- 81% of internet users find desired online destinations through a search engine (source: Forrester)
- 76% of people use search engines to find local business information (source: MOZ)
- 53% of organic searches click on the website in the first position (source: Search Engine Watch)
The facts show, if your business expects results from the internet, you have to think about search rank like Ricky Bobby – “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high search rank on a Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
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?