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SMX East 2017

With loads of guesswork and assumptions, the debate about Google ranking factors is never-ending and evolves with every algorithm update. What’s on the rise, what’s on the decline, and what still works? This first session we figured out the key elements that will deliver maximum SEO success as we move into the coming year and beyond.

Olga Andrienko
Head of Global Marketing, SEMrush, @olgandrienko

Herndon Hasty
Digital Marketing Manager, The Container Store, @herndon

Marcus Tober
Founder/CTO, Searchmetrics Inc., @marcustober

Barry Schwartz
News Editor, Search Engine Land, RustyBrick, @rustybrick

Website Security

Here is what they found, HTTPS (security) not a major ranking factor, however, it may increase conversion rates which can help in the long run.

Pro tip: Always move to HTTPS even though it may not be a massive factor, but in the long term it can help with conversions and ultimately build trust.


In this study, 35% of domains ranking for high volume keywords don’t have the keyword in title.
Keyword existence in the anchor doesn’t have any significant importance for rankings. Even for high volume group only 8% of link anchors include the keyword.

Check pages with higher bounce rate and keywords these pages rank for. Make the content more relevant to reduce the bounce rate.

Content Length

Make sure your content length is sufficient. Make sure it’s relevant and matches user intent. Check your competition and make sure they don’t outperform in terms of length or amount of words – but keep it relevant.

Website Traffic

Major indicator when looking at direct pages. Number of visits matters for high volume keywords. For lower volume keyword the impact is insignificant.
Search traffic has no significant impact on rankings.

Backlinks still matter for SEO. proper high quality link building will help you rank higher for keywords with volume of less than 10,000 queries.

Research at a Glance

  • Backlinks still matter for SEO, especially for keywords with <10k volume.
  • User behaviors impact your rankings
  • Keywords in tags have become less significant


Forget about correlation!

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