Every end and beginning of the year, online marketing agencies, SEO tools, and web positioning professionals publish lists of positioning factors on Google, which they foresee will be relevant in the immediate future. It is a great exercise, and much to be appreciated since the day to day, sometimes, does not let us see what is to come. All these professionals spend their time generating very interesting content. For many years, we have the habit of following these types of publications that allow us to keep up to date with what, from their experience, can determine how to be on Google in the coming months.
Reviewing documentation, we have found the results of a study conducted by Search metrics, back in 2015 . This is an interesting annual study in which they have analyzed the SEO factors that were expected to be important for that year 2015 (divided according to categories) and how the best Internet pages use them. Which is undoubtedly a very interesting document. Search metrics, was founded in 2005. It combines the experience of SEO positioning, content performance, experience within online marketing, social media analysis and public relations, to develop a content strategy and thus place, focus on the customer. More than 100,000 users and more than 8,000 brands use the Search metrics suite to plan and execute your digital marketing strategies.
Every year they carry out an investigation on the SEO factors that they have detected the most relevant. Focusing in that year’s study on: technical factors, user experience, content, backlinks and social signals. This study in question is based on desktop search results . It should be remembered that although today (4 years later), the mobile is essential, at that time, although its potential was already anticipated, it was not as widely used.
The fact is that when reviewing that information, we have wondered if 4 years later these factors, with what Google has evolved, the world of SEO, the devices from which you can navigate, the greater connectivity between users, or globalization and improvement in Internet access… they were still relevant.
Meta Tags Title and description:
Obviously the title meta tag is still one of the jewels in the crown. The evolution of Google itself makes the relevance of keywords, as such, lower. However, understanding how to use the keyword in the title tag will always be an SEO advantage.
Regarding the description tag, and despite not being a factor that search engine robots take into account when indexing a web page, in the 2015 study, this tag was present in almost 100% of the pages. And today something similar happens. The explanation is very clear, and it is more than proven that a powerful text in the description tag brings many advantages to the user experience . It optimizes the search results, anticipates the content of a web and makes them improve values that Google if it takes into account, such as the CTR and the bounce rate. Factors that will help to improve positions in the SERP thanks to an adequate user experience.
The proportion of pages using H1 and H2 headings or tags was increasing compared to previous studies. A trend that 4 years later continues to increase, since it is clear that the headlines are still very relevant for search engines and in the same way, they provide information for users, which makes reading much easier by giving them a well-defined and organized structure. Facilitating the quick understanding of a page and highlighting the importance of the content.
As revealed by the 2015 study, the best pages of those analyzed are perfectly optimized at a technical level . Today the optimization of technical factors is an obligatory part of the work of any SEO, not so much for making a difference (as perhaps it was in 2015), but for not lagging behind competitors who surely do.
Keyword in the domain:
Not so many years ago, having the keyword in the domain had very positive effects on search engine positioning for that keyword. In 2015, the use of keywords in domains had dropped a lot and the main reason is that it is no longer such an important ranking factor. In 2021 the keyword in the domain contributes very little. Unless we are talking about projects very focused on super specific market niches, when choosing a domain it is not so necessary to put the objective in the keyword. It is much better to work with a brand, something that in the medium and long term will mean a more interesting value proposition.
It was a novel factor in 2015 and it was analyzed for the first time in this study. Logically, the proportion of pages that used it was increasing, which showed that the HTTPS protocol was increasing in relevance, and was even already one of Google’s ranking factors. At that time, this security protocol was not necessary for all URLs on a web page. It was only necessary for sites with a purchase option and for processes for collecting sensitive customer information. It was already important in 2015 and very useful for increasing conversion rates and trust . In 2021 it is essential, it is not understood that a web project does not have it. In fact, platforms such as Google Ads, consider it essential and sometimes reject a website if it does not have it.
HOME Impression Ratio:
The% of times that Google shows Home when doing a specific search was already a downward trend. It is a clear demonstration of Google’s effort to offer the user the best possible URL within a website, in response to their specific search. The Middle tail and the Long tail were starting to be very relevant. Something that in 2021 is fundamental. In most of the new projects, which seek to have an impact on Google, competing for the top keywords requires many resources. In general, a well-executed content strategy and working long-tail terms is a very interesting option.
Page size, loading speed.
According to the study and comparing the data with 2014, the size of the pages analyzed in 2015 had increased. However, the loading speed was lower , which was a very determining factor. Currently, the loading speed of a web page is one of the most important factors. Not only for Google, which has become a fundamental factor, but also in relation to user experience. Thinking especially of the increase in the use of mobile devices. A second or so in the loading speed of a website can mean the loss of a potential customer.
In 2015 the size of the URLs was increasing, reaching an average of more than 40 characters . Although the best analyzed pages were already beginning to optimize them, getting shorter URLs.
User experience was already a key factor in 2015. And that trend has been increasing. Today, the data that Google extracts after analyzing the browsing experience of users is essential for the ranking of a website. Therefore, thinking about optimizing at the SEO level for Google is important. But thinking about the user is much more so. Develop a page for your users and optimize it as best you can for search engines.
Number of internal links:
The generation of internal links was increasing already in 2015, it must be borne in mind that a greater number of internal links does not have to be more or less positive. What really matters is the optimization of these links, the internal information of the page and its coherent structure . The correct movement of the Link Juice will be of vital help for the user and for Google. Something that has been shown to be very important and is one of the factors that SEOs take into account in 2021. The generation of links is closely related to the web structure, which is very relevant in any online project that still has options to position. in search engines.
Number of images or videos:
The use of images was already on the rise in 2015. Today it is still a very important content resource. Its use is very beneficial because it increases time on the page (especially with videos) and therefore improves the user experience. In addition, searches for “Google Image” are constantly increasing, with this Google image search engine being a parallel positioning market that SEOs do not usually miss.
Time on site, page views and Bounce rate:
These two results are very defining about the user experience on our page. As a general rule, a low time on our site is a signal to act on the content. The bounce rate, in turn, can be an indicator of whether what the user expects before entering our website is what we really offer. They are factors closely related to the type of page, so they must be analyzed according to the web. But they are basic points in the user experience. Therefore, when planning a web page, you must bear in mind that offering the user what they are looking for is a great advantage (at all levels). And that is only achieved with a project based on previous research, market and competitor research, keyword analysis and determination of search patterns.
SEO factors: quality content will always matter
Before commenting on and analyzing some specific aspects derived from that report from 4 years ago, I want to emphasize that one of the most important SEO factors is content. It is not that you cannot generate a project that positions itself in a specific niche and whose objective is to monetize in a short time. Of course, there are many techniques that allow you to position a page without the content being relevant. But this is not what we advise in medium and long-term projects. Marketing strategies based on content generation are a safe bet. Of course, you have to create that content based on what the user expects to find and knowing how to optimize it at the SEO level.
Number of words:
The number of words used by the pages analyzed in 2015 was increasing. In this sense there is a great difference today. 4 years ago, the amount of content in a URL was considered an important value in reference to the options of positioning. It was very clear that a longer content positioned better than a short one.
In the middle of 2021, we know that this relationship between the amount of content and positioning is not real. That is, it is not a question of a content, being longer, positioning it better. But a longer content, well worked, with relevant information, written based on keywords detected from the study of users’ search patterns, and well optimized at the level of SEO On page, offers more options when it comes to it gets indexed by Google. In fact, the important thing about content is not its size, but the ability to offer something interesting to the user. It does not matter so much how many words you have used, but what words.
In 2015, the best pages analyzed had increased the percentage of the keyword in the content, enhancing that specific term and giving it a higher density. Nowadays, the density of the keyword does not matter so much, but knowing how to provide the content with adequate semantics. The chosen keyword should have a higher presence (as long as it is justified at the content level) with a density of between 2% and 3%. But we must know how to surround it with synonyms. In this way we will ensure that our content is more complete at a semantic level and that Google identifies that URL with more terms, getting more positioning options.
Social signals were a very strong ranking factor in 2015 . The top-ranked pages had a lot of presence on social media . Google insisted that “likes”, “retweets”, etc … were not a factor to analyze, but it is clear that there is a relationship between social signals and improved rankings. It supposes an improvement in the knowledge of the brand, which brings more visits and better consideration for the user.
Today Social Networks invade our mobile devices. In fact, a complex situation is beginning to emerge and that is, many users no longer read blogs, but all they consume at the level of online content is via social networks. This implies that brands (and businesses in general) must be able to generate communities that access their content. This does not mean that a web page with a blog no longer makes sense, far from it. But if you have to start thinking that networks are the best breeding ground where you can generate customers.
For many years, links have been the absolute basis for search engine positioning , for that very reason it has historically been one of the most manipulable aspects (or rather, the one that has been tried the most to manipulate). Search engines are learning to understand content better, however links are still one of the most relevant aspects of SEO work. It was fundamental in 2015, they are in 2021 and they will be at any time.
The backlinks (inbound links):
Among the SEO factors analyzed in 2015, the value of inbound links or backlinks is still very high. Although there has been a constant loss of value in its importance since 2013. All the pages analyzed in the best positions of the SERP stood out for having many more links than the rest . To this day, links from third-party pages continue to be a reference for Google of the authority of a website. That is why they will always be very important. But you have to start thinking (as is the case with content), that quality is more important than quantity.
Look for links from domains with similar themes, with good authority, with good user experience. Work to be linked in the medium term thanks to what your website proposes (for example, through the creation of unique and interesting content).
At the same time, in 2015 there was a decrease in the use of the specific keyword in the anchor text of the links. It is quite normal considering Google’s fight against unnatural links and abusing the keyword was already a bad sign. Although still used heavily, the semantic web will not need to overuse the keyword as much . It is a decrease that is appreciated year after year.
Regarding the links, their age is another SEO factor that in 2015 was already receiving attention. The best positioned pages in the SERP (from that study) prove to be older, therefore their backlinks are older. To this day, having quality links with old age and having an increase of the same progressive ones is one of the basic impulses in any project.
The reality is that the SEO factors that Google takes into account to display one web page or another for a search determines, it depends, above all, on the ability of those results to satisfy the need for that query made by a user . That is never going to change because Google’s recognized purpose is to be able to display “all the information in the world” for free. Therefore, one of the most relevant factors will be the ability to generate high-quality content.. If you have resources to offer unique, quality and useful content for the user, rest assured that Google will know. Sooner or later your project will have visibility. Google will understand this derived from the analysis of user behavior on your page (among many other things). Therefore, taking care of the user experience will always be key for the search engine to take you into consideration.
You may think that this has a double handicap, many pages do it (there is a lot of competition) and it requires allocating a lot of resources. Despite what you may think, writing is not that simple. And it is true, in fact, an Internet business model is based on the massive generation of relevant content, positioning you for terms with little competition. In this way, visits are multiplied in a relatively short time (and since third-party links are very valid content). Which implies that after time the volume of web traffic can be very high and very well established. It can be monetized by selling product or directly with advertising. The message you should stay with is to bear in mind that the content strategy is always a valid solution and available to everyone (at least to a greater or lesser extent). Obviously there are sectors more prone than others. But in general, content optimized for long-tail terms is an asset to play.
On the other hand, for Google there is another very important SEO factor. They are the links from other pages , since for the search engine they are a sign of health. And it really makes a lot of sense, if a page receives links from others, Google will understand that it is more relevant. In addition to visiting it more frequently since more sites recommend it and facilitate access. The problem with links (link building) is that you have to work very carefully. Ideally, your content is so good (we return to the subject of content), that they link you because you add a lot of value to other people’s content. This is not easy, that is why the achievement of links is worked, let’s say, less natural. And it is something common, it should not scare you. That is if you do it with your head, according to a plan and that they seem as natural as possible.
Another issue that never fails is optimization at the On Page level . It is true that it is no longer such a differentiating factor, because we all do it, however, optimizing a project based on a study of competitors, keywords and on the understanding of search patterns, will be an added value that can mark the difference.
And I don’t want to forget about the more technical factors . Mastering them is probably not available to everyone, but that does not mean that we forget them because they are very relevant for SEO. As well as knowing how to adapt to what is coming, such as voice search, changes in the buying habits of users on the Internet, or the rise of social networks.