There are 100s of factors that Google uses to determine where a site should appear in the search engine result pages (SERPs). Over the years, having worked on hundreds of websites, we have boiled these down to 25 core elements that have the greatest effect on rankings. Website analysis for SEO is broken into three categories including the technical health, use of keywords & content and the trust & authority of the website.
It is important to create a website that is inviting to search crawlers to make all of the important pages on the site accessible. Here are some of the key elements:
- Canonical Issues - Technically creating duplicate content by allowing www and non-www versions of the website, upper case and lower case URLs and root file usage.
- Search Friendly URLs – Ensuring the url structure is easy to read by humans, keyword focused and descriptive but not too long.
- Website Performance – A fast performing site that loads quickly creates a better user experience and can lead to better rankings. Improving performance through code and image optimization, compression and caching will go a long want to increase speeds.
- Website Hierarchy – Websites are perceived as both a single property and a collection of individual website pages. Search engines crawl websites and must determine the inner page hierarchy along with what sections and pages of your website are most important.
The content that is created on a website is one of the most important factors to winning top ranking. Identifying targeted keywords sets the stage for driving relevant traffic that is most likely to convert. Once a keyword set is established, the website needs to be optimized to support the keywords. Here are a few elements we analyze when evaluating a website:
- Navigation - A navigation menu plays an important role in optimizing your content for SEO as your main navigation is often the first thing read-able by both visitors and search engine robots.
- Unique Content - Search engines place high value on pages that have both substantive and unique content. Each page’s content should be specific and relevant to that page’s topic as well as add enough information for a user to understand what the page is about.
- Content Freshness - One of the newer ranking factors is content freshness and Google states that this ranking factor impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and places more emphasis on returning fresher web content for certain queries.
- Keyword Targeting - A page’s targeted keywords should be placed throughout the body text a minimum of 2 to 3 times without appearing spammy or “keyword stuffed”.
- Title Tags – The title tag is considered the most important on-page optimization element (behind content) and should have the most important keyword targeted by the page as close to the start of the tag as possible.
- Internal Anchor Text - For search engine indexing, internal links are especially important because they give hints on how information is related. Wikipedia style internal links that link to special keyword specific pages boost the relevancy and internal popularity of a given website.
Authority & Trust
Even websites that are the most technically sound and have the best content will not rank if Google does not trust the site. Trust and authority is built by the web community, passing trust from one website to another through links. The more links a site has and the higher quality of those links, the more likely that website will rank for the targeted keywords.
- Domain Authority - Domain Authority predicts how well a web page will rank on a domain. The higher the Domain Authority, the greater the potential for an individual page on that domain to rank well.
- Link Sources – It is important to get links from a variety of sources without putting too much emphasis on one particular source. Link sourcing could include general categories like News (Press Releases), Directories (Website, Articles, Blogs), Blogs, Videos, Social Networks, Forums etc.
- Link Quality - Search engines use link popularity data to help determine if and when a website should rank for a given search query.
- Social Signals - Bing and Google have both confirmed that links shared through Twitter and Facebook have a direct impact on rankings (in addition to the positive second-order effects they may have on the link graph).
It takes a lot of effort and a long term commitment to gain visibility on Google. But, when using proven techniques, it is possible to increase rankings, traffic and sales on your website with the right team behind you.
To learn more about how V9 can use our established 25 SEO Best Practices to evaluate your website, contact us today.