Top Search Engine Ranking Factors for 2011


June Newsletter 2011

By: Erik Baeumlisberger

Every 2-years, Rand Fishkin and his team aggregate the opinions of SEO professionals from around the world in an attempt to determine the top search engine ranking factors.

It is commonly understood within our industry that great content and even better backlinks are the cornerstones of most SEO campaigns. But since the last survey was completed in 2009, SEOs have shifted their opinions as to what the dominant ranking factors are.

Two years ago, survey participants ranked page-level link metrics as the dominant (43%) ranking factor. In 2011, that percentage has slipped to only 22%.

Here’s a breakdown on the top search engine ranking factors for 2011 according to the 132 contributors to this study. 
  1. Page-level Link Metrics – 22%
    Backlinks are still the most important ranking factor, but less so than before
    The diversity of the link sources matters more than the number of backlinks
    Partial anchor text matches may be more relevant than exact match

  2. Domain-level, Link Authority Features – 21%
    Links from authoritative domains carry more weight
    Diversity of link types from authoritative domains important
    “No follow” links may positively impact SEO

  3. Page-level Keyword Usage – 14%
    Placement and usage of keyword in the tags, titles and metas
    Longer documents tend to rank better
    Short page titles and short URLs better for SEO

  4. Domain-level Keyword Usage – 11%
    Exact match domain importance is diminishing
    Exact match domains tend to be more spammy
    Exact match domains still great for getting links

  5. Page-level Social Metrics – 7%
    Facebook shares very beneficial to SEO, possibly more so than tweets
    Tweets from authoritative accounts carry weight
    Understanding how Google parses anchor text in social streams is imperative

  6. Domain-level Brand Metrics – 7%
    Search volume for the brand / domain is the most important ranking factor
    Brand mentions on authoritative, topical sites is important
    The number of brand mentions on social sites can positively impact SEO

  7. Page-level, Keyword Agnostic Features – 7%
    Unique content on every page increase authority of each page
    Fresher content indexes quicker
    Sites with faster load times index better

  8. Page-level Traffic / Query Data – 6%
    More clicks on your SERP result results in higher rankings
    Users that click your result but bounce from your page are bad for SEO
    Clicks and visits from multiple keywords present in the SERPs is good for SEO

  9. Domain-level Keyword Agnostic Features – 5%
    Sites with unique content index and rank better
    Sites with a constant flow of fresh content index faster
    Sites with a high bounce rate rank lower

The study participants we also asked to define which factors they predict will see increased importance in the coming years these factors included:
  • Domain-level and page-level “usefulness” score
    Become authoritative in your industry with useful how-to articles, research studies, practice analysis or expert commentary.
  • Page-level Social Signals
    Enable social sharing (“Like” and “Tweet”) buttons on articles, posts and other high-value pages.
  • Domain-level Social Signals
    Monitor the quantity and quality of social shares to your domain

Moving forward, a diversified approach to SEO will become the hallmark of a successful campaign. Although the dominance of inbound links remains, devoting resources towards the creation of unique, fresh and useful content promoted via social sharing may ensure continued success.


 Client Spotlight:  Phoenix East Aviation - Teaching the World to Fly
What makes one flight training academy better than another? 
Typically, it is many things such as training aircraft, ground school, the curriculum, management, local weather,and of course, the flight instructors. Phoenix East has consistently been told by students and graduates alike that all of these things are what make PEA a superior flight school, with emphasis on the dedication, the skills and the caring attitudes of the flight instructors.  
With nearly 60 full-time, professional flight instructors, the student pilot is in good hands at PEA.  Learning to fly is not simple, and it’s  not easy.  A student needs to have a strong desire. Some call it a “passion” for aviation. You need to have a sense of dedication and perseverance and hard work. Plus, you need good teachers. 
At Phoenix East Aviation, the student has a special mentor guiding him in the  quest to become a skilled pilot. An instructor is assigned to each student. As the instructor, he or she has one goal, to help the student succeed in his/her training.  If the students need extra help, their instructor will be there to assist 24/7.  PEA instructors are full-time not just weekend instructors.  They fly and teach every day.  Many are university graduates with aviation degrees; others are former military and airline pilots.  All are FAA-trained and, at minimum, hold Commercial Pilot Licenses, as well as Certified Flight Instructor, Certified Flight Instructor Instrument and Multi-Engine Instructor Ratings.  In addition, Phoenix East’s Flight Department is structured and managed like an airline, with an equivalent level of professionalism.  It includes a Flight Standards Department and a Department of Corporate Safety and Security, as well as having a chief pilot and two assistant chief pilots to direct the instructors who are teaching students.  At Phoenix East, students are prepared to become professional pilots. 
PEA’s pilot education has also attained self-examining authority from the FAA, in part, because of the quality of our curriculum and instruction.  Self-examining authority is permitted by the FAA only to those academies that have shown a continual high quality of training expertise.  In addition, PEA is one of only a very few independent U.S. flight academies that is nationally accredited.  To become accredited, an academy must periodically go through a rigorous evaluation to assure its high standards in education and academy management. The instructors are part of this accreditation assessment. 
Phoenix East is well-known for training pilot candidates for airlines worldwide; the list of airlines is long (for details, see  In the last three years, Phoenix East Aviation has instructed men and women from nearly 90 different counties.  Not only are PEA students from countries around the world, the instructors are as well. To name a few, many are from Germany, Guatemala, Norway, England, Israel, India, Venezuela, Iran, Brazil, Denmark, Greece, Uruguay, Scotland – and of course, the U.S. 
Students from all over the world want to join the academy for flight training, because of its well-known quality of education and its reputation with airlines worldwide.  Phoenix East does indeed “Teach the World to Fly!” 
To Learn More, Click Here to Contact Us.

Meet the Underdog - Blaze 2007 USAA ACK Agility Champion

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