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How to Keep Your Website Rankings Afloat in 2013

Has your website lost rank? For most businesses, SEO is among the highest priorities for web presence – without good search engine ranking, web traffic drops off and online sales slow to a crawl. But SEO can feel like a moving target, because Google continues to update its algorithm every year.

Fortunately, Google’s code can be cracked – at least, mostly. While no SEO professional has access to the actual algorithm Google uses to rank websites, it is possible to sift through data on a large number of websites, web structures, keywords, and SERPs (search engine result pages) to see what works and what doesn’t. That’s exactly what the latest biannual study from Moz set out to do, and the data they’ve gathered is enormous.

Moz uses a two-sided approach to understanding SEO strategy: one part of the study looks at raw data, calculating exactly how much of an effect each component of a website or its content has; independently, the other part surveys SEO professionals. This allows for some qualitative data, as well as checking professionals’ perceptions against actual search performance.

The full results of the Moz study are fascinating (and quite detailed), but they boil down to three main lessons for SEO in 2013:

1. Authority and links rule the day. Page authority was the single biggest predictor of high ranking in SERPs. That’s not surprising, since page authority is a calculated value based on the sum strength of a site’s links, bit it means that link authority – not keywords – is the biggest factor in SEO. In fact, links appear to account for at least 40% of a site’s Google ranking.

2. Keywords remain vital. Even though links top the list of important SEO factors, use of keywords on the page is likely second based on the data. Since keyword usage is easier to control (and build up) than links, optimizing on-page SEO remains the first step in many SEO strategies.

3. Social signals strongly correlate with Google rank. Sites with more G+ “plus-ones,” Facebook likes, or tweets (in that order) fare better in search results.

The last item reflects some uncertainty. The majority of SEO professionals polled certainly didn’t think that social signals would have such a strong effect on search results, and the correlation may come from other factors. For example, the apparent boost may actually come from the link value of having major social media sites link back to your own site.

Do you need help with SEO? Not sure how this data translates to actual steps you can take for your site? At EverSpark we’re happy to help optimize your site’s web presence with a combined social media, on-page, and link-building/content-building strategy that will rocket you to the top of the results.