We recently analyzed 11.8 million Google search results to answer the question:
What factors correlate to first page search engine rankings? We have examined the content. We looked at the backlinks. We even looked at the speed of the pages.
With the help of our data partner Ahrefs we discovered some interesting results.
And today, I'm going to share what we found with you.  Here is a summary of our main findings:
1. Our data show that the overall linking authority of a site (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) is strongly correlated with higher rankings.
2. Pages with many backlinks rank above the pages that don't have as many backlinks. In fact, Google's No. 1 result has on average 3.8 times more backlinks than positions No. 2 to No. 10.
3. Full content with high "Grade Content" (via Clearscope ), significantly surpassed content that did not cover a subject in depth.
4. We did not find any correlation between page loading speed (as measured by Alexa ) and Google's first page ranking.
5. Getting backlinks from several different sites seems to be important for SEO. We found that the number of domains linked to a page was correlated with the rankings.
6. The vast majority of title tags in Google correspond exactly or partially to the keyword for which they are classified. However, we found a basically zero correlation between using a keyword in your title tag and higher rankings on the first page.
7. The authority of the page (measured by Ahrefs URL Rating) is weakly correlated with the rankings.
8. We discovered that the number of words was evenly distributed among the top 10 results. The average result on the first page of Google contains 1,447 words.
9. The size of the HTML page has no correlation with the rankings. In other words, heavy pages have the same chance of being classified 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 show that the use of schema markup is not correlated with higher rankings.
12. Websites with above average "time spent on site" tend to rank higher in Google. More specifically, the increase in time on the site by 3 seconds corresponds to the ranking of a unique position higher in the search results.
We have detailed data and information on our results below.
Authoritative domains tend to rank higher in Google search results
We have found that the overall link authority of a website (measured using Ahrefs Domain Rating ) is correlated with higher first page Google rankings:
And in general, the rating average domain increases by SERP position.
In fact, when looking at the first 30 results, increasing the content rating by 1 is equivalent to increasing the ranking of a position. Which suggests a significant relationship.
For example, take this page from PaleoLeap.com:[19659048[PaleoLeap-Paleobreakfastideaspost[19659046[ThispagecontainsmanytraditionalmeasureswhicharegenerallycorrelatedwithhighGooglerankingsForexamplethepageusestheexactkeywordinthepagetitletagandtheH1tagInadditionthedomainisveryauthoritative(AhrefsDomainRatingof73)
However, this page only ranks n ° 9 for the keyword: "Paleo diet petit-déjeuner".
It is unclear whether full content directly affects rankings.
It could be that Google has an inherent preference for the content they deem complete. Or users may be more satisfied with the search results that give them a complete response to their query.
As this is a correlation study, it is impossible to determine the underlying reason for this relationship from our data alone. Remember: Writing complete and in-depth content can help pages rank higher in Google. The speed of page loading has no correlation with the rankings
Google has used the speed of the site as an official ranking signal since 2010 .
And Google's most recent speed update, the " Speed Update " of 2018, was designed to provide mobile researchers with faster loading pages.
However, we wanted to know:
Is the speed of the site correlated with actual Google rankings? We used the speed of the Alexa domain to analyze the median load time of 1 million domains in our data set. In other words, we did not directly measure the loading speed of the individual pages of our dataset. We simply looked at the average loading speed over the entire domain.
Overall, we found no correlation between site speed and Google rankings:
At first glance, this discovery may seem surprising. After all, PageSpeed is a confirmed Google ranking signal. Knowing this, you would expect faster pages to generally outpace slower ones.
However, the data paint a different picture. And when you dig a little deeper, this lack of relationship makes sense. When Google announced its fast update, they were careful to point out that this update largely affected extremely slow pages.
And that updating as a whole may not have as much impact.
In short, Google's algorithm seems to reduce extremely slow pages
And our analysis has revealed that the average page load speed for a first page result is 1.65 seconds.
Our previous analysis of the speed of the site revealed that the average page took 10 seconds to load on the desktop and 27 seconds to load on the mobile .
Compared to this reference, an average loading speed of 1.65 seconds is extremely fast. And since the first 10 results tend to load relatively quickly, they don't seem to be affected by the different speed updates from Google. To remember: The average result of the first page of Google is loaded in 1.65 seconds. However, we found no correlation between site speed and Google ranking. The number of referring domains seems to have an influence on the rankings
Many SEO experts agree that getting multiple backlinks from the same domain has diminishing returns. In other words, it is better to get 10 links from 10 different sites than 10 links from the same domain.
According to our analysis, this seems to be the case. We have found that the diversity of domains has a substantial impact on rankings.
As with backlinks, the best results tend to have more linking domains than those down the first page.
To remember: Get links from a diverse group of domains seems to be important for SEO.
In fact, our linear model predicts a very small relationship between the match of title tags and the rankings (only a difference of 1% between result # 1 and # 10).
It seems that a keyword-rich title tag may be an "entry ticket" which can help you get to the first page.
However, once you're on the first page, using the exact keyword in your title doesn't seem to help you climb the rankings. This is where other factors (such as backlinks, user experience signals and domain authority) seem to play an important role. To remember: The pages of the 10 best results of Google contain 65% to 85% of the keywords they rank in their title tag. However, we found very little (if any) correlation between the keyword-optimized title tags and the higher rankings on the first page. H1 tags optimized by keyword do not correlate with higher first page rankings
Similar to our title tag results, most Google results pages have a matching keyword in the H1 tag of the page.
In addition, the H1 corresponding to the keywords have practically no relation to higher Google rankings.
Key points to remember: As for tag optimization As a title, H1 can be an "entry ticket" factor that can help you decipher the first page of Google. However, keyword-rich H1s may not be a strong enough ranking signal to help a page pull up results from the first page.
Web page authority (URL rating) has a slight correlation with higher rankings
In addition to domain rating, we wanted to answer the question:
Is what a one page global influence authority influences rankings?
In other words, is it more important to get backlinks to a specific page? Or is the overall domain authority of a site more important? To find out, we looked at the correlation of page authority (measured by Ahrefs URL Rating) and rankings.
Although we found that the URL and ranking were linked, the relationship was weak. Pages ranked 1 to 6 have an average URL of 12. The median URL of 7 to 10 is 11 “/>
Specifically, pages that rank in the top 6 have a URL rating slightly higher (12) compared to pages that rank 7-10 (11).
However, this correlation was not as strong as the impact of a site's domain rating on rankings.
Overall, most of the URL rankings are similar among the top 10.
And on all the pages of our dataset, we found that the average URL rating of ; a first page result in Google was 11.2. To remember: The link authority of each individual page of your site seems to have a relatively low impact on rankings compared to that of your site. global domain authority.
The average number of words in a Google first page result is 1447 words
Does long form content outweigh short blog posts by 200 words?
Other industry studies, like this have found that longer content tends to accumulate more backlinks compared to short blog articles.
Indeed, we have discovered that content classified in Google tends to be long.
Overall, the average number of words in a Google top 10 result is 1447 words.
However, despite the fact that long content tends to be the best for linking, we have found no direct relationship between word count and rankings.
This may be due to the fact that, as with keyword-optimized title tags, long content can help you decipher the first page. But that won't help you once you get there.
This being a correlation study, it is impossible for us to determine why long content tends to appear on the first page of Google. Key points to remember: Pages with a higher number of words seem to have the same chance of ranking very high on the first page compared to pages with a lower number of words. The average number of words in a Google first page result is 1,447 words. The size of the HTML of the page has nothing to do with rankings
Does having a lean page (in terms of total bytes) affect your ranking Google?
According to this analysis, no. We did not find any correlation between page size and rankings.
Members of the SEO community have hypothesized that larger pages with inflated HTML are at a disadvantage.
However, according to the pages of our analysis, the size of the page cannot be linked to the ranking. To remember: The size of the page does not seem to have any impact on Google ranking.
Short URLs tend to rank slightly better than long URLs
Google recommends to use "simple URLs" and specifically advises against "extremely long" URLs.
However, these recommendations seem to be more focused on optimizing URLs for the user experience than on SEO. This is why we set out to study the link between the length of URLs and rankings. We actually found that short URLs rank above long URLs.
More specifically, URLs in position # 1 are on average 9.2 characters shorter than the URLs that rank in position # 10.
And the average length of URLs for a result among the top 10 in Google is 66 characters.
However, overall, most of the URLs on the first page of Google are approximately the same length (40 to 100 characters).
Short URLs can improve SEO for several reasons.
First, short URLs can lead to higher organic CTR. In fact, our large-scale study on organic CTR found that short URLs have a higher CTR than long URLs.
Second, short URLs can help Google understand what your page is about.
For example, a short URL like backlinko.com/my-post is easier for Google to understand than backlinko.com/1/12/2022/blog/category/this- is-the- title-of-my-blog-post pageid = 891 / .
Finally, a long URL tends to point to a page several clicks from the home page. This usually means that there is less authority on this page.
For example, this URL to a vase product page represents a page very far from the authoritative home page on the site:
Keep in mind: Shorter URLs correlate with higher rankings. The average Google first page URL is 66 characters long.
There is no correlation between schema markup and rankings
There has been a lot of buzz about Schema in the SEO community in recent years. Google itself has been vague about the impact of Schema on the rankings.
Many believe that schema markup gives search engines a better understanding of the meaning of your content. This deeper understanding will encourage them to show your site to more people.
For example, you can use structured data to let Google know that when you use the word "Toy Story", you're referring to the title of the original movie … not the franchise in general:
Many sites use Schema to obtain rich extracts in the SERPs.
However, despite these potential benefits, we found that very few
We discovered that only 72.6% of the pages on the first page of Google use Schema.
And, according to our analysis, the presence of structured data had nothing to do with Google rankings.
To remember: The use of schema markup can have its place. But that is not directly related to a higher Google ranking.
Websites with above average "time on site" tend to rank higher in Google [speed900andpogosticking)asclassificationfactors
To test this theory, we ran a subset of domains to from our data set via Alexa to determine the duration of the site on the site. We then looked to see if there was a correlation between time spent on the site and Google first page rankings. We actually found a strong relationship between the time spent on the site and the rankings. The time of the website on the site is correlated to higher Google rankings ” style=”max-width: 700px !important”/>
More specifically, we discovered that the time on the site is strongly correlated to higher rankings.
In general, the average time on the site for a Google first page result is 2.5 minutes.
Please keep in mind that we are not suggesting that the time on the site has a direct relationship to higher rankings.
Of course, Google can use something like time on the site or bounce rate as a ranking signal (although they have already denied it). Or maybe the fact that high quality content keeps people more engaged. Therefore, high on-site time is a by-product of high-quality content, which Google measures.
As this is a correlation study, it is impossible to determine from our data alone. To remember: The average time spent on the site for a Google first page result is 2.5 minutes. We also found a strong correlation between the time spent on the site and the Google ranking. However, it is not clear whether this is a correlation or a causal link.
I would once again like to thank Ahrefs for providing much of the raw data that made this study possible.
Now, I would like to hear your thoughts:
What is your lesson to learn # 1 from this analysis? Or maybe you have a question about the results. Anyway, leave a comment below right now.