To achieve good ranking positions in Google organic search results, publishers need to include high-quality content on pages rather than simply rely on traditional SEO tactics, according to a recent report from Searchmetrics.
Pages that rank well tend to have a number of qualities in common, including comprehensive coverage of topics, easy-to-understand language, more images and videos, and larger word counts, according to the analysis of US Google.com organic search results for 10,000 keywords and 300,000 websites.
However, big brand websites still rank in top positions without having to fulfill many of the criteria that Google seems to require from other sites, the analysis also found.
Overall, the presence of relevant words on a page (i.e., not just an exact match with the search term) has the strongest correlation with positive search rank. Social signals (Google +1s, Facebook shares, Pinterest pins, tweets, etc.) also tend to have very positive impact on search rank, as does the number of backlinks.