A few days ago, Google made a big announcement in one of its Q&A. Andrey Lipattsev, from the search engine team, just revealed the three most important ranking factors in 2016. Link, content and RankBrain are the factors on which you should focus all your efforts. Even if other factors (you can find a great periodic table of them on the Search Engine Land blog) still influence your SEO (there are more 200 ranking signals), here are the three most important ones.
We are going to explain those three different factors but the big news concerns the RankBrain algorithm as it has been confirmed as a factor.
Links are still one of the most important ranking factors as they are seen as votes of confidence by Google. When someone links to your website, Google values it. Links were the first major “Off-The-Page” ranking factor used by search engines. But as you should know, some links are more valuable than others.
Link quality does matter. Links coming from authority websites will naturally have a stronger impact on your rankings. That’s why you should prefer having a few links from authorities rather than a bunch of medium or low-quality links.
“A link from any large, respectable site is going to be higher on the quality scale than a link you might get from commenting on a blog. In addition, links from those in your “neighborhood”, sites that are topically relevant to your site, may also count more.”(source)
Anchor texts are regarded by search engines as the way a website is describing another. Even if in most cases you can’t control the words used to describe your website, you can focus on opportunities to influence anchor text and optimize your SEO.
The number of links and their multiplicity can also influence your rankings as 1000 links from one site will have a lower impact compared to 1000 links from different websites. But don’t neglect quality. However, this metric is not as important as it used to be. If you need further details about what makes the quality of a link, you can refer to our article about the 20 metrics that influence the quality of a link.
Content is also part of the major ranking factors and the Panda algorithm is still confirming that idea. Content as a way to improve your SEO needs to be relevant, informative, fresh and qualitative. It includes text, pictures and videos. Google loves qualitative content as it provides users a great user experience. Great content also helps you drive traffic and improve conversions. Content has been a subject we have been discussing a lot of time on our blog. So feel free to search into our database.
RainBrain is a machine learning artificial intelligence system that provides betters understanding of search results. The AI system is teaching itself how to interact with links and content and delivers a better understanding of how search engines are ranking pages. But RankBrain is just a piece within the overall ranking algorithm because Google still uses a program to return relevant results to user’s queries through billions of pages. RankBrain will influence your rankings in the way that it interprets your content. So it is directly connected to the second ranking factor.
If you want to know more about RankBrain, you can read our previous article on the subject.