Here is a list of ten site-level ranking signals that you should be aware of if you are aiming to gain a competitive edge on your rivals when optimizing for Google search:
Google takes online security very seriously nowadays, so it is hardly surprising that webmasters who protect their visitors’ personal information via the HTTPS protocol gain recognition for their efforts.
A recent poll by Moz suggests that HTTPS websites make up nearly a third of Google’s search results and this figure is increasing all the time. If you are still using basic HTTP then now is the time to make the switch.
Page Load Times
Could your website do with a little fine-tuning in order to speed things up? Google now provides a speed-testing tool that you can use to check how fast your site loads once you have made any tweaks – such as image compression and other techniques that will improve the time it takes to load a particular page.
If you are serious about getting traffic to your site then you need cater for the needs of those who are accessing your content via mobile platforms. In 2016, this is highly important as Google now take mobile friendliness very seriously indeed.
You can improve on mobile friendliness using the following checklist:
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
AMP is an open source project that Google created in order to speed things up for mobile web users. It works by providing stripped-down versions of a site or page that load up much more quickly than existing content. Although AMP is not a core ranking signal, more and more AMP pages are now appearing higher up in the search results.
(You can find out more about AMP here: ampproject.org/learn/about-amp/)
Use a Sitemap
You need to let the search engines know how your site is organised by providing an accurate sitemap. This should be available in both HTML and XML formats. Although the vast majority of content management systems, such as WordPress, will automatically build and submit a sitemap on your behalf – you can upload your own sitemap via Search Console.
Rich Snippets and Schema Markup
Rich Snippets are the additional bits of text that appear beneath individual search results. They tell the search engines what type of information to provide in relation to a query.
Although not strictly a ranking signal, clever use of Schema markup with your HTML can make a huge difference to the way you present your content to your audience in the search results.
For example, if a user is searching for a book that you sell, you might want to provide a customer review with a starred rating and an image of the book cover as part of the result. This is easily possible with Schema markup.
Inbound links from domains with authority have always been an important ranking signal as they show Google that your website is trusted. However, did you know that the same is true for outbound links? If you are creating written content for your audience, be sure that you link to your sources and you will find that your own pages gain trust.
Quantity of Links
Of course, if you are using outbound links to credit your sources and gain some additional trust – do not get carried away! Having too many links on a page is a sure-fire way to confuse your readers and negatively affect user experience. This also applies to internal links.
Big websites with lots of well-written pages will always outrank smaller sites that offer less content and are updated less frequently. If you want your site to do well in the search listings then try to provide regular updates whilst maintaining a high standard of quality.
Even if you have created the best website in the world – it is no good if the server is always down and people cannot access your stunning work of art! Make sure you use a reliable hosting platform that promises minimal downtime – and remember that you most certainly will not want your website to be offline when the search engines are trying to crawl and index your domain.