SEO is a discipline that moves at lightning speed. Your business needs to stay on top of the latest search engine best practices to come out ahead.
The best way to improve your SEO is to understand your ranking factors. Every search engine uses slightly different ranking factors, and all of these factors are weighed differently. These factors matter for your business because they determine where you fall on the search engine results page (SERP).
The problem is that these factors are part of search engines’ secret sauce, so they rarely spell them out. However, there are certain factors known to have the greatest influence on your rankings. Whether you take a DIY approach or work with an SEO agency, you’ll want to improve your ranking factors over time to improve SEO.
4 ranking factors you need to know
Did you know that search engines consider hundreds of factors to determine where you land on the SERP? Fortunately, you don’t need to optimize for all of these factors. In our experience, these 4 metrics are the most important for your SEO.
1 - Website speed
For every second your site takes to load, you lose 11% of your traffic. If your website takes just 5 seconds to load, that means you’re losing half of your traffic before the page even displays!
Because page speed is a user experience problem, it’s also an SEO problem. Nobody wants to wait 10 seconds for your page to load because it leads to a bad experience.
If search engines notice that users leave your slow website within seconds, they’re less likely to rank you higher in search results because you’re giving users a bad experience. Work with an SEO agency or web developer to create a speedy website that users love.
2 - User experience
In addition to speed, search engines look at a handful of other user experience factors. This often includes:
- Security: Move your website to HTTPS and use an SSL certificate to show you’re legitimate.
- Mobile optimization: How does your website render to mobile users? Make sure your website uses a responsive design so all fonts, calls to action, and menus display correctly. Remember to prioritize mobile speed: search engines hand out SEO penalties for slow mobile experiences.
- Bounce rate: Are most of your users leaving within 10 seconds? That usually means there’s something wrong with your website. Use heatmaps to pinpoint the exact problem.
3 - Content quality
Search engines are trying to match their users with the most useful, relevant information possible. As a website owner, you need to optimize your content for both real humans and search engines.
From an SEO perspective, good content means:
- Writing pieces that are in the 2,000-word range. And no fluff! Make everything incredibly useful to your readers.
Optimizing your content with the proper keyword density.
Adding videos to improve engagement.
Your goal should be to solve your visitors’ problems. When human visitors love your content, search engines love your content.
4 - Back-end optimization
Although it’s really important to design a great front-end experience for users, you also need to optimize the back-end of your website for SEO. This is called on-page optimization and it helps search engines “read” your site more easily. The easier it is for a search engine to see your content, the better they tend to rank your website.
Search engines look for factors like:
- Title tags
- Header tags
- Meta descriptions
- Image alt tags
- Schema markup
While you can do some on-page optimization with tools like Yoast, it’s often better to leave this work to your web developer or SEO agency. You don’t want to break your website by accident!
The bottom line
Search engines don’t like revealing the precise calculations they use to determine your search engine rank. However, you can significantly improve your rank just by optimizing your website for users. Work on speed, user experience, content quality, and back-end settings to steadily improve your rank.
Do you know where your site ranks right now? Get free SEO recommendations in just 60 seconds, just fill out the below form.