Data Driven SEO Analysis of 8M pages and 210M visits by Ranking Metrics

Posted on: April 21, 2017, by : kim

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a very interesting French SEO news website called Webrankinfo. My French is pretty well because I lived in France a couple of years. But I never thought about following the SEO news there too.

The website webrankinfo.com is managed by Olivier Duffez who has been writing about SEO on that site the past 15 years (Think of him like the French Barry Schwartz).  He and his team also developed a well know  SEO tool called My Ranking Metrics (which will get an English version soon!).  So basically he has access to all data an SEO you could dream off.

Having a news website about SEO myself (seonieuws.com), I considered him to be a pretty good source of information and asked him a couple of questions on twitter about his article on Google Fred, which was pretty interesting.

But this article is not about Fred, please shut up about Fred! Fred is a very silly name for a Google Update (sorry Gary).  No, this is way more interesting. Olivier also told me that he had just conducted a big data driven SEO study and would be publishing it very soon.

A couple of days later the SEO study was published and Olivier was so kind to let me know via Twitter.  Because I thought it was very interesting material I decided to translate it to English. It won’t be perfect because English is not my first Language either. But I hope you will enjoy the information anyway 😉


3 key characteristics of web pages doing well in Google based on a study of 8 million pages and 210 million visits by Ranking Metrics.

Are your SEO and web editor right when they recommend you to avoid having poor quality pages, to invest in editorial content and to avoid pages with excessive depth? Ranking Metrics (a well known French company providing SEO tools, courses and more) decided to conduct a large study on big data they have access to in order to answer these 3 questions.

This study of unprecedented magnitude in Europe was carried out in April 2017. It covered 8.5 million pages from 831 site audits and 210 million visits. You will see that the numbers speak for themselves and reveal the characteristics of the best-performing pages pretty well.

Here is the summary of the data driven SEO analysis:

– Importance of page quality
– Importance of editorial content
– Importance of the depth of pages


Importance of page quality

Is your SEO right when he tells you to avoid having poor quality pages on your site? To answer this question, Ranking Metrics analyzed 8.5 million pages which are using their SEO tool. They analyzed several criteria: speed, content, titles, internal links, the absence of broken links, etc.).

For each page, they calculated a metric they created themselves called QualityRisk. QualityRisk is a value between 0 (no problem according to My Ranking Metrics) and 100 (many SEO problems). They investigated which pages generated the most visits (out of 210 million visits measured by Ranking Metrics).

The graph below shows the results they came up with:

SEO performance of pages by quality
This graph shows the performance of the pages according to their quality (as measured by the QualityRisk Algorithm).

After analyzing 8.454.873 pages on 831 sites and 210.431.200 visits, they came up with the following insights:

Pages with a QualityRisk rank of 0 generate on average 10 times more visits than those with a QualityRisk rank higher than 20.

And since there are lots of pages having a QualityRisk rank higher than 60:

Pages with a QualityRisk rank of 0 generate on average 29 times more visits than those with a QualityRisk rank higher than 60.


Importance of editorial content

Are web editors and SEOs right to recommend you to invest in editorial content? Is it really cost effective from an SEO point of view? To answer this question by “letting the data speak for itself”, Ranking Metrics investigated the editorial content of 8.5 million pages which make use of their tool.

To be clear:
They did not just count the number of words on each page in order to get an idea how much content they contain. They have programmed complex algorithms to determine which part of a page contains the ‘real content’ and what the quality of that content is like. These algorithms seem to be very good at identifying thin and low-quality content.

Here are the results:

– The perfect page has a rank of 0
– A page with thin content has a rank of between 1 (not severe) and 100 (the worst).

They investigated which pages generated the most visits (out of 210 million visits measured by Ranking Metrics).

The graph below shows the results they came up with:

SEO performance based on the amount of textual content
This graph shows the page performance measured in visits based on the amount of textual content in the main area of the page.

After analyzing 8.454.873 pages on 831 sites and 210.431.200 visits, they came up with the following results:

Pages with sufficient textual content in the main area generate 4 times more visits than those that lack textual content


Importance of the depth of pages

Is your SEO right to recommend you to avoid pages with excessive depth? To answer this question by “letting the data speak for itself” again, Ranking Metrics calculated the page depth of 8.5 million pages which make use of their tool. They did this by counting the number of clicks required to reach a page starting from the home page.

You may have heard already about the “3 clicks rule” by Steve Krug. The idea behind this rule is that users will only click three times to find something they are after before leaving a site. Of course, this rule is not applicable to all sites, it must be adapted according to the size of the site. This is also what is done in each My Ranking Metrics audit. But most sites will fall under that rule and they wanted to keep things simple.

So here are the results:

– A depth page 1 to 3 is usually not too deep
– From level 4, the page is most often too deep

Again they investigated which pages generated the most visits (out of 210 million visits measured by Ranking Metrics).

The graph below shows the results obtained:

 SEO performance of pages by depth
This graph shows the performance of pages according to their depth (number of clicks from the home page)

After analyzing 8.454.873 pages on 831 sites and 210.431.200 visits, they came up with the following results:

Pages with a page depth between 1 to 3 generate on average 5 times more visits than those with a page depth of 4 or more


Curious about the QualityRisk of the pages on your site?

Thanks for reading this article, I hope you found this as interesting as I did. By the way: If you are you curious about the QualityRisk of the pages on your site you can try My Ranking Metrics for free. Too bad the English version isn’t out yet. I will post a new message here when it becomes available.

I have already tested the tool thoroughly and I must say I was very impressed. Of course, it is not perfect, but it works very well. Especially when combined with the data from Google Analytics. Olivier was nice enough to give me some free credits so I could use those paid functions too. It’s a very promising tool I can tell you that 🙂

Want to see more posts like this? You can follow me on Twitter. And if you speak French a bit, be sure to also follow Olivier Duffez, he posts lots of good stuff all the time!

If you have questions or if you have anything to add to the discussion you can leave a comment by using the form below:

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