Website success is measured against a variety of qualifiers. Some base success on sales, others on visits, and some websites pride themselves in design and user experience. They all play second fiddle to search engine rankings. In our digital landscape, if your website’s search engine rankings aren’t on the first page, there’s a chance users just won’t find you.
Are users too lazy to click that “Next Page” arrow? Most of the time, yes. Is it your job to do everything you can to make the cut and raise your search rankings? Absolutely. Here are six factors that affect your website’s search rankings.
1. Quality Content
The days of successful keyword stuffing have come and gone, and algorithms today are smart enough to differentiate quality content from attempts to game the system. That said, well written and topically relevant content optimized for search engines is key to bringing in traffic and outperforming the competition. Optimizing content is a broad topic, with lots of interconnected pieces, but it’s vital to ranking well in search results.
2. Link Building
When a reputable site links back to your site, that’s good. When tens or hundreds of sites link back to you, you’re doing something very right. Simply put, the more reputable links you have pointing back to your site, the better you’re going to rank in search results. Of course link building is more complex than that, but backlinks are like little badges of honor for search engine algorithms. Proper link building takes time but also helps cultivate an invaluable online reputation.
3. Site Speed and Performance
Almost as important as your link-building efforts, site speed and performance plays a crucial role in SEO and search rankings. Anything from compressing images, leveraging browser caching, or reducing redirects can affect site and page speed performance. Is your site slow but you’re not sure why? Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom are great tools to help diagnose the problem.
4. Meta Information
Meta information is the content on the backend of your website that’s only seen by web crawlers like Google and Bing. While some information (like meta keywords) no longer affects search engine optimization, meta descriptions are still an effective way to tell search engines what a specific page is about. Additionally, meta information can help crawlers index new content faster and more efficiently.
5. Duplicate Pages
Duplicate pages and content cause problems when getting indexed by search engines. Search relevancy gets split up among those pages, and as a result, search rankings suffer. Using canonical tags for redirecting duplicate pages works wonders, and today most content management services like WordPress offer plug-ins and easy-to-use tools for discovering, adjusting, and eliminating your duplicate content.
6. Local SEO Citations
Surprisingly, many companies completely forget to utilize local SEO citations and opportunities. Believe it or not, something as simple as adding and verifying your business with Google can jump you to the top of local search results. Take full advantage of whatever local SEO citations you can.
The Search Rankings Bottom Line
Regardless of where you sit on the search engine results page, using something like Google Webmaster Tools or Yoast SEO to get your SEO in order is an excellent first step. Search engine optimization is the only consistently proven method for raising your search rankings. If you have questions or need SEO solutions, there’s a good chance you can find the answers online. The most relevant information can usually be found at the top.