You’ve probably heard that there are a lot of factors that go into determining your website’s ranking. It can be hard to know where to start and even harder to keep track of all the changes that Google makes to their ranking algorithms.
Ranking well in Google is more important than ever, but it’s also more complex than ever. To rank well, you need to consider all of the latest changes and updates to Google’s algorithm.
But there’s more to it than that.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 20 overlooked things that affect your website’s ranking. By taking these into account, you’ll improve your visibility and traffic in no time.
Low-quality links are the digital equivalent of a cold call. Whether it’s an article promising to share “The Top 10 Secrets to Weight Loss!” or a slew of ads disguised as legitimate science, low-quality links are designed to bait viewers and then bombard them with information that’s either irrelevant or outright false.
And just like those pesky telemarketers, once you’ve been suckered in, it can be hard to shake them off.
If a website seems more interested in selling people something than providing accurate information, Google will single that website out.
(Image source: Google)
That’s why you have to suss out low-quality links from your website.
First, Google may send you a direct message pointing to unnatural outbound links. But if it doesn’t, there are a few key things to look for:
- Check the anchor text. If it is stuffed with keywords or looks spammy, chances are it’s a low-quality link.
- Take a look at the PageRank of the linking website. If it’s low, that’s another red flag.
- Inspect the actual content on the linking page. If it is thin or poor quality, it’s probably not a page you want to be associated with.
- Use a website crawler to identify links that no longer work or render errors.
- Remove the low-quality links and possibly even replace them with better ones. For example, quote studies in medical journals or trustworthy sources like Healthline and WebMD if you have a fitness website. Don’t link to a shady supplement-selling website.
- Ask Google to review your changes and restore your website’s rankings.
- Focus on a well-thought link-building strategy.
There are a few things in life that are universally agreed upon as being bad. Murder is bad. War is bad. And redirects on a website are definitely bad.
For the uninitiated, redirects happen when you click on a link, and instead of going to the page you were expecting, you’re redirected to a different page entirely. It’s like driving to your friend’s house and ending up in Ohio because you took a wrong turn somewhere.
Bad redirects are the bane of any website owner’s existence.
One moment you’re happily surfing along, and the next, you’re staring at a blank page or a notification that the webpage can’t be reached. But don’t despair – there are a few things you can do to fix bad redirects and get your site back up and running:
- Check for DNS settings issues. If you’re using a third-party DNS service, try switching to another service or temporarily setting your DNS to 220.127.116.11 (Google’s public DNS).
- Try clearing your browser cache and cookies. Sometimes bad redirects can be caused by outdated cached information.
- Solve issues with your .htaccess file. This file controls how visitors are redirected to different pages on your website, and it’s located in the root directory of your website. To fix the problem, open the .htaccess file and remove any redirects causing problems. Once you save the file, the bad redirects should be fixed.
- Identify all the bad redirects using Google Analytics and the right software. Create alternate redirects to the correct pages (you must have these first).
There’s no denying that original content is king for your website ranking. Duplicate content, on the other hand, can hurt your chances of ranking well.
Google and other search engines are constantly on the lookout for duplicate content, and they will penalize your website if they find it. That’s because they want to provide their users with the best possible experience, and they know that users don’t want to see the same old thing over and over again.
If you have duplicate content on your website, you could find yourself pushed down in the search results, and you may even be entirely removed from the search engine.
(Image source: Moz)
If you’re serious about your website ranking:
- The best solution is to ensure that each piece of content on your site is unique.
- If you have multiple pages that sell the same product, write original descriptions for each page.
- Use an audit tool to identify older duplicate content.
- Use a 301 tag to ensure people and search engines can’t access the older pages.
- If you syndicate your blog posts, add a “rel=canonical” tag to the syndicated version.
If you’re a webmaster, you’re probably all too familiar with the constant fluctuations in your website’s rankings. One day you’re on top of the world, and the next, you’re buried on page 10.
One of the main culprits is the title tag. The title tag is the HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.
Changing that title tag entails changing the keywords, leading to plummeting viewership and rankings.
Here are some possible solutions:
- Use a website crawler to identify the organic searches for each old and new title tag. Compare these numbers.
- Change the new tags that don’t bring in organic traffic, either by including the old keyword or by changing them altogether.
Warning: Don’t do these changes too often because your rankings will plummet. Try with one tag and evaluate results before moving further.
When it comes to search engine optimization, there are a lot of moving parts. From choosing the right keywords to optimizing your website for mobile devices, there’s a lot to keep track of.
However, one element that is often overlooked is the no-index tag.
Also known as the “noindex” tag, this HTML element tells search engines not to index a particular page. While that may not sound like a big deal, it can significantly impact your website’s ranking.
If you have pages with meaningful content tagged with noindex, they will not be included in search results. As a result, potential visitors will never see those pages, and you will miss out on traffic. In addition, search engines may view your website as less relevant if you have many noindex tags.
So if you want to improve your website’s ranking, check for any forgotten noindex tags and remove them ASAP.
iFrame is an HTML element that allows you to embed another website into your own. While this can be useful in some cases, it can negatively impact your website’s ranking. The reason is that the search engines cannot see the content of the iFrame, so they cannot index it properly.
Therefore, your website may become buried under a mountain of other results.
Things can get worse:
If the website you are embedding contains malicious code, it could infect your own website and cause severe damage. For these reasons, it is generally advisable to avoid using iFrames unless absolutely necessary.
Even the tiniest mistake can greatly impact your search engine rankings. A single line of code out of place can cause your site to be flagged as error-ridden, leading to lower rankings and fewer visitors.
And the more errors there are on your site, the greater the chance your pages will be buried deep in the search results.
Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to avoid coding errors:
- Run your code through a syntax checker before publishing it. This action will catch any errors and ensure your code is clean and error-free.
- Take advantage of resources like online forums and online developers’ communities. These can be invaluable for troubleshooting coding problems.
- Always test your code on multiple browsers before making it live. This tactic ensures that your code displays correctly on all devices and screens.
4xx and 5xx errors are server-side error codes that indicate something wrong with your website.
- 4xx errors usually occur when a page has been moved or deleted
- 5xx errors typically indicate a problem with the server.
These errors can harm your website’s ranking, often leading to broken links and pages that cannot load. As a result, your website may be penalized by the search engines, and you may see a significant drop in traffic.
If you suspect that your website is experiencing 4xx or 5xx errors:
- The first step is to check your server logs and identify the specific error codes being generated.
- Once you know what the problem is, you can then take steps to fix it and get your website back up and running smoothly.
Slow page speed is a significant issue for many websites. Not only do visitors prefer fast-loading pages, but search engines also consider page speed when determining rankings.
Slow page speed will directly impact your visitor numbers and sadly websites don’t have a call back function like the call centers do.
In general, the faster your pages load, the better.
The factors that can contribute to slow page speed include:
- Large images
- Heavy code
- Lousy server configuration
If you want to identify and address any slow-loading pages, many tools can help you (including Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom’s Website Speed Test). Once you know which pages are loading slowly, you can then take steps to improve their speed. Strategies may involve:
- Optimizing images
- Minifying code
- Enhancing your server configuration
If your site is not optimized for mobile, you may see a significant drop in traffic as users are redirected to other, more user-friendly sites. In addition, search engines are now using mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor.
(Image source: autopilotyourbusiness.com)
Thankfully, there are several easy ways to make your site more mobile-friendly:
- Use a responsive design, which will ensure that your site automatically adjusts to the size of the screen it is being viewed on.
- Use a mobile-specific design, which is created specifically for smaller screens.
- Use a mobile plugin or app to provide a mobile-friendly version of your site.
Trends change. People change.
Even scientific research changes.
So, it’s no surprise that, over time, your website’s content will become outdated and irrelevant. That means search engines will deem your website less relevant and valuable.
That’s when you may see a significant drop in traffic.
To avoid this, regularly update your content and keep it relevant. You can do this by:
- Focusing on evergreen content
- Adding new blog posts
- Updating existing articles
- Removing any outdated content
If your website has too many external links, it may be viewed as spammy. And if those links point to low-quality sources, your ranking may suffer even more.
In addition, if you have too few internal links, it may be difficult for visitors to navigate your website and find the content they’re looking for. As a result, they may leave your site without taking any action.
To avoid this, you should ensure your website has a healthy balance of external and internal links. You can do this by:
- Regularly add new and relevant content to your site and link to it from other pages on your website.
- Quote relevant sources.
- Remove needless links – whether external or internal.
- Make sure the links you add don’t distract your viewers too much. You want a quality backup for your points, but you also want to keep people on your website.
Social media plays a significant role in website ranking. Search engines use social signals, such as the number of likes, shares, and comments to determine the quality and ranking of a website.
In addition, social media can be a great way to drive traffic to your website.
To make sure that your website is correctly integrated with social media:
- Consider influencer marketing. These content creators know how to create catchy content that helps sell your products. Besides, they’ll offer you plenty of relevant insights and practical strategies to attract more organic traffic. That’s why so many companies of all sizes are increasingly allocating sizeable parts of their budgets for influencer marketing.
- Add social media buttons to your site and share your content on social media. That way, you’re increasing engagement, memorability, and creating a community. In turn, these factors increase your website’s visits and, therefore, the ranking.
There are many types of poor keywords:
- Wrong keywords. If you’re using the wrong keywords, you may find that your website is not ranking as highly as it could be. This is because search engines use keywords to determine the relevancy and quality of a website.
- Irrelevant keywords. If you’re using keywords that are not relevant to your site, you may find that your ranking suffers.
- Non-specific keywords. If you’re using too general keywords, you may find your website lost in the search results.
- Cannibal keywords. Keyword cannibalization entails repeatedly using the same keywords on different pages, thus confusing the ranking algorithms and boring your readers.
To choose the right keywords for your website:
- Conduct keyword research.
- Select keywords relevant to your website and with high search volumes.
- Ensure you’re not trying to optimize different web pages for the same keywords.
If your website is lacking in visual content, you may find that your ranking suffers because:
- Search engines view websites with rich media as being more relevant and valuable.
- Visual content is more engaging and can keep visitors on your site longer. As a result, they’re more likely to take action, such as subscribing to your email list or making a purchase.
- Visual content can explain things that people don’t understand. For example, an infographic can make a lengthy theoretical analysis easier to grasp. Alternatively, product photos can showcase how specific items work in the context of a review blog post.
The solution is simple:
Ensure that your website has a good mix of text and visual content by regularly adding new blog posts, images, videos, and infographics.
Pro tip: Optimize your images and videos for SEO using keywords, transcripts, and strong CTAs.
Guest posting is a great way to get high-quality backlinks to your website. In addition, it can help to increase your website’s visibility and traffic.
However, if you’re not guest posting regularly, you may find that your ranking suffers.
This is because search engines view websites with a lot of backlinks as being more relevant and valuable. As a result, they’re more likely to rank them higher in the search results.
The obvious solution is guest posting regularly. You can do this by searching for guest posting opportunities and submitting high-quality articles to popular blogs and websites.
If you’re not optimizing for local search, you could miss out on a valuable traffic source. The reason is that more and more people are using local search to find businesses and services in their area.
Here’s how to optimize your website for local search:
- Ensure that your website is listed in local directories and that your contact information is accurate.
- Use local keywords on your website, with the name of your area and local attractions nearby. So, when people search for local things to do around their location, they can also find your business. Don’t forget to use local backlinks, too.
- Employ local influencers. For example, if you’re in New York, you have more chances of attracting the residents to your coffee shop by hiring a local influencer, using an influencer agency NYC-based. By comparison, an Ohio-based content creator can popularize your brand to New York visitors, but not so much with locals.
People often search for a term’s definition to learn more about it. As a result, if you don’t include definitions on your site, you may lose out on valuable traffic.
To avoid this:
- Start each blog post by explaining scientific concepts in a simple, easy-to-grasp language.
- Create a glossary of terms at the beginning of your articles, especially if you address an uninitiated audience or have a highly technical piece.
Increasingly more people are using voice search to find businesses and services. As a result, it’s becoming crucial for companies to optimize their websites for voice search.
Luckily, the solution is simple:
- Use keywords that appear in your audience’s voice search queries.
- Make sure these keywords are relevant to your industry and very specific.
Featured snippets are short summaries of your content appearing at the top of the search results. This summary can make or break your rankings because they’re like first impressions.
And you want to make a good first impression on your audience.
Otherwise, they’ll click on that link below you, with a convincing snippet that convinces them to open the article in two seconds.
To make sure that your website is appearing in featured snippets, you’ll need to:
- Ensure that your content is well-written and relevant to the search query.
- Use structured data.
- Add a Q&A section to attract more interest.
As you can see, many things can affect your website’s ranking. You can ensure that your website ranks as highly as possible by taking the time to address these issues.
While some of these factors are within your control, others may be outside your reach.
That’s why you need the right partners, from web admins to audit tools, website crawlers and SEO agencies.