Although search engines, and when we say search engines, we mean the big one, Google, use over 200 factors to determine the ranking of a website, some are much more important than others. Most SEO experts list these 5 factors as the most important, in this exact order: content, visitor engagement, structure, internal links, and mobile site adaptability.
We’ve already explained that content is the most crucial SEO factor because quality content is what visitors are looking for on a website. Google has come a long way from its beginnings when it used to discern text and backlinks to rank a page.
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Things have changed significantly now, and Google uses a neural network to understand the syntax and semantics of searches. Therefore, the use of semantically related keywords is essential when creating content. Analyze the content of the top-ranking pages for your target keyword and make yours better. When we say “better,” we mean 10 times better.
It’s important to answer all the questions a visitor has about a specific topic. SEO tags like H1, H2 headings, and page titles are crucial as they help both users and search engines read the page. Therefore, keywords and their synonyms should be in the page title, headings, subheadings, and even in the URL.
2. Visitor Engagement
We already know that we primarily create websites for visitors, so the question arises: is my content engaging or boring to visitors?
Visitor engagement or user signals have been a factor for ranking a page for some time now. One of the main metrics is the number of pages visited per session, which can be found in Google Analytics, as well as the average visit duration.
This helps us determine if visitors are satisfied with the information they found on your website. Our goal is for them to spend as much time as possible on the site and open more pages in each session.
You should include “call to action” elements on your pages to encourage conversions, as well as add additional navigational options within the content, such as internal links to related content that might interest visitors.
Another important aspect in Google Analytics is the bounce rate because it can give you insights into how satisfied users are with the information they found on the page. A high bounce rate can mean that your page is not interesting to visitors, and they didn’t find the information they were looking for.
To optimize this aspect, you need to check if the landing page is relevant to the search query, improve page loading time, and remove ads and pop-ups if you use them.
Click-through rate is another metric that can help with ranking. If it’s low, you need to write compelling titles and descriptions to “convince” users to open your page. It’s a good practice for titles and descriptions to contain exact keywords that users type into the search engine.
To have your website appear in search results, your pages need to be indexed by search engines. Using a sitemap makes it easier for search engines to find the desired pages, so having a sitemap is crucial for speeding up the indexing of pages.
It’s also important to decide which pages you don’t want to be indexed (low-content pages, archive pages, media releases, etc.), and block those pages using the robots.txt file.
Website security is another SEO factor. Nowadays, it’s crucial to protect your site with an SSL certificate and switch from HTTP to HTTPS. It’s also essential to remove or update any links leading to non-existent pages. Screaming Frog tool can help you identify 4XX and 5XX errors and fix them.
4. Internal Links
Internal links are essential for indexing, user experience, interface design, content, and link-building.
In the SEO world, internal links are one of the foundations of a successful website. You can think of pages as rooms and internal links as doors between these rooms. These links help visitors move from one room to another. Tracking these links is not much of a problem for smaller websites, but if your site grows over time, creating a solid structure for linking pages can be challenging.
You should pay attention to orphan pages, which are pages that cannot be reached through any links. Connect them to an existing category page to transfer some authority and index the orphan page.
So, it’s essential to link to pages with similar topics because it provides additional content on your website that might interest visitors, thus increasing their time spent on the site.
Hierarchy of internal links helps both users and search engines navigate all pages of the site. The best practice is to place all important pages in the top menu and group them in the same category. Optionally, you can use tags to group specific articles by topic. We recommend using breadcrumb navigation that allows visitors to go back to previous pages.
5. Mobile friendly
Over 50% of website visitors access the site from their smartphones. Therefore, it is crucial that your site is adapted for mobile devices. When designing a website, it’s essential to know the dimensions of the device from which the site is viewed. It’s also easier to use scrolling on mobile devices than links that force visitors to open an additional page, so keep that in mind when presenting content to visitors.
The best solution is responsive web design, which adjusts the appearance of the site to the device from which it is viewed. Another thing you can do is use AMP code within your CMS to further speed up page loading on mobile devices.
In this article, we’ve covered the most critical factors that serve as the SEO foundation for the success of a website. Keep in mind that SEO is a dynamic industry, and search engine algorithms change daily.