Exactly how search engines rank website pages remains a mystery to many. That said, there are still many things you can do to increase website rankings.

Listed below are nine fundamental elements determining your site’s ranking. Paying attention to these factors in relation to your website will help you step up your rankings.

Bounce rate

Having a low bounce rate will help your site rank higher. Your bounce rate is determined by a percentage of single page visits. So make your site stickier by giving your visitors reasons to hang out on your site, and to view more than a single page. Content is still king and visitors want to find content that is relevant to what drew them to your site.

Here is how to reduce the bounce rate of your website:

  • Carefully examine sources of traffic and marketing channels. Determine which one of them are sending your poor quality traffic. Avoid using keywords and marketing channels that send you high bounce rate traffic.
  • Design landing pages relevant to your target keywords. If you are targeting a keyword like “attorney web designer” you better have a landing page about that topic to keep your bounce rate low.
  • Include a highly visible call to action on your landing pages. Tell your site visitors what you want them to do. Do you want them to call you? Show them your phone number and tell them to call you. Do you want them to subscribe to your email list? Give them a reason to enter their email address now.
  • Layout your content in a scannable format. Leave plenty of white space as you layout your web pages. Don’t overwhelm your site visitors with a sea of text. Break it up. You can make even a 4000-word blog post easily scannable.
  • Make sure you are hosting your website on a fast web host. Slow loading pages will turn people off and drive them away from your site.
  • Create better content than what is already out there. Whatever topic you are writing about find the best content then write something much better. When you have really good quality content on your site people will stick around longer. It’s that simple.

Longer content

According to sources in the know, longer content is likely to rank higher on Google search engine results. But don’t add words just for the sake of moving up the ranks. Quality trumps quantity every time. Longer pieces still need to provide value to the reader.

Here is how to determine how long your website content should be:

  • The most important rule about website content is that there is no rule. Some websites do well with really short content while others get a lot of traffic publishing 4000-word articles. The key here is to experiment and see what works for your website.
  • How long is the best content you are competing against? If the best article on the topic you are writing about is 1500 words, you can’t expect your 500-word article to rank higher.
  • From my experience as a blogger and everything I have learned on this topic, it seems that the ideal length of a blog post is somewhere between 1500 and 2000 words.

Don’t just consider the length of your website content. Also, consider the following:

  • How often are you publishing new content? If you want to publish daily, you can forget about 4000-word word articles, unless you have a writing staff.
  • Format your content for maximum readability. Use H1, H2, H3 and even H4 headings. Also, format your content so it is scannable. Short paragraphs really help your reader.
  • Why are you creating this content? Before you are creating your content know your goals with it. What do you want the outcome be? It has to be more than someone reading your content.
  • Your content must include at least one call to action.
  • Consider the medium. If you are publishing a video, you need to worry less about word count.
  • Focus more on substance than word count. If you can say everything that can be said about a topic in 300 words, don’t push for a 2000 word article.

Images

content with at least one image outperforms content without images. So where relevant, add an image to your text content. But don’t overdo it as more images, doesn’t equal higher rankings.

Here is how to improve your SEO with images:

  • First of all it has to be the “right” image. You might like an image, but it doesn’t help you tell the story of your content don’t use it.
  • Use the target alt text. If you target keyword is “san diego web designer“, make sure you include it in the alt tag.
  • If your target keyword is “web designer” use the filename “web-designer”.
  • Load times are important for SEO. Reduce your image size as much as you can without sacrificing quality.

Backlinks

Backlinks have a huge effect on your search engine ranking. A backlink is a hyperlink from one website to another website. These can be positive or negative. It’s the positive ones you want to help you move up the ranks. Set up a Google Alert to keep track of when and where your site is mentioned. If it’s mentioned, but not linked, why not ask for your link to be added.

There are many ways you can add backlinks to your website:

  • Create a local business listing on Google Local.
  • Create a company profile on LinkedIn.
  • Submit your content on Stumbleupon, Bizsugar, Reddit and Digg.
  • Create a profile on Yelp.
  • Guest post on blogs related to your industry or target audience.
  • Visit niche forums and link to your content within your answers.
  • Create powerful and unique infographics. People love to share images, especially on social networks.
  • Publish your content to your social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Spy on your competitors. See what sites link to them. If your competitor could get a link from a site, you should be able to do the same.
  • Get interviewed. There are bloggers who constantly look for people to interview.
  • Respond to questions on Quora. Include a link back to your content relevant to the question.
  • Use Help a Reporter Out (HARO). HARO is a website where journalists and publishers go when they need help on a topic. Also checkout our interview with HARO founder, Peter Shankman.
  • Publish roundup post with industry experts. All you need to to is find a list of experts, and ask them a few questions. Then, publish your article and notify the experts. Some of them will share it and might even link to it.

Security

Should your website use HTTP or HTTPS? In 2014, Google introduced HTTPS as a ranking factor. Google take web security seriously giving it high-priority, and you’ll be recognized and rewarded for increasing your site security.

Site speed

Fast websites benefit you many ways. Fast-loading sites will win the ranking game. Samples of things you can do to optimize your load speed include compressing images, using a fast host, and enabling browser caching. It is best if your website loads in 3 seconds or faster.

You can increase the speed of your website several ways:

Domain authority

Developed by Moz, this is a score (on a 100-point scale) that predicts how well your website will rank on search engines. The higher the score the higher the ranking. You can use this to compare your site to another, or track your site score over a period of time.

Match anchor

Exact match anchor text appears to correlate with higher ranking. Anchor text is the clickable text highlighted in a hyperlink. An exact anchor text match is when the word or phrase searched matches the hyperlinked text.

Relevant

Keeping your content relevant to your topic is key. At the end of the day, remember that you are writing for a human audience and not just SERP (search engine results page). Quality long content that offers your reader value will win out over short content that is overinflated with keywords.

To increase website rankings, review these nine factors and implement change where necessary.

photo credit: SEO

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.

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