Seeing Into the Future: How will Search Engine ranking factors continue to change in 2012?

How will Search Engine ranking factors continue to change in 2012?

Each year, SEO Moz analyzes what segments of the optimization process seem to be having the most impact.  Is Social Media having a larger or smaller impact than your onpage LDA score and keyword distribution?  How much do well-written title-tags play into your rankings?

Are exact match domain names still an effective traffic sponge?  Are they still effecting rankings?  Has your site’s link profile been given more or less weight this year?  Hundreds of SEO’s are quizzed on this subject and they voluntarily supply in-depth responses: the resulting documentation—combined with quantitative data they’ve gathered direct from search engine analytics processes—is called the SEO Moz Annual Search Engine Ranking Factors Report.   This report is parsed like a papal encyclical by SEO’s and webmasters all over the world, who are hoping to give their clients an edge.

The 2012 report will be coming out in a few weeks, but I feel like I’m in a position to make some predictions about what is likely to appear on the report based on 2011 results and my own experiences and reading over the past year.

User Experience

The user experience, or UX, of the website plays a big role in the search engine rankings. In 2011, this was the most important factor for search engine rankings. One of the most important parts of UX is the ability to easily navigate the website. Users want to reach different areas of your website with a simple click and then easily get back to where they started. If your links are complicated or take users through a maze of pages, they are less likely to use your website again in the future.

Social Media

The use of social media in conjunction with websites has quickly grown as one of the most important factors in search engine rankings. Even though social media was created as a way for people to connect, many businesses and website owners are using the same social media sites to reach their intended audience. When a website uses this method to reach its audience, it will see an increase in traffic because people like to share what they find with their family and friends. Taking advantage of social media during its early stages of business use can help ensure your success.

Domain Names

The domain name you choose from a domain name provider such as, plays an important role in search engine ranking. However, people seem to overlook this key component. Even though you don’t hear much about choosing the right domain name for your website, it is still important. You want to choose one that reflects exactly what your business provides. In most cases, it should be your business name. If that isn’t available, you should choose something that implements your main keywords or reflects what your business offers. It’s important to avoid symbols and other unusual combinations of letters and numbers.


Even though most people are making use of keywords for search engine optimization, it still remains important for your search engine rankings. Even though other factors are ranking higher and growing more quickly than keywords, they are still extremely important. You need to think about what people will search for when they want your products or services. Avoid choosing shorter keywords that are general. Be as specific as possible. Checking your competitors can help you find the right keywords as well. Once you have the keywords, you can create the quality content search engines look for when calculating rankings.


The ability to gain links back to your site can serve you well. When search engine spiders go through websites, they take note of the links they find on other sites. If your site appears to be popular based on linking, you can find your rank improving. When people link back to your site, they are showing their users that they trust your website. This can go a long way toward improving your rankings and your traffic.

Even though some of the trends for search engine ranking factors are changing, it is important not to stop using the tried and true methods you have always used, such as choosing a quality domain. It’s still important to start following the new trends, but you should use them in conjunction with the older methods. Together, you can use all of these factors to help improve your search engine rankings and gain more traffic.