SEO Ranking Factors in 2017: What’s Important and What’s Not

As technology advances, search engines can refine their ranking algorithms to better determine relevance and return results that better align with searcher intent.
Because these ranking algorithms are constantly being improved and refined, search engine ranking factors are always evolving. Factors that might once have had a huge impact on search rankings may no longer matter all that much, and new ranking factors (such as mobile-friendliness or HTTPS) can emerge to reflect changing technologies and user behaviors.
So, what are the most important ranking factors today, in 2017? A panel at SMX East, “SEO Ranking Factors in 2017: What’s Important and What’s Not,” sought to answer that question. This panel featured data from large-scale studies performed by SEMrush and Searchmetrics, as well as case studies and practical advice for adapting your SEO strategies to current realities.
SEMrush Ranking Factors 2.0
The first panelist was Olga Andrienko from SEMrush, who shared the results of a large-scale study on ranking factors that examined

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Why going global is essential to your business

As the world becomes increasingly connected, it’s becoming more vital than ever for virtually all businesses, regardless of size, to have a global online presence. As Search Engine Land columnist Brendan McGonigle rightly notes, if you only advertise in the United States, you’re missing out on billions of potential customers. But taking a one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it.
For example, while Google has a considerable presence in Russia, you won’t want to overlook the SEO and SEM options offered by market leader Yandex. And if you want to venture into China, it’s critical to know the ins and outs of the dominant search platform that serves the country, Baidu.
At SMX East, three acknowledged global search marketing experts will discuss how to jump-start your multinational campaigns. In “Why Going Global Is Essential To Your Business,” you’ll hear Frederic Schaub, a partner at the Swiss-based Consultancy Group and former senior manager of global strategy for Marriott Digital Services, discuss the

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What I learned from the Danny Sullivan/Gary Illyes keynote at SMX Advanced

On June 13, 2017, in Seattle, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan sat down with Google’s Gary Illyes to talk about all things Google. You can read live blog coverage from the session here. In this post, I’ve organized the content of this session into topical groups and added my own analysis.
Note: The questions and answers appearing herein are not direct quotes. I am paraphrasing Sullivan’s questions and Illyes’ answers, as well as providing my interpretation of what was said (and including additional context where appropriate). I’ve also omitted some content from the session.
The featured snippet discussion
Danny Sullivan asked: Are we going to keep getting more featured snippets?
Illyes has no idea about that, but he notes that featured snippets are very important to Google. They want the quality to be really high, and one consideration people don’t normally think about is that, in some cases (e.g., voice search results), the answers may be read out loud.
This example is one of my

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A winning process yields winning results: Conversion optimization tips from SMX Advanced

Earlier this month, keeping with the traditions of a welcoming summer, Seattle opened its doors to data junkies, optimization nerds and the search-obsessed in celebration of yet another SMX Advanced.
Not speaking this year, I had more flexibility to sit in on some of the many useful presentations. Among the most compelling was a session led by Jeremy Epperson of 3Q Digital and Khalid Saleh of Invesp titled, “Conversion Optimization: Turning Quick Wins into Winning.”
In my role at Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, my primary responsibility is to help North American companies succeed in Russia. Russia is a top 7 Internet Audience in the world, so I’m frequently approached by North American CMOs with a desire to “test the market.” Of course, my initial reaction is, “фантастика!” (“Fantastic!”) In today’s digital petri dish, let the data determine direction — testing is always a good start.
Both Epperson and Saleh not only communicated the value of testing, but also emphasized the

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Voice search becomes voice action: A key talking point at SMX London

From combining search and social to leveraging moments that matter, last week’s attendees at SMX London gained a deeper understanding of the numerous ways they can optimize their search strategies.
Described as the “ultimate survival guide to the dynamic and tumultuous world of search marketing,” SMX  — run by Search Engine Land’s parent, Third Door Media — is a conference series designed to highlight the reach and opportunities that can be achieved through search advertising and outline search’s position in the wider marketing mix.
From my own perspective, one of the more enlightening sessions of the London event featured a presentation by Pete Campbell, founder and managing director of Kaizen, on the subject of voice search — a prominent theme given the ongoing battle of the AI assistants.
Despite existing for half a decade — Siri has been around since 2011 — voice search has only recently surged in popularity, with over a quarter (27 percent) of US smartphone users now utilizing voice

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SMX West: Solving SEO Issues in Google’s Post-Update World

How do we deal with huge and sudden changes in organic search traffic now that Google no longer posts major updates to its algorithms? Since many updates that formerly would have been assigned a name (like Penguin or Panda), or even a name and an incremental number (Panda 3.0) are now part of Google’s core algorithm, how can we know when an update is responsible for a traffic or ranking change? And even if we do know, what can we do with that knowledge?
Kristine Schachinger and Glenn Gabe answered those questions and more in “Solving SEO Issues In Google’s Post-Update World,” a session at SMX West 2017. The following is a summary of their presentations.
Busting Google’s black box
Presenter: Kristine Schachinger, @schachin

Some SEOs and webmasters may find themselves wishing for the days of Matt Cutts. Cutts was a Google engineer and the head of Google’s webspam team. More importantly to marketers, Matt was the “face” of Google search, regularly

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Monetizing your SEO expertise

I have a theory: the best SEO practitioners in the world are not consultants helping their clients get rich. Rather, they are their own clients. Or, if they do have clients, they’ve figured out a way to have them on a performance pricing model in order to share in the client’s upside.
How are these rock-star SEOs their own clients, you ask? It could be a range of things — they could be affiliates, “infoproduct” sellers or lead generators who are leveraging SEO expertise. Or a combination of the above.
One thing is certain: they use their SEO knowledge and expertise to make money for themselves rather than helping clients make all the money and in turn getting paid for their time. Dollars-for-hours consulting is a hard slog and doesn’t scale.
Contrast that with building an income-generating asset — one that makes money for you while you sleep. It can appreciate in value even when you aren’t expending energy and time

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Meet a Landy Award winner: For its work with Scotts Miracle-Gro, Acronym wins Best Overall Enterprise SEM Initiative

This year’s Best Overall Enterprise SEM Initiative Landy Award field was a competitive one. The winner needed to utilize best in class tactics and initiatives, various platforms and tools, and, of course, improve visability and/or convert new customers on major search platforms and earn a positive return on investment. When the dust settled in the judges’ room, there was only one agency left standing: Acronym.
Acronym took home the win thanks to their work with Scotts Miracle-Gro. They were able to build a unique set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that helped to influence and inform customers on what is a very offline purchase. Furthermore, the identification and categorization applied to the various steps that a customer takes throughout the research stages. The creation and implementation of this system not only helped them drive success for their client but also helped them take home the Landy.
Acronym stated the following about the Scotts Miracle-Gro account:
‘Tackling a client that primarily does

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Meet a Landy Award winner: Edelman takes home Best Overall Search Marketing Initiative award

Todd Silverstein and Alyssa Esker of Edelman accept the Landy for Best Overall Search Marketing Initiative.
Historically known as a top-rated PR firm, Edelman proved its digital marketing chops at this year’s Landys by taking home the award for Best Overall Search Marketing Initiative.
In July of last year, Edelman’s digital team out of Atlanta was tasked with completely overhauling a client’s search presence. The client — a mobile accessory brand — was suffering through its second year of a double-digit drop in online revenue and looked to Edelman to reverse the decline.
“They had an e-commerce program, but were heavily reliant upon retail sales,” says Todd Silverstein, Edelman’s US Head of Paid and Search.
Charged with increasing e-commerce sales by 18 percent and driving a 15-percent growth in organic traffic to the website, Edelman implemented an extensive and holistic campaign that touched on all things SEO- and SEM-related.
Edelman’s SEM initiatives included everything from the creation of an entirely new account

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Meet a Landy Award winner: Quick on its feet, Point It wins Best B2C Enterprise SEM Initiative

Katy Tonkin (left) and Maddie Cary of Point It accept the Landy for Best B2C Enterprise SEM Initiative.
The mission they chose to accept: to build and activate paid search campaigns to promote the surprise product launch of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book on the US Microsoft Store website — in less than 24 hours.
Mission accomplished. For its quick execution of tailored, targeted campaigns that exceeded expectations, Seattle-based Point It Digital Marketing took home the Landy award for Best B2C Enterprise SEM Initiative. This was Point It’s second consecutive Landy win.
Not only was time not on their side, but once the campaigns were launched, Point It faced stiff competition from other authorized sellers and retailers carrying the new Surface products.
Point It focused their campaign structure and keyword strategy on reaching lower-funnel prospects who knew about the new products and were searching on brand keywords that signaled purchase intent. Negative keywords were added to funnel target prospects

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