I recently had the pleasure to listen to Ilya Grigorik give a talk at Velocity in NYC on Breaking the 1000ms Mobile Barrier. During the talk, Ilya used PageSpeed Insights to demonstrate that several high profile websites had overlooked some very simple and common optimizations and resulted in poor PageSpeed scores. For the unfamiliar, Pagespeed Insights is a web based tool created by Google that analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.
After Ilya’s talk ended, I started to think more about why performance always seems to be an afterthought with developers. As I pondered this thought, I kept coming back to the following question:
How hard is it to get a perfect PageSpeed Insights score?
It can’t be that hard, right? Well…there is only one way to find out!
Every two years, Moz runs a scientific correlation study to discover the qualities of web pages that have a strong association with ranking highly in Google. This year, for the first time, Dr. Matt Peters and the Moz Data Science Team measured the correlation between Google +1s and higher rankings.
The results were surprising.
After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. In fact, the correlation of Google +1s beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.
Moz isn’t the only one to discover this relationship. Searchmetrics, using a slightly different methodology, found Google +1s to be the highest-correlated factor they studied, and other studies have found similar results.
Here’s the million-dollar question: Can Google+ activity actually help your pages rank higher?
Public relations and SEO have always been destined to converge.
PR is about building relationships with media professionals and key influencers to help increase a company or individual’s visibility and profile; SEO is an iteration of that relationship. The only difference is that we operate in the digital sphere, and we measure these relationships through links, social signals, and other trust indicators. In the past, many SEO strategists focused on building a high volume of low quality relationships to get their company’s names out to the Web. Times have changed.
As Google’s ability to distinguish the quality, intent, and relevance of a link improves, SEO strategists need to start thinking more like PR professionals. Rather than “manufacturing” and “building” links, the SEO process should be more about the cultivation of key human relationships, and reacting effectively to real-time PR opportunities.