Some of the important off-site factors include:
Social Media Presence – how many likes, shares, tweets, or pins that you get. Each one is a signal to Google saying ‘Hey, someone say’s your site is relevant so I’m going to take that one into consideration’. Social media is huge because everyone uses it on their phone basically every day. A fun fact about that is 25% of people between the ages of 18 to 44 can’t remember the last time their smart phone wasn’t right next to them. The other 75% of people are lying.
Backlinks – This is one of the most sought after things every website wants to get and it’s also the hardest thing to get. For those of you that don’t know, a backlink is when another website links to yours. A great example would be the Toronto Star writing an article about our team here at NetGain and posting it online with a link to our site.
Back in the day (i.e. last week) people would spend money to buy links from random un-related sites but now Google wants to see you get links from quality, relevant sites.
Having backlinks is great, but it’s more complicated than just getting one from another site, because Google likes to see a nice mixture of no-follow and do-follow backlinks. And I won’t even get into that right now…
Google Plus – This is still one of the best SEO advantages around. The more “Plus Ones” and reviews you get, the stronger you appear to Google. After all it’s their product and it may be a biased on their part. Even if it isn’t a ranking aid, it’s a huge presence. There are 300 million active users on Google plus every month. That’s a lot of eyes spending a lot of time on their account and that creates a ton of potential ‘free’ advertising.
AdWords – It’s no mystery that having an AdWords account will help, especially if you are able to drive quality traffic that doesn’t bounce. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s another Google product. I see an emerging trend…
There are dozens more but you probably get the idea that SEO has a lot to do with what happens off a website…
Some of the big on-site factors are:
Relevant Terms – You could write every meta description, page title and have every URL to be about ‘dogs’ but if the content on the site talks about ‘cars’, you’re probably not going to rank for either keyword.
That seems to make sense, but it’s a little more complex. Our biggest clients are all shredders, and unfortunately this is where we kind of rely on Google to understand the industry. OR we hope Google understands the industry by the way they interpret their stats. It can be a hit or miss but it gets better all of the time.
Internal Links – This is a pretty big ranking factor. Internal links are what Google spiders use to crawl around a site. Think of it this way, if you have a nice homepage, but it doesn’t link to any other of the 50 pages you created, Google will never find them. If Google can’t find these pages, they don’t stand a chance at ranking. This applies to every page and they all need to link together, like a big web. The whole Internet works that way and so should every website.
The thing with internal links is you have to be careful. The absolute, set in stone max is 100 per page or else you will start to be penalized. To put that into perspective our NetGain website has over 30 internal links just on the homepage, and it’s a pretty simple page.
External Links – It’s really important to point to other sites in a related industry. It shows that A.) You trust that particular site and are willing to send visitors there and B.) It makes the web even bigger. One of the coolest stats I’ve heard is that you are no more than 15 clicks from ANY website in the world. There are literally BILLIONS of websites out there and without using a search engine like Google, you are able to navigate your way to CBC, TSN or to Bob Lawblaw’s Law Blog from our NetGain site.
Site Speed – Another big ranking factor is site speed. Think of it this way. You click on a link in Google, the site takes too long to load and you leave or bounce from the site. 57% of people will leave a site if it hasn’t fully loaded in 3 seconds. 9/10 of these people will not return to a site after a ‘disappointing’ experience.
So I haven’t even talked about Bounce rates, Header tags, or page titles or image counts or alt tags and all of those things are part of the formula. The list goes on and on and on.