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Visibility_14: The Search (R)Evolution

Visibility_14 search marketing conference logoI recently had the opportunity to attend the Visibility_14 conference hosted by Searchmetrics in Chicago and it featured a great lineup of speakers covering a range of search and content marketing topics. It is always great to attend shows and bump into industry leaders in our “backyard” here in the Midwest.

Over the course of this week, I’ll provide specific notes, insights, or key takeaways that I think are worthy of sharing from the conference.

This post features a presentation titled:
“The Search (R)Evolution” by Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics.

Marcus went through a very intriguing presentation showcasing the past year’s SEO ranking factors based on their own primary research. Here’s a rundown of conclusions taken from a wealth of data, graphs, and advanced statistics.

Ranking Factors Research Background:

  • Tracked rankings 1-30 in Google search results for organic and video results for 10,000s of queries
  • The ever important reminder that correlation doesn’t equal causation
  • All comparisons noted are to the same data in 2013

On-Page Techniques:

  • Site speed (page load times) increased in importance by 200%
  • Avg load time 0.7-0.8 seconds per page for top rankings. 1.2 seconds average for page 2 search results.

Number of Internal Links

  • The brand factor – even if not optimized, Google wants to show it
  • Less is more!


  • Keyword in description is not as important as last year
  • Text length in characters – increased over past year by 12% (words, sentences, etc.)

Hummingbird Update:

  • This is not just about the knowledge graph
  • Contextual search (where you are, what device you use, etc.)
  • Conversational search
  • Semantic search

Context in Search is Important:

  • How are keywords connected
  • High correlations on content complexity and quality
  • Relevant keywords = high
  • Proof keywords = high

Mobile:  Only 64% of same URLs are ranking for desktop vs. mobile SERPs

Semantic Search:  Google is trying to understand and answer for users

Google (After Hummingbird):

  • It understands multiple queries mean same thing and delivers same SERP results for similar queries. Ups and downs in diversity of SERPs as Google is testing it.
  • Diversity is dropping in general slightly, but ups/downs. Question queries dropped 10%.
  • Example shared of rice dish vs. rice recipe with 2013 having just 2 matching results in the page 1 SERP compared to 2014 having 7 of the 10 matching.
  • Key takeaway is to be holistic in optimization and thinking.

Backlink Elements

  • Number of links dropped in correlation and importance
  • Increase in SEO visibility of linking URL.
  • A big takeaway here is to consider the visibility of the site/page that is linking to you.  You want links from sites/pages that are performing well in the SERPs too!

Evolution of SEO

  • More content isn’t better unless it is meaningful
  • Because of “not provided” we’ll look at URLs and not keywords.  Note: this aligns with my philosophy and a noted key takeaway from Tom Schuster’s presentation on The Future of SEO.
  • Keywords will become topics and rankings are an expression of relevance
  • Mobile content is becoming a ranking factor
  • Remember that search engines don’t buy products, people do

New in 2014 Data is an Analysis of User Signals in 2014:

  • Time on site has positive correlation (135 sec avg at top of page 1 results, 80 seconds at position 10)
  • Bounce rate = neutral correlation
  • Positions 11-13 have higher CTR than position 10.

SEO Conclusion/Goal:

  • Conserve traffic – conventional SEO-methods
  • New traffic through fresh content
  • Search engine optimization transition to search experience optimization


Want to hear more about this presentation, the Visibility_14 conference, or learn about Voltage?  Please reach out as I’d love to chat!

Read the previous post from Visibility_14: The Future of SEO-a business view” by Tom Schuster

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post covering the session by Prushant Puri titled “Content Marketing & Link Auditing.”