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Ranking Factors That YOU Can Actually Control

Ranking Factors – the metrics that determine which order websites are displayed in search results… There are quite literally hundreds of them! As a small business owner, some are in your immediate control, you can take quick steps now to better serve Google’s demands…some are not. This quick guide will help you to focus your search engine optimisation plan in the right areas!

Some will just take time, some will just take money, some would take a complete do-over. Take control of the ranking factors that are “quick fixes” and you should see some nice little improvements to your search rankings.

On Page optimisation factors

These suckers are the easiest to fix because they’re all about how you upload content to your website. Changing a few things here and there will make a massive difference long term.

# 1 Take care with your title tags

Title tags are the most powerful on-page ranking factors. Your page title should contain your keyword, ideally at the front of the phrase, and also a short reason to “click through”. As Google spends more time focused on engagement and less on spam tactics, getting that extra click through is vital. These should all be unique.

#2 Meta Description best practice

Although it’s hotly debated as to whether a keyword in the meta description tag counts or not, what it will do is appear highlighted in search results. Your meta description is all about getting that all important click through. Make it a short (1-2 sentence) snappy call to action that contains your keyword. These should all be unique.

#3 Don’t just bold headings, use the Header Tags

Your content should be set up in a hierarchy – your main heading should use the Heading 1 formatting option. All sub-headings should use the Heading 2 attribute. Sub-sub Headings use Heading 3…. You get the idea. If you’ve just been using “bold” for headings, then Google has been coming by your site and getting confused, it’s just a big old computer after all.

#4 Keep your website neat and tidy

Clean up broken links, get rid of unnecessary plug-ins, keep your images a moderate size, keep your pages loading quickly, use tags to link related content together and make sure your website is easy to navigate. Keep in nice and tidy! Keeping your website easy to navigate is a massive factor not only in SEO but in conversion optimisation. Breadcrumb navigation may be a ranking factor in modern sites.

#5 Mobile Friendliness

The recent Mobile Friendly update was all about making sure your site is accessible to all visitors, not just desktop users. This might be a big investment if you’re not using a reputable Brisbane web design company.

#6 Keywords and URLs

Your URL should contain your keyword. It should be as short as possible – don’t make your content a child of a child of a child. It’s hard to crawl and a mess to read.

#7 Label your images

Being a computer, Google has very little sense of aesthetics! You should be using your keyword in the file name and the Alternative Text on all images that you upload.

#8 Submit a Sitemap

Create an auto-updated sitemap and submit it to Google via Webmaster Tools. Google will then be able to find all of your content.

Content Ranking Factors

Jam pack your website with awesome content is the first rule. Everything else is gravy!

#1 Mention your keyword early and at the end

You should “get to the point” and get your keyword in the first paragraph, and don’t forget to summarise – getting it in the last paragraph too!

#2 Kill the duplicate content

Have you got products that have similar product descriptions, or worse, product descriptions directly copied from your supplier? Get rid of them. If y0u wrote them and then used them over and over, you can apply a canonical tag to each page they appear on, but if they’re stolen from another site, all you can do is delete and start again!

#3 Length matters

The length of your content matters and blog entries between 2,400 and 2,500 words consistently outshone shorter articles in search results. It’s not all about the length though. The “readability” score should be higher for expert articles and lower for general content. You should also be conscious that too many words on a sales page will reduce your conversion rates. If you’re going to go hard on length, be sure to have a “read more” drop-down option. If you are going down the long content path, target more than one keyword. Having a single piece of content rank for a number of keywords is a “quality” signal.

#4 Add content regularly

The Caffeine Update favours recently uploaded content – especially if it’s newsworthy. If you’ve got some “old gold” content, consider keeping the same URL and updating the content significantly. This will help it stay evergreen. Over time, regular updating will create a ranking factor in itself.

#5 Latent Semantic Indexing – aka LSI Keywords

Back in the day, having the keyword EVERYWHERE in your content was the way to get ranked, now it’s about including synonyms, adjectives and related words. These can also be applied to the meta tags.

#6 Keyword precision

Paraphrasing a keyword, adding prepositions or conjunctions… these are all best practices when using a keyword as a link, but if you can get that exact sucker in there, word for word, that helps too!

#7 Show them your sources

Linking out to a credible source gives your article credibility, and is a known ranking factor. Wikipedia, a government department or university – any high authority website that has content that relates to your content is a winner.

#8 Only link to relevant pages

So your cousin owns a used car dealership and you think it’s nice to throw a link into your content on….how to make the perfect omelette. This may get missed once or twice but do it too often and Google will smack!

#9 Multimedia and supplementary content

Adding an instructional video, a nifty tool or a downloadable PDF will help Google appreciate the effort you’re putting in.

#10 Make your outbound links “no follow”

You can create links to other sites but by adding the “no follow” attribute you won’t be passing them any of your built up SEO goodness. In WordPress, you simply need to add a plugin that will allow you to pick and choose which links don’t pass SEO juice to other sites.

#11 Keep it real

Be sure you have ample contact information, especially for local businesses using Google My Business to appear “on the map”.

Bits and bobs that serve as ranking factors!

There’s a lot of ranking factors in play, these are some of the sundries that you can get done pretty simply. There’s a lot to learn about off page SEO, but you’re better to talk to a member of the Media Heroes team about that!

#1 Security matters

An SSL certificate, updated WordPress versions, secure credit card systems and a clear and visible privacy policy are all indicators that you’re trustworthy. If you want to take it a step further become a trusted site through Google Wallet. Similarly, you can build trust by having plenty of reviews of your site on other sites on the web like Yelp and on your Google My Business entry.

#2 Register your country TLD extension

If your website is a .com you should make efforts to also register and either redirect or move your website to the .com.au. Being on a Country Coded Top Level Domain boosts your rankings in that country.

#3 Social Media and Google Plus

Having plenty of social media activity, including YouTube and Google Plus is a big helper to SEO. Creating an authorship tag in Google Plus used to offer a host of benefits, they’re reduced now but it’s still beneficial to link all your content together across all sites. This is especially beneficial if you’re writing content for sites in your industry.

#4 Make your “Who Is” info public

If you have more than one site, keeping your “Who Is” information obscured could cause you to be flagged as suspicious. Matt Cutts, Google’s veteran “spam boss” was quoted recommending that if you own more than one website, you should be transparent about it.

Oh wow, that all sounds like a whole lot of work!

It might sound like taking charge of ranking factors will take far too many hours in the day but simply changing the way that you upload content to be “best practice” can make a big difference to your ranking results. Talk to Media Heroes about high-quality content and achieving long-term SEO success. Media Heroes provides the best search engine optimisation Brisbane has to offer and the team is ready to help you super power your business!