To achieve a top search rank for a website, it’s more like a marathon than a sprint. There are steps to be taken understanding top ranking factors. Each step gets you closer to your goal. So it’s important to know what the most important ranking factors are.
Here are 24 top ranking factors for a high search rank with search engines.
KEYWORDS: Create relevance with your audience. Here are the places where they should be seen on a website.
KEYWORD IN DOMAIN NAME: Exact match domains tend to perform extremely well in the SERPs. But if the desired domain name is taken or, for branding purposes, if it is better to go for a brand name as your domain name, there are other ways to pursue keywords.
KEYWORDS IN THE URL: Every URL on a website is a place to put keywords. And, there are up to 115 characters that search engines capture. Keep them clean and user friendly. For example, http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/seo-clean-urls is a simple description of keywords in a url title that describe what the webpage is about.
KEYWORDS IN PAGE TITLES: It’s much easier to stick your keyword in page titles. Make sure that your titles also look natural and appealing because people buy what you’re selling, not search bots.
KEYWORDS IN H1 TEXT: H1 is an HTML tag normally used to mark headings. When your keywords stand in H1 tags, they carry more weight.
KEYWORDS IN IMAGE ALT TEXT: Image alt text is what gets displayed instead of your image when it cannot be loaded. If image alt texts reflect the rest of the keywords on your page, this sends the search engines a signal that your page is relevant to the search query, and they rank it higher.
KEYWORDS IN ANCHOR TEXT: Internal linking is important for higher rankings. To attain the desired effect, use your keywords in the anchor texts on web pages.
KEYWORD DENSITY IN COPY: Keywords should be present in copy. The exact number of keywords to increase search rank the on the industry. There is no ideal keyword density that’ll work for every site.
LINKS: Establish authority with your area of expertise. Here is how to use them.
OUTBOUND LINKS: Linking to authoritative pages sends trust signals to the search engine. It shows you want your audience to learn more of the subject. This is a huge trust factor for Google.
INTERNAL LINKS: Interlinking pages on your site can pass their strength between them. It also makes it easier for your audience to get to specific areas of the website.
NUMBER OF LINKING DOMAINS: The number of domains linking to you is one of the most important ranking factors.
AUTHORITY OF LINKING DOMAINS: Not all links are equal The authority of the domain used is an influencing rank factor too.
SITE FACTORS: Help search engines and your audience understand what your site is about; the better is the understanding, the higher the search rank.
INDEXED PAGES: The number of pages on search engine that a website appear. More is generally better.
SITE MAP: A sitemap helps search engine to index all pages on your site. It is the simplest and most effective way to search engines what pages your website includes.
SITE LOADING SPEED: To search engines and your customers, site loading speed impacts search rank. 47% of web users expect a website to load in under two seconds. 51% of online shoppers in the U.S claimed if a site is too slow they will not complete a purchase (source: Search Engine Journal)
SITE ERRORS: Numbers are often used to account for errors that may be occurring on a website. A 404 error occurs when a webpage is served to a user who tries to access a page that cannot be located at the URL provided. A 401 error happens when a website visitor tries to access a restricted web page but isn’t authorized to do so, usually because of a failed login attempt. A 500 error is a general-purpose error message for when a web server encounters some form of internal error. For example, the web server is overloaded. There are some of the most common site errors.
MOBILE OPTIMIZED SITE: 46% of searchers used mobile exclusively to research. And the number are increasing. Having a mobile optimized site is having a bigger impact on search rank as time goes by. (source: Positionly)
GOOGLE (OR BING) WEBMASTER TOOLS INTEGRATION: If you site is verified by Google Webmasters Tools, it help with your sites indexing. Webmaster Tools in general provide valuable data to better optimize your site.
GOOD CONTENT: Amplifies relevance and authority. No website get to a high search rank without good content.
CONTENT LENGTH: Searchers want to be educated. They won’t satisfy with basic information. The authority and informativeness of content is very important.
DUPLICATE CONTENT: Not all factors can influence your rankings in a positive way. Having similar content across various pages of your site can actually hurt your rankings. Avoid duplicating content and write original copy for each page.
CONTENT UPDATES: Search engine algorithms prefers freshly updated or “dynamic” content. It is one reason blogs have such strong value for search rank. This does mean that you have to continually edit web pages. It does mean, on an annual basis, you should have a strategy for freshening up page content.
IMAGES AND VIDEOS: Good content doesn’t have to always involve words. Images and videos are just as important. They provide opportunities for Alt Text with Keywords and Links.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Provides additional sources of traffic, links and web pages. They are important contributors to a high search rank.
SOCIAL REPUTATION: Just as search engines don’t count all links equally, they don’t view all social accounts as being the same. Having your own social presence that is well regarded is important. You want to gain references from social accounts with good reputations. Participate on relevant social platforms in a real, authentic way.
SOCIAL SHARES: Similar to links, getting quality social shares is helpful. Good things happen when more people see your site or brand. Nowhere is this more apparent than Google+.
SOCIAL PRESENCE: Having more than one entry on a search page can only increase the chance of a click. Your social network are additional web pages that help people get to know you and drive traffic to your website. And people like to do business with people they know.
Do these ranking factors help you understand search rank? Does you business need help getting to a top search rank? Are there top ranking factors you would include that we missed?
SEO is the approach to optimizing a brand’s web presence for organic search including the website, social channels, blogs, articles and press releases. SEO in the digital marketing mix is here to stay.
Finding a good resource that achieves results is like hiring a good electrician, plumber or auto mechanic. Find the right one and and you’ve found an invaluable asset.
How do you know? One way is to ask for a proposal. Fortunately, there are ingredients that distinguish great SEO proposals.
What makes a great SEO proposal? Here are 11 ingredients to look for.
STRATEGY: SEO is a business building activity. So a strategy that spells out how business is built should be spelled out. It should be results-oriented and measurable. Here are key strategy ingredients.
DESIRED RESULTS: An increase in search rank as measured on Search Engine Rank Page (SERP) is usually the #1 result most people expect. But an increase in rank doesn’t translate to an increase in business unless specific increases in web traffic and conversions occur. A good SEO program should take into account how this is going to occur.
SITE AUDIT: To understand how to drive business, the way people use your site now should be examined. In an SEO proposal, a Site Audit should be included that evaluates: 1) Top Keywords, 2) Number of Inbound Links, 3) Unique Visitors, 4) Bounce Rate, 4) Traffic Sources (including percent of Visits from Organic Search), 5) Key Pages and 6) Conversion Activities. A Site Audit also specifies any errors or pages not found as well as if a site map is available. A Site Audit sets up activities that need to occur and benchmarks what is realistic to expect and when.
KEYWORD RESEARCH: Search engines look for a relevant match to the keywords that a consumer writes in a search query. Words are the most important ingredient in SEO. Keyword Research is a foundation to an SEO proposal. Search volumes, keyword search trends, competitiveness, CPC ((Cost Per Click) – what others pay) leading to keyword recommendations are a key phase in an SEO proposal.
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS: Your business isn’t likely to be the only one competing for the same consumer. So an analysis of competitor’s keywords, web traffic and links should be present. A Competitive Analysis informs keyword decisions and desired results. It’s also a valuable source for ideas:
INBOUND LINK ASSESSMENT: Search engines look for other website that mention your website for a consumer’s keyword query. This occur by Inbound Links from other websites that reference your website. This has a high value to the search engine because it signals your business is an “authority” on those keywords. A Link Assessment specifies the number of links you currently have and should spell out the plan for securing more. Inbound Links are a timely topic. If done in a disreputable way, your site can get discredited. Authentic or “White Hat” ways are important to understand. HubSpot offer some sound advice.
EXECUTION: With a strategy for building business in hand, here is what should be included in the execution.
SITE ARCHITECTURE: To take advantage of priority keywords, every page should represent one. When search engine crawl your site, Site Architecture ensures a comprehensive overview of what the site is about. Search engines and visitors understand better if you focus on one keyword per page rather than put them all together in “keyword stuffing.”
OPTIMIZATION STRATEGY: There are a number of places search engine go to understand the reason for being for a website. They are: 1) URL, 2) Page Title, 3) Body Copy, 4) Meta Description and 5) Links. The proposal should specify that this work is going to be performed on every page of your site.
ON-PAGE IMPLEMENTATION: A good SEO person performs these services. However, at some organizations, there is a company webmaster or IT department that oversees website development. How the On-Page Implementation is to occur should be worked out beforehand at it can impact price and timing. There should also be a check of the activities to make sure they have occurred on site as they should.
CONTENT MARKETING PROGRAM: Reputation matters in business and in SEO. In the latter, a good reputation occurs if a website continually put out good content reinforcing the keywords and providing links to other websites (which are ofter reciprocated back). This occur through a blog, newsletter, PR releases and social media sharing. It should be specified how this occurs, how often and who does it.
MEASUREMENT AND REPORTING: Monthly reporting against the desired results should be a part of the program. The impact of SEO generally occurs in the range of 2 to 6 months. Once desired results are achieved, they generally stay with the content marketing program. The reward of a good SEO program are substantial.
PRICING: Pricing for SEO occurs on a: 1) Retained monthly amount, 2) project or 3) hourly basis. If a retainer is used, the initial months are usually higher as there is strategy and research work involved. According to MOZ in a survey of 600 agencies, Project Pricing was the most commonly used and ranged from $1,000 to $7500. Hourly costs, which are the common denominator for all types, ranged from $76/hour to $200/hour depending on who did the work and what country it was performed.
To give you an example of a great SEO proposal that follow these principles, here is one from [LINK]Caffeine.
Did this help you understand what makes a great SEO proposal? Would your business benefit from this type of SEO program?
These statistics say there are big changes in marketing coming. But we live in budget cutting times, and marketing budgets are among the first to get cut. Why? When non-marketing executives take a hard look at the numbers, they often can’t see a direct link to revenue.
The secret is having – and correctly using – the right measurements.
Here are 12 data driven measurements every marketer should know.
KEYWORDS: 90% of consumer buying decisions begin on the internet according to Forrester Research. The journey most often begins with a consumer typing their unmet need into the query box of a search engine. 54% find websites through natural search engines results says Forrester. Do you know keywords you want for your company? If you don’t, how do you expect to attract the people who are looking for what you have to offer?
LINKS (HYPERLINKS): The best way to establish authority and improve search visibility is to have reciprocal links with other authorities in your area. Do you know how many inbound links there are to your website and who they are? You should. Where once low-quality tactics worked for a long time, link building has undergone significant changes in recent years due largely to recent Google changes that discredit dark hat tactics. Now, blogs, guest blogging and social media represent authentic ways to build links and relationships that are mutually beneficial to businesses.
SEARCH ENGINE RESULTS PAGE (SERP): 85% of people click on a website listing on the organics side of a search engine page; 53% click on the website that is listed first. Within the top five listing, 88% of the clicks are made according to Search Engine Watch. This means, if you want people to come to your wevsite, it’s important to know your Search Engine Rank Page for your most important keywords.
COST PER CLICK (CPC): If you can’t get to a top rank with your top keywords, it’s better to pay for a top rank than believe search engines are going to drive visitors to your site anytime soon. Paid Search ads should be considered. They are bought on a cost per click basis. Paid search operates like an auction where the buyer sets the price, budget and time frame. CPC’s also provide a valuable benchmark on the value of keywords. Based on the price, they show what others are willing to pay for them.
CLICK THROUGH RATE (CTR): Is the percentage of people who viewed a page that contained your ad and also clicked on the ad. This is calculated by dividing the total number of clicks by the total number of ad impressions. CTR is an important metric to measure performance and whether the ad is relevant. Google Adwords says the average CTR is 2% for ad placements on Google.
UNIQUE VISITORS (USERS): Is the number of distinct individuals visiting a website during a given period, regardless of how often they visits. It is a key metric for measurement if your web business is increasing its visibility and customer base.
BOUNCE RATE: is the percentage of visits where the visitor view a single page and left. Bounce Rate is considered a key measurement of website relevance. Because, generally speaking, if the site is relevant, the visitor will view more the one page. As Avinash Kaushik, Analytics Evangelist at Google says, a high bounce rate generally reflects visitors who “came, puked, and then left”. To reduce Bounce Rate, here are 20 Things to Consider from Search Engine Watch.
TRAFFIC SOURCES: Every visit to a web site has an origin, or source. There are three main categories: 1) Search Engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing – either organic or paid, 2) Another Web Page (Facebook, Twitter, another website) or 3) Direct (type a website url in the browser). This show how your audience finds your business and a very valuable measurement for tracking your time and investment into driving website traffic.
KEY CONTENT (PAGES): Once a visitor gets to your website, what pages are most viewed? Key Content or Top Pages tells what is their hierarchy of needs from your business.
CONVERSION RATE: What is the action(s) you want visitors to take when they get to your website? Conversion Rate is the percent of visitors that take the action you want. If you sell products or service from your site, it means the percent who buy. But, if you don’t (and most websites don’t), it means the percent who may subscribe to an email, register for a trial offer or download information. Any action or event that indicates they are a step closer to being a customer. In fact, a business may have multiple conversion rates. Macro Conversions are primary conversions like completing an order for an e-commerce site or filling out a contact form for a lead generation site. Micro Conversions are the usual actions that are precursors. They may include signing up for an email newsletter or downloading a PDF.
AVERAGE ORDER VALUE: If you sell a product or service on your website, a key means for maximizing revenue is to know your Average Shopper Value. The calculation is: Revenue/Number of Transactions = Average Order Value. If you know this measurements, you can determine what you need to do to get customers to buy more (Free shipping on orders over $75; Buy 2, get 1 Free, Deal of the Day).
WORD OF MOUTH: The number of positive Reviews, Rating, Facebook Likes, Tweeter Follower, Shares, Comments and YouTube Views can have a relationship to website traffic which has a relationship to revenue. People like to do business with people they know. If your business is generating word of mouth, potential customers are going to want to get to know you through your website.
Do you think these are data driven measurements every marketer should know? Any there others that you recommend?
If you were to hire a resource to help with SEO or social media, most people think to choose either an SEO specialist or a Social Media agency because the two are different marketing disciplines. That’s an even bigger mistake.
Recent Google algorithm changes underscore how SEO and social media are inextricably linked. Panda is a Google algorithm filter aimed at fighting low quality content; Penguin is one aimed at fighting web spam. Google has concluded the best match for a keyword is the one that is focused and other people follow.
If you don’t think SEO and social media work together, like peanut butter and jelly, here are 25 reasons they do.
Like anything that has value, people try to game the system. Spammers have been known to load the back end of their websites with back links. Recent search algorithm have reportedly cracked down and take into account those who genuinely earn links and discredit ones who try to trick the search engines.
How do you use links so they have enduring value? Here are 20 essential tips on link building for SEO and your bottom link.
BEGIN BY CREATING A LIST OF HIGH VALUE LINKS: A simple way to begin is to search keywords that matter for your business; Note the websites that appears in top positions.
CONDUCT AN INTERVIEW ON YOUR WEBSITE: An interview with a thought leader in your industry is likely to attract attention. It’s also likely to be shared by others in your field creating links with relevant sites.
GUEST BLOG: When you write a blog for other sites in your category, you receive a link as the author. For example, I write blogs for colleagues: Mark Schaefer and his Grow blog, Mike Moran on Biznology and Rutgers CMD as part of their MBA faculty where we all teach.
REVERSE GUEST BLOG: Ask others in your field if they would write blogs for you in return. This taps into all of their links and points them to your site.
PARTICIPATE ON NETWORKS THAT SHARE CONTENT: Put your slideshows on Slideshare, or videos on Youtube—to promote your site’s linkable assets to sites that have big “authority.”
GET MORE SHARES FROM GOOGLE+: Google+ posts pass link equity (because the links within Google+ posts are followed). This means the more your Google+ posts are being shared within their social platform, the more high-value links you are able to get
REPUBLISH VIRAL CONTENT RELATED TO YOUR NICHE: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are also good places to go for content you can link from your site and expect it to be shared. Reposting is always ethical if you’re giving attribution to the original source.
FIND QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR INDUSTRY AND ANSWER THEM: Participate in already existing discussions related to your content (forum threads, Q&As, other blogs, and online communities like Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups). Use your content as a reference to your contributions on these discussions.
GIVE OUTBOUND LINKS TO GET INBOUND LINKS: Get in the practice of using links in your content. Often, you’ll finds those you mention in your content will offer a shout out to your business from their content.
LEARN FROM COMPETITORS’ LINKS: Use any of the services mentioned above; use them to track links for competitive sites. You’ll get idea on other links to consider.
CREATE CASE STUDIES ABOUT RESULTS FOR CLIENTS: If you make your clients look good in case studies about their business, they’ll be linking to your site. Referrals from clients are great business builders.
SPEAK AT AN EVENT. Events usually give their speakers and sponsors great website publicity. You can also negotiate inbound links into your terms to be sure your time and resources yield beneficial inbound links.
INCORPORATE “TWEET THIS” INTO YOUR CONTENT. Get inbound links by getting your content out to the masses. Including “Tweet This” links into “tweetable” content and get people sharing your content socially more often.
PUT SOCIAL WIDGETS INTO YOUR CONTENT: Just like “Tweet This” links get your content out there, so do social sharing buttons and widgets. Put them into content like case studies, ebooks, and blog posts.
REVIEW BOOKS, PRODUCTS AND SERVICES IN YOUR FIELD: Invite other to share their reviews and ratings and build links as well as industry authority.
CHECK FOR BROKEN LINKS: It’s frustrating if people are linking to your site but it is to a page that is not accessible. So check for “broken” links. Google offers a browser plug-in for Chrome that does this called Link Checker.
REGISTER IN DIRECTORIES FOR YOUR FIELD: There are reliable directories for any field that can list your business as a credible resource. As an example, this site in included in the Alltop directory of top blogs for digital and social media marketing.
BE DISRUPTIVE: Publish articles that are likely to create create controversy and a dialogue. Mark Schaefer does this well and is doing it now with “Content Shock.”
CROWDSOURCE IDEAS: Whether it’s a survey, request or forum, ask people for their input, ideas and opinions. It’s always a great way to create link value. It’s not only a good to elevate your “authority” in a particular field but to generate leads.
PRODUCE VALUABLE CONTENT ON A REGULAR BASIS: Publishing valuable, useful, relevant, helpful content on a regular basis is the most reliable and fastest strategy there is to earn links back to your website. Content isn’t just king, it’s good business.
Do you think these link building strategies would build your SEO and business? Will you use any of them to build your bottom line?