The 7 Most Important Search Engine Ranking Factors for the Future

Published on: 24th September 2013


Google and other search engines are continually revising their algorithms to ensure their SERPs (search engine results pages) display the most relevant and helpful content in response to user queries. Search engine crawlers (bots) index hundreds of factors that determine how a page should rank in relation to specific keywords, but these factors are ever-changing. Although it’s impossible to predict the future of SEO, most experts agree that the following 7 search engine ranking factors will be the most influential in the near future:

1. Site/Page Perceived Value

Google and other search engines determine a page’s relevancy and quality based on the actions of web surfers. In the past this perceived value was analysed based on how many other sites linked to your pages. However, as linkbuilding and other SEO techniques have been developed to captilise on the backlink system Google and other search engines have started using other data related to a visitor's actions and the authority of the page/site that the backlink is posted on. For example, if members of an authoritative DIY forum are linking to a particular how-to guide as a recommendation, Google may see this link as holding more weight than a non-editorial backlink on a relatively new blog. 

2. Social signals

In addition to analysing visitor actions and the attributes of sites that link to your site, search engines will also be examining the authenticity of your social following. A lot of unscrupulous SEO specialists have resorted to creating fake networks of followers to inflate their social signals. In the future this will no longer be possible as Google and other search engines are developing methods of recognising artificially inflated followings. Furthermore, when it comes to likes and shares, quantity will not be as important as quality. In other words, having a small network of authoritative and influential followers would be more beneficial than having thousands of untargeted followers with no social “juice” to pass on.

3. Site Usage Data

Google will also be looking at how long a visitor stays on each page, as this is a reliable indicator of how interesting and helpful your content is. Of course, comments will also be analysed, with more of a focus on who is commenting and how prevalent the comments are being posted. If a page is receiving legitimate comments from visitors with authentic social followings then search engines will see this as a sign that the page is trending at the moment. Other site usage data that will factor into rankings include how many pages a visitors views on a site and how long it takes for visitors to exit the site and visit another page in the search engine results.

4. Content Quality

Google and other search engines are developing highly advanced algorithms that are capable of interpreting language better than ever before. This means you'll no longer be ale to get away with simple rewrites and fluffy content that is produced solely with the goal of targeting keywords. Search engines are learning how to analyse content to detect grammatical errors, linguistic context, and informational depth. Pages that contain frequent spelling mistakes or lack information will have a hard time reaching the top of the SERPS for any keyword phrase. Search engines will also be looking at the formatting of content (i.e. - headers, font size, use of bullet points, etc.) to judge the quality. 

5. Presence/Prominence of Advertisements

How many banner ads and PPC ads does your site have online? A greater advertising presence will signal to search engines that your brand and site are reputable and professional. Google can also collect data about how people are responding to your ads and landing pages in order to determine whether your site is simply spending a lot of money advertising without focusing on quality score and conversion.

6. Topic Modelling

Perhaps the most important aspect of content creation is topic formulation, and by this we're not discussing the simple act of coming up with titles and keywords for your articles. Google and other search engines use practices like topic modelling and latent semantic indexing (LSI) to evaluate the contextual relationships between particular phrases and an overall topic/subject. Content that is diverse, incorporates a mixture of unique ideas, and extensively covers the targeted topic in detail will likely flourish the most.

7. External Link Anchor Text

In the past marketers would always use keywords when creating anchor text for their backlinks. Since the Panda and Penguin updates, exact match anchor text has actually become detrimental to the progress of a marketing campaign because Google now sees this as a manipulative tactic. Instead, pages tend to rank higher if they have backlinks pointing to them that contain very random and appropriate anchor text. The goal is to keep your anchor texts within the context of a sentence that does not appear to be forced, but rather seems to be a genuine editorial recommendation from the author. For example:

Check out this guide to using anchor text after Google Panda and Penguin updates. (Better)


Check out this Panda anchor text guide. (Worse)

Notice how the first one flowed like a regular sentence and makes more sense, whereas the second one appears to use the phrase “Panda anchor text guide” solely for the purpose of inserting a keyword into the anchor text.

Note: There is no definitive right and wrong in SEO, as variety is always the best solution, but our point is that more often than not you should strive to avoid simplistic exact match anchor texts like the one in the second example above.

As you can see, here at Consult3 we stay on top of the latest developments in SEO, and are always ready and willing to make adjustments to our approach when necessary. Contact us for a free consultation and we can help you design a course of action that is guaranteed to generate desirable results. 

Adam Livermore

Adam Livermore

Author Adam Livermore is the Director of Consult3 Ltd a Preston (Lancashire) Based Online Marketing Consultancy. He has been involved in online marketing and web since 2003 and offers Training, Consultancy and Project Management for Businesses wanting to improve their online footprint, increase leads and convert more of their website visitors. View my services for more details