Because Google ranking factors are becoming more differentiated depending on the user intent behind a search query, Searchmetrics has analyzed detailed search results in eight niches, selected from four industries. The study provides tips for how to interpret the data and how to optimize websites in the different niches, as well as overall averages for all ranking factors.
Different user intents, different ranking factors
The study uses numerous examples to emphasize how different search queries can lead to different search results. For the Google ranking algorithm, fulfilment of the user intent is the main criterion – and this intent varies according to the search query. Therefore, when optimizing individual websites, it is vital that you know as precisely as possible which ranking factors are relevant in your online market. Because it won’t always be the same ones. This approach to a more targeted analysis of search results began in 2017, with Searchmetrics developing industry ranking factors, for which specific ranking factors were analyzed for eCommerce, finance, health, travel and media sites.
This latest analysis of ranking factors for niches is a further progression of the industry approach – creating a new level of precision. This is what webmasters, online marketers and SEOs need if they are to understand a search landscape that is shaped by granular user needs and highly-specific search results, Focusing on search results in particular niches and the associated ranking factors provides data that is highly relevant within a specific topical area and allows for targeted optimization recommendations.
This is the first time that Searchmetrics has conducted a study of ranking factors in niches. The results show similarities and differences between websites that rank amongst the top 10 search results – depending on the specific topical niche of the keywords they rank for.
The analysis looks at the following eight niches, selected from four industries:
Niche Ranking Factors: Results at a Glance
For the analysis, ten ranking factors were selected that are divided into three groups: content factors, technical factors and user experience factors. The results show significant differences between niches – underlining the fact that the context of individual search queries plays a great role in determining how Google evaluates the relevance of web pages – and what is required to rank near the top of the search results. Group search queries along niche lines provides useful insights as all keywords within a niche set belong to one main topic.
The table shows an overview of the results of the Searchmetrics study of niche ranking factors:
Text content as a ranking factor – especially for finance sites
Word count is often considered one of the main factors for achieving good rankings. The average of all niches shows clearly that, with a mean length of 1,692 words, the era of SEO landing pages that being optimized for one keyword and containing max. 300 words is definitively behind us.
However, word count varies from niche to niche. Users in the niche “financial planning” are looking for detailed information. With an average 2,581 words, this niche has the longest text content of the eight analyzed areas. Financial planning questions are so-called YMYL (your money or your life) topics, for which Google is particularly careful regarding which websites are selected to rank at the top. At the other end of the specturm, the pages ranking near the top of the search results within the two travel industry niches analyzed have shorter texts than average. This suggests that users in these niches are not necessarily looking for holistic, comprehensive answers to their queries.
Video content as a ranking factor – especially for weight loss pages
Video content is only found to any significant degree in one of the eight niches analyzed for this whitpepaer: amonst high-ranking URLs for keywords around the topic of weight loss.
This shows that users looking for weight loss information prefer how-to videos – so websites active in this segment looking for top rankings should strongly consider implementing video content.
Microdata as a ranking factor – especially for recipe websites
Whether they show ratings, recipes or prices: The creation of rich snippets can be decisive for a good ranking – depending, as always, on the niche. These additional pieces of information enhance the snippet displayed in the search results, meaning that they can help to improve not only rankings, but also click-through rates.
One niche stands out: recipe URLs that rank amongst the top 10 search results have a particularly strong focus on microdata integrations – successful recipe pages provide added information to search engines and users for data like cooking times, calorie counts, ingredients and ratings.
Get the Niche Ranking Factors Study.
All the data from our niche ranking factor analysis is included in the report “Ranking Factors 2018: Targeted Analysis for more Success on Google and in your Online Market”.
Download it here and get numerous insights and optimization recommendations for your website.