There are literally hundreds of different organic ranking factors that Google analyses when determining which websites should feature strongly for each specific search term. The majority of these are immediately focused on by SEO agencies and webmasters due to their importance, but there are some which often slip through the net and are, for whatever reason, forgotten about or, worst still, ignored.
We have compiled our top 3 SEO ranking signals that are often left to the bottom of the list by some SEO agencies, but should be taken more seriously if top organic rankings are to be gained on Google:
Site Speed: Although this has been a well known ranking factor for a few years now, it seems that many websites still run at a slower speed than recommended, which is likely to result in visitors becoming frustrated, exiting the site and heading into a competitor’s instead.
In fact, research has indicated that 40% of users will abandon a webpage if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, whilst 52% of online shoppers say that quick load speeds are essential to retain their future custom. This clearly highlights the need for improved load times, yet this appears to be an area that many companies put to the back of the queue when it comes to development and SEO.
As far as SEO is concerned, it has been proven that there is a strong correlation between the top 10 organic rankings on Google and site speed, with the sites that feature within the top 3 listings running at a faster speed than those behind them, as shown in the graph on the right:
Some of the best ways that you can improve your site load speed include:
- Minimise HTTP Requests
- Reduce server response time
- Enable compression
- Enable browser caching
- Optimise images
Social Media Shares: These days the vast majority of businesses have a presence across social media, or at least they should have. However, one element that is often overlooked is the number of social media shares that your webpages have gained, and this is simply criminal due to it actually one of the most important organic ranking factors in the eyes of Google.
In short, the more shares that your pages receive across the various social media networks the more effectively they are likely to perform within Google’s search results. This makes perfect sense, as pages that have been shared 500+ times on Facebook are clearly going to achieve a greater level of importance than pages that haven’t received any social media shares. So, with this in mind, it is essential that you focus on achieving a greater number of shares for pages across your website, as this will increase their authority, visibility and importance.
The easiest way to receive a rise in social media shares is to incorporate share buttons onto all pages throughout your website, as shown in the example of the right. These can be easily added to your website thanks to websites such as www.addthis.com, whilst a variety of free plugins are available via WordPress and other sources. However, the key is to ensure that the social media buttons are added in a highly visible position on your website so that they are easily accessible to your visitors.
Page Authority is Key: Everybody knows that it is important to generate a higher volume of quality, industry-relevant links into a domain. However, rather than focus on gaining backlinks on high authority domains, webmasters should actually be spending their time ensuring that backlinks are actually placed on high authority webpages, as this is more vital than simply receiving a link on an important domain.
Of course, gaining links on high value domains is all well and good, but if the link into your website appears on a sub-level page that has an authority score of 0-10 out of 100 then this is clearly going to provide a limited benefit to your website. This is why gaining a smaller number of links on high authority webpages is far more beneficial than gaining a high volume of links on lower authority pages, as link building is about quality over quantity.
Using tools, such as http://ahrefs.com, will enable you to gauge what links are worth gaining and which should be ignored. For example the image above highlights the URL authority of a specific webpage, alongside the overall domain authority rating. So, what webmasters need to focus on is gaining links on pages that have a high ‘UR’ score rather than paying too much attention to the ‘DR’ (Domain Rating’), especially if they are aiming to improve the authority of a specific page on their own website.