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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Visually understanding your site structure and external link weight impact

They say a picture is worth a thousand words — and wow, are they correct!
Today, I’m going to illustrate powerful ways to visualize your site structure, specifically as it relates to pages that acquire incoming links; however, we’ll also discuss other applications of this technique using analytics metrics or other third-party data.
There are a number of reasons you would want to do this, among them to provide a visual context to data. As we will see below, visual representations of data can assist in quickly identifying patterns in site structures that may not be evident when viewed as a spreadsheet or as raw data. You can also use these visuals to explain to clients and other stakeholders what’s going on in a site structure.
To build a visual representation of our site structure as it relates to incoming links, we will be:

running Screaming Frog to gather internal page data and link structure.
adding the number of backlinks each page

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20 of Google’s limits you may not know exist

Google has a lot of different tools, and while they handle massive amounts of data, even Google has its limits. Here are some of the limits you may eventually run into.
1. 1,000 properties in Google Search Console
Per Google’s Search Console Help documentation, “You can add up to 1,000 properties (websites or mobile apps) to your Search Console account.”
2. 1,000 rows in Google Search Console
Many of the data reports within Google Search Console are limited to 1,000 rows in the interface, but you can usually download more. That’s not true of all of the reports, however (like the HTML improvements section, which doesn’t seem to have that limit).
3. Google Search Console will show up to 200 site maps
The limit for the number submitted is higher, but you will only be shown 200. Each of those could be an index file as well, which seems to have a display limit of 400 site maps in each. You could technically

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5 ways to balance technical & non-technical SEO

In SEO’s earlier days, technical SEO was largely about coding. For a fun throwback, check out this 2008 SEL article on search-friendly code by Jonathan Hochman, an internet marketer and computer sciences grad from Yale. Technical SEO was all about how to optimize (and often, manipulate) code, metadata and link profiles to achieve better results.
And you know what? That basic purpose of technical SEO hasn’t changed.
As black hat tactics and manipulation became less effective and more dangerous, they fell out of favor. This gave rise to the more creative, non-technical SEO tactics designed to show search engines the value and relevance of each piece of content.
Technical and non-technical should never be pitted against one another, as both are critical to the health of your site and the success of your campaigns. Technical SEO is the framework on which truly great content is built, ensuring that each piece is structured and optimized for search engine discoverability and human consumption.
Here

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The 4 Ps of SEO & digital marketing

It’s a peculiar time to be a marketer. Many of us in the SEO world, myself included, are not traditionally trained as marketers. In fact, I studied computer science and was initially a web and software developer.
My marketing career was a fortunate accident — a case of being in the right place at the right time. I was working developing e-commerce sites, and when that job was done, the question soon became, How do we get more traffic and more customers? This led me into the new and exciting world of SEO circa 1999.
Of course, there is more to marketing than just getting highly ranked on search engines, and it took me a while to figure this out. But over the years working as an SEO, I have learned the value of more traditional marketing processes and how they relate to SEO.
Search engines want to connect people with the best possible results — so user engagement

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Top 6 tips for SEO for SaaS

As with many industries, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses face unique tSEO challenges and opportunities. 
Before I started Marketing Mojo, I spent many years as an SEO in the technology industry. The last position I had before starting my agency was working for an online survey company, WebSurveyor, that was a competitor to Survey Monkey.
Based on this experience and what I’ve seen since, I want to share six of my top search engine optimization tips for SaaS companies.
1. Lead generation or SEO?
One of the bigger questions that SaaS companies (as well as many B2B companies) face when approaching content optimization is the question of gating content for lead generation or leaving it open for SEO benefits.
If you choose to gate content for lead generation, you’ll likely want to block search engines from indexing that content directly. Otherwise, you risk visitors finding your content via Google or Bing and bypassing the lead generation form altogether, which may hinder your lead generation goals.
For example,

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16 common on-site SEO mistakes you might be making right now

SEO is more than inbound marketing. There’s massive overlap, but there’s a technical side to SEO that sometimes gets neglected, especially by casual followers of the industry.
As somebody who spends a great deal of time looking at sites searching for opportunities to optimize, I notice patterns that creep up often: technical mistakes that show up again and again.
Let’s go over these mistakes. If my experience is anything to go by, odds are high you’re making at least one of them.
1. Nofollowing your own URLs
There comes a time in every SEO’s life when they need to keep a page hidden from the search results — to prevent duplicate content issues, to hide member areas, to keep thin content pages out of the index, to hide archives and internal search result pages, during an A/B test and so on. This is perfectly innocent, perfectly noble and perfectly necessary. However…
… do not use the “nofollow” tag to accomplish this!
The “nofollow”

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How long does reputation management take?

Just about the first thing that a potential reputation management client will ask when considering asking someone to clean up their name in the search results is: “How long will it take?” This is unfortunately not easy to answer.
Deploying content and changes to displace something negative in Google and Bing is complicated, involving literally thousands of variables, and it typically requires development over a period of time. Read on to get an idea of how long it takes.
In some ways, the question, “How long does reputation repair take before it is successful?” used to be a little easier to estimate. In my opinion, Google used to be less sophisticated and more consistent across similar types of search terms.
We also had a little more quantitative information about websites and web pages in the search results, via the Browser PageRank Toolbar, which used to provide us with a rough numerical score of the PageRank value of web pages.
Using that

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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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SEM growth hack #4: Grow ROI with cross-channel optimization

This article addresses the importance of optimizing your SEM (search engine marketing), SEO (search engine optimization) and PLA (product listing ads) channels together to gain monster ROI growth in the search channel.
Optimization of search advertising often occurs in a vacuum where SEM, SEO and PLA efforts are optimized separately. By optimizing these channels together, you can save money on unneeded ad spend while boosting your page visibility in the right places to generate more sales or leads — pushing you into monster growth territory!
Why cross-channel optimization matters
Search engine results pages (SERPs) feature different sections where different types of results appear. These sections include, but are not limited to, organic listings, text ads, product listing ads, local results, image results, news results and more. In implementing a holistic, cross-channel strategy, which takes into account site visibility across these different sections, we can direct our search marketing efforts to the channel where they will have the biggest impact on a keyword-by-keyword

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