Although we created our comprehensive website grader to give you a list many factors that affect your search engine rankings, and suggestions to improve them, the world of SEO is always changing. Because of this, the report you received from us covers the most crucial elements of search engine optimization, but it may not cover them all.
Here are a few of the other factors that might impact your ranking in search engines, and what you should know about them.
How visitors interact with your site
In order to prevent search engine rankings from being defined purely by factors that you could control — like keywords, links, and structure — Google built some factors into their algorithm that take the way visitors interact with your site into consideration. This prevents websites that don’t actually make any of their visitors happy from dominating the rankings.
If the majority of your visitors leave your website right away, without visiting any other pages, and go right to another listing in the search engine results, you are likely to rank less well. Conversely, if your visitors stay on your website for a long time, visit a lot of pages, and spend several minutes on each page before finally exiting, you have a better chance at ranking highly.
Your performance on mobile
It has been rumored for quite some time that Google will be favoring, in some way, websites that display properly on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. On the other hand, sites that require pinch zooming or do not display correctly on mobile devices may be pushed down in the results or even penalized in the future.
Currently, the same keyword will return slightly different results in searches depending on the device it is searched from, and whether or not the top sites are mobile-friendly or not. So this is already becoming a reality. If your site is not mobile-friendly, you should change that as soon as you can!
The quality of your links
In our report, we talk about the number of the links to your site. However, the quality of those links is important, too.
A hundred links from a hundred individual sites no one has ever heard of does not mean nearly as much, in the eyes of search engines, as one or two links from a major news website. If a major news website links to you, it is a very strong signal of trust. Anyone can make a website, but not anyone can make a successful news website that has been around for ten years — so that is why the latter link is worth more than a hundred of the former.
Local SEO is another topic entirely. If you run a local business, your results may be completely different dependent on how people are searching for you, where they are searching from, and what they are searching for.
Our report doesn’t take local SEO into consideration, but if you are searching for yourself using a local phrase — like “[products] in [city]” and not seeing yourself in the results with the map at the top, you have some work to do. This will involve creating a local listing with Google, optimizing your site for local keywords, and a few other local-specific actions.
Finally, if you are finding it very difficult to improve your site’s ranking — or if your site has disappeared from the search results entirely — it may be the victim of a penalty. Google issues penalties to punish sites that it believes are violating its Terms of Service, including those engaging in behavior that harms users or otherwise intentionally manipulates the search results.
Identifying a Google penalty can be difficult, especially because there are two types: algorithmic and manual. We recommend reading this chapter of our guide to Google penalties to find out how to identify whether or not your site is under a penalty, and to learn how to resolve it if you do have one.
As we mentioned before, SEO is always changing. It is difficult to guess what will happen next, and what factors Google will incorporate into its algorithms, or use to determine the sites that deserve to rank highly. However, if you focus on improving the core factors of your website — which we talked about on this page — you will have a better chance at reaching the first page than websites who focus on the minor details.
Do you have any questions about other factors that you worry may be affecting your SEO? Feel free to let us know! You are more than welcome to contact us with any questions you may have about your report, SEO, or ranking factors — we’ll be happy to answer them for you.