SEO Factors: Search Engine Optimization requires a lot more work than it initially seems. Webmasters not only have to work to create content that it is appealing to the audience, but also do it in such a way as to convince search engines that the content is relevant to what people are looking for. All major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have primary search results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. Payment isn’t involved, as it is with paid search ads. Google is estimated to have over 200 signals and over 10000 sub-signals to determine the quality and relevancy of the content. With over 1400 blog posts created every minute, search engine optimizers also have to contend with others for the highly prized first page of any google search query. Without any guidelines or checklist in place, it is very easy to be overwhelmed and get lost in all the mayhem. Fret not, there are tons of simple things which you can do to improve your website’s rankings and convince our Internet overlords that you have the content that its audience will value.

SEO Factors and categories:

Search Engine Optimization can be divided into two broad categories, On-Page optimization, which consists of tasks that can be implemented in the website itself and Off-Page optimization, which accounts for quality link building and increasing domain authority. Off Page optimization usually requires the help of third-party websites and good social media presence, which Google takes as a sign that website has a good online presence and people would like to see more of these. In addition to these, you must also be aware of certain factors that Google considers as a violation and must not be implemented to avoid penalties. Implementation of too many ads and keyword stuffing are some of the major violations that Google might penalize for. To educate further on the basics of SEO.

On-Page SEO Factors:

1. Meta Tags

Meta tags are used to describe the contents of the page. They are provided in the page’s “head” section, thus it doesn’t appear on the main content of the page. These help Search Engines such as Google in determining what the page is all about. Meta tags is not considered to be one of the major SEO factors as they used to be. Google still uses meta tags to recognize the content of the page, thus it will be a major disadvantage in your search optimization efforts if you skip this part.

2. Title Tags

The title tag is one of the most important elements of the ON Page SEO. Having a proper title tag will have a significant impact on the search engine rankings. For a user, title tags are the most visible aspect in the Search Engine Results Page and will play an important role in determining whether the user will click on the link or not. As one of the non-major SEO Factors, it is crucial to get this aspect right. Google will display the first 60 characters of your title tag in its Search Engine Results Page (SERP), thus it is recommended to have title tags not much longer than that. Putting a focus on important keyword first also helps. Another important factor which most website owners often overlook is providing a unique title tag for each web page of its website. This will have a major negative impact on the search engine rankings of the website.

3. Meta Description

Implementation of keywords in your meta description does have a consideration in the rankings of the webpage. But it is not as impactful as the title tags themselves. Even though not considered to be one of the major SEO Factors, It is important to focus and optimize meta description as it is displayed along with title tags in SERP. Having a catchy meta description might help in attracting and enticing users to click on the link which in turn helps in the ranking of the page.

4. Heading Tags

Heading tags are not to be confused with the title tags. Title tags are the most important text of the webpage and are provided by the <h1> tags. It is usually recommended to have only one <h1> tag on the whole page and should be used to indicate the title of the article or page. Headings tags are provided with <h2>, <h3> till <h6> and are used for indicating the subheadings in an article or webpage. Heading tags are not as important as the title tags and meta description in Search Engine Optimization, but it helps in providing context and structure to a long post for both search engines and readers of your website or blog. It is also advisable to use keywords in the heading tags.

5. URL Strings

Like Title tags having proper and simple URL helps a lot in your search engine optimization efforts. While assigning URLs one should keep in mind so as to not include parameters URL, as Google themselves have said so. Parameter URLs consists of various values regarding the users clicking on a particular link and usually comes after the question mark (?) in the URL. This is because having a complex URL may cause problems for crawlers while indexing your website. Having a short URL consisting of keywords related to the webpage often boosts the search rankings of the webpage.

6. User-Friendly authoritative content

This is probably the most important factor in the Search Engine Optimization world. It is often said that content is the king and it has proven to be true over time. All the users who search the web look mostly for content which answers their question or solves their problem. This is the primary reason most of us serve the web. Writing a content which is useful to the audience and writing in a manner which attracts them to the content probably is the most crucial aspect in ranking a webpage. It is often the most difficult part to come up with relevant useful content which would attract customers but is often is well worth the effort. But focusing only on writing content and expecting users to come is often a moot strategy. Having great content is a must as all the other efforts are moot and fail even if we did everything else perfectly. User-friendly content leads to less bounce rate and even better, users keep coming back to the same page again providing a huge boost in the search engine ranking. A page authority is one of the factors which Google measures and a high page authority is only given to those specific websites which keeps posting popular articles over time. This leads to search engine laws considering the websites as high authority ones and ranks them at the top for any relevant queries.

7. Internal Links

Internal links are provided in web pages which directs the users to another page inside the same domain. There are multiple benefits to providing internal links with some of them being, better navigation of the website, providing structure and hierarchy to the information contained within the website, and spreading the domain authority “juice” equally to all the pages, i.e., if one page within a website has high rank, any pages within the website will get a boost in their rankings. Internal links also help search engines to better navigate throughout the website while crawling. Providing adequate and proper anchor texts (preferably a keyword) also helps in boosting the search rankings of that specific keyword.

8. Optimized Images

Search Engines can’t read or see images provided in a webpage (for now at least), that doesn’t mean you can ignore optimising images for the search engines as well as users. Having a unique and relevant image often leads to higher click-through rate and people stay on the website longer to read through its contents. It has been observed that using a high-quality format like PNG and JPG for images often leads to boost in rankings. Having a low size of images leads a significant reduction in page load speed, another important aspect Google considers when indexing web pages. Google often works around the inability to “see” images by reading the captions and alt text. Thus providing relevant texts for both captions and alt text becomes imperative.

9. Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile usage has exploded in recent years and it comes as a no surprise that majority of the users access websites through their mobiles. Optimising web pages for mobiles have moved on from being important to being a necessity. Google has officially made a statement that mobile responsiveness has become one of the major factors for ranking a webpage. Even when considering mobiles, there are tons of devices out there with varying screen sizes and dimensions. Website designers and search engine optimizers have to design and test their web pages across various dimensions for optimal usage.

10. Page Load Speed

As we have covered a part of this factor already in the image optimization section, let’s dwell deeper into this topic. This is an important factor for two main reasons. One of them is a page with a slow load speed often has a high bounce rate, as most users quit the site even before the page has completely loaded. This has a high negative impact on the ranking of the webpage in the search index. Another is Google allocates a limited crawl budget for each webpage. Having a poor page load speed often leads to the page not being properly crawled or sometimes an entire section of the page is skipped. There are various ways in which page load speed can be improved. In addition to optimising images, one can reduce the number of redirects available on the page, reduce the amount of javascript code required and enable compression to reduce the size of HTML and CSS codes.

Off-Page SEO Factors:

Since on page SEO factors can easily be manipulated to rank low quality and irrelevant content to rank high in SERPs for certain keywords. Google utilises a number of off page factors which are not directly in control of the website owners to determine the quality and authority of the website and its web pages. Here we list of the ten main factors which we think Google considers as important.

1. Number of Linking Pages

One of the basic indications of popularity and widespread use of the content of a website is the number of links throughout the internet leading to its web pages. This factor is so much important that most of the efforts of a search engine optimizers get utilised in link building beside writing content. The more the number of links leading to a website the higher it is ranked in the Search Engine results page. There is no limit on the number of links a web page can have but one has to take a number of other factors while building links to a website.

2. Number of Linking Domains

While it is important to get as many links as possible, one must also consider the number of domains through which a website is getting the links. Having 100 links from 10 different domains is considered much more valuable and ranked higher than a website having 200 links from just 2 different domains. You have to make sure that you maintain relationships with and cultivate relationships with other website owners to share links and valuable content with each of them. The more the merrier!

3. Domain Authority of the Linking Page

One must also consider the Domain Authority of the websites linking to your page. This is a really important OFF Page SEO factor to consider while link building and can even lead to a downgrade if you are not careful while doing it. Domain Authority is a metric Google uses to determine the trustworthiness of the website. The more value a webpage provides to its large number of users, the higher it’s domain authority is going to be. Websites of various popular news agencies often have a very high domain authority. Having links in high DA pages can provide a significant boost to your website. Similarly, pages with low DA linking to your website can also affect your own DA negatively. Spam rating is another factor one must keep in mind while link building as sites having a significant amount of links in websites which are considered to be a spam or has high spam content has witnessed a huge reduction in the rankings of their web pages in search indexes.

4. Page Rank of the Linking Page

Similar to Domain Authority, a rank is provided to each page in a domain. The pages with high domains authority often have pages with high page ranks, even if the pages are relatively new. A page rank can often vary even when compared to the other pages within the same website or the domain rank itself. The page which has high ranks can be spread to other pages within the website by usage of internal links. This helps in providing uniformity to the page rank throughout the website and pages having high ranks can elevate other low ranking pages and lift domain authority as a whole.

5. Linking Page Relevancy

Another one of the major SEO factors Google considers while indexing the link is the relevance of the topic of the connected pages. For example, you sell computers through your website but a website selling pet foods have a link to your website, this will lead to a downgrade in the ranking. Whereas links from multiple domains with similar content or topics leading to your website can lead to a significant boost in domain authority.

6. Do Follow and No Follow Links

In addition to the number of links, the number of linking domains and Domain authority, webmasters must also be wary of the “nofollow” tags. These tags are accompanied by weblinks in the ‘rel’ section and are used to prevent Google from following that link. The tag essentially tells Google not to transfer the PageRank or anchor text to the linked page. The links which do not have the “nofollow” tags with them are considered as “dofollow” links. The “dofollow” links are much more useful when it comes to search engine optimization and getting as many “dofollow” links as possible should be a priority if you are link building for your website.

7. Anchor texts and Page Links Diversity

Anchor texts are words which are used to insert links directing to your website. These words are taken into consideration by Google in determining the kind of content or services that your webpage provides. It is recommended to perform a thorough keyword research and use the most popular and suitable keywords as your anchor texts to your website. Having appropriate keywords as your anchor texts improve your search ranking for that specific keywords. The variety in the anchor texts used is one of the essential factors one must keep in mind while link building. Page Links Diversity helps webpage rank for a number of different keywords.

8. Social Bookmarking

Adding external links are the most essential aspects of off-page SEO initiation. Having quality links can provide a major boost to the webpage, but that quality links need not essentially come from high domain authority pages. Google considers another kind of links to be of very high value in ranking the web pages and that links are the bookmarks that most people keep in their browsers to view websites later. These bookmarks need not essentially be from browsers there are various social media websites which have this bookmarking feature and Google considers the web pages saved in those to be of high value. Having a social bookmarking strategy should be integral to any link building effort.

9. Social Media Marketing

Google has announced in 2013 that it doesn’t consider the social media presence of a company into its search engine rankings. But that doesn’t mean that there is no benefit in having an active social media profile for your search engine optimization initiatives. Social media platforms provide the highest influx of inbound users to your webpage beside the search engine results page. It can also be one of the major link building platforms where posts have the tendency to go viral and the links you provide can spread throughout the internet. Besides Google’s aversion to social media, it does showcase social media profiles in its results pages and various viral tweets at the time of any major sporting or any such similar events.

Conclusion:

Search Engine Optimization is a very complicated endeavour with numerous intricate details attached to it. These are just 19 of the factors out of the 200 major SEO factors identified which will affect the search engine rankings of your website or blog. If you don’t have a dedicated team taking care of your search engine optimization needs, it is very important to hire a capable digital marketing agency who are well versed in all the SEO factors. Inexperienced agencies have sunk many websites and blogs by using various shortcut strategies which have been penalized by search engines. SEO is not an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing strategies can be more effective, such as paid advertising through pay per click (PPC) campaigns, depending on the site operator’s goals. Search engine marketing (SEM) is practice of designing, running and optimizing search engine ad campaigns. Its difference from SEO is most simply depicted as the difference between paid and unpaid priority ranking in search results. Its purpose regards prominence more so than relevance; website developers should regard SEM with the utmost importance with consideration to visibility as most navigate to the primary listings of their search. A successful Internet marketing campaign may also depend upon building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure results, and improving a site’s conversion rate. In November 2015, Google released a full 160 page version of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines to the public, which revealed a shift in their focus towards “usefulness” and mobile search. In recent years the mobile market has exploded, overtaking the use of desktops, as shown in by StatCounter in October 2016 where they analysed 2.5 million websites and found that 51.3% of the pages were loaded by a mobile device . Google has been one of the companies that is utilising the popularity of mobile usage by encouraging websites to use their Google Search Console, the Mobile-Friendly Test, which allows companies to measure up their website to the search engine results and how user-friendly it is.