In this new article, we are talking about ranking factors and the 6 ranking signals to maximize your optimizations to stay ahead of the competition.
You are going to learn about:
- Your Internal Linking Strategy
- Competition Research
- Social Media Reach
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- User Experience
- Site Security
Let’s get started!
6 Ranking Signals To Maximize For Even If You Already Rank #1
Just because your website already ranks on top doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.
Here’s the thing: every year, Google updates its algorithms, affecting all indexed sites across the web.
This means, if you want to stay on top, you need to put some effort into SEO maintenance.
How exactly can you do this?
Take a look at these 6 ranking signals, you need to maximize them in order to stay ahead of the game
Ranking Signals To Maximize Aside from Your Links
Did you know that over 1.6 billion websites are online right now and counting?
Each of these sites aims to rank first in online searches.
You don’t want your website to suffer a traffic crisis given this competitive landscape.
That said, you need to boost these ranking factors to prevent your competitors from snatching your crown.
1. Work on Your Internal Linking Strategy
Your SEO isn’t complete without a powerful internal linking strategy.
Internal links allow search engine crawlers and users to navigate your website with ease.
Adding internal links make perfect sense for pages that already rank on top.
This distributes PageRank and traffic to your lower pages, lifting your entire website’s ranking power and profitability.
So, we’ve established that internal links are incredibly important.
The question is, how do you craft a top-notch internal linking strategy?
Write killer content – and lots of it
You probably already know that killer content is a must if you want your site to rank well.
To preserve search engine rankings, you need to create lots of great posts.
Linkable content is the “bread and butter” of your internal linking strategy.
The more linkable content you have, the better your game plan is.
Aside from giving your website a substantial structure, it also helps in building its hierarchy.
Creating new content on a regular basis will also help sustain your search ranking positions.
What kind of content should you produce?
Rand Fishkin emphasized in a “Whiteboard Friday” that a keyword-optimized content is still a powerful SEO technique.
You have to know, though, that there’s more to content than just keywords.
Even if your posts are keyword-optimized, if they don’t provide actionable insights, it will be pointless.
Readers crave value, and that’s what you need to give to them.
Whatever you do, don’t churn out content for the sake of having content.
Avoid content practices that were already flagged since the post-Panda era, such as:
- Keyword Stuffing – Forcibly adding keywords within the post to improve search ranking
- Low-quality, thin content – Content that doesn’t have enough value to help users with their queries
- Generalized posts – Content that lacks focus and in-depth knowledge on a particular subject
- Poor grammar – Spelling and grammatical errors that make content difficult to understand
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Internal links aim to provide more value and information for your readers.
As a result, it boosts the engagement of users on your site.
Site visitors typically click on a link that fits the context of the current content they’re reading.
A typical example would be a link attached to a technical term that readers may be unfamiliar with.
These bring readers to an internal resource or guide that explains the subject in detail.
Below is an example of an internal link that brings readers to a page about social media marketing tips.
With a well-implemented internal linking strategy, users will be more engaged on your site and enjoy a better experience.
Keep in mind, though, that it must all be done naturally.
For anchor texts, use phrases or sentences that describe the page that your users will find useful.
Do this and again, you’ll hit two birds with one stone – user experience and SEO.
2. Do Competition Research
If you want to stay on top, you need to be in tune with what your competitors are doing.
Remember, it’s guaranteed that your competitors are already hard at work trying to figure out your game plan.
The moment your content snagged the top position in SERPs, you put a target on its back.
What you need to do is to stay vigilant and prepare to double down on the strategies of your closest competitors.
Let me walk you through the steps.
Identifying your strongest competitors
Before you study the strategies of your best competitors, you first need to identify who they are.
The simplest way to find them is to perform a Google search using your top keywords.
For example, if you’re ranking for the keyword “fitness tips for moms,” Google this phrase and look at the results.
Your strongest competitors are the ones creeping up behind you.
You can also use online tools such as SEMrush to look for other sites that rank for your keywords.
With an SEO and marketing analytics tool in hand, you’re ready to take the next step of competitor research:
Analyze your rivals’ hits and misses.
Once you’ve identified your rivals, you can start analyzing their strengths and weaknesses.
This is the part where you identify which of their tactics are working for them.
If you absorb them into your own campaigns, there should be no way for them to overtake your position in SERPs.
Luckily, there are tools that make competitive analysis much easier for you.
Apart from SEMrush, Ahrefs also allows you to collect and analyze information about your competitors.
Its “Site Explorer” tool reveals essential information such as their organic keywords, traffic, and backlinks.
Remember, you don’t necessarily need a tool to look into the content your competitors produce.
Are their webinars and podcasts engaging?
Do they provide case studies or buyer guides?
What social media channels do they primarily use for content distribution?
These are the questions that you can answer with a simple observation.
Read, watch, and study your rivals’ content, and determine how their strategy differs from yours.
Also, take note of the frequency of their posts and how often your competitors update them.
If your competitors are publishing new content three times per week, it’s best to boost your posting, too.
This should help secure your position on top.
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3. Expand Your Social Media Reach
According to statistics, there will be over three billion social media users around the globe by 2021.
If you do the math, that means that in every four people, there’s one using social media.
Think about it: building tons of links to a page that already ranks on top probably won’t increase your traffic.
However, reallocating your budget to social media promotion strategies will.
Starting with the biggest social media networks, namely Twitter,Facebook, and Instagram, is a step in the right direction.
The question is, how do you maximize each platform to get the results that you want?
Each social network has unique features, and you need tailored-strategies for each to leverage them fully.
For this, you need to pay attention to three factors:
First of all, you need to use the right type of content when promoting on certain platforms.
If you’re using Facebook or Twitter, you can craft an enticing copy along with a link to your blog.
Instagram and Pinterest, on the other hand, are perfect for showing off your visual content.
Whatever form it takes, make sure that your social media content resonates your brand’s voice.
It’s also important to be clear and consistent with your message even if you’re using different platforms.
Do you know what else entices users aside from killer content?
That’s right — direct social media interactions and engagement.
Even if you have a thousand followers, your content may not get much attention if you don’t communicate with them.
You need to give your followers a sense of community that they can actively participate in.
Depending on the social network, there are several ways to connect with your audience.
Here are some examples:
- Joining groups relevant to your niche
- Responding to comments
- Writing comments on other posts
- “Liking” posts or adding them to your favourites
- Sharing your audience’s top posts
Let your audience feel that you are someone they can trust.
Be knowledgeable, but don’t forget to stay fun.
Socialize with your audience because that’s the whole point of social media.
If you want to promote your content, you need to do it at the right times.
Sprout Social did a study on the best times to post on specific social media networks.
Facebook, for example, tends to generate the most engagement on promotions on Wednesdays — particularly from 9 AM to 12 PM.
4. Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion Rate Optimization involves practices that increase the likelihood of visitors to turn into subscribers, marketing-qualified leads, or paying customers.
Conversions are classified into two: macro-conversions and micro-conversions. Below are samples:
- Quotation request
- Product purchase
- Service subscription
- Other revenue-based conversions
- Email newsletter signup
- Account creation
- Blog comments
- Video views
- Adding products to a cart
- Shared content on social media
Keep in mind that the goal of SEO isn’t to generate organic website traffic or improve a site’s ranking on SERPs.
An effective CRO strategy relies on the following components:
A better understanding of your audience
Even if you have a strong following, if the majority are not the right people for your business, it’s still pointless.
CRO requires you to figure out what language best speaks to your audience.
You also need to determine the best type of content they respond to — be it Instagram photos or full-length blog posts.
Most importantly, you need to be in touch with their pain points.
What problems are they facing that your brand can help with?
This will help you come up with opt-in offers like free eBooks, product discounts, or free trials that will boost conversions.
Improved user experience
People stick around when they savour a sophisticated experience on your website.
CRO looks into the factors that give your audience just this.
By identifying what they are and augmenting them, your visitors would more likely visit your site more than once.
This gives them more chances of converting into something more than just visitors.
We’ll talk more about user experience optimization later in this post.
Landing page design
Lastly, high conversions are achieved with effective page design.
This can be wrapped up in one goal:
Ensure the visibility of key conversion elements while eliminating distractions.
For example, is the value proposition the first thing your visitors see upon arriving at your site?
Is the sign-up form easy to find or buried beneath a wall of ads?
A heatmap tool like Hotjar can help expedite the optimization process by visually tracking how users interact with your page.
It identifies the “cold”
5. User Experience – UX Is A Crucial Ranking Signal
Aside from landing page design, there are two other important factors that play a crucial role in user experience optimization.
It’s no longer surprising how the number of social media users spike every year.
People constantly check social media updates – mostly through their smartphones.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, social media marketing strengthens your content promotion.
If you want to use it to improve traffic to your website, your site must be mobile-friendly as well.
Today, businesses are beefing up efforts to build mobile-responsive websites because people are obsessed with their mobile phones. In fact, we’ve grown so addicted that there’s a word to call our obsession.
Nomophobia is a term used to describe the fear of not being able to use your mobile device.
Studies also reveal that it’s a rising trend among students.
In short, people can’t be away from their phones; hence, you have to take advantage of it.
It’s also been a while since Google announced mobile-first indexing.
This means they’ll prioritize a website’s mobile version first in the indexing process of websites for SERPs.
If you want to maintain your ranking in SERP, you need to comply with Google’s guidelines.
Also, you have to make sure that your mobile content is identical with that on your desktop.
To spot potential improvements on your page for mobile-friendliness, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test by Google for suggestions.
No matter how aesthetically pleasing your web and landing pages are, it can mean nothing if it takes ages to load.
Everybody knows by now that Google added page speed as a ranking factor in mobile search.
The Speed Update targets slowest loading pages, although a slow page may still rank if its content is relevant to the user’s query.
Other than that, a sluggish website may also directly affect your bottom line.
Data from Google show that as page load time lengthens, the bounce rate increases, too.
And with more visitors leaving your site prematurely, there’ll be fewer people to convert into profitable prospects.
An Unbounce report also reveals that 45.4% of site visitors are less likely to make a purchase when an e-commerce site loads slower than expected.
If you’re keen to know how your website is performing in terms of speed, you can use free tools online such as GTmetrix.
This tool allows you to look into your site’s performance scores so you’ll know the areas for improvement.
So, if you want to keep your SEO ranking and turn your site visitors into clients, you have to make your website pages lightning-fast.
As Google puts it, “faster is better and less is more.”
6. Website Security Is A Ranking Signal To Optimize
In the competitive SEO sphere, there clearly are downsides of being on top.
Apart from a competitive research perspective, being on top makes you a juicy target for dirty competitors.
For example, did you know that DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attacks can be launched against your site for as little as $7 per hour?
This can trigger a domino effect that can topple you off of the first place.
For one, being unable to access your site is terrible for the user experience.
Prolonged attacks may also disrupt the natural indexing process, which can definitely hurt your rankings.
Cybersecurity, however, is an advanced topic that warrants a full-length article.
I suggest you check out this post for a more comprehensive guide on securing your website.
Ranking Signals To Maximize For Even If You Already Rank #1 – Takeaways
Staying on top can feel very challenging what with all the constant changes in Google algorithms.
But it is completely doable.
You just have to keep track of your competition, provide your visitors with quality content every time, and create a stellar experience for your site users.
Of course, you can’t forget about the tasks related to site maintenance and improvement — from CRO to cybersecurity.
That’s all for now!
So, 6 Ranking Signals To Maximize, are there any more?
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