The 2013 Moz Search Engine Ranking report reveals some tried-and-true SEO practices continue to drive results, while anticipated algos loom.

Links provide SEO benefits, Authorship not active algo yet

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SEO is not static and companies know they need to stay on top of breaking trends to remain at the forefront of the content marketing pack. Failing to do so will cost them their Page 1 rankings in search results, as well as the majority of clicks, website visitors and conversions that comes as a result. However, marketers must perform a delicate dance to stay on the leading edge, while also capitalizing on existing practices that generate results.

In one example of this fine line, Moz‘s 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors finds links and keywords remain some of the most important factors to search marketing success, while highly anticipated algorithms like Authorship do not show bottom-line benefits yet.

Links and keywords still king

The study combines results from a survey of SEO professionals and a correlational study of search ranking factors. It revealed that domains with strong links continue to dominate SERPs. The data found link source diversity was prevalent in sites scoring prime search real estate, and SEOs agree that links persist as one of the most important contributors to web visibility and traffic.

Domains with strong links continue to dominate SERPs.

Keyword strategies also remain one of the most important components of results-driven web marketing. SEOs report that KW inclusion in titles and on pages is closely related to search rankings. Moz’s findings corroborated this assertion, revealing that title tags, HTML bodies, meta descriptions and H1 tags containing keywords are traits found in high-ranking domains.

It might seem obvious to brands that have followed SEO trends that links and keyword strategies equal success because they have been staples of Google’s ranking metric. However, the search engine’s own Matt Cutts has come forward saying there is more to SERP domination than impressive backlink profiles and keyword use. Brafton covered a Webmaster Help Channel video in which Cutts explained that other factors such as user experience and design are often underestimated factors contributing to internet marketing results.

Change on the SEO horizon?

Moz found that rumored ranking signals like Google+ Authorship markup, Open Graph markup, Publisher markup and Schema markup do not correlate with advantageous SERP positions. This is another sign that SEO changes are underway, but not quite available yet.

Brafton recently reported that Authorship use is still minimal for major brands. Only 3.5 percent of Fortune 100 companies have taken the steps necessary to provide authors with rich snippets that feature their bylines and headshots in SERPs, even though it has been proven that including pictures draws eyes and increases clicks.

With new algorithms hovering on the horizon, SEOs must continue using proven strategies while building a foundation to prepare for upcoming ranking signals.

Lauren Kaye
Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.


  • Bipper Media

    I couldn’t disagree more – I have a law firm client who had other SEO firms attempting to get them ranked for two years prior to bringing me on. After making no changes to the content, meta data, or inbound linking portfolio, I integrated Google authorship for their DUI attorney and within 2 weeks he was #3 in Google with his authorship image displaying.

    Coincidence? I don’t think so…

    Also, after integrating authorship for their personal injury attorney and simply creating one additional page of content for their targeted keyword phrase (again, no additional inbound linking, etc…) the attorney has been a strong and definitive #1 in Google for the past 4 months.

    So for two years, without authorship, this law firm has never even sniffed the front page of Google. They fire their other SEO firm, I integrate authorship, and within weeks they are shooting to #1 in Google for a wide range of keyword phrases.

    All due respect, I have to completely disagree that authorship is having no impact in the algorithm.

    My take on it is this – if someone (through Google+) is willing to put their name behind their website and brand, the association tells Google that there is a higher level of authenticity associated with this web property.

    Now that may simplify a lot of otherwise complicated calculations in Google’s algorithm, but I believe it holds weight. I see this to be especially true for my metro targeted clients such as “personal injury lawyer in athens”, “brain injury attorney atlanta” (both of which my clients are #1 in Google with authorship) because in most cases, no other business is integrating authorship so it’s relatively easy for the one business who does to gain the algorithmic edge.

  • Lauren Kaye

    Hi Bipper Media!

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond! We couldn’t agree more that Authorship is important and provides tangible SEO benefits. However, this article was drawing on data from Moz’s study and for better of worse, Google has not yet released Authorship and AuthorRank as official algorithms.

    It’s great that your clients saw such impressive results, but it might be the case that a number of factors deserve credit for their success. If the writing is poor or basic SEO principles are missing, it may not help as much that authors are willing to put their names to their content.

    Thanks again for your feedback!


  • Kev Massey

    Hi, I only focus on building brand backlinks now, we do not target keyword inbound links anymore. I believe if your onsite seo is optimized correctly for your keywords and the quality value of the article your using to include your brand backlinks will help the rankings of your keywords better in the long run (if that makes sense?!)

    If your creating value content on your own blog, the keyword links will come flooding in as a reliable source for information.

    Thanks for the read, Kev from SixtyMarketing

  • Seoexpert Arpitkothari

    Yes, you are right…

    Links and keywords still king…


  • SC Marketing

    The methods used in search engine optimization as well as marketing are continuously changing and what seem to be effective a year ago may not be advisable at this time. With this, being informed is crucial. Thanks for the info!