A month or two back Moz announced its 2013 Search Ranking Factors survey results, including a section on the future of search (pictured below). Here is my very quick take on each of the factors and a couple of broad poitns to think about for each.
Analysis of a site’s / page’s perceived value to users
Create content that answers questions. It must inform or educate and it must be easy to understand (relative to the target audience I suppose) and well-informed on the subject matter. When creating content ask yourself what questions your users might be asking and whether this page holds the answers.
Get on Google+ now. Be active, assign authorship on your blog or website. Become known as a subject matter expert; this requires work, knowledge and community building. Comment on other blogs in your field – use your full name.
Influence of structured data in SERPS
Get the technical know-how and start implementing it from now on. Make a plan to add it to older content. Keep it simple and relevant, you don’t need to ram everything in there. Think how it’ll benefit your users. Will this structured data appearing in the SERPs make them want to click through? Think about user engagement.
Overall influence of Google+
I’m not completely convinced it’ll be the major factor that some people are predicting but it will be important. Get on there now, create good content and get involved with communities, if your stuff is good enough it’ll get shared.
It’ll get bigger. We’ve already seen personalised results based on Google+ shares and +1s. As above, get on Google+ and other social networks and build communities, reach out to influencers and get those shares, likes, tweets and +1s.
Content readability / usability / design
Good design is so important. This includes mobile or responsive design. Content should be clear and well written. Make it fast loading and easy to read.
Usage data (CTR, dwell time etc.)
Do people like being on your site? Do your headlines attract people? Do they click through to another page or bounce? Do they share it on social media? Just a few things to think about.
Quantity of paid results on SERPs
Banner ads and ad styles are changing. We are yet to see how this affects rankings and CTR but it will certainly affect the way SERPs look and how SEOs respond. Dr Pete has done great work in this area.
On-Page topic modelling
Answer topic questions, don’t respond to keyword strings. Are you an expert in your niche?
Presence and prominence of advertising vs content
Brochureware or adverts aren’t what people want. The content is what matters. If ads (especially above the fold) outweigh your content, expect to lose out.
Influence of anchor text in external links
It will probably remain quite important but Google won’t be extracting as much context from the anchor text as it once did as it gets better at interpreting the overall purpose of a page. Penguin taught people to diversify their anchor text and this holds up.
Effectiveness of paid links
Google will destroy this. It will be harder and harder to rank if you have paid links around the web. It’s not ethical and Google does not like it.
Influence of anchor text in internal links
Again, Google doesn’t really require the context of anchor text. Varied anchor text will probably help but site structure (and site maps), ease to crawl and user interaction will give more indication to Google as to the relationship or relevance of linked pages than the anchor text. Still, best to keep it relevant but varied.
Exact keyword match domains
These domains don’t matter as much anymore. It’s all about brand. Your name or your brand needs to be closely link to the industry or niche in which you work. This requires planning and effort.