The end of the year is approaching, and it’s only appropriate that we review the top ranking factors of 2013. Earlier this fall, Searchmetrics released the findings from a study of 300,000 URLs to find out what high ranking webpages had in common over the last year. From here, it’s easy to determine what you’ll need to focus on in 2014 in order to rank high in Google and Bing. These things are non-optional:
1. Social Sharing Matters
You have to enable your customers, fans, and other audiences to share your content across social networks (particularly Google+ and Facebook). Social signals closely linked to higher rankings in Searchmetrics report. Here’s the rub: unless you’re Apple, you won’t be able to build an army of vocal advocates without participating in social media yourself. Time to get active.
2. Build Backlinks
You have to get other sites to link to your website. The key here is quality. Build links organically, from a variety of sources over time. Purchasing links from low-quality sites and link farms will not only not improve your search rankings, it will harm your ability to rank high.
3. Content Development
You must develop quality content, which includes images and video. Hire someone in house, or contract the writing externally (we know some folks). It’s no longer an option. No quality content = no high rankings.
4. Get the Lead Out
You must sweat your site speed. Work on improving it. Of all the technical factors that go into running a high-ranking website, this isn’t the most important one (technically), but it’s an absolute requirement. Even more importantly, as users try to access your site on mobile devices, they’re likely to bail if your site takes forever to load properly. (Bonus tip for great user experience: Adopt a responsive design for your website).
5. Back to the Basics
Get SEO technical basics down pat. This won’t necessarily make you rank high, but it won’t negatively impact you. You must have these basics in place if you want to have any chance of ranking high for targeted keyword phrases. Using proper keywords, optimized formatting, shorter URLs, quick load times, clean up broken links, improve crawl errors, etc. Get these right, or all the time you’ll spend working hard to rank high will be for naught.
Image source: 1000lifelessons.com