Developing Effective Content: Insights from the 2014 SEO Ranking Factors Report

Each year, SearchMetrics produces the Rank Correlation Analysis and SEO Ranking Factors for Google U.S. report. It’s been widely called some of the most important annual Content Marketingreading for keeping abreast of the latest developments in the search engine optimization field. The company examines more than 300,000 URLs to gather and aggregate the relevant data on what’s helping sites rank well this year. Some of the takeaways are exactly what you’d expect based on SEO trends, while this year’s report also yields some surprises. Here’s a closer look at how this information can help you develop an effective digital marketing strategy.

Content counts

The data shows that content remains critical, with relevant terms being the top defining structure. It’s easy to lose sight of the importance of solid keyword research and a good keyword strategy amidst the evolving world of today’s digital marketing environment. But every online marketing strategy should start with solid keyword research that ultimately defines your content creation needs and guides your overall campaign development. The report also revealed that today’s content continues to emphasize quality and that longer lengths are still being treated as a signal of quality.

Proof terms

Are you using proof in your content and website development? In his iconic book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini emphasizes the importance of proof. Proof can come in the form of testimonials, including both written or video. Proof can also come in the form of studies and facts to back up your assertions, celebrity endorsements, media mentions, and many other formats. Search engines are looking for signs of proof that your business is high quality, legitimate, and delivering on what you promise. Are you maximizing the proof signals available to your company?


Backlinks remain one of the most critical elements of your digital marketing strategy. No area of the SEO world is as contentious as linkbuilding, since it’s one of the easiest to manipulate. Google comes down hard on questionable practices. However, the report reveals that backlinks continue to matter. Google looks at total backlinks, number of new backlinks acquired, new domains from which backlinks have been acquired, and what the anchor text of those links looks like. Having a backlinking strategy that continues to grow your linking profile that complies with Google’s regulations is essential.

User signals

Although the story frequently shifts on whether Google officially uses social media in its rankings, this report suggests that user signals play an important role in ranking well. Specific signals that matter a lot include Google +1s; Facebook metrics including shares, likes, and comments; and participation on networks such as Pinterest. An active social media marketing strategy has numerous benefits. It deepens your connections with your audience, helps catalyze your content’s distribution, and it sends the right user signals to search engines.

Today’s SEO environment is evolving rapidly. But data-based online digital marketing is possible thanks to the extensive research and data aggregation available from many sources. What it reveals is simple: the best strategies are multi-pronged campaigns that involve great content, building links, a solid SEO foundation, social media marketing, and strategic thinking.

Are you a small business that’s ready to increase your digital profile in the year ahead? Contact us today to learn more about how Be Locally SEO’s experienced team can help you with all your digital marketing needs.

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