Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to the variety of techniques you can use to increase your organic search rankings on search engines like Google, and has a reputation for being somewhat difficult to understand and implement for most people!
While it’s true that highly effective SEO research and techniques can definitely be complex and time consuming, there are quite a few things you can do quickly and easily right now to increase your organic search ranking on search engines. Considering how 70-80% of users ignore paid ads and focus only on organic results, we cannot underestimate the importance of organic search rankings, so putting these techniques into practice should be made a priority.
SEO ranking factors are the key elements that search engines look out for when figuring out if your website is relevant and worthy of a high ranking. These factors can be categorised into on-page factors, off-page factors, and URL factors. If you adjust these elements to be more favourable and useful to your end user, search engines will be more likely to mark your website as relevant, and rank it higher than competing websites.
Curious to know more? Read on to learn exactly how and why these 12 essential SEO ranking factors can improve your website’s organic search ranking!
On-page factors are elements in your content that appear on your website’s pages. This can be anything from your home page, about page, landing page, and even blogs. Any amount of copy that you’ve produced and published on your website can be found by search engines, so it’s vital that you keep these in mind when creating pages for your website.
If you spot any factors here that you believe could be improved on your website, we highly recommend that you update the content to optimise it.
The main function of a search engine is to ensure that users get exactly what they are searching for, so one of the key things that search engines look out for is relevant content. Make sure your content is relevant to your audience and industry, and also remember to consistently publish content that your audience is actually searching for.
Meta tags, titles, and descriptions
If you haven’t been taking the time to create effective meta tags, titles, and descriptions for your web pages, you could be missing out on a lot of traffic! Search engines use these factors to ‘label’ your website accordingly, particularly meta tags and titles. While meta descriptions aren’t as important to search engines, they are the best way for users to quickly know whether or not your content is relevant to them, so make it catchy!
Recency of content updates
The results are in: Google prefers new content. But don’t fret – even if you’re not constantly producing new content, you can repurpose old content or even update high performing content to ensure Google can index that fresh content, and hopefully make it rank higher. Although, some experts – including Google – say this isn’t a ranking factor, we are yet to be proven otherwise.
To put it simply, this is how often a keyword appears on your website. Having a high keyword density means that your website features that keyword heavily, and therefore is more likely to have content that is relevant to searches for that keyword. While it is important that you research keywords for your website and use relevant keywords throughout, we must remind you to never spam those keywords to the point where it’s nonsensical! This can actually cause Google to distrust your website and rank it lower. You need to find a balance between what search engines are looking for and your audience’s needs.
Off-page factors are things you can do externally to increase the ranking of your website by making it appear more trustworthy and relevant. These are factors that take time to build up, but also have a long term positive effect for your website ranking, so if these strategies haven’t been part of your digital marketing strategies, we recommend starting on them now to ensure they start working in your favour sooner rather than later.
Backlinks are the bread and butter of the SEO world, and for good reason. High quality backlinks refer to the practice of trustworthy, high quality websites sharing a link to your website. This, in turn, acts as a vote of confidence that reassures search engines that your website is legitimate, relevant, and trustworthy as well. Building high-quality backlinks takes time, but can really boost your search rankings.
Social media optimisation
Much like SEO, optimising your social media can drive traffic to your website, and help boost your search rankings indirectly. An added advantage to optimising your social media is knowing that the people who go from your social media platforms to your website are already interested in your content, and thus are more likely to find your website useful, and are more likely to stay on there longer too (two things that are great for your search rankings in their own right!).Note, when doing paid social media ads, it’s common for the average time on your site to change. So be sure to track your analytics and set appropriate goals.
If your website also has a blog (and if you don’t, we highly recommend that you start one!), then you can list your blog on relevant blog directories where it can be discovered by more users. Blogs are an excellent way to drive traffic to your website, and is an easy way for you to provide fresh, long-form content, which is exactly the kind of content search engines prefer to rank higher.
Speaking of blogging, publishing guest blogs on other websites can go a long way in increasing awareness about your brand, and also allow you to reach your target audience. Make sure that you strike a relationship with websites that are related to your industry, and provide content that is relevant to both their audience and yours.
SEO friendly URLS
This is probably one of the easiest techniques you can implement on your website: make your URLs (that’s the address to your web page) SEO-friendly! There are several ways you can create SEO-friendly URLS but some basic things to keep in mind include:
- Keep it short
- Include keywords
- Use hyphens to separate words
Search engines don’t read and understand your website the way humans do, so you need to provide them with structure to ensure that they’re looking for information in the correct places. This structure can be easily demonstrated by considering your content menu. Does your menu contain all the relevant categories of pages in your website? The basics should include – at minimum – a home page, an about page, a content page, and a products or services page, but there are many more things you can do to improve your site structure.
Country code top level domain
In a nutshell, a country code top level domain (ccTLD) indicates to search engines that you are located in a specific country, which can be very useful in directing local users to your website. If you want local customers to find your website, we recommend using a ccTLD like .com.au (for Australia) so you can be sure that your website ranks higher in relevant searches in your country.
Keyword use in URL
We’ve mentioned this previously, but it is worth expanding upon what exactly this entails. By using a relevant keyword in your URL, users know what they’re getting when they see your URL in search results. Much like meta descriptions, while this is not super important for search engine indexing, it is incredibly useful for users’ decision-making.
Optimising your website with SEO-ranking factors
One thing we must emphasise with regard to SEO ranking factors is this: the best way to increase your search ranking is to optimise most, if not all, of the above! If you only set out to do one or two of the tips we’ve shared, then increasing your organic search ranking will be a long, drawn out process.
Want to make it easier to optimise your website to make it more appealing to search engines? Make sure to get in touch with us to learn more about how our SEO research and management services can help optimise your website!