How Content Affects Your Ranking

website content layout

If you’ve ever thought about focusing solely on the technical SEO aspects of your website, and not paying as much attention to the content that is posted on it, you might want to rethink that strategy. Content is truly the basis of SEO and is something that search engines like Google use to determine how your website should rank in the search results. Let’s look at the ways that content can influence your website’s ranking. Read More

What Other Factors Might Affect My Rankings?

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

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.

Google penalties

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.

Which Factors Affect My Search Engine Rankings the Most?

As you work to improve your website’s SEO, search engine ranking, and score, you wonder which factors affect you the most. Is there one area you should focus on above the others? Or is there any one factor that can influence your SEO more than anything else?

Although there is no single “magic bullet” that can get you ranking #1 for your targeted keywords overnight, on this page we hope to educate you about the biggest factors that affect your ranking — and your website score. If you focus on these factors, you’ll stand a better chance at improving your site SEO and getting a better score the next time you use our grader tool.

Website content

Above almost everything else, search engines need to rely on the content of websites to rank them. Without content, Google wouldn’t be able to look for the keywords users searched for, check for relevant content to display when someone wants to read the news, or look for the metrics (like bounce rate and time on page) that it uses to determine the quality of a site.

If your site only has a few hundred words spread out between a few pages, you should work on improving this ASAP. Consider writing helpful articles, starting a blog, or giving your visitors more information about who you are and what you do. This can make a huge difference in how well you rank, as well as how useful visitors find your website — which can, in turn, have an indirect impact on your rankings.

Links from other sites

If your website is heavily linked by others, chances are good that you aren’t having any trouble ranking. But if it’s not, you’re probably struggling. Why is that? It’s because Google strongly values links from other sites.

Generally speaking, the more links you have, the better. However, obtaining a lot of links won’t necessarily help you. The quality of the links matters, too; there’s a strong correlation between your ranking and the number of links from websites with a high DA. (You can learn a bit more about domain authority, or DA, on this page.)

If you are lacking in links, try to put together a plan to acquire more. We made some suggestions that should be helpful in this article: How Can I Get More Links to My Website?

Code, usability, and structure

Finally, one big factor that affects your website’s performance in search is its technical backbone. Your website should be made up of clean code, well structured, easy to navigate, and friendly to both users and search engines.

There are a number of individual factors that make up this larger one. It’s difficult to pinpoint which could have the biggest impact. The thing you should be most aware of is that if your site is broken (that is, if the code used to create it does not work properly), search engines can’t crawl or index it, or if it is missing crucial elements, it will have a hard time ranking. Similarly, server errors can cause problems for you, too.

Other small factors, like your navigation, URL structure, and mobile friendliness can also have an impact on your ranking. However, the factors listed above are cause for immediate concern, while these are a bit lower down on the totem pole.

These three factors, in a nutshell, are what affect your visibility in search engines the most. There are many other ways to improve your SEO, which you can learn about by reading the resources section on our website.

Do you have any questions about these SEO factors, or any of the results on your website grader report? Feel free to contact us at any time to ask about them! We would love to hear from you.

How Does Site Speed Affect My Rankings?

If you’re looking for a way to improve your website, have you thought about improving its speed? Site speed is one of the last things that website owners think of when they’re working on their SEO, but speed actually affects your ranking in search more than you might expect. In fact, if you have a slow site, it could be holding you back from hitting #1!

Let’s take an in-depth look at how site speed affects your rankings, and how you can improve your SEO by speeding up your site.

Google’s decision to use site speed in rankings

Site speed hasn’t always been a ranking factor. Google announced that it would take this factor into consideration in 2010 in a post on its Webmaster Central Blog, stating:

Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. […] Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings.

Google stated that site speed wouldn’t carry as much weight in its ranking algorithm as the relevance of a page. However, it did stress the importance for both SEO and users, because site speed could affect both.

There was some confusion after this announcement, however, because website owners were not sure which factor of site speed would affect ranking. Would it be total page size? The speed of the server the website was on? Or the amount of time it took the full page to load?

The specific speed factor to consider

In 2013, a study done for the Moz blog found the “time to first byte” metric (or TTFB) is what seems to correlate with your website ranking:

timetofirstbyte

TTFB is, essentially, how long it takes the server your website is hosted on to send your browser the first byte of data after you click a link. So essentially, the longer it takes for your server to start sending visitors your website, when they request it, the worse you will do in this specific factor of the algorithm.

The takeaway to consider here is that if your website server is slow, your ranking could take a hit. So you should review your hosting plan and make sure it is meeting your needs.

Moz did not find much correlation between other website speed factors, but this does not mean that they don’t affect your ranking. These factors can affect you indirectly. How? Let’s look closer.

How user behavior affects your SEO

Google takes other metrics into consideration when it is ranking your website. One of these is bounce rate — that is, the percentage of visitors who leave your site without visiting any other pages — and another is time on page.

Let’s say you have a specific page that ranks very well, but takes a long time to load. Visitors may grow very impatient and leave before it finishes loading. So your average bounce rate on this page may be 90%, and the average time on page may be 0:10.

Over time, you will see that the ranking on this page is likely to slip. Why? Well, Google has no reason to highly rank a page that 90% of users leave after only ten seconds! It’s obvious that something is driving them away. So even if your TTFB metric here is perfect, the fact that your on-page content is taking a long time to load is affecting your SEO.

Generally speaking, Google’s algorithm can take the behavior of people visiting your site into consideration. So if page speed is driving them away, you are likely to see an impact on your ranking and traffic.

This, in a nutshell, is how site speed can affect your website rankings and SEO. Have any additional questions we can help you with? Or are you confused by anything you see on the results of your website report? Just let us know, and one of our web strategists will be happy to help you out! We’d be happy to talk things over with you and find out how we can answer your questions.

What Determines Domain and Page Authority?

Are you confused by the Domain Authority and Page Authority metrics on the report we provided to you? Are you trying to understand what determines these scores, and how you can raise them? On this page, you can learn a little bit more about why you earned the scores you did, and what these scores really mean.

Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) are two metrics created by Moz, a provider of SEO tools. You can read a little more about these two metrics and how Moz came up with them on this page.

Your website’s strength vs. other sites

DA and PA do not necessarily symbolize how good your SEO efforts are. You may have the best content in the world, be targeting the right keywords, and be making thousands of dollars a day due to being highly visible in search engines, but still have a low DA.

What DA and PA do tell you is how “strong” your website is compared to others. Basically, when you search for a topic and receive three pages on the same topic, the page with the highest PA is the one Google sees as the strongest; the domain with the highest DA is the one Google sees as the strongest. These are the ones most likely to rank the highest (although not necessarily).

The number of links you have

A very big part of DA and PA is based on links. Moz determines these numbers based on incoming links from other sites. Generally speaking, the more links you have, the better — although low quality, spammy links probably won’t do your website any good.

You will often find that websites with very high DA also have a very high number of incoming links. Additionally, individual pages that have a high PA will typically obtain that because they have received links (pointing directly at that specific page).

How much you can be trusted

Moz uses another one of their own metrics, called MozTrust, to influence DA and PA. They explain it as such:

We determine MozTrust by calculating link “distance” between a given page and a seeded trust source on the Internet. Think of this like six degrees of separation: the closer you are linked to a trusted website, the more trust you have yourself.

Essentially, if you are only one or two link hops away from a trusted website (like the NASA site or CNN), you are more likely to be trusted than a site that is seven or eight hops away.

This, in a nutshell, is how DA and PA are determined. Many tools and individuals rely on these two numbers to determine how trustworthy you are, and whether or not your site is worth linking or working with.

How do I increase my PA or DA?

Links are the key to improving the scores associated with your page and domain authority. The more high quality links you have, and the closer those links take you to the “trusted” seeds in the MozTrust database, the higher those metrics will rise.

Keep in mind that your PA and DA do not have an actual impact on your SEO — they will correlate, but can not change your ranking in search engines. So just keep in mind that PA and DA matter for different reasons than the rest of your SEO.

Do you have any questions about page and domain authority that this page didn’t answer? Or are you looking for answers to questions about your website grade that you can’t find in the resources section on our website? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us — we’d be happy to help you in any way we can!

How Can I Get More Links to My Website?

Links are one of the most important factors that Google uses to determine how well your website ranks compared to others. If you do not have a lot of links pointing to your site, you may be wondering how to increase those links and boost your site authority and ranking.

Here are a few ways that you can get more links and improve this area on your report.

Ask for links from relevant websites

Sometimes getting a link is as easy as asking for it. If you are in contact with others in your industry who are willing to link you, this can be a simple way to boost your site’s authority and visibility.

If you run an ecommerce website, you may be able to be linked by manufacturers from a store locator or list of approved resellers. Or if you run a valuable resource of some kind for your industry, you could be linked by other websites who maintain a list of resources similar to yours.

Create content that attracts links

If you are not already participating in some kind of content marketing program, consider starting one. Research has found that websites with blogs earn approximately 97% more links than those without. You can also invest in articles, guides, infographics, or videos — any other type of content that people in your target market might get excited about and want to share with other people.

If you are routinely creating and sharing this content, it may naturally attract links from others.

Pitch your content to other websites

Of course, your content may not always attract links, especially if your website is new or not yet in a growth stage. So you may have to do some manual work to earn the links you need.

You can accomplish this by contacting websites you want to obtain links from and asking them to look at, and consider linking to, your content. You may ask them to include your website as a resource on a page that already exists, or to link to a new piece of content you’ve created as the basis for a future blog post or article (assuming they have an interest in the content you created).

Create content for others

Finally, you can create content for other websites and obtain links this way. The links you obtain may be through guest posts that you create for other blogs that have links to your content throughout, or you may have a link to your website in your author byline. Either way, this method is mutually beneficial, as it allows another website to benefit from your content and you to benefit from a link.

These are four simple ways that you can obtain links to your website. For a few more ideas, check out these articles:

Have any questions about obtaining links to your website, and how they can help improve your score and boost your rankings? Or do you need help interpreting the results of your website grader report? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help you with whatever you need.

Does Social Media Affect My Website’s Rankings?

For businesses looking to promote their products or services online in a cost-effective manner, social media can be an incredibly powerful tool. However, you may be wondering if there are any benefits to social media that go beyond the increases in website traffic and customer engagement. You may be asking “does social media affect my SEO?”

Let’s explore how social media can impact your website’s rankings, and how networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can indirectly improve your SEO.

Links from social media are nofollow

First of all, it’s important to realize that the links to your website from posts made on social media networks are nofollow links — that is, they have a special HTML tag automatically assigned to them that keeps them from having any “weight.”

Normally, when one website links to another, that site is effectively telling search engines “I trust and endorse the website I’m linking.” But a nofollow link — which tells search engine spiders not to follow the link, or associate the two websites — says “I see value in linking this website, but I don’t necessarily endorse the content here.”

Social media websites nofollow their links for that reason. Since they don’t know what their users will be linking, they can’t endorse the content. They also do this because their page and domain authorities are so high that they would essentially be casting extremely powerful “votes” each time they linked to other websites, which could have a disastrous effect on search engine results. (Imagine how easily you could manipulate your rankings by simply spamming your homepage link on Twitter over and over!)

Social media activity has no direct impact on your rankings

Because social media links are nofollow, this means the links people share to your content or website can’t directly impact how well you rank in search engines.

However, Moz’s 2013 Search Engine Rankings Factors Survey & Correlation study showed Facebook and Google+ activity had a strong correlation with high page ranking:

social-factors

This doesn’t necessarily mean that sharing your content on Facebook and achieving a high number of +1s on Google+ will result in your content being ranked higher. However, this does show correlation between pages that have a high amount of activity on these two networks and pages with higher rankings. One didn’t necessarily cause the other, but they do go together.

What does this mean? What we know for certain is that social media activity can have an indirect impact on your website rankings and SEO. Here’s how.

Social media shares can lead to followed links

When you share your content on social media, you’re attempting to amplify it to a wider audience. Your goal may simply be to make your followers aware of something important on your site that you want them to read, or you may be advertising a brand new product or service. Either way, you’re trying to create awareness of something you have done.

Occasionally, when you share something on social media, someone may see it, look at it, and later link to it from their own website. This link will most likely be followed — that is, it will tell Google that they endorse you, and will cast a “vote” for your site that impacts your rankings.

It’s in this way that nofollow links on social media can turn into followed links from other websites. All you have to do is be in the right place at the right time.

Website engagement from social media links can impact ranking

If someone visits your website from a link and leaves after five seconds, it’s obvious they didn’t get what they wanted. But if someone visits your website from that same link and sticks around for five minutes, they probably felt pretty good about your content.

Think about this activity on a larger scale. Google does this all the time. If a very large majority of the people who visit your site leave immediately — that is, if your website’s bounce rate is very high — your rankings may suffer. Google uses the engagement metrics from users to determine how well you should rank, and that’s because it doesn’t want sites that most people dislike to dominate the search engine results.

The same applies to links shared on social media. If your content is shared on social media, and thousands of people “bounce” from it right away, your rankings may suffer. But if your engagement is high, you could actually see improvement. The same applies for links you share elsewhere, like on other websites.

More engagement = higher potential for SEO impact

To explain this as simply as possible, the more people you engage with on social media, the better your chances are for having something happen that impacts your search engine rankings.

The biggest possibility here, as explained above, is followed links. However, engagement from your followers or fans could also lead to you getting an idea for a new piece of content that ranks #1 and improves your entire site’s SEO as a result.

So while social media doesn’t directly impact how well you rank, we always recommend staying active on social media networks, and increasing the number of mentions and interactions you have, because there are enormous benefits. In the long run, social media can have an incredible indirect impact on your SEO, and it’s for that reason that we include it in our website grader tool.

Have any questions about social media, search engine optimization, or how to interpret your report? Feel free to reach out to us at any time and let us know!

Why is Anchor Text in Links So Important?

One of the factors on your report was the amount of links containing anchor text. If you don’t have a lot of these links, you may be wondering what anchor text is, and what makes it so important.

Let’s take a closer look at anchor text, and why it matters from both a user perspective and for SEO. We’ll also discuss some ways that you can acquire anchor text-rich links, which can help you improve your rankings and website authority.

What is anchor text?

Take a look at this link: click here!

In the case of the link above, “click here” is the anchor text. Anchor text is the text that makes up a link – basically, the text that is usually underlined and colored blue, on most websites, to signify that there’s a link in the middle of the content you’re reading.

Why is it called anchor text? Great question! In HTML (the code used to create webpages), a link has two “anchors” at each end, signified with an <a> symbol. That’s why the text between them is called “anchor text.”

Why is anchor text important to website visitors?

Anchor text in links tells visitors browsing through websites, pages, and pieces of content what links are, and what the destination pages (should) contain.

Anchor text like “click here” doesn’t really tell a visitor what that link leads to. It could lead to anything! But anchor text like “click here to read an article about the importance of anchor text” is highly specific, and tells you exactly what to expect when you click.

How does anchor text impact SEO?

As you may already know, the number of high quality links you have pointing to your website can have a big impact on its appearance in search engines. But the mere presence of these links on other websites isn’t all that impacts your ranking in search. Anchor text can affect it, too.

Anchor text doesn’t just give website visitors context – it gives search engines context, too. Basically, if someone links to your website using specific anchor text, they are voting for your website to rank for that anchor text.

Let’s say you were going to add a link to our website from yours. There are a couple ways you might do this:

  • A cool tool I found
  • A free website grader
  • Grade My Website
  • com

All four of these ways are basically casting a vote with Google (and other search engines), saying “this website should rank for this text.”

What do you think would happen if a hundred websites linked to us with the text “A free website grader”? That’s right: we’d probably rank #1 for that phrase!

Anchor text and link building

However, you should be cautious when trying to build links to your website that all have strong anchor text related to the keywords you want to rank for, or even for the name of your business. As search engines involve and their algorithms become more advanced, they’re able to pick up on unnatural behavior more easily.

If you acquire a lot of links, and they all contain the same anchor text, your site may start to look suspicious. Also, if those links didn’t come from very high quality websites, this could result in some penalties being applied to your site that actually hurt your ranking instead of helping it.

Google wants to see natural links with natural anchor text. When people link webpages naturally, they tend to do a mixture of the four examples we listed above. So when you are acquiring links, you should also aim for a healthy mixture – otherwise, you may run into problems.

We hope this page has helped you get a better idea of what anchor text and why it is important for both users and SEO! Have any more questions about anchor text, search engine optimization, or the report you received from us? Feel free to reach out to us at any time!