Focusing on only a few points with your SEO will not deliver 1st page Google rankings or increase traffic. You either execute the whole SEO process correctly or don’t bother. Below are 36 Google ranking factors you should work through (or your SEO company) to reach your goals.
The first job in your SEO services, research your keywords. Below are all the questions you should ask yourself before you start trying to rank. If you are new to search engine optimisation and want fast results i would take a look at our low cost SEO services & SEO management packages to increase rankings as the whole process can take some time and knowledge.
- Local or National search queries?
- What Are my top 25 keywords?
- What are the variations of these 25 keywords?
- Which web pages need to be ranked for these keywords?
- What is currently being ranked for these keywords?
- What keywords does Google autocomplete & suggestions give me?
- How much more content do i need to be better than my competitors?
- What low traffic keyword opportunities can i take advantage of?
- What search trends are happening?
There are some great tools available to you like Open Site Explorer that will answer all these questions for you.
No Keyword Limit
I cant believe that in this day in age, with all the Google algorithm updates been released that companies are still limiting their SEO services to X amount of keywords. For example we will optimise 5 keywords for you for £??? per month. If an SEO company is only working on 5 keywords, how unnatural will your link profile look?? All they are doing is ringing a bell in front of Google’s face saying “look at this site… we building loads of links with the same 5 keywords… penalise me!”
There should be no limit to the amount of keywords you should work on. You are going to have at least 5 brand variations before you even get to your keywords! An average website has 175 keywords to generate the targeted, search engine traffic. This includes:
- Brand variations.
- Top level keywords.
- Top level variation keywords.
- Long tail keywords.
- Long tail variation keywords.
How can you only work on 5 keywords when all the above points have to be taken in to consideration to keep your inbound link profile looking natural!?!
Performing a regular website audit will keep you up to date with any problems that need fixing on your site. This can be anything from dead pages, broken links, HTML errors, structured data problems, indexing errors, 301 redirect problems or anything like that.
Most of these problems will flag in your Google Search Console or/and you can use Screaming Frog free SEO tool to identify any website problems.
Now you have a great list of targeted keywords, take a look at all your competition for them. This will give you a great insight on the level of work required to out rank them. The information you should note down for each website is:
- Amount of content on each landing page?
- Are they blogging regularly?
- How are they using their keywords onpage?
- How do the same website rank on mobile searches?
- How many backlinks do they have (keyword & brand, see below).
- Where are they linking from?
From all this data you collect you simply must do it better! More content is key. If they have 750 words on their landing page focused on a specific keyword, you write 2000 words! If they are blogging 5 times a month, you blog 10 times a month! If you want to be ranked top of the search engines, everything simply has to be better than whats already there.
Meta Tags & Markup Data
You meta tags (title and description) is not an opportunity for you to cram and spam all your targeted keywords. This is an advert shown on search engine results for potential clients to visit your site.
If they just see a list of keywords, its not very inviting for them is it? You have to be clever with your meta tags. get your keywords mentioned but also have the users interest in mind so they will click your website instead of a competitor.
Markup data plays a vital role in your SEO services as it allows Google to display more information about your business to the user. You would of seen this structured markup data when you searched for a product or service. This is where you see the 5 star reviews, product prices, in stock/out of stock, events, dates and times… there are literally tons of structured markup data you can apply to your pages. More markup data information and resources can be found here.
Your robots.txt file is the doorway to allow Google spiders to crawl your web pages. It tells them if they are allowed to crawl and index your website or not. Simply open a text editor document and name it ‘robots’ with the extension ‘.txt’ and paste the below and save.
User-agent: * Disallow: Sitemap: https://sixtymarketing.com/sitemap.xml
Upload this file to your root directory in your server. Replace the sitemap url with your URL.
Load Speed & Performance
How a website loads and performs is critical for your clients and SEO services. Would you wait 15+ seconds for a website to load? No, neither would anyone else. They would just go to a competitor. Load speed is also a ranking factor for the search engines. They do not want to supply users with a set of results with slow loading websites. You should aim to have your web pages loading within 2-3 seconds max.
I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about how to increase website performance and speed so i have listed below some articles on how you can improve these.
- W3 Total Cache Minify Settings – Website Maintenance Tip
- Improving WordPress Load Speed with W3 Total Cache
Images can be the cause of slow load speed, make your website more appealing to users and helps let the search engines know what keywords you want to be ranked for. Every web page should contain images just because nobody wants to see a website just full of text!
To start with you should optimise your images correctly to ensure they load and perform correctly. It is important you take a read of the linked article as this is where many website owners fail. Get your images optimised first and the rest is easy.
next you need to make sure you label your images correctly. This can be your targeted keyword. Name your image as your targeted keyword, if you have multiple images on the page, try and use variations of this keyword. Ensure you set the ALT Tag with the same keyword. This will help establish your keyword further on the web page.
Next, share that image on your social media accounts. Where possible use the image location on your URL as this will help with ranking higher for image searches.
Get your content right and the rest of your internet marketing will be easy. From the competitor research you have done, you will know have an understanding how much content you need for each web page. This content needs to be to the highest standard and informative.
Don’t just write about anything and drag it out. Specifically write about the keyword(s) on that page in as much details and information as you possibly can from and experts (thats your) point of view.
You may have heard of keyword density. If not, this is where you repeat your targeted keyword over and over again so its the most mentioned phrase in your content. This is still true to some extent. You do should contain your keywords and variations within your content a few times but you don’t need to cram them in so your content doesn’t make any sense.
Conversion Rate Optimisation
Its great getting loads of visitors but if you cannot convert at least 5% of these to sales, then there is something wrong with the structure of your site. A user should be able to reach any product or service in a website within 3 clicks.
This is why you should plan your website layout and hierarchy efficiently without making the web page to complicated or busy. This is called conversion rate optimisation.
Daily Social Media Updates
Your business needs to be registered on every social media platform, not just Facebook and Twitter. You need to publish posts to all these social media accounts daily. This can be promoting services, products or latest news. Although you only receive a very small amount of credit for social sharing, it does put a lot of trust in your business when clients can see an active social media account.
You can use a scheduled posting website like Buffer to plan and publish your future posts.
Installing Google Analytics will supply you with so much useful data regarding your visitors interactions on your site. You will be able to view how many visitors your site gets, where they found you, how long they were on your site, country, device, page views, exit page and so much more.
This data will allow you to improve user experience and make tweaks to convert more users into sales.
Google Search Console
Similar to Google Analytics, Google Search Console (formally Google Webmasters Tools) shows you data about how your site is seen by Google and how it performs on search results, along with any errors that need fixing.
Your Search Console should be monitored at least twice a week as any errors could cause ranking problems.
Bing Webmasters Tools
The same as Google Search Console but for Bing.
Sitemap Creation & Submission
A sitemap needs to be created and submitted in your Google Search Console and Bing Webmasters Tools. A sitemap tells Google and Bing what pages you want indexed to be displayed in the search engines. It also tells them which pages you do not want indexing.
If you run a WordPress website, here is instructions on how to generate and submit sitemaps with Yoast automatically.
Mobile SEO & Performance
Depending on your industry, a high percentage of your visitors maybe from just mobile devices. Desktop searches and mobile searches display different sets of results. It is important your website rankings for both desktop and mobile searches.
This can be easily achieved by ensuring your site is mobile ready. If your website is built in WordPress, this is automatically done for you.
Another extension of mobile SEO is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). You may have already seen AMP on search results and social media but not fully understood what its for. If you see a grey lightening bolt (like below) it means the link is AMP. An AMP link means the page will load really fast (under 1 second) on mobile devices only.
As this is a Google product, AMP will rank high for mobile searches, as long as the content is great of course!
There is no such thing as a finished website! Times change. Tech changes. User habits change. You need to be on top of all these changes with your SEO services or you will quickly start falling behind.
Constant website improvements need to be made on average 2-4 times a month. This can be from your Analytics, Search Console errors or new tech or user habits.
New Monthly Keyword Opportunities
We aim to look for new keyword opportunities for our clients every 2 months. This does take a little knowledge and experience to see which new trends will stick and be worth while optimising, a little like buying/selling stock! You can use Google Trends to keep an eye on new keyword opportunities.
Google Maps Listing
Setting up a Google Maps Listing for you business is the strongest way to establish your company and website in your local area, even if you are a national company. Every business needs a Google Maps Listing to give the user some trusted business information from Google.
With Google Maps, you can ask your clients to leave Google Reviews. The more reviews you have (not just on Google Listings) the more your listing will appear for local search terms.
Bing Maps Listing
The same as Google Maps Listings but for Bing.
Submitting your website and business to quality local directories is a huge boost for your local rankings and a great source for easy, quality backlinks for your SEO services. Submitting your website to as may of these local directories (list here) will help Google understand which area you are trying to rank in. The more information you give Google (eg, the more local citations you create) the easier it will be for the search engines to understand your area.
Along with submitting local citations, you should also submit your website to niche directories, which are relevant to your business. You may read this and think all directories are bad but this isn’t true. Quality directories still exist and are regarded and being trustworthy by Google. Check and research each directory just to make sure it not page after page of just links. If you see a website that says ‘A great list reliable plumbers in Derby’, why wouldn’t you want your business listed on here?
Some of these niche directories do charge a listing fee, but if the website is trusted by Google then its worth forking out the money.
Regular 1000+ Word Blog Posts
Regular, quality content is the life line for any SEO service and should be utilised. Google is all about content. Supplying the users search term with the best possible set of results is how Google is the leading search engine and how it makes it’s money. This means your content has to be better than whats already ranking on page 1.
By now you should have great content on all your landing pages so now you need to keep growing your content on a regular basis. The best way to do this is through your blog.
Writing any old crap just for the sake of publishing a blog post is a complete waste of time. If anything, it will have a negative effect on your SEO services. If you think publishing 300 words qualifies as a great blog post, think again. Google hates thin content. A blog post is about providing expert opinions, advice, tutorials and information. How can you provide expert content within only 300 words?
Your content should be at least 1000 words and ideally 2000+ words. This will allow you to provide expert content and cover all the angles about your topic. If you think about it, a user searches Google because they are asking a question. Your blog post needs to answer that question and more.
Coming up with quality blog post ideas on a regular basis can be hard. Its better writing 1 excellent 2000+ word piece a week than 5 x 300 word crap.
Users want to see that you are an expert in your industry. If you have a blog thats packed full of amazing posts providing expert information in your industry, how much trust would the visitor have in your business? You have pretty much closed the deal.
Getting started in blogging is very difficult and takes time. Ahrefs have recently done some research on how long content takes to rank on the 1st page of Google, but this shouldn’t deter you. The posts you are writing maybe the best content the web has ever seen and you’re probably not getting any visitors, social shares or backlinks to it. This is completely normal. You are not going to be the worlds most established author overnight. Its going to take time and work to get your posts in front of people.
Sharing all your blog posts on social media over and over again is important. Obviously don’t share the same post 2 or 3 times a day. Spread it out to twice a month. The more posts you have, the easier it will be to publish different social updates without looking boring and repetitive.
Finding niche news blog feeds in your industry is a great way to get your posts in front of new eyes. These sites allow you to submit your posts to their website, where they usually have 1000’s of daily visitors, and they can view your post, rate it and share on their social media platforms.
linking out to other great sources in your posts is brilliant for 3 reasons.
- Gives the reader more information about a specific section in your post.
- Google loves when blogs link out to other sources of information.
- You can tag these website owners you linked to on your social media for them to share. After all, you have given them a backlink. Its on their best interest to make your page as popular as possible for their own SEO services!
Backlinks are the backbone of any successful SEO service and should have your full attention. As mentioned above, content marketing is a great way to get backlinks but you also need to go out and work on getting niche, relevant, strong backlinks to boost your rankings and Domain Authority (DA).
People still believe that backlinks should be targeted keywords for what they want to be ranked on Google for. Absolutely not! f anything, having nothing but targeted keyword anchor text will probably get you penilised by Google. Having brand backlinks should be your main focal point in your inbound marketing.
The more mentions your brand receives, the higher your DA, which leads to higher rankings due to your onsite SEO for your keywords.
It is important to try and mix up your brand anchor text a little to keep in looking natural. Here are some examples of variations of our brand that we use:
- SixtyMarketing in Derby
- SixtyMarketing UK
To rank on Google you do need to have keyword anchor links as this helps Google pin point targeted keywords which you would like to rank for. In both brand and keyword backlinks the best way to create them is through blogger outreach. This is where you contact relevant blog and websites similar to yours and ask to contribute to their blog with an article you have written. Within your article there will be a non self promoting link to your website.
Some website owners only allow backlinks in an author bio. This is a complete waste of time in my opinion. Links within the main content body is where you want your link to be. If its not going to be in that section then find another website to publish on.
There are some myths flying around on a large number of SEO blogs that you must have some balance between the number of brand backlinks and the number of keyword backlinks in your link profile. This is a load of bollocks. Some say for every 3 brand links you have you should only have 1 keyword link. Just ignore this. As long as everything is natural and you’re linking from reliable sources all the time it doesn’t matter about the ratio.
Internal / External Linking
Internal linking is the strongest way to pass traffic and ‘link juice’ throughout your web pages. On all your landing pages and blog posts you just aim to add a handful of internal links to relevant landing pages and blog posts.
If you haven’t got the time to concentrate on link building, the blog posts you write needs to contain internal links. This way when you marketing your posts, you will get the backlinks to your post which will pass on to your landing page that will rank higher for your keywords.
As mentioned under Content Marketing, linking out to other relevant resources will help with the marketing of your post by letting the website owners know you have given them a backlink. Google also loves posts that link out to great resources.
Disavow Spam Backlinks
The older you website gets, the more spammy or unwanted backlinks your website will accumulate. Also your competitors can create 1000’s of spam links towards your site in order you get you kicked off Google.
You can monitor all your backlinks in your Google Search Console and disavow links (ask for removal of backlink to your site) so you don’t get penalised. You should keep on top of this once a week.
Fix Broken Links / Crawl Errors
Broken links in within a website is a ranking killer. You can use Screaming Frog (mentioned under Website Audit) to fix any broken links. This is when you link to a page, usually an external link, and the website now longer exists. This needs to be repaired immediately in your Google Search Console.
Within Your Search Console you can view any crawl errors. These can be easily fixed and submitted back to Google with a 301 redirect.
Duplicate content is a huge no no with any SEO service. All content on your web pages must be 100% unique and fresh out of your head. If you start copying other peoples content, even if you try and change it slightly, Google will pick up on it and not rank you anywhere.
Thin content is also a huge ranking killer. Don’t bother writing 300 words for your landing pages. Thin content is a complete waste of time.
Canonical Tags & 301 Redirects
A canonical tag helps prevent duplicate content throughout your site. WordPress websites have this tag by default.
301 redirects diverts visitors from a dead page to a newer version of a page. Having dead indexed pages or 404 pages is not good for your SEO.
Google Index Bloat
As a website ages it generates a lot of unwanted pages indexed on Google. This dilutes the overall content and keyword theme for a website, which has an effect on your rankings.
eCommerce and WordPress websites are a huge problem for Google index bloat. They create a lot of category and archive pages that cause duplicate content. Read this post on Google Index Bloat – Website Maintenance Tip for more details.
Fair enough, Adwords are not a ranking factor but its a great source for fast, targeted traffic while you’re waiting for the SEO services and rankings to kick in.
Again, not a ranking factor but you will be able to drill right down to your targeted audience a lot better than Adwords, and a lot cheaper.
Live Work Feed
If you are using a company for your businesses SEO services you must identify the amount of hours they are working on your SEO each month. All of the above needs to be worked on or to be planned. If not, you won’t get ranked on page one.
Identify Working Hours
You have to know where your money and their time is spent each month. You don’t want an SEO company to spend 10 hours creating just one local citation. This would be a complete waste of time and your money. Asking for an hourly work sheet of your SEO services will make sure you’re getting exactly what you were promised.