger with your PageRank stuff. Thanks for sharing, it make me clear about my thoughts for whole ranking strategy.


  30. Darren Walsh
    July 5, 2014

    Really great article on how Google looks at your site. There are a couple of things of interest that I will have to take note!

    Many Thanks


  31. Make Money Online
    October 8, 2014

    Excellent article. I wonder if Google still follows this with everyone writing about how irrelevant meta tags are now.


  32. Cheap Website Design
    December 7, 2014

    Great information, from the list above it seems most of these ranking factors were mainly on page SEO witch gets missed out on a lot of websites even in 2014. Thanks for sharing


  33. liam cobb
    September 19, 2015

    good article, iv worked on many peoples websites and the thing that astounds me the most is just how much people focus on links and forget all about there on page SEO



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