The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – 15 SEO Ranking Factors You Need to Know About.
Search Engine Optimisation is a tricky business. Knowing which techniques you should and shouldn’t use can be confusing. Google’s search engine algorithm alone has over 200 factors to it. So, which should you use?
Well, we’ve decided to put together this helpful guide featuring some of the good, bad, and the ugly SEO techniques that websites use. Aren’t we nice?
Also known as white hat SEO techniques, these are the methods you want to follow to improve your online visibility.
1. User Experience.
The first of four points focused on optimising your website itself. This includes on mobile and other devices. User experience and satisfaction on your site is key. Ensuring everything works on your website as it should is a must, as a happy visitor is more likely to become a customer or client. Not only this but the longer a visitor spends on your site, the better it will perform on search engine results. This is due to the search engine realising that your site is relevant and trustworthy.
2. Page Speed.
Part two of optimising your website is making sure your website runs quickly. Much like user satisfaction, it has a knock-on effect. Having a quick and smooth loading website reduces the bounce rate on your site. The lower the bounce rate on your website, the more time people are likely to spend on there. The longer people stay on your website for, the more likely search engines will realise it’s a relevant site. The more relevant, the higher your website will appear on search engine results.
3. Keyword Research and Density.
The third point in optimising your website is keyword research and density. There is no real set percentage of keyword density that guarantees results in search engine result positions. Due to this, it’s best to follow these steps:
· Identify and set your primary and secondary keywords.
· Implement these keywords into your web copy.
· Read your copy aloud. If it sounds like you’re unnaturally mentioning your keywords, you’re probably overusing it.
· Re-write your copy accordingly.
We advise you to hit your primary or secondary keywords in several different areas. Title tag, meta descriptions, H1 tag, and your general copy are the best places. You may be asking yourself why you can’t just fill your copy with keywords in the hope that a search engine will think it’s more relevant? Because that’s considered keyword stuffing. To read more about this, read point 2 in The Bad.
4. Image Optimisation.
The last point for optimisation is making sure any images on your site are fully optimised. Ensuring all the images on your site are small and speedy is vital. Making sure their file names and alt tags hit your keywords is important too.
5. Backlinks & Inbound Links.
When a website features a link to your site, this is called a backlink or inbound link. The more backlinks your page has, the higher it will appear on a search engine’s results. This is due to the search engine seeing your website as having a good reputation and therefore assumes more people will want to visit. Think of a link as a vote for that website. The more votes it has, the more popular it is.
Backlinks can be created in three main ways. Submitting to web directories, guest blogging, and by having a website that people are going to reference and link to.
6. Good Title & Meta Descriptions.
This one is simple. Having a good title means people are more likely to click on your website or article. If your company sells dog supplies but is called Moonrakers, make sure everything is in the title. ‘Moonrakers – Dog Supplies and More’. The more visits you get to your site, the higher in search engine results your website will be.
The description that appears under the name of your website is called a meta description. This is a great opportunity to give potential visitors a brief insight as to what your website contains. Be sure to hit keywords here. Asking a question or two isn’t a bad idea either.
7. Social Signals.
Social signals are interactions on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Factors such as how many likes or followers your page has and the number of likes or re-tweets your posts get all plays a part. Having a strong social media presence is key, including engaging and scheduled content. Exactly how much of an impact this has on a website’s SEO is yet to be proved, however.
8. Domain Age.
The age of your website domain plays an important factor in search result listings. It’s rare to see an extremely high listing in a crowded market that is less than a year old. So, it’s recommended to have a long-term strategy to achieve the best SEO results.
It’s best to re-design an existing website or use the same URL you may already have. If you have a website that you need re-designed, [click here]. Regardless of how bad or out of date it may be, search engine’s algorithms will recognise that it has been a website for some time already. This will, over time, improve your website authority.
9. Website Authority.
As suggested in the title, website authority is exactly as it sounds. How trustworthy search engines believe the website is, the better it will rank in search results. Website authority comprises almost entirely of the various points. Because of this, there isn’t much you can do to specifically raise your site’s authority. But, making sure you stay on top of all the previous points will raise your website authority over time. Steering clear of black hat SEO methods will also ensure your website authority doesn’t drop.
Although generally scored from 0-100, it’s not the best method to aim for a score of 100. This is due to it being extremely difficult, as the sort of websites that reach near to this score are giants such as Wikipedia and Facebook.
The best strategy is to work out your main competitor’s website authority score and to work on distancing your site from this. The higher your website authority score, the more likely it’ll appear higher in search results.
There are many more SEO techniques you can use to enhance the visibility of your website. To discuss what options there are for your website, [click here].
Black hat SEO techniques are methods of increasing your search ranking that go against search engine guidelines. It can be tempting to apply black hat SEO techniques to your site to push for better SEO results. There are three main reasons why this would be a bad idea:
· Google’s algorithm, RankBrain, is constantly evolving and updating. This means it’s only a matter of time until it can spot all types of black hat SEO.
· If your website is caught applying black hat SEO techniques, it is punished by the search engines. Usually by pushing it down the list of results, no matter how relevant it is.
· Nobody likes a cheat.
With that said, here are X black hat SEO techniques you should avoid.
In a nutshell, cloaking is a form of lying to achieve a higher search result listing. It is used to deliver search engine spiders to a different website than the one an actual user will see. This results in users finding themselves on websites they don’t wish to see or find useless to them. This result in a high bounce rate for the site, ultimately lowering its search result listing. Furthermore, when a website is caught cloaking, it is often removed from the search engine completely.
2. Keyword Stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is the process of filling your website copy with certain keywords in the hope of a higher result in search engines. This is sometimes attempted by colouring the copy the same as its background. Other times it is blatant and obnoxious. Both methods are bad practice. As search engine algorithms have become smarter, they can now spot keyword stuffing much easier. Having this on your site can result in your ranking dropping or being removed altogether.
3. Link Farms.
Link farms are websites that are often very low quality and serve only to promote another site. This method was once a successful black hat SEO technique. Yet in recent times, search engine algorithms can spot link farming websites and links. This makes them almost pointless in the modern world of SEO, as they’re soon removed and discredited.
Much like white hat SEO techniques, there are many more black hat SEO methods people try to use. None of which we recommend. If you want to contact a specialised SEO agency, [click here].
Although still black hat SEO techniques, these are the best of the worst. And by that, we mean the most embarrassing or most desperate looking ones.
1. Blog Comment Spam.
We’ve all seen examples of this. Comments like ‘Hey, great article! If you like this, you should check out my website here!’, only to find it sends you somewhere completely irrelevant. This is done in the hope of creating a backlink for your site. However, spamming a blogs comment section with links to your site is considered black hat SEO practice.
Not only would this be a bad habit to fall into, but it’s very unlikely to work. Most respected and well-made blogs have the comments set to ‘nofollow’ as standard. If they aren’t, it’s common for blog owners to delete spam in the comments section anyway.
Moreover, Google’s algorithm is now smart enough to know that blog comments are not a reputable source for backlinks anyway.
2. Bait and Switch.
Like cloaking, but less technical. Bait and switch methods attract a customer with one promise but present another. Products, services, or even the website subject matter are all bait and switch methods. This will once again result in your site having a high bounce rate and will ultimately rank lower in search engine results.
3. Duplicate Content.
Search engines spiders enjoy new content (not to be confused with new websites). But copy and pasting content from a competitor won’t work either. Search engines can recognise plagiarised content. It will see that it has been published on a different website first and consider your content unoriginal.
If your site has a blog, it can be tempting to re-write old articles and publish them to gain more keyword density. But publishing the same blogs over time, even if they’re re-worded, won’t help your SEO. Search engines will notice that this content is repetitive and offers nothing new. You can, however, update old blogs. Search engines love to see updated pages with new and better content. This also shows the search engine your site is still active.