The quest to unlock the mysteries of SEO ranking factors continues. Search engines continually update their ranking algorithms to complement advances in technology and improve return results. Once crucial search engine optimized (SEO) ranking factors have become less important as new ranking factors, such as mobile-readiness and website security, jump to the front of the line.
Website Security (HTTPS) | 65 percent of domains in top result positions are secure. While not a major ranking factor, Andrienko recommends developers convert sites to HTTPS for better conversions and visitor trust. Another panelist, Marcus Tober from Searchmetrics, noted HTTPS is more essential for certain industries. For example, finance companies require a higher level of security, but travel industry sites use HTTPS less often.
Content Length | Content for pages in the top three positions is approximately 45 percent longer than content in the 20th position. This doesn’t mean you should approach content like a term paper, but create more relevant content based on your visitors’ needs.
Keywords | 35 percent of domains ranking among high-volume keywords don’t actually have the keyword in the title. Only eight percent have the keyword in the anchor text links. What does this mean? Most likely, Google’s algorithms are getting better at understanding context of keywords in the main body over headlines. Anchor text in hyperlinks may be seen as an indicator of spam, rather than relevancy.
Website Traffic | The SEMrush study found that the number of visits from direct traffic, not search traffic, matters most for high-volume keyword domains.
User Signals | While user signals aren’t officially Google ranking factors, they serve as clues of how users are engaging with your site once they get there.
- Bounce Rates: Domains in top search positions rarely have visitors navigate away from their sites after viewing only one page. Relevant content, efficient loading speed, and user trust can most likely take credit for this trend.
- Pages Per Session: Visitors to higher ranking sites also view more pages per session.
Links | High-quality links, both referring domains and backlinks, rate consistently high among influential SEO ranking factors.
Site Speed | Among long-standing SEO ranking factors, site speed is becoming more important as mobile access increases. Herndon Hasty, digital marketing manager for The Container Store, recommends the following for improving site speed:
- Cache more elements on your site for faster loading with return users.
- Consolidate external files.
- Remove unused tags and update ones you anticipate using more often.
- Optimize images by reducing their size.
Read the full article on SMX East’s SEO ranking factors panel discussion.
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