We recently analyzed 11.8 million Google search results to answer the question:
Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?
We looked at content. We looked at backlinks. We even looked at page speed.
With the help of our data partner Ahrefs, we uncovered some interesting findings.
And today I’m going to share what we found with you.
Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:
1. Our data shows that a site’s overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher rankings.
2. Pages with lots of backlinks rank above pages that don’t have as many backlinks. In fact, the #1 result in Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions #2-#10.
3. Comprehensive content with a high “Content Grade” (via Clearscope), significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth.
4. We found no correlation between page loading speed (as measured by Alexa) and first page Google rankings.
5. Getting backlinks from multiple different sites appear to be important for SEO. We found the number of domains linking to a page had a correlation with rankings.
6. The vast majority of title tags in Google exactly or partially match the keyword that they rank for. However, we found essentially zero correlation between using a keyword in your title tag and higher rankings on the first page.
7. Page authority (as measured by Ahrefs URL Rating) weakly correlates with rankings.
8. We discovered that word count was evenly distributed among the top 10 results. The average Google first page result contains 1,447 words.
9. HTML page size does not have any correlation with rankings. In other words, heavy pages have the same chance to rank as light pages.
10. We found a very slight correlation between URL length and rankings. Specifically, short URLs tend to have a slight ranking advantage over longer URLs.
11. Our data shows that use of Schema markup does not correlate with higher rankings.
12. Websites with above-average “time on site” tend to rank higher in Google. Specifically, increasing time on site by 3 seconds correlates to ranking a single position higher in the search results.
We have detailed data and information of our findings below.
Authoritative Domains Tend to Rank Higher in Google’s Search Results
We found that a website’s overall link authority (measured using Ahrefs Domain Rating) correlates to higher first page Google rankings: