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Top Ten Crucial SEO Ranking Factors

Every content creator wants his content to be visible to the intended audience. The visibility may translate into better site monetization or better exposure for the product or service for which the content has been produced. This article covers some of the crucial SEO Ranking Factors. 

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Lack of visibility would defeat the purpose of content creation and the effort of content creators would be wasted. A major factor that affects the visibility of content is content ranking.


Increasing the use of search engines to discover and use content has resulted in content creators optimizing content for search engines. Content that ranks higher on search engines is visible on the first page of the search engine and has the best chance of being viewed by a large number of viewers. Product-related content is perhaps the first stop of every buyer in the buyer’s journey. Due to increasing competition, every product manufacturer and service provider tries to rank higher on the search engines to improve sales. Search engines use algorithms that work on certain SEO ranking factors.   


Search engine results pages, known as SERPs, contain results from paid advertising and organic results that compete for attention on the page. Effective SEO also helps to drive organic traffic to the site and can help brands compete with results achieved through paid advertising. Organic search results have an advantage over paid advertisements as they appear more credible.


However, with search engines showing hundreds of results for each search term it is difficult to ensure visibility of content without paid advertising. Search Engine Optimization, using SEO ranking factors, helps content to stand out and the ranking of content can be continuously improved by various means. The prominence of content for an extended duration of time can be ensured through search engine optimization and can help save a large amount of money for businesses and content creators.


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In the case of content developed to spread awareness, it can ensure that the message reaches its intended audience and achieves its objective. Content ranking can also help startups in achieving much-needed visibility and bring more business.  


Techniques of Search engine optimization are classified as white hat SEO techniques and black hat SEO techniques. White Hat SEO refers to strategies, techniques, and practices that abide by the search engine rule to provide value to the people. Black hat SEO consists of techniques that try to spam or fool search engines.


Content developers may resort to Black hat techniques to make substandard content visible a While black hat SEO can work it puts websites at a risk of being penalized or deindexed, which in turn can affect the very visibility of a website or business. Content developers may resort to Black hat techniques to make substandard content visible. Quality content would achieve visibility by addressing consumer needs and sustained SEO efforts.


Through sustained use of black hat SEO techniques, one can provide visibility to content but cannot ensure reader traffic as and hence will not be able to generate awareness about product or service. Thus, the purpose of generating content would be defeated. Content creators need to focus on generating fresh and useful content for their target audience. Content that provides insights, answers questions, and in general informs the content consumer.   


The ranking of a website on the Search Engine Results Page shows the success of the SEO strategies employed. To ensure that the search engine optimization results give the desired results it is important to know the SEO ranking factors. These factors are as under  

1. Security  

The security of a website plays a major role in SEO ranking efforts. Visitors shy away from websites and avoid carrying out transactions on websites that are not secure. Insecure websites can also spoil the user experience by compromising visitor data and result in pushing away potential visitors.


In the case of business or services, loss of visitors can have a disastrous consequence on the business or service and can defeat the very purpose of creating the website. In recent years instances of cybercrime have increased as more and more people are spending an increasing amount of work and leisure time online. A large number of financial transactions are also carried out online and to ensure that the financial data is safe web visitors prefer to visit secure sites. Site security refers to HTTPS encryption which is obtained by buying SSL certification.


SSL certificates help to create a secure link for website visitors. Website URLs starting with HTTPS are secure and those starting with HTTP are not. The security of websites is also indicated by icons in the address bar like a lock or a triangle with an exclamation sign. Websites showing a lock icon in the address bar are safe to visit and those with a triangle icon containing an exclamation mark are not.   

Search Engines are also keen to direct visitors to secure sites and hence the security of the site is of utmost importance   


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2. Optimization For Mobile Devices  

The ubiquity of mobile devices has resulted in a large number of digital content consumers accessing the internet from mobile devices. Increasing mobile internet speeds and the increasing availability of hotspots in public places have not only made it possible to access content on mobile devices but have also made it hassle-free, resulting in an increasing number of people doing so.


Mobility of people within and outside a region or country also makes it necessary for people to access websites on mobile devices. It has been estimated that half the web content viewed by users is accessed through mobile devices. However, it would be worthwhile to point out that the compact size of mobile devices often makes them inappropriate to view content created for computer screens.


The content needs to be optimized for such devices so that it can allow viewing and interaction with minimal effort. Sites that force viewers to scroll extensively or resize content manually. To make the website mobile device friendly the website needs to be designed in such a way that it adjusts to the screen of a mobile device. Mobile-friendly versions of websites can be responsive or adaptive.


Responsive websites get resized automatically when viewed on a mobile device or a desktop. Adaptive websites require the development of separate websites for mobile devices and desktops. Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages and website developers can make a decision based on need. Since traffic to a website is affected by the ability of users to view it on mobile devices, it is an important SEO ranking factor.  


3. Crawling Ability 

While optimizing a site for search engines an important fact that needs to be understood is that websites are not checked, discovered, or indexed manually by a search engine, but are discovered and indexed by search engines using codes called crawlers or robot or bot or spider.


A crawler continuously moves across the internet and saves an HTML version of a website in a database known as an index. A newer version of the website is indexed whenever changes are made to it. The frequency with which a crawler visits the website depends on other factors that determine the popularity of a website. The ease of crawling a website by crawlers depends on whether they are permitted on the website or blocked by certain webpage elements. If crawlers are blocked websites will not turn up in search results in most cases.


The crawlers can be blocked by robots.txt file or robots meta tag. The status of the website header can also prevent a crawler from indexing the site. Thus, one needs to be sure that nothing is blocking the search engine from indexing the site, which is preventing the search engine from indexing the site. If search engines cannot find the site, they cannot rank it, irrespective of content or other SEO efforts. Hence, if required one should seek professional help to make a site visible for search engine crawlers.  


4. Loading Speed  

The speed with which site content gets loaded is considered for page ranking. Most users are accustomed to browsing the internet at high speeds which have been made possible by increasing internet speeds. High bandwidths have made it possible for sites with a large volume of media content to load quickly.


Websites with slow loading speeds provide a poor user experience and are often skipped by net users. Search Engines have started using page loading speeds as factors for ranking web pages. Recognizing the need to provide users with quick answers to search queries the search engines rank sites that load faster higher on their results page. Sites optimized for mobile devices also need to be developed for quick loading.


One of the ways of speeding up the loading of websites is by reducing the size of visual content like pictures and videos on the site. Page loading can also be speeded up by eliminating unnecessary plugins as they can bloat up the site and slow downloading. Caching the pages or enabling browser caching can also speed up the loading of web pages.


Cheap hosting is often the reason for the slow loading of websites as they often have overloaded servers. Because a pleasing user experience is the sole factor that can drive traffic to a website and ensure that the traffic keeps growing, it is essential to ensure that all factors that slow down page loading speed are addressed. Thus, page loading speed is an important SEO ranking factor.  


5. Keywords  

SEO strategy depends on keywords to a great extent. Popular keywords can be discovered through proper keyword searches. Application of the right SEO techniques, using keywords, helps in improving the visibility of sites. Web users searching for particular keywords would discover sites containing specific keywords. Keywords not only need to be relevant to the product, service, or message but also need to be related to prevalent search trends. However, keywords can only help in improving the visibility of the site but content that responds to readers’ information needs can only ensure that readers stay on and return to the site.  

As mentioned earlier keyword usage is one of the important SEO ranking factors. In addition to the selection of the right keywords, certain other factors are also to be considered for the ranking of websites. One of the factors to be considered is the use of long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords have three words or even more. Such words have grown in popularity because of the popularity of voice search.


While deciding on a keyword it is necessary to understand the purpose of the search. A person intending to buy a product would be looking for a different keyword compared to the one looking for background information. The keyword needs to be inserted in the content accordingly so that the consumer gets the information he is looking for. Search engines rank web pages based on the match between query intent and the use of keywords on the site. Hence, while inserting a keyword a content writer needs to be aware of the search purpose that the content will serve and insert the keyword accordingly. A major factor in the successful use of keywords is competition.


High competition keywords make it difficult to ensure content visibility and ranking. High and low competition keywords can be found through keyword research. Several keyword research tools are available online which can be used to conduct keyword research. In addition to the competition, information on trending keywords can also help in selecting appropriate keywords for content. Online tools can help to discover keyword search trends classified by country or in general. Based on the target audience, keywords that are trending locally or globally can be selected. It would be clear from the above description that keyword use is one of the important SEO ranking factors.  

6. Content Quality 

Quality of content plays a major role in the ranking of content and is one of the major SEO ranking factors for search engines. To rank, a website needs to consistently publish quality content. Well-written and well researched, fresh content would have a high possibility of ranking well as it would help the search engines provide a good user experience.


Considering the variety of search engines available to the internet using a search engine needs to provide the best possible user experience to users to retain them. Although keywords play a role in ranking, it would be difficult if not impossible for low-quality content to rank despite using proper keywords.


Content is considered to be of good quality if it responds to visitors’ expectations and answers their questions or informs them. Nowadays most people depend on search engines to solve personal and professional problems and want search engines to lead them to authoritative, understandable content. Content that responds to these requirements attracts users and is popularized through sharing. Considering the above, content quality is included in the important SEO ranking factors.  

7. User interaction 

Search engines consider user interactions with websites as one of the SEO ranking factors. User interactions occur when results are presented to users in response to a search query and when they visit a website for the information they are seeking. The percentage of people clicking on a search result is known as Click Through Rate or CTR.


Since the internet is a vast space with thousands of search results for each query, web pages face stiff competition for visibility, and the selection of certain websites by a larger percentage of users is a clear indication of responsiveness to user queries. Conversely, users quickly leaving a website, also known as bounce rate, is an indication to search engines about issues with content on the website.


Users spending adequate time on the website, based on the volume of content, helps the websites rank the sites higher by indicating that the content is useful for querists. Certain elements help to improve user interactions with websites and stay longer on them. Foremost amongst them is the design and graphics on the website.


Easy-to-navigate websites and attractive appearance help to attract and retain users. The use of internal links that help users navigate the site is another factor that encourages visitors to browse through and stay on sites. As the very purpose of setting up websites is to attract and retain visitors, user interaction is also included amongst SEO ranking factors.  

8. Age of the website  

SEO efforts take time to fructify and require consistent efforts at content optimization to succeed. This factor makes the age of a website one of the important SEO ranking factors. Websites that are not updated regularly or are not optimized for SEO or do not offer quality content would find it impossible to survive in the highly competitive webspace. Hence, the age of a website, combined with other factors like the number of visitors, offers an insight to the search engines about the website and helps them rank the website.


Thus, it would not be wrong to say that building up the rank of a website is a marathon and not a sprint and takes consistent effort to develop. One also needs to have the patience to see the results of SEO efforts and needs to constantly modify strategies to make SEO efforts work. One example of the kind of adjustment one needs to make is that of repurposing content.


Content that might not have been well-received earlier can be re-written and presented again on the website. Fresh content, as mentioned earlier, would always be welcomed by search engines and prompt them to rank a website higher. Working on website content to ensure maximum user engagement would help a website survive and age, improving prospects for SO ranking. Thus, though one may not find age as an explicit ranking factor in related literature, its importance as one of the important SO ranking factors should not be underestimated.


9. Backlinks 

Building links is also an SEO strategy. The strategy involves placing links to one’s site on another site and can help to drive traffic to one’s site if the site on which the link has been placed is popular. Before placing the link on sites, one should also be sure of the reputation of the website where the link is being placed. In case the website is disreputable or tends to spam visitors the visitor traffic to the site and linked sites would be adversely affected. However, since placing links on another site can be considered spamming it is advisable to develop content that would attract traffic naturally.  


Backlinks can affect the ranking of a website to a great extent. Backlinks from other sites are an indication to search engines that the content is authoritative and reliable. However, the number and quality of backlinks are important. Search engines consider backlinks from sites with similar subjects would appear more credible to search engines compared to those from websites with unrelated subjects.


Backlinks from unrelated sites can also be an indication of black hat SEO practice and can get harm the site’s rankings. Various link-building strategies can be applied to build credible backlinks to one’s website. Though these strategies take time and effort to work they provide the required quality of backlinks to a website and can help it rank better.


One of the strategies is guest blogging on similar websites. The other is digital PR using social media and influencers. The third strategy is to create partnerships with other similar websites. Thus, the importance of backlinking as one of the SEO ranking factors cannot be ignored.  


10. Brand reputation 

Brand reputation is a useful signal for search engines to rank a website. The better known a brand, the better are the chances of a website ranking. Thus, products or services competing with established brands need to work harder to rank and need to offer something unique to be considered against established brands.


Consistency of business listings across local directories, social media profiles, and websites helps in establishing a brand. It is important to address issues with the consistency of business listings. Though business listings are primarily local SEO ranking factors, considering their importance for brand building every business needs to focus on ensuring consistent business listings.  


Search engines keep changing their algorithms to respond to technological developments and user needs and thus SEO ranking factors also change with time. However, certain factors like the quality and responsiveness of a site are constant fixtures in the list of SEO ranking factors. Hence, those aiming for the success of SEO ranking efforts need to keep abreast of emerging SEO ranking factors and respond to these. They also need to consider the facts that emerging technological developments like voice search users and search engines would lay increasing emphasis on the ability of content to accurately respond to search queries, and would always rank websites that meet this need higher. 

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