What do well positioned Google pages have in common? More importantly, what factors set these pages apart from pages with lower rankings? A recent study conducted by Searchmetrics uncovers the most relevant factors in search rankings in 2013.

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SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing site visibility across the internet. Several factors play a role in SEO and ranking, including both onsite and offsite efforts. SEO is essential for a successful eCommerce website in order to increase conversion and revenue. It’s plain and simple, if customers can’t find you or if your website does not come across as valid, chances are shoppers will fall right into the arms of competitors with better search rankings. Well positioned eCommerce sites not only average more in sales, but they become the authority in their specific space. 33% of traffic goes to the top listing in Google’s organic search results. From there, 18% of traffic goes to the second position and then the rest decreases from there. So, what’s my point you ask? If your site doesn’t appear on the first page of search results you have got bigger problems than getting a handle on shipping logistics.

The main factors that determine search rankings are backlinks, quality content, and (dare I say it) social signals. In previous years, studies focused on the importance of keywords. Today, this factor is becoming less and less relevant. Keyword use in the URL/domain no longer determines SEO ranking, and excessive use of keywords can now have a negative impact on your ranking.

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Backlinks still remain immensely important when it comes to search rankings. The fact of the matter is, the more quality backlinks your website has, the higher you rank in a search. Content also plays an interesting role in SEO. Sites that are consistently pushing out quality content to audiences are more likely to be higher in rankings than sites that push out unnecessary or poor quality content.

“On average, social signals are the domain with the highest correlations. Websites that rank in the top positions on Google usually have a large number of social signals. In other words: well-ranked URLs have many shares, likes, comments, plus ones and tweets.” – Searchmetrics

The study uncovered a direct correlation between social signals and strong SEO. Yes, ladies and gentlemen there is now proof that social presence is essential when it comes to search engine optimization. Sites with a strong social presence and a high amount of social user engagement rank higher. The more likes, comments, and tweets you have a site, the more powerful your SEO becomes. Additionally, there proves to be a correlation between sites with a low ranking on Google, and low social presence/engagement.

Read the full study, SEO Ranking Factors- Rank Correlation 2013 for Google USA.