Moz’s Ranking Factors Study: the lingering link factor

By Stacey MacNaught
Moz released its 2015 Search Engine Ranking Factors Study this week and, as ever, it’s a mammoth study charting metrics with positive and negative correlation to rankings.

I took part in this year’s study and to say it was thorough is an understatement. Couple the large pool of industry experts with the other data sources Moz uses and this is one correlation study I imagine we’ll all be paying attention to.

As an agency, we spend a lot of time looking at our client’s websites and a wider pool of sites – in a host of industries – to assess correlation factors and delve into what’s working and what’s not.

But there’s really no substitute for a study like this with such a large pool of people working in the industry across different niche areas all over the world.

I’d encourage you to read the full study. But a couple of things worth a specific mention are:

The unsurprising lingering link factor

It won’t come as a surprise to those in the industry that links still correlate incredibly heavily with rankings. In fact, Moz cites domain-level links as the highest correlating factor and page-level links second.

I can’t imagine many of us doubted it.

And while there’s certainly, in our experience, notable correlation between rankings and wider brand signals (citations, social interaction and what not), links remain a core consideration in any campaign.

But what has changed in the past six years is how we go about acquiring them.


Another (non)-factor worth a specific mention is HTTPs. The study suggests very little by way of positive correlation between HTTPs usage and rankings, with Moz suggesting it may instead be the “tie breaker”-type factor.

I’m sure that will delight everyone who rushed out and invested heavily in resource to implement HTTPs.

Predictions for the future

It’s always interesting to peek into the crystal ball and get the views of a large pool of industry peers on what the future might hold.

• Over 80% of the industry experts surveyed believe mobile friendliness, and analysis of a site’s perceived value, will increase in impact over the coming year.

• 55% believe the influence of paid links will decrease over the coming 12 months.

• 49% believe the influence of anchor text will decrease over the next 12 months.

Check out this post on the Moz site for the full results of the participants’ views on how factors might change in the future.

The next study will be in 2017, where we’ll have the opportunity to find out just how accurate those predictions turn out to be.


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