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If we here at Blue Corona determined the search engines’ ranking factors, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. After all, if Lexie were in charge, it would be all Taco Bell coupons and “My Heart Will Go On.” Luckily, we aren’t in charge, so sleep easy!
So what does determine how your website ranks? While people can’t control Google, Bing, Yahoo!, or any other search engine, we have a pretty good sense of what helps websites rank.
SEO Ranking Factors That Are Often Overlooked
The search engine ranking factors you may be familiar with are optimized title tags, optimized images, keyword density of pages, quality of links pointing to your website, duplicate content (a no-no!), etc.
You’ve heard it all before, right? Well, here are some ranking factors you may not be as familiar with or simply may not have thought of (after all, you’re busy running a business—free time to do this kind of research isn’t a priority!). I’ll start with the big G.
Google Ranking Factors
Some factors that Google uses—or most likely uses—to determine a website’s ranking include:
- Grammar and spelling: Nope, I’m not just listing this because I’m a word nerd! Although it’s not clear how important good grammar on a website is, it is a quality signal. A page full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes doesn’t provide the best user experience.
- Page loading speed: Fast website page loading speed is a ranking factor for Google (and Bing)—the search engines can use a page’s code and filesize to impartially determine page loading speed. Google may also use Chrome user data to better estimate a page’s loading time to take into account non-HTML related factors (like account server speed and more). Plus, a slow loading website is more likely to be abandoned by users.
- References and sources: Citing references and sources can be a sign of high quality and signal that authority is important. Instead of just throwing a statistic out there, include the source and make sure it’s reputable! In the kitchen industry? Reference nkba.org. Offering ENERGY STAR windows for homeowners eligible for a tax credit? Include an outbound link to energystar.gov.
- User reviews: Having positive reviews on websites like Yelp, Ripoff Report, and Angie’s List may help influence Google’s ranking factors. You can even optimize your Yelp listing for search engines!
- Multimedia: Do your website pages just have content? If so, you should change that! Pictures, videos, and other multimedia elements can act as a quality signal and help your website rank better on Google. They also are more engaging, which offers a better user experience.
- Schema.org: Pages that support microformats can be more likely to rank better than pages that don’t; structured data like schema markup can also help a website get more clicks in the search engine results pages.
- Social shares and signals: Facebook “likes” and shares, tweets, Pinterest pins, etc . most likely have an influence on Google rankings. Social media marketing can help you maximize your online real estate, promote your company, and build your authority on the Web—it is worth the effort!
- Website security: Is your website secure? According to Google, 12 to 14 million searches per day returned hacked sites to online searchers. These sites are categorized as either compromised (content and links have changed) or harmful (users’ computers may be infected with malware) and Google doesn’t like that. Read more about how website security can impact a site’s Google rankings.
Note: These factors are not guaranteed to make you rank on Google—they are just signals that are more likely to provide a better user experience and rank well.
Learn more by checking out this awesome infographic from Single Grain and Backlinko.
Bing Ranking Factors
As much as my coworker Lexie loves to joke about it, there are other search engines that people use besides Google, most notably Bing and Yahoo! (I have yet to meet a single person who actually uses Yandex—it even sounds like it’s made up). Higher Bing rankings seem to be influenced by:
- Big brands and TLD extensions (particularly .gov, .edu, and .org)
- Social signals like Facebook “likes” and tweets
- Backlink authority (though backlink numbers are also associated with higher rankings)
We’ve written about optimizing your website for Bing, so check it out!
Yahoo! Ranking Factors
Yahoo! does still exist (and people actually use it)! Basically, if you’ve optimized for Bing, you’ve optimized for Yahoo!. However, it seems that Yahoo! doesn’t give as much importance to backlinks as it does to meta tags and descriptions. And local SEO is the place to focus for Yahoo!.
Read more on our blog about optimizing for Yahoo!.
Need Help with Your Website?
No matter which search engine you want to rank for, you’re in good hands with Blue Corona’s online marketing specialists (we recommend you optimize for more than just Google). Contact us today to learn more or to discuss how we can help you make your website better!
About The Author: Alanna is the Quality Assurance Manager in Blue Corona's Maryland office. When she's not triple-checking websites and content for errors and consistency, you can find her at the gym with her twin sister or urban exploring with her husband.
View more blogs by Alanna Hernandez