Searchmetrics Study: Media Ranking Factors 2017
press release

Fast-Loading AMP Pages Dominate Google’s First Page Results for Media and News Searches

Seachmetrics releases Google Ranking Factors Study for the Online Media Sector highlighting the importance of a good user experience.
Nadja Schiller
by Nadja Schiller

San Mateo, September 26, 2017 ‒ News and information publishers who enable fast-loading Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for Google searches now overwhelmingly top mobile search results, suggesting holdouts are increasingly likely to lose readership and advertising revenue, new Searchmetrics research finds.

Some 78% of news-related results on the first page of mobile screens are AMP-enabled, according to Searchmetrics latest study, Ranking Factors for the Media Industry. In desktop Google searches too, the data suggests high-ranking content from online media and publishers will prioritize the user experience. High-ranking content is significantly more relevant to the search query, uses more words in the text to cover topics more comprehensively, and includes more links to direct searchers to related information on other sites.

“This study is designed to provide advice and observations to web publications, company blogs, online news sites and other publishers who are all competing for traffic and revenue as sources of news and topical information,” said Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics.

Online media and publishing is a highly competitive field, relying mainly on advertising for revenue. In an era of so-called fake news, relevance to the search query is becoming even more important for success.

The research analyzed desktop search results on for 6,000 keyword terms relevant to the media industry (examples include Kim Kardashian, Science News, Net Neutrality and Weather NYC). The findings were compared with the company’s separate, benchmark Google ranking factors study which tracked the results from 10,000 general, high search volume keywords that apply across all industries.

Four interesting takeaways from the study are:

1) Fast-loading AMP pages comprise majority of Google’s first page for media and news searches

To analyze the popularity of AMP, Searchmetrics undertook a special investigation that tracked the mobile search results for 50 search queries that were trending on Google News. About 78% of the corresponding page one results were found to be AMP-enabled, positioned either in the standard organic search results (the familiar blue links) or in the ‘Top stories’ news boxes and carousels that Google uses to display news content more prominently in mobile results.

“With so many people now consuming news and information round the clock on mobile devices, it’s becoming more and more important for media sites to ensure an easy online experience, allowing readers to click and scroll through content quickly,” Tober said. “That’s why AMP – which displays a stripped-down, faster-loading version of web pages – was introduced and is now a growing presence in news and topical searches on mobile.”

2) Link to external sites by all means

Pages that appear in the top 20 desktop results on Google for media and news-related searches have on average 30.7 links to content on other sites. This is more than the mean rate of external links found across all industries that Searchmetrics analyzed in its benchmark study. So content creators for the various types of online media and publishers should understand that their rankings are unlikely to suffer just because they have linked to other sites. The links should add to the user experience by directing readers to credible related content or to reference sources for example.

3) Get ‘wordy’ if it adds value

Pages from online media sites that rank in the top ten desktop results on Google have on average 16% more text (around 260 additional words) than results in Searchmetrics’ wider benchmark study. Where the additional text is relevant and helps to satisfy searchers’ needs, content creators on media sites should be confident about using more words.

4) Look for ways to boost content relevance

Pages for media related results have a content relevance score² which is 30% higher than in the most relevant content found in Searchmetrics benchmark study.

Content relevance² here was measured using Big Data computing to compare the semantic relationship between the words entered in search queries and the text that appears in the pages listed in the results.

The advice for media and publishers: ensure your content is highly relevant to the searcher’s queries. This should include updating articles and stories that are already published to keep them fresh and relevant in order to maintain a high search position.

Download ‘Ranking Factors for the Media Industry


This is the latest in a series of Searchmetrics industry-specific ranking factors studies focusing on individual verticals. Other vertical studies can be downloaded here.

¹The Accelerated Mobile Pages, is the brainchild of Google, Twitter and other tech giants. It is a set of open-source standards that enable the creation of web pages that load faster than traditional web pages for mobile devices.
²Content Relevance is based on measurement methods which use linguistic corpora and the conceptualization of semantic relationships between words as distances in the form of vectors. For the semantic evaluation of a text, this makes it possible to analyze the keyword and the content separately from one another. Searchmetrics can calculate a content relevance score for a complete text on a certain keyword or topic. The higher the relevance score, the more relevant the content of the analyzed landing page for the given search query. To make Content Relevance more meaningful, its calculation actually excludes instances of simple keyword matches between search queries and search results.

About the study

Searchmetrics analyzed the top 20 desktop search results on for over 6,000 industry-specific keywords that are relevant to the online media and publishing sector. It identified the common factors that are present in these results to help identify elements that are associated with a high Google ranking. The findings were then compared with Searchmetrics’ separate benchmark study of Google ranking factors which analyzed the results for a general set of 10,000 keywords across all industries.

To track AMP in mobile searches, Searchmetrics analyzed the mobile search results on the first page of for 50 trending keywords on Google news.