Important SEO Factors: Ranking Signals
Search Engine Ranking Signals. But what are they exactly and why do they matter?
Ranking signals – or rank factors, as they’re often called – are bits of information Google uses to determine where and to whom to show your website. By optimising around these signals (there are hundreds of them), you make your website more complete and help search engines see how it relates to search terms.
The majority of ranking signals can be broken down into four categories, and there are SEO strategies for improving each area.
The types of SEO ranking signals include:
1. Technical Signals
Google wants to send users to quality websites. If they started recommending spammy, slow-loading or horribly designed sites, users would abandon ship! Technical SEO refers to optimising for performance and security; you improve user experience (UX), security, organisation, loading speeds, and ensure your website looks good on a mobile screen.
2. On-Page Signals
The pages and articles on your site compete with thousands of other websites. On-Page SEO allows you to define the focus of each page and show Google who each page is relevant to, what’s included on the page, and how it’s unique and useful. On-page SEO is the process of optimising site content to be as relevant, trustworthy and helpful as possible; this includes improving images, text, keyword usage, metadata, etc. to give search engines clues about what’s on each page.
3. Off-Page Signals
Google values word-of-mouth recommendations. But online, that doesn’t mean hearing from a friend that a restaurant serves great sticky buns. Things like inbound links, social media mentions, directory listings, and more can help you show Google that your site has a good reputation. Off-page, or off-site, SEO refers to improving these signals.
4. Local Signals
Today, we use Google like it’s the phone book. We want to find businesses nearby that have, or serve, or sell what we want. Local SEO allows website owners where its physical location is in proximity to a searcher. Strategies include adding a Google My Business profile, getting citations, building profiles on review sites, local mentions, and more.
A Quick Summary: Google and other search engines use hundreds of ranking signals to determine page rank. These signals fall into four categories: Local, On-Page, Off-Page and Technical.
When you optimise your website to rank higher on search engines, you’re adding more data in each of these categories. That helps Google and other search engines know what’s on your website, and why and to whom it matters most. Without great SEO, your website is a book without a cover.
But there are key strategies in each category that can improve your rankings. Effective SEO is, to a large extent, all about focusing on optimising for the most useful ranking signals.