Once on your site, those prospects can convert into leads.
What’s not so obvious, though, is this: What are the most vital factors in getting a site ranked?
The inner workings of Google’s algorithm are top secret. Changes to it happen on a regular basis, too – many of these are small and subtle, caused by the increasing role of AI in ranking results.
Here’s what we know:
- There are about 21 major factors influencing each site’s search rank.
- There are dozens of minor ranking factors, about 100 factors in total.
- Many of these factors, like mobile compatibility, are relatively new.
- Some of the oldest ranking factors are still among the most crucial.
Without search visibility, a site gets virtually no organic traffic. Without organic traffic, your lead pipeline will be hindered and cost per lead acquisition will be much higher than it should be.
No business owner wants to diagnose dozens of SEO factors just to ensure their site produces value. But leaders should understand what the real key factors driving their digital marketing are.
Let’s take a closer look at three undeniable facts of modern SEO.
Surprise: Links Back To Your Website Are Still The Most Vital
Read anything official from Google and you’ll find search leaders bending over backwards to say that links aren’t that important, really – just one part of a good search optimization strategy.
While that is true (technically) it severely underplays the role of links. Study after study after study, digging through changes in search rank across thousands of websites, all report the same:
Backlinks are still the #1 ranking factor. What has changed is which links matter most.
Only a few years ago, Google was still treating most links as practically identical, with the only difference being those from .gov and .edu websites. Now, there’s a clear hierarchy of good links.
The best links are from established, authoritative websites within your own niche. New sites and those only tangentially related to your industry have some pull, but not nearly as much as before.
And yes, your content should still be organized according to keyword. A keyword is the phrase the user types in on Google search. What has changed is it no longer matters if sites link to you with anchor text (that is, link text) that matches those keywords.
Keywords help you figure out what your audience wants and craft content around those needs. That content, in turn, is what motivates others to link to your website and boost your visibility.
Social Media Isn’t The Biggest New Thing When It Comes To SEO
For the average business, social media is terrific for four things:
- Cultivating relationships with potential business leads.
- Developing your community of loyal brand advocates.
- Responding quickly to customer service inquiries.
- Monitoring the conversation around your brand.
What it apparently isn’t that great for: Boosting your SEO.
As Facebook and Twitter took the world by storm, many marketers went wild for the concept of “social signals.” Social signals refers to the idea that search engines use activity on social media as a major ranking factor.
Ongoing research has shown social signals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be – producing few or no direct effects on search rank. Of course, maintaining an active online community can lead to more backlinks, which will help SEO.
Why does social media fall flat in this category when it’s so influential everywhere else?
Part of the reason might be that search engines can’t access and correlate social likes, shares, and comments as efficiently as other data. The exception was Google Plus, one of the biggest letdowns in recent Google history, which did have direct bearing on search results.
Every Business Website Needs To Be Mobile Ready By Yesterday
What goes on behind the scenes of your website is more critical than ever before.
Technical factors, some invisible to users, are making a bigger splash in search.
Some of these include:
- Security: SSL is now an essential component of business websites, not an add-on.
- Load Time: Google favors sites that offer snappy loading times across all pages.
- Mobile Compatibility: Sites should be easy to navigate on any mobile device.
Of these, mobile compatibility is the big game-changer. Google now looks at the mobile version of a website when calculating search rankings, switching to the desktop site only as a last resort.
Today, more emails are opened on mobile than on desktop, and a growing proportion of online traffic is coming from smartphones or tablets. Having a mobile-friendly site is only going to become a bigger and bigger concern going forward.
The easiest way for most businesses to adjust is to adopt a responsive theme for your existing site. Responsive websites automatically adapt to the display and input a visitor uses – ensuring that all elements are the perfect size for a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
(And also making it a whole lot easier to navigate a site with your thumbs.)
Done right, a good SEO strategy gives you a lasting competitive advantage. Contact us at New York Ave today to see how our team uses proven, data-based methods to raise your brand higher on search.