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In all our years in the industry, we’ve learned that SEO is part skill, part guesswork. To illustrate, Backlinkto.com lists down 200 ranking signals that Google could be using when crawling pages on the web. Some factors on the list are proven, but controversial, while others are mere speculations.
For all its complexity, SEO is both science and art, which means there’s no linear way to approach it. SEOs are challenged to streamline technical strategies as much as they should “feel” their way around Google’s ranking behavior.
This inexact science has led to the misuse (or lack thereof) of certain Google ranking factors necessary in an SEO campaign. Whether it’s because businesses haven’t done enough research or have held on to the wrong SEO practices, these missed ranking opportunities will only diminish your online visibility.
We list down some of these frequently missed search engine ranking factors and why they should be the epicenter of your SEO campaign.
We’ve all heard of Mobilegeddon, the Google algorithm update designed to increase the ranking of mobile-friendly websites. About 69% of SMEs in the US believed it was “overhyped”, “incorrect” and “unhelpful”, according to a study by Koozai, surveying about 4,600 SMEs across the US, UK, Canada and Australia.
Based on this response, we can only surmise that a significant number of American businesses don’t realize the ranking impacts of Mobilegeddon – and are not set on implementing mobile optimization on their SEO strategy.
A report from Adobe Systems, however, indicate that out of more than 5,000 websites, non-mobile-optimized sites experienced a drop in traffic by 12% compared to mobile-friendly sites, within two months after the update took effect in April.
Additionally, Stone Temple Consulting conducted another study on the effects of Mobilegeddon, tracking activity of more than 50,000 websites within a month after changes were implemented. It revealed that non-mobile-friendly sites dropped in Google search rankings, while mobile-friendly sites had an overall increase.
Image from Stone Temple Consulting: nearly half (46%) of the non-mobile friendly pages suffered a drop in rankings.
Overall, Google says it prioritizes websites that “looked good on small screens, used bigger text, and separated links so that they are easier to tap.” There’s a reason it rolled out the update in the first place: because more and more people are on mobile. In a survey by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, it says mobile media time in the US is now considerably higher at 51%, compared to desktop time, which is only at 42%.
Image from Smart Insights
The implications are clear: if you can’t reach your audience through mobile search or provide a satisfactory mobile experience, you may be behind your SEO efforts.
Quality of Content
We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again – content quality is crucial. Due to the discovery of many inconsistencies, such as low-quality sites still ranking high, the value of content can appear a bit overestimated, shifting the efforts of many SEO campaigns.
Granted that Google’s workings remain a mystery, we can easily deduce that high-quality content will always have a place in the search results. In this video, Matt Cutts explains the relationship of backlinks, reputation, content– and in extension, how it all plays into the ranking.
Following the Panda update, Google is putting more emphasis content and less on backlinks. This isn’t to say backlinks will completely be replaced in terms of helping Google measure the reputation of a page or site. As Cutts points out, backlinks “still have many, many years left in them.”
He does, however, reveal that Google is working on a system that enables them to understand natural, contextual language, not just keywords. This makes it easier for them to determine whether the content was written by someone of high authority, and if the message is of high value.
Now, while the Panda update clearly states Google will favor original, creative and authoritative content that satisfies users, Cutts is saying Google will soon rely on an artificial intelligence that gauges these features. This should convince you – and all website owners out there – to strengthen your content creation and allot resources on research and information.
Despite the obvious advantages of using Schema, only a few websites have optimally utilized proper Schema markup. A study by Searchmetrics says only 0.3% of websites are using schema approved by Google, despite some solid indications that domains with schema integration rank better.
What many fail to realize is that structured data enables you to further help search engines understand your website’s content. There are various markups for almost any type of data on a site, ranging from movie schedule and cooking recipes, to people and events.
Take a look at this example. These websites are using Schema markup to show ratings, total number of reviews, cooking time and even the amount of calories for their brownies recipe.
Schema leading to rich snippets in the given example does not only boost click-through rate (CTR), but can also help Google, Bing and Yahoo better understand and classify your data. Although Schema is not an official ranking boost (then again, what is?), Matt Cutts says marking your site in rich structure enables more users to “slice and dice” and find your site more easily, which is what SEO is ultimately all about.
To survive in such a competitive online environment, aim for a high-powered SEO campaign. We can’t rely solely on Google’s announcements, because what Google says and what Google does are two different things. The challenge for both SEOs and businesses is to stay updated on what’s happening and trending.
As a trusted SEO Company in Denver, we stay alert to the various changes happening in the world of SEO – not just according to Google, but as indicated by actual, real-time engagement and experience. With these resources, we plan to stay on top of your SEO campaign. Talk to our experts today.