The Blog: 3 Ranking Factors You Must Get Right

13 Nov, 2019

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The Right Approach to Ranking Factors 

Any conversation about SEO will inevitably touch on the question of ranking factors: is 'X' a ranking factor? Some of us may not have a clear idea of what this means. Ranking factors are the criteria that search engines like Google use to decide in which order websites are displayed in response to user's questions. Google uses over 200 different ranking factors to do this.

Focusing on the right ranking factors is one of the most important parts of SEO. With so many factors to choose from, it can be daunting picking the right ones to focus on, it's best to go through the most important ranking factors a few at a time. To point you in the right direction: here are three ranking factors you definitely need to get right.

1# Mobile Accessibility

It's surprising how many people you come across who are considering making an App for their business but have never taken the time to make sure their company's website provides an adequate user experience for smartphones. Considering the fact that over half of internet users do not use a desktop computer to browse online, it's likely that half of all visitors trying to visit your site are doing so with a smartphone. 

The importance of this factor increases significantly when we also include the consequences of Google's 2015 April update, nicknamed MobilegeddonSince this time, Google has given priority ranking to web pages that display correctly and load quickly on mobile devices. Site owners who do not get this right will suffer in the rankings. This makes ignoring the smartphone user experience on your site like knowing you have a flat tire on your car, not changing it but still expecting to win the Indy 500.

Making Sure Your Site Is Mobile Accessible 

For those of us looking to build a new website, the process is relatively straightforward as long as we make smartphones part of the planning process from the beginningA good way to start with this is to make sure that the CMS you choose creates a smartphone-friendly website. For instance, Wix is a good example of CMS that works well with Smartphones. Take your time to weigh up the different options. Articles like this one from Tech Radar can help.  

If we don't have the luxury of building a smartphone-friendly website, from the ground up, then another option is installing plugins to help make the site work better with smartphones. The AMP plugin is a great option for users of the WordPress WIX and many others CMS looking to optimize the user experience for smartphone users. Since its launch in 2015, the plugin has been used to publish over 4 billion pages

AMP creates a special version of your website containing its essential elements in more efficient smartphone-friendly coding. This really helps with load speeds The median load time of an AMP page is less than 0.5 seconds. 

2# Bounce Rates

Our next ranking factor is indirectly affected by mobile accessibility: If smartphone users are visiting a site that is either slow or looks broken on their device, they won't stick around very long. The percentage of visitors who view one page of a website and leave very quickly is known as the bounce rate. This is another important ranking factor. A bounce rate under 30% is very good, though if it is really really low, for example, 5%, check to make sure your Google Analytics is set up correctly as this is too good. The rankingCoach application can show you how to set this up properly. A bounce rate above 60% is not good and one over 90% is terrible. 

A high bounce rate is bad for a website's ranking because it shows search engines that people are finding a website with a search term, clicking on it, and then leaving quickly because they cannot find what they are looking for. This is why as a bounce rate gets higher, search engines display a website lower and lower in their rankings. 

Improving Your Site's Bounce Rate

We know that plugins can improve your bounce rates for smartphone users. It's also important to make sure that the desktop version of your site has quick load speeds and displays correctly on all internet browsers. A great way to check this is to get your colleagues or friends to visit your site, with all browser cookies deleted, so it's like visiting for the first time.

This should be done in as many different configurations as possible: smartphones, desktops and Macs. In each case with as many different internet browsers as you can, including at least: Mozilla, Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Doing this will show you all kinds of elements of site design you never realized looked unattractive on the screens of visitors.

Activities like this reveal the importance of not just viewing bounce rates in technical terms from the backend; All the plugins in the world won't fix a site with a font that is difficult to read or isn't easy to navigate. This is why it is so important to routinely strip down the way you think about your website to focus solely on the user experience.

3# Natural Content

Wouldn't it be great if Google broke from their mysterious persona just once and told us some of their most important factors?

Well, they haven't spilled all the beans just yet, but this year Google Webmaster, Martin Splitt did give a myth-busting session where he listed three of the most important ranking factors. You can watch it here. The first that came up, and always comes up, was Content. 

"You have to have content that serves a purpose for the user… using words that I (the user) would be using". 

Martin Splitt Google Webmaster

The rankingCoach's keywords data are there to provide the right terms for this content but this goes beyond keywords. We must provide an experience that caters to the users' needs and desires not just keyword spam. Our content must provide the user with everything they need to know within our site. 

For example, the best page for the 'buy children's teddy bear' will provide the user with easy access to everything they need to buy. This is not just having a well-written product description, it also includes easy access to delivery terms, a company profile, child safety quality assurance, ETC. These details are an implicit part of the inquiry 'buy children's teddy bear'. Good content is built around an understanding of this. Site design is also important as internal links and well-designed menus on each and every page are part of creating this experience. Getting this right will improve a site's bounce rate and the holy grail of E-commerce, its conversion rates.  

Right, that's 3 down, at least,197 to go!  

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