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Top Three SEO Ranking Factors

SEO. Search Engine Optimization. It’s been a buzzword for a long time. If you’re going to run a successful blog for your business as part of your content marketing strategy, then you need to learn about it. I’m sorry, it can’t be avoided. But it doesn’t have to be super hard! There are over 200 SEO ranking factors, but some matter more than others. 

In today’s podcast episode, we’re going over the top three factors that you should worry about (at least once you get the one time factors out of the way). I keep things simple, but you’re going to walk away with some good information!

Here is the podcast episode:

Here is the video:

And, of course, here is the episode transcript:

If you don’t know S-E-O stands for Search Engine Optimization. There are over 200 factors that Google, and likely other search engines, use to rank content. All the tech developments, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, allow search engines to determine high-quality content fairly accurately. So, how can you rank well on the search engine results page (SERP)? With over 200 factors, it’s important to know that some factors matter more than others. And so today we’re going to talk about the top 3 SEO ranking factors.

Why Should You Focus on These Three SEO Ranking Factors? 

The reason why is because if you’re a small business or you’re a larger business with a small marketing team, there’s only so many things you can worry about. So I would much rather you worry about the top three ranking factors if that’s all you’ve got time for. That’s rather than wasting time on some of the less heavily weighted ranking factors. 

Somebody mentioned this on LinkedIn in response to a post of mine. They said that they knew a company that followed the voice search recommendations but didn’t follow basic SEO recommendations for their written content. And obviously that’s kind of backward. Voice search is growing at an amazing rate and it’s definitely going to be something that you have to keep in the back of your mind. Smart voice devices, like Google Home and Alexa, the purchase rates doubled from 2017 to 2018.

We know that that’s going to continue to increase, but you want to make sure that you’ve got your foundation nice and strong, and that’s where these factors come into play. 

What You Need to Know About Voice Search

What do customers purchase when they use their smart home devices? Items like household necessities, electronics, and groceries. Everyday commodities that everyone needs. 

The voice speaker market surged between 2017 and 2018. Smart speaker ownership almost doubled from 21% in 2017 to 41% in 2018. Even more interesting, 74% of smart speaker owners report that they’ve purchased at least one item through their speaker. 42% have purchased three or more items. 

While voice commerce accounts for a small number of total retail sales today, history has shown us it won’t stay that way. 

After all, the first smartphone debuted in 1992 (the Simon Personal Communicator by IBM), and there are millions that can’t remember a time before the world sat in the palm of their hand. 

That means there will soon be a generation that can’t remember a time before they were able to say “Okay Google, order more paper towels.”

Why Does Voice Search Matter for Written Content?

Smart home devices are trying to create a seamless experience. For example, I can ask my Google Home device about Pokemon strengths and weaknesses (I have my kids hooked on Pokemon). My smart device will tell me about the strength weakness combo I’m asking about. But then it also sends a link for the source to my phone. That means I get to go review the information more closely on the source site.

There’s a connection between voice and video too. The goal is to provide the user with the best experience possible.

Some SEO Ranking Factors are One and Done, and Some Are Ongoing

Some of the 200 factors are a one-time fix and then some of them are ongoing. A one-time fix example would be the whole big thing about, “Hey, we’re http and now we’re moving to https.” That was a really big deal, but once you switched over, you were fine. It was done. 

And if you didn’t switch over, then your website got punched in the face for a little while until you fixed it and people stopped getting that alert that your website was insecure. Some factors you don’t have control over. These are the sorts of things, again, that I don’t necessarily want you to worry about.

Things like domain age (how old your website name is), you can’t control. So a website with a domain that’s older typically ranks better. It just depends, but it typically ranks better. But that’s not something you have control over. It’s funny because all of the domains I’ve ever purchased, they were brand new. Nobody else ever had them, so they didn’t have anything on them. 

It’s like a, a teenager out of high school, they don’t have any credit. It’s kind of like that your domain age is almost kind of like website credit if you will. 

One Time Fixes for SEO (for the most part)

  • SSL certificate (Having ‘https’ in your URL)
  • Keywords in your site title
  • Keywords in your Htags
  • Having a sitemap

SEO Factors That Are Out of Your Control

  • Domain age
  • Google crawl speed
  • Competitor actions
  • Algorithm updates

 First SEO Factor: High-Quality Content

So your first top factor is to produce high-quality content. Which is great for me, since I’ll have lots of work. 

Now some people here produce content, and forget the “high-quality” part. That’s a mistake. Google is in Google Docs. It’s on your Google Drive, and it owns YouTube. I mean they’ve got pretty much everything, and they do spell check and whatnot. They have access to all the content that you could ever possibly create. Google knows that high-quality content is preferred, and they’re working these things into their algorithms. 

They know what good content looks like, and you need to make sure that that’s what’s on your website. So people who just put up content before the serious algorithm changes, when the search engine said “Oh, you’ve got content and it ranks for these keywords, good for you.” 

But once the search engine algorithm became sophisticated, they were also looking for quality. You can’t afford to have content riddled with grammar errors or just stuffed with keywords.

Quality Over Quantity Every Time

Well then, all of those sites that put quantity over quality, all of that was a waste. They got penalized by Google and then they got buried. So now nobody will find those websites because Google knows that their users don’t want to see that. You want to put in the work upfront to future proof the content on your site. Quality over quantity, 100% of the time. 

If you’re asking yourself “Oh, this isn’t our best work, should we put it up?” The answer is no, don’t put it up if you know it’s not your best work. Don’t put it up there in front of your clients and your prospects. I’m always of the opinion, one great blog post per month is better than eight crappy posts per month. If you have the team to put out eight awesome blog posts every month, good for you.

But that’s not everybody. Unless you’re outsourcing or you’ve got the internal team and an editor or excellent writers who are also employees, then you’re going to want to ease back. The general recommendation is one blog post per week. But even that, if you know you can’t keep up with one blog post per week and it’s not going to be your best stuff, I would much rather you post one great blog post. We can do something with one great blog post. We can be proud of it. 

Always Think of Your Audience

Let’s say I’m in your social media network, I can share that one awesome post. I’ll be happy to share it. But because I’m sharing that with my network, I can’t share low-quality content.

Also remember that when you’re putting your content into your network, it’s very likely you have people who want to help you. But they don’t want to share stuff that’s no good with their own network.

Focus on value and quality over volume and you will succeed. You can succeed with valuable content even when you don’t post as frequently. The key is to be consistent, whatever that is for you, weekly, monthly, whatever. 

SEO Factor #2: Mobile-Optimized Website

So some of these other ones are a little bit easier, but you want to build a mobile-friendly site. What that means is that it will show up differently on a phone. It’s called a responsive site.

Based on the size of the user’s display, your website will present the content in different ways to make it optimized for mobile. Google does mobile-first indexing. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, then you’re going to be nowhere to be found. 50% or more of search traffic is on a mobile device.

Like, “Hey, I was in the kitchen, let me look this recipe up.” or “Oh, I just remembered that. Let me look this thing up.” Mobile-first indexing: if you’re not optimized for mobile, you’re not showing up.

You want to be optimized for mobile and it’s not difficult these days. When you’re working with a great web designer, they’ll know. They’ll say “Hey, only responsive websites, that’s all we build.” if I was working with a web designer who was trying to charge me extra for a responsive website, I wouldn’t work with them because web designers who know their stuff are only going to build responsive websites. There’s no point in building anything else anymore. 

This could be considered a more one-time factor, but as you add more photos and video to your website, you need to always consider and test how your content assets appear on tablets and phone. Previewing your content on your phone and tablet is the easiest way to see how your readers will see it.

What About Site Speed as an SEO Ranking Factor?

In my opinion, site speed kind of ties into mobile optimized. When we’re checking out a site on our phones, and it takes too long to load, we move onto the next! I just mentioned checking the appearance of new content assets on your phone. Well, when you put really large photos (I mean the file size), it can slow down your site. Too many of these giant photos, and…. yep, your site slows down.

Here’s what my friend Jason Firch (digital marketing and SEO expert) had to say about site speed:

3rd SEO Factor: Backlinks

The final factor we’re going to talk about is backlinks. 

And what that means is, okay, so you’re a website and I’m a website. You found something really awesome on my website that you want to put on yours. When you link back to my blog post that you found the information on that’s called a backlink, from you to me. 

That’s great for me because you just gave me a backlink. You just told Google that I was awesome, and Google pays attention to that stuff. Backlinks are important and this is where guest posting and things like that come in. I believe that was episode 13 that you’ll want to check out in terms of ways to market your blog to generate more business

How Do You Get Backlinks?

Guest posting is one of the ways to get a backlink to your site. Going on podcast interviews is another way, but there’s a lot of ways, a lot of different tactics that you can use. Do what you feel most comfortable with to get out there and build relationships and also end up building those backlinks. They’re incredibly valuable because as I said, they communicate to Google that you’re awesome. So over time the more backlinks a particular page has, it will climb up the search engine rankings

Backlinks are valuable to you, but you don’t just want any backlink. You want valuable backlinks, so you’ll have to go back sometimes and disavow bad links. You can disavow certain links so that way they can’t link to you anymore if they’re spam links, which you definitely don’t want. 

Backlinks also help you build credibility as a professional and as a company. Read more about boosting your company’s credibility through content.

I know I’ve given you a lot to think about in terms of SEO ranking factors. Remember, once you get your one-time (or infrequent) factors out of the way, focus on these top three ranking factors. They can improve or deteriorate over time, each time you post new content on your website.