LOS ANGELES — A report by the data analysis firm SearchMetrics confirms recent assumptions SEO experts have been discussing over the last 18 months.
The report, available here, discusses in detail the rise or fall of importance for several primary signal characteristics used by search engines to determine the ranks they will assign to particular webpages and sites in their listings.
Before anyone starts eliminating backlinks from SEO budgets, it’s very important to point out that backlinks do continue to have significant value. However, the new data analysis shows that backlinks have less value than they once did and that the value of other aspects of site development have become even more important for sites looking to climb the ranks of valuable keywords.
The most important part of these reports provides analytical proof that when it comes to SEO, content is king and backlinks are only as valuable as the content around them makes them contextually. The days of throwing footer hardlinks and friends’ links in a blog roll off to the side of a page to generate SEO value are pretty much over.
What engines want to see now are contextual backlinks in the body of the site content, like blog posts about your site on another reputable site — and even more than that they want to see the highest quality original content on your own site, relevant to the terms you intend to rank for right now.
If you have India’s finest doing your scene descriptions for a penny a piece in broken English or have blank model bio pages on your site, you are doing your SEO wrong. And buying hardlinks like it was 1999 won’t fix any of that for your site.
Other long-held assumptions about proper SEO structure have also started to wane as Google prioritizes newer elements of site development. For example, in 2016, just 53 percent of the top 20 URLs for individual search terms included the specific keyword in their title.
Years ago it was considered SEO suicide if a site failed to mention a desired keyword in its page title. Now, through machine learning and other algorithmic measures, Google is far better at determining the context of a site from its content, so a site all about Red Roses is likely to rank for flower relevant terms even if the word “flowers” is nowhere to be found in its page title specifically.
Speed and data efficiency on the other hand are becoming increasingly important. Pages ranking well for the growing percentage of consumers utilizing mobile search use file sizes that are approximately a third smaller than their desktop equivalents.
If you are pushing large data on pages, you are killing your mobile search ranks. Minifying data is now becoming a critical take for highly competitive mobile sites in adult and beyond. Pages ranking well on mobile tend to load more than a second faster than desktop equivalents.
There has also been a significant increase in the use of structured elements like lists and bullet points during 2016 that improve user experiences. Some adult sites have been reluctant to utilize these kinds of elements for fear that users would find what they wanted faster and therefore the time on site metrics of the site would suffer. However, with Google providing a benefit for using these tools appropriately, that fear should now be greatly reduced.
Google wants users happy, and that means prioritizing sites that do a good job getting users what they want more than it prioritizes mazes that keep a user on a page longer than they otherwise would want to be there.
As data security continues to become increasingly important across the net, Google is also starting to reward sites that follow more secure protocols. Almost half of all the webpages in the top 10 for keywords overall now use HTTPS encryption in lieu of the far less secure http default that had been favored for decades until recently. If your site isn’t using http, you must not be very interested in having it rank well.
Domainers gleaned important information from this report about the value of some of the new TLDs, as eighty-six percent of all top 10 domains are now using the .com TLD. That doesn’t mean other TLDs are unable to rank well necessarily, but it does demonstrate that even in the face of hundreds of new TLDs being launched, the .com set (and the fact browsers continue to default to .com results) is maintaining their supremacy for nearly 9 out of 10 top-ranked websites.
Adult of course has its own intricacies when it comes to SEO, especially since Google chose to sanitize their results by removing adult content from almost every generic search term years ago. User metrics like bounce rates and time on site also tend to be bracketed for comparisons, so tubes with a 20-plus minute time on site average are not compared head to head with blogs that tend to yield faster visits.
However, on a grand scale, it is worth noting that the time on site for the top 10 URLs of each search averages out to be 3 minutes and 10 seconds, with an average bounce rate of 46 percent and the average click-through rate for sites ranked in the first three positions is 36 percent with the bulk of those clicks continuing to go to the top destination listed as would be expected.
Even as so much is now being proven to have changed, some other elements have remained much the same, like the powerful correlation between social media signals and Google rankings, with social media continuing to provide human proof of interest in site content.
“Our internal testing has already proven that Google, Bing and Amazon are heavily crawling Twitter with prioritization of results given to content that gains significant human interaction via social media,” said Joe Evans of 7Veils.com
“Honestly, nothing in these new reports surprised [7Veils’] Lauren [MacEwen]or I, but it is always nice to see reputable third-parties confirming our own internal test results. We dislike assumptions and adore actual proof by pier reviewed sources or data experts in other fields.”
This article is not a substitute for reading the full report from SearchMetrics yourself and consulting with adult industry experts who seek out competitive advantages that can be applied to adult traffic acquisition in the real world.
What makes this news so important is the fact that the world of SEO changes often, and proven reliable data becomes available only sporadically.
So, a milestone moment like this one matters because it is one of the rare times when the inaccurate advice given by pretenders can easily be disproven, and the profitable advice offered by actual experts is easy to verify for your company.