4 Important Factors That Affect Search Rankings
Search engine optimization is an important part of every online business, as higher search engine ranking means more visitors and more sales.
Without it a site can of course still be ranking in the search engine results pages, or so called SERPs, but it will struggle to ascend above other results.
So what factors are the most important to better ranking? Let’s learn a few simple tricks how to improve your online presence.
#1: Link Profile
While it’s true that backlinks are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain since Google banned guest posting for SEO purposes, backlinks remain the most important aspect to get right if you want to rank well in any search. However, it’s not just backlinks that are necessary, but an overall healthy link profile is vital to the mix.
A good link profile must include:
- Backlinks from a range of sites with domain authority and Page Ranks that are mixed – many will be from sites with a similar authority while others will be from high domain authority sites.
- Internal linking is also important so that search bots can more effectively crawl a site and ensure that relevant information is pointed to from one page to another.
- No follow links are also good, despite what many people think. It’s almost impossible to gain a good amount of backlinks without some of them being no follows and having them presents a good balance and goes some way to showing that you’re not paying for or exchanging links.
- Outgoing links from your site to others in your niche are vital too as this shows that you’re referencing material in order to make the information you’re providing more useful.
According to the latest research from Searchmetrics, in its 2014 ranking study, every link has value and internal links that use keywords help a site to rank well too. As you can see from the image below, backlinks appear as the third most important factor when it comes to ranking; so anyone looking to improve rankings should pay attention to improving their overall link profile. This can be done by using Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer to examine the links coming into the site.
A specific strategy should be set out for gaining more backlinks through listing in high quality directories such as Yell and posting high quality content on other sites. Commenting can be used too, but it’s important to stress that comments and directories should never be overused, they should only be carried out on sites that are relevant to the niche and on directories and sites where there is contact information should you need to get the link taken down.
Content is the lifeblood of every site and should be of a high quality, well presented with outgoing links and great spelling and grammar. It’s critical that written content that appears on your site is completely unique and does not appear anywhere else online. Some sites use text spinners to create content quickly and easily from other content that’s been found on the web. Don’t do this – spun content rarely is readable and usually looks a little like gibberish, even when reliable software is used.
That said, spun content is not as common as it used to be as the search engines have worked on algorithms designed to push low-quality content to the bottom of the ranking results.
The Searchmetrics study found that content continues to be increasingly important to search engines, so if you can’t write, then employ a professional to do it for you.
In the age of social media search engines look at shares and likes to judge how useful the content is too, so make sure that you distribute your blog posts and other content via social platforms as well. As you can see from the graphic, G+ +1s are very important and whilst the search giants deny that they give preference to G+ shares in search, this is clearly not the case.
It’s also important to note that a site that ranks well will contain a good mixture of content that includes both written content and visuals – images, videos, etc. Lengthier content tends to do better as well, so stay away from writing 300-word ‘fluff’ pieces that provide no value neither to the reader, nor to your ranking.
#3: Site Architecture
When it comes to technical SEO, the the layout of your website is quite important to how well it ranks. This includes the use of keywords throughout the site and these should use H1, H2 and others, too.
Good site architecture must include:
- The use of keywords in titles;
- The use of headers and sub-headers;
- Logical structure;
- Sitemaps both for search engines and users;
- Meta descriptions.
It’s no longer that important to place keywords in URLs as this correlation has been dropping in studies for some time now. However, as noted above, you should strategically place keywords in internal links.
#4: Site Performance
As we turn to the mobile, site speed and performance are becoming increasingly important to search rankings. Any site that takes a long time to load isn’t the one that can be considered to have great UX; and a site that doesn’t load quickly will not only affect rankings but will also have a negative impact on conversions.
In fact, according to a Kissmetrics study:
- 47% of consumers expect a page to load in less than two seconds.
- If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of people will have already abandoned it (!).
- Just a 1-second delay in loading time may mean a 7% reduction in conversions.
So site speed is a very important factor in terms of all – SEO, website traffic, leads and conversions. Sites can be slow for a variety of reasons, which include:
- Poor design, especially for Responsive Web Design sites.
- Servers: the quality of these vary and if you pay very little for your hosting, or if you use a free service, then low performance could be affecting your entire business. Ensure that you use a reasonable business hosting package and that your host offers an excellent uptime as well as technical support. Want to test your site speed? Check out GT Metrix.
- Images that are not optimized properly for web – file sizes for images should be kept smaller if possible so that the site is not slowed down.
These are just a few of the many factors that affect your site’s ranking in search engines. Keywords are an important part of the mix, as is your presence on the social media. However, the most vital things are mentioned above and these should be the ones that you pay the most attention to.
Good ranking is difficult without considering the above listed factors, but still might possible – you should also be aware that despite the claims of the unsolicited emails that businesses receive daily, only Google can get you to the top of the search rankings and no other party ever can guarantee it.
If you can’t carry out what needs to be done yourself, then you shouldn’t look for cheap ways to do so. Employ professional SEO specialists, copywriters and authors of your specific niche and a web designer who can look at the back and front end of the site to ensure that it provides great UX and performance. Good luck!