Surely, you’ve all heard it, the 200+ SEO ranking factor number that floats around in blogs, videos, and ‘how-to’ eBooks. And while we’re not disputing that Google’s algorithm is highly sophisticated (and complicated), we also think it’s important to let you know that not all 200+ of their SEO ranking factors are heavily weighted.
This means that some factors are very important…and some are just something to be aware of. For example, keywords in high-level areas of your page (title tags, H1s) are much more important in ranking you for that keyword than, say, keyword density in H2s and H3s.
But if there are so many factors, what should you be focusing on? And how can you wade through all the weak SEO ranking factors and focus on the heavy ones?
We’ve gotten these questions from clients before, which is why we are offering a two-part blog series on important ranking factors and what you can do on and off your page to help boost your SEO efforts!
- Page Speed
- Mobile Optimized
- Domain Authority
- Title Tags
- H1 Tags
- Content Length & Depth
- Duplicate Content
- Canonical Tag
- Secure Website
- Business Information
- Image Optimization
- Fresh Content
- Outbound Links
- Inbound Links
- Anchor Text
- Internal Links
- Domain History
1. Page Speed
You know that page speed is important, especially with the connections most online consumers make between quality, security, and speed.
Ultimately, a slow website looks like a bad website, if your customers even wait for it to load (which they probably won’t).
Use Page Speed Insights to see how you stack up:
2. Domain Authority
Domain authority describes the relevance for a specific subject area or industry, so, if you talk about tacos on your page, have a wealth of knowledge about tacos, and have trusted websites that also specialize in tacos linking to you, your DA will probably be higher.
Moz has a good tool to learn about your domain authority, but their best features require a subscription.
3. Title Tags
Title tags tell users what your page will be about even before they get on it, as title tags can be seen from the search engine results page (SERPs). This means your title tag has to be relevant to the page, include keywords, have your branded name if possible, and stay within the length limits (under 60 characters).
We recommend using a style similar to:
20 SEO Ranking Factors That REALLY Matter | JSL Marketing
4. H1 Tags
H1 tags, or header 1 tags, are similar to the topmost title of an outline, so it is important that they are present and relevant to your page, content, and keywords.
Instead of having your homepage merely be labeled ‘Home’ as its H1, try having a service mentioned as well. For example, the JSL homepage’s H1 is:
Digital Marketing & Web Design That Converts
See how that is much better than ‘Home?’ After all, everyone knows it’s the home page, but instead we talk about what the page will cover, have keywords within the H1, and add interest.
5. Content Length & Depth
Content length is always up for debate, but the numbers don’t lie! Often, the pages that come up first on the SERPs are pages with more content length and depth. So, if you search for ‘SEO ranking factors’ you will find a list of 200 before you find a list with only 6.
Consider using the Content Analyzer or Writing Helper on SEMRush as they are great tools to help you see what the competition’s length is for certain keywords, as well as what direction you should go (casual, technical, etc.).
A little research goes a long way, but at the very least, home pages should have no less than 400 words (and 700-1,000 is best).
6. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is a big red flag for Google, as it essentially looks like plagiarism or that you simply copied and pasted the same content onto multiple pages on your website. Even though Google wants to see in-depth content on each page, that doesn’t mean you can cheat and just write one page of great content and then use the same words on each page.
This is one of the reasons why content marketing is so important, and why having a good writer is valuable. Even if you are targeting similar words on different pages, you need to make sure the content is unique and helpful on both.
7. Canonical Tag
Sometimes you don’t have duplicate content, but the search engines still think you do if you don’t have a 301 redirect or canonical tag. This will tell Google that your page is the originator of the content, and that other variations of your URL are still the same page and the same site.
Otherwise, search engines might consider www.jsl.marketing and https://jsl.marketing/ as different websites – and then nail you with a ton of ‘duplicate content.’
8. Secure Website
Speaking of the above example (www.jsl.marketing vs. https://jsl.marketing/) make sure your website is secure (with that https) as otherwise users and search engines won’t trust you.
Check out what Google Search Console has to say about secure websites and how to switch yours over easily and quickly:
RankBrain was a major update that helped Google’s algorithm learn what people mean when they type in a query that could mean multiple things. This is a huge step for machine learning, but also makes your website’s content all the more important.
One of the biggest areas that shifted due to RankBrain is the ‘one keyword per page’ idea. Instead, use keywords that are semantically related on the same page, like:
Web Design Dallas, SEO & Web Design, UI/UX Design in Dallas, Dallas Website Development, and Web Development Dallas.
If these are all targeted on the same page – guess what, Google can probably figure out that your page is on web design and SEO in the Dallas area, not property development and design services in Dallas.
10. Mobile-Friendly Website
This one is huge, really huge, because of the aptly named Google update – Mobilegeddon. As it sounds, it was all about making sure your website is optimized for mobile users, and if it isn’t, well – you probably took a huge dive a couple of years back.
And guess what – Google wants you to succeed in this area, which is why they made their very own ‘mobile-friendly test’ which can tell you how your website stacks up, why, and what you can do to improve it.
Stay Tuned for the Second Half of our SEO Ranking Factors Blog – Coming Soon!
And in the meantime, if narrowing down the 200+ SEO ranking factors to 20 still seems like a lot to handle, don’t worry! JSL Marketing & Web Design is here to help.
Our SEO team has brought our clients and ourselves to the top of the pile time and time again! Contact us today to learn more about SEO, our services, and our company.