A few years ago, it was really easy to get top rankings in Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Using methods ranging from hammering the search algorithm with repeated instances of your keyword. This was done by placing your keyword in your title, meta tags, description, alt-tags for images, as well as the anchor text linking back to your site.
More unscrupulous web masters even hid keywords on their web pages, by placing the keyword on the site.
They hid them by using a text colour that matched the background of the site. This means it is not visible to the human eye, but the search spiders will pick up on it. This got many sites to top of page one, but their quality was almost always very questionable. It is a good thing those days are over.
The biggest search engine company, Google, released a list of almost 200 factors that they say affect your search rankings. Many of them are standard practice when setting up a website. There are other factors that that are not so widely advertised that also have an impact on your rankings. Here are 5 of the less known factors that can influence your rankings.
Google is all about giving users the best experience possible. Sites that do not offer excellent user experience will lose rankings over time. If your site is laden with flash animations, out-of-date plugins, and riddled with broken links, your site becomes a minefield for users to negotiate. Poor user experience will ultimately lead to less visitors and lower rankings. Test your site and make sure there are no errors and also ensure that your site content is mobile ready.
Links to your pages.
Avoiding spammy links that will lower your rankings is common sense, but many of the ‘old’ ways of building links have been deemed spam links by Googles’ updates. In 2013 and beyond, getting quality and relevant links are better than just getting a ton of random links. The use of social media links to build your brand and the use of brand name and plain URLs when acquiring most of your links are two ways to build a broader base of links.
Time on site.
Do you know how long visitors are spending on your site? Do you monitor your Google Analytics statistics to see how visitors interact with your site? Tracking visitor activity will let you know which pages they spend the time on, which links they click on.
This insight will help you create more of the content they like, increase their time on site thus showing the search engines you have useful content. They in turn, reward you with higher positions in the rankings.
You also need to consider how often you update your site content. The major search engines tend to rank newer content higher in the search results. This shows Google that you care about providing new information for visitors. This content can range from a short blog post to a podcast to simply updating your resource page. If you had top rankings before and you leave the site for long without updating it, your rankings will drop.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing.
While you may have very good content, if you stuff keywords in your content, you will not get and/or maintain high rankings. Content needs to flow naturally and almost conversationally. The use of LSI (related) keywords helps you get keywords in your content, without making the text unintelligible. Keyword stuffing shows the search engines that you care more about ranking than providing useful content for visitors.
These factors are more about better user experience, but improved user experience leads to a better ranking. This is because with a site that visitors like to visit, you are showing the search engines that you are relevant for those keywords.
Your visitors can also help you get links by telling other people about your site. Carry out a site audit often to make sure you are providing the best value for visitors.