Trying to find your way through the fog of SEO opinions can be tricky. There are many different ranking factors, with differing views on the importance of each. While there will never be a consensus, you can find many ranking factors that are considered vital for SEO. Focusing your attention on these factors will be the quickest way to top rankings, while you can also monitor for algorithm changes that may require adjusting the strategy. The following ranking factors should take priority when you start work on your next SEO campaign.
Page speed has grown into a significant ranking factor, with search engines wanting to offer the best experience to their searchers. Slow loading times can be a problem on mobile and desktop devices, so you need to factor this in when developing a website. Google provides tools for testing the speed of your website, providing solutions for any problems. You may need to add caching plugins to your site, reduce the image size, fix coding errors, and use a content delivery network.
The top-ranking pages typically have a high page and domain authority. The popular SEO tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush provide details on this authority using a variety of factors like site age, backlinks, internal linking, and site dwell time. You should check your authority using one of the popular tools, with the goal of increasing the score as you develop an SEO campaign.
Backlinks are still a critical factor for SEO, but it is essential to focus on quality over quantity. The best links are usually gained through content creation and outreach. Look to create content that is exceptional, leading to shares and recommendations across the web. If you analyze what is currently working, look to develop articles, videos, infographics, and other content that meets or exceeds the usual output. Reaching out to blogs and influencers can also lead to links, but it will take longer to build new industry relationships.
On-page optimization helps the search engines to understand the content visitors will see. Optimizing a page makes it clear what it is about, but avoids appearing to trick the search engines with excessive keyword usage. You can use keywords in your title and meta description, while also adding them to the body text along with related terms. Image alt tags, URLs, and H1 tags can also feature your main keywords sparingly, but ensure you are mixing in LSI terms naturally.
Ultimately, the search engines want to provide searchers with high-quality content that meets their needs. The type of content appropriate for each search will vary, but it should leave most searchers satisfied. If you are writing a blog post based around a keyword, your content should offer more than the existing top listings. You could go into more depth, add images and videos, and improve the formatting. Creating superior content gives you an excellent argument for leapfrogging the current pages.
Site security is necessary if you want to maintain consistent rankings. One of the first steps you can take is to use the HTTPS extension, ensuring data sent between a web browser and website is secure. Website hacks can damage credibility in the eyes of users, so Google won’t want to list your site if there is a security breach. Services like Sucuri check for hacks and malware, while WordPress users should install a plugin like Wordfence. The quicker you can respond to an issue, the higher the likelihood that your SEO won’t get impacted.
User experience is a broad factor that includes several essential elements. When users visit a page, they expect to find attractive design, clear navigation, relevant content above the fold, and simple formatting. Providing these elements will increase the dwell time and reduce the bounce rate, ensuring Google thinks you are offering a great user experience. As long as you can meet the needs of the searcher effectively, you should have no problem providing a quality user experience.
If you can’t rank your pages on the first page of Google for targeted searches, you will struggle to gain consistent search traffic. Only limited numbers of sites will be able to gain prime positions in each niche, with fierce competition to be found. Focusing your attention on the most crucial ranking factors means you don’t waste time on elements that offer negligible results. Most sites are working with limited time and money, so dedicating your resources to these factors ensures you stay focused on the biggest wins.