As someone who deals with the fall out, daily, of these changes in search algorithms I often get asked "what are the core search ranking factors right now?" and the answer is usually Content is King and Social Media is currently a large-ish factor in search. Each week something changes in SEO and Digital Marketing, its an industry that is hard to predict - it's kind of why I love Digital Marketing it's always changing and there's a new challenge around the corner. But once in a while (well once a year) along comes a set of research results to please any SEO Consultant or Website Owner, the Moz Search Ranking Factors Survey. This year is a bumper year with 120 industry experts surveyed and the results compiled make interesting reading - as you can see below.
There is a lot of Data here. If its over your head don't worry, leave a comment and we'll get back to you with answers.
Expert Opinions on Ranking Factors
The data above (the survey data) demonstrates that keyphrase usage on pages is still a huge ranking factor along with backlink authority. The experts questioned didn't believe social was a big ranking factor - this is something I believe to be the wrong opinion, based on my report to Social Media Today about Google Penalty Checker Tools which has lots of competition and ranks highly without large numbers of backlinks but rather on the back of social media - it's ranks number one for the search term "google penalty checker tools".
On-Site Search Ranking Factors
The above data shows what I've always said to be true, Content is King. The top factors in the industry experts view is that unique content is a must, fresh content is awesome and that a mobile-friendly site (overall) is a key to success.
On-Page Search Ranking Factors
The graph above shows some interesting theories. Of course there is the standard things you'd expect. Interestingly though Keyword Density is lower than where I would have thought it should be given the number of recent blog posts about this, as is the case with anchor text for internal linking and the presence of keywords in heading tags.
How Domains Affect Search Ranking
From the chart above it is clear that the quality of backlinks is by far and away the most important domain-level search ranking factor, this is then coupled with anchor text and velocity of link growth. In essence the story is build quality links at a realistic pace, Search Engines know if you're trying to dupe them.
On-Site Social Media Search Ranking Factors
The details above demonstrate what I said earlier, social can effect search ranking. Unsurprisingly SEO Experts in this survey believe Google listens more to it's on social factors than those outside of the Google playground.
Enough Opinion Give Me Real Data!
Research Search Factors Correlation Data
As if the above wasn't enough data, here is a full set of correlation data gathered by Moz. It's fairly interesting to dive into as someone who loves data, but honestly if you are a website owner just use the information above and don't get hung up on the below.