As a Columbus SEO Company, we work with a large number of business clients to grow their brand visibility in search engines. We achieve these improvements in ranking and overall traffic by targeting relevant search phrases and optimizing for a variety of search engine factors. However, all of this SEO wizardry is a confusing haze for most people who don’t geek out on digital algorithms all day.
And no wonder!
Google uses over 200 factors in its sorting algorithm to rank webpages for SERPs. As part of our partnership, we will assess and prioritize many of these factors to improve your website and its standing in search results.
Some of those factors include:
- Meta Descriptions
- Meta Titles
- Content Quality
- Content Length
- Content Freshness
- URL Structures
- Internal Links
- Outbound Links
- Image Title Tags
- Keyword Usage
- Site Depth
- Rate of Audience Engagement
- Duplicate Content
- Social Tags
- Broken Links
- Number of Inbound Links
- Quality and Source of Inbound Links
- Anchor Text Profile for Inbound Links
- Context and Content Surrounding Inbound Link Sources
- Social Media Signals
- Crowdsearching Patterns
- Local Citations and Map Listings
- Site Speed
- Mobile Friendliness
- Meta Security
- Secure Forms and Data Entry
That’s a lot of TechSpeak, isn’t it?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Our SEO Analysts and content writers are working on fine-tuning the perfect balance of all these factors (and more) every single day. If you would like to speak with one of our SEO specialists, send us a message.
If you’re still curious what all of this means, however, we’ve put together some additional information about the SEO ranking factors mentioned above to better illustrate how complex search engine marketing can be, and also how it all fits together when you understand all of the factors at work.
On-Site SEO Ranking Factors
The first point of focus for a search engine like Google is to assess the quality and relevance of your website in relation to a given keyword or search phrase. The content and technical setup of your website, when crawled by Google and other directories determines whether Google wants to suggest you as a resource to their information-hungry search users. Getting onpage SEO right is the first, and most important, step in growing your search visibility.
Each page of your website should include a meta (hidden) description on the page that tells the search crawlers what it’s about. This description is what we normally see on the SERP below the title of the website or page.
Similar to the Meta Description, the Meta Title is an alternate title that is only visible to the crawler, and then displayed on the SERP. It’s important that your Meta Titles and Descriptions be enticing and informative, to inspire searchers to click.
It’s important that Google only refer their users to websites that display a high level of quality in their content. This means that your website content reads well to a user, remains free of errors and confusing mistakes, contains valuable (original) information, and answers the purpose behind a user’s search query. Writing good content is half the battle when it comes to SEO.
In addition to the quality of the content on your website, quantity is also a factor. Search engines like a page to be a thorough source of information in order to rank it for a given topic or keyword. Generally pages with 2,000+ words do quite well as cornerstone content, particularly with plenty of visual aids.
It’s important to show Google that your website is an active, living entity on the web. This means posting new, original content on a regular basis and advancing a conversation or base of knowledge with insightful information. It should be easy to read and something someone would want to share with their friends because of its value.
Web crawlers take a thorough site map of your website when they visit. Concise, specific URL strings that entail legible keywords or phrases (generally similar to the page’s title) do much better than random strings of characters. It’s also a good idea to nest your pages below parent pages. For example, your service pages all fall under the primary page Services, so your URL string will look something like mywebsite.com/services/seo.
Web crawlers follow and index all the links in their path, which is one of the reasons that backlinks from outside sources are important to your site’s authority. However, internal link structure is also important. Show that cornerstone pages of your site are important by making sure other related posts or pages are linking to that page with relevant anchor text.
If your page has any chance of being recognized by search engines as a Top Spot resource for your target keyword, it doesn’t hurt to link out to useful resources on the web, as a courtesy to website visitors looking for info and a signal to crawlers that you know who the important players in your niche truly are.
Image Title Tags
All of the images and graphic files on your website need to have a keyword-relevant title and alt text describing the image with seo-friendly terms. This can be some of the most tedious and time-consuming on-page tactic, but it’s definitely worth it.
Since the dawn of SEO, there have been varying schools of thought on the best use of target keywords and phrases in your site content. Generally speaking, it’s good to have a dense concentration of related search terms in the paragraphs of content on your site and in the important headings too. That’s how you tell the world–and the search engines– what your site is about.
A website with 5 pages is going to have less chance of page 1 rankings than a site with 100 pages of quality content. Site depth involves layers upon layers of relevant resource material and informative content, all of which should link together in a clear hierarchy.
Rate of Audience Engagement
In recent years, the search algorithms have gotten much more sophisticated in responding to real-time trends online. When lots of people click your link in the SERPs and share your content on social media, this sends positive user signals to Google about the importance of your page, which usually results in a rankings bump.
Broken links are a big red flag to Google that your site is sloppy and not well-maintained, which in their view makes you less worthy of page 1 visibility. Make sure that you redirect traffic to old or deleted URLs on your domain to a similarly relevant page or resource to avoid these broken links and lost traffic.
One of the oldest pet peeves of Google is duplicate or plagiarized content. In order to avoid ranking two pages with the same content right next to each other in the SERPs, Google will always give preference to the original (first known) source of that exact content. So only post original stuff, and don’t copy-paste it on multiple pages of your site.
Off-site SEO Ranking Factors
Once all the on-page fundamentals are in place, the next important factor for getting page one search rankings is what happens elsewhere on the Internet. If there are two great websites that should be ranking for a given keyword, both filled with great content, how does Google determine which to place higher in the results?
The simple answer is; they look at what other people are signaling and saying about each website. The site that’s getting linked to by other quality websites and discussed more frequently on social media is the site that will win the top spot, as Google assumes this popularity signals trust and quality.
Number of Inbound Links
The more websites linking to your site, the better. You want people to link to you as a valuable resource for their own audiences, or as a reference in their own content. You always want to have more links from more unique domains than your competitors.
Quality and Source of Inbound Links
Of course, not all inbound links are of equal value. A link from a powerful and trusted site like a University or Government Agency is going to have much greater weight in terms of SEO than a link from some obscure corner of an internet blogging forum. Getting backlinks from quality sources, which are topically relevant, is the way to go.
Anchor Text Profile for Inbound Links
If every single link pointing at your website uses the same anchor text, particularly if it’s your target keyword, it looks spammy and will get you punished or penalized by Google. Vary the anchor text of backlinks substantially to avoid this SEO penalty.
Context and Content Surrounding Inbound Link Sources
A random link to your construction company website from a blog about siamese cats is obviously not relevant to ranking your for construction company keywords. Thus, the actual content on the linking website has relevance to how much power that backlink affords your site in search.
Social Media Signals
Thanks to Google’s new RankBrain AI update, real time social media signals are more important to your website’s SEO than ever before. Google wants to see that your content is getting attention, being shared on multiple platforms, and inspiring plenty of engagement from your target audience.
Similar to social media signals, crowdsearching is a term that refers to the aggregate search patterns of all users. If your site is ranked #10 for ‘Columbus accountants’ but everyone who performs that search clicks your site instead of the 9 sites ranked above you, this crowdsearching signal tells Google that they may need to adjust the order of that keyword’s SERP.
Local Citations and Map Listings
Local SEO for small businesses relies less on keywords and more on consistent listings of your key business information (name, address, phone) on a variety of Web 2.0 web platforms. Showing up on maps and in niche directories solidifies your website and your business information as relevant to the services and products you offer in your local market.
Technical SEO Ranking Factors
Finally, there are some nuts and bolts technical considerations that should be taken into account for the best results in Search Engine listings. Remember that companies like Google are staking their own reputation on the content they rank on page one for their searches, so any site hoping to grab that user traffic needs to have their technical specs in order.
Slow-loading sites mean people get bored and click away. Too many of these, and they may abandon their search entirely. That’s why Google penalizes sites that take too long to load, load poorly, or have other usability issues.
There’s no good reason for a search engine to put a website that is hard to read on mobile screens at the top spot for people searching on mobile devices. If you want mobile web traffic (which is half of all traffic), your website needs to be responsively mobile-friendly.
Just as Google doesn’t want to promote poor quality sites in its top search spots, they also don’t want to drive traffic to sites that are unsafe or pose a cyber security risk. For that reason, a security certificate or SSL is a must for your domain. Google also likes to see strong encryption in your contact forms and especially in your ecommerce checkout.
Work with a Professional Columbus SEO Company
We know, there’s a lot of tech-speak going on here and way more than you want to deal with to get better search engine traffic to your company’s website. That’s why you should consider hiring our local SEO company to do what we do best — manipulate the Internet.
For a free audit of your website’s search presence, or to ask about how your business can take full advantage of the millions of web searches taking place every single day, give us a call! We’re based locally in Columbus, Ohio and open Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm.