Backlinks and Content Quality Correlate With Higher Google Rankings, New Study by Backlinko Finds

The #1 result in Google has 3.8x more backlinks than positions #2-10, according to analysis of 11.8 million Google search results

Authoritative domains that publish thorough content tend to rank higher in Google’s organic search results, according to a new industry study by Backlinko.

The analysis, which used data provided by SEO software company Ahrefs, also found no correlation between site loading speed and rankings.

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The dataset included 11.8M web pages, making it one of the largest search engine ranking factors study to date.

This joint Backlinko and Ahrefs analysis also investigated a number of other potential Google ranking factors.

Impact of title tags: The study found that between 65% and 85% of pages that rank in Google’s top 10 results tend to use a keyword in their title tag. However, while title tags are critical for getting on Google’s first page, this analysis found that keyword-rich title tags won’t help a page climb the first page rankings once they get there.

Impact of website loading speed: The analysis discovered that, despite page speed being a confirmed Google ranking factor, fast-loading websites don’t appear to have any ranking advantage over websites that load slowly. The authors of the study conclude that site speed may be a minor ranking signal that doesn’t translate into actual ranking improvements.

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Impact of word count: This research found that the first page of Google is predominantly made up of long-form content. The average word count of a first-page result in Google was found to be 1,447 words.

Impact of backlinks: Both total backlinks and number of referring domains correlated with higher first page rankings.

Impact of a page’s link authority: The authors of the study found a weak correlation between a specific page’s link authority (as measured using Ahrefs URL Rating) and higher first page Google rankings. URL Rating was found to be significantly less important than a domain’s link authority as a whole.

Impact of schema: Use of Schema markup was found to have no correlation with rankings.

Impact of time on site: Websites with a high time on site tend to outrank websites with a low time on site. Improving time on site by 3 seconds correlates to ranking one spot higher on Google’s first page.

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