Today, each individual industry – in fact, even each individual search query – has differentiated ranking factors, which change continuously. One reason for this is the development and application of Machine Learning algorithms, which contribute to Google’s evaluation of websites and search queries.
At the same time, it is vital for SEOs and online marketers to understand exactly how Google’s evaluation of websites has changed, and what concrete impact this has on their day-to-day work. For this reason, the well-known “Universal Ranking Factors” that Searchmetrics has been publishing annually since 2012, provide a comparative benchmark and insight into overall trends and developments
General ranking factors are dead
The main task for SEOs and online marketers today is the creation of relevant content that is targeted towards the specific user intent. This intent can, however, vary greatly depending on the search query. In general, we can say that relevant content is content which answers as many questions as possible and which deals with the most important aspects of a topic; this is what makes content holistic and comprehensive.
Because: Whilst the general ranking factors and rank correlations provide an overview of which elements are generally the most important in terms of search, and how top-ranking landing pages vary regarding these elements, the general factors can no longer be considered equally relevant for all webmasters. There are no longer any ranking factors that are universally applicable for all industries. Content demands based on user intent have simply become too differentiated.
What matters: individual content relevance
depending on the specific user intent
To be more precise, it depends on the user intent. For different queries, different forms of content will be relevant: Some require short content (“pesto ingredients”), or even just a single piece of information (“who won Superbowl LI?” or “What day is Christmas this year?”), images (“Costume ideas for Mardi Gras”), or videos (“How to tie a Windsor knot” or “smokey eyes make-up”).
What was once a slow, clunky algorithm, which needed updating one step at a time, has now become a fluid, highly complex organism that changes continuously. Nothing is set in stone. Everything is in constant flux.
We have now reached the stage where all significant Google updates have been incorporated into the central algorithm, meaning they can no longer be differentiated individually. The evaluation of a website’s relevance is now based on the complex interplay of hundreds of factors, each of which is assigned its own flexible weighting. And this all happens in real time.
Industry-specific ranking factors
Except for important technical standards, there are no longer any specific factors or benchmark values which are universally valid for all online marketers and SEOs. Instead, there are different ranking factors for every single industry, or even every single search query. And these now change continuously.
These specific ranking factors are the subject of our industry-targeted analyses – presented in the new Searchmetrics Industry Ranking Factors.