There’s this online thing.
Most businesses want it, only a handful truly understand it, but almost everyone is a self-proclaimed expert at it, even though no one really knows how it works.
It’s called SEO.
SEO has SEO ranking factors. Sounds fancy, it’s just guidelines though.
Advice on what to focus on if you want your website to rank better in search engines.
SEMRush, one of the most widely used SEO tools, published a study where they outlined the 17 most important SEO ranking factors. People at SEMRush seem to be experts so we are going to take their word for it.
Even though, everything they say is based on research and fancy guesswork.
“Here are 100 websites that rank first for their keyword. Each of these websites has blog content between 1000 and 1500 words. Therefore, the optimal blog post word count is in that range.”
That is the same as taking 100 rich people and checking what color shirt they wear.
Then saying that if you wear the same shirt, you have a better chance of becoming rich.
So, instead of going over the same statistics, we are going to take the first three of those factors and see what you can do with them using nothing more than logic and fancy guesswork.
That is what it all boils down to really, fancy guesswork.
What Are SEO Ranking Factors?
SEO ranking factors are how search engines determine which website is the most relevant to the user and the keyword they are searching for.
The algorithm behind this feature is a well-kept secret. This is why any SEO specialist’s most uttered words are: “It depends” and “This should work”.
Let me extend it all a branch.
Google is the most popular search engine available, so let’s use it as an example.
When a user searches for something, Google wants to show the most relevant information possible. It uses a complex algorithm and takes a huge amount of information into account.
Everything from the user’s past searches, location, and search preferences is included in the search. Therefore, for any SEO strategy to deliver traffic, you must first know your target audience.
You have the most optimized website for the keyword “buy red bicycle”.
You optimize for this keyword because you sell red bicycles.
You get huge traffic from people looking for red bicycles and zero sales.
Turns out, these people are looking for a red bicycle for kids.
Or you write 1000+ word blog posts because you read that, statistically, they are the most successful.
But what if your audience only reads 500 or fewer words and then bounces?
The bottom line is this.
SEO people have no idea what will work 100%.
They do a lot of educated guessing.
Something works, something doesn’t.
And that’s why I say SEO search factors are guidelines, not rules.
The Most Important SEO Ranking Factor Are Direct Website Visits
I said we will apply logic to SEO ranking factors. That way you can learn about the factors, but more importantly, what to do with them.
Software engineers at Google are trying to make the Google search engine think like people.
How else is a piece of code going to determine what is important and what isn’t to a human?
You are standing on your balcony overlooking a busy square.
The square is full of businesspeople, selling, buying, advertising.
There are also buyers, some of them are business people, others are customers.
You notice one shoe salesman isn’t advertising at all but people are flocking to him anyway. They come on their own.
Later that day someone asks you where they can find high-quality shoes.
What is the most logical response?
That shoe salesman.
You see, people recognized him and bought from him even though he had no ads, he didn’t shout about the quality of his shoes, he just sat there and sold more than any other shoe salesman. He was known for his quality, and he had authority because of that quality.
Direct website visits make Google, and other search engines, think your website is authoritative for the keywords you are ranking for.
It’s quite logical.
You need direct traffic to your website to appear authoritative.
But you need to already be authoritative to get direct traffic.
So, how do we count direct traffic?
If a user types your website’s URL directly into the search bar or clicks on a bookmark, they are accessing your site directly. No intermediaries or links were guiding a user to your website. They purposely visited your business. That counts as a direct visit.
Can you do something to increase direct website traffic?
And then again, everything you do will eventually affect direct traffic.
What you want is to be great at whatever you do.
Returning customers count as direct traffic.
New customers visiting as a result of a mouth-to-mouth recommendation count as direct traffic.
People visiting due to a successful branding campaign counts as direct traffic.
Time on Site is the Second Most Important SEO Ranking Factor
Time on site is an easy factor to understand. The more time your users spend on your website, the more authority and quality it will appear to have to the search engines.
In contrast to direct traffic, you can actively work to improve time on site.
Think like this.
What makes you stay on a website?
Give your audience content they can read, watch, admire. Find a way to inspire, educate, or make them laugh and they will stay on your website longer.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you have a business blog and you write consistent SEO blog posts.
The blog posts answer your target audience’s questions. Your audience is engaged, inspired, they simply love your content.
But, they come, scan through content, they get what they came for.
All that can happen within a minute or two.
And a good average time on site is between two and three minutes.
So, you need another minute.
What you do is give them a reason to stay.
Give them well-placed links to more content they will find interesting.
Give them a video, a few images, infographics, even pie charts related to the content.
Anything to keep them linger longer.
Just don’t force it, be natural, like you are leading this really interesting conversation and to keep it going you link to other pain points your listeners have.
Much of successful website content writing is just breaking a topic into a written conversation and linking it to more related content.
Finally, the Third SEO Ranking Factor is Pages Per Session
Time on site and pages per session are SEO ranking factors that go hand in hand.
It’s only natural, the more pages you can get your users to click through the more time they will spend on your website.
How do you increase pages per session?
You create great and engaging content and you optimize your website’s loading time and display.
So, great content, similar to time on site, makes people click through and linger longer on your website. If you don’t have the expertise or the time to do it yourself, you can hire an in-house expert or outsource your content.
Either way, engaging content is your first stop when influencing SEO ranking factors.
What Is a Good Pages Per Session Number?
Again, as with most SEO stats, it is hard to measure how much your content will actually influence pages per session factor. And it is also hard to measure how much that increases your sales.
However, analyzing successful websites, SEO experts came up with an average of between 1.8 and 4.4 pages per session. So, aim for anything above two pages.
Here’s a Conclusion for You
Content strategies take a lot of time and effort to affect traffic and then even more to increase sales. So, instead of thinking about return on investment for SEO blog posts. Think about a budget you can separate for content and do that consistently for years.
The bigger the budget the bigger the impact, but it doesn’t matter how many posts you write a week, very little will change in a month, sometimes it will take six months or a year before you start noticing an increase in revenue due to your content strategy.
Focus on high-quality content, use SEO ranking factors as guidelines and hire great content writers and specialists, and your strategy is bound to work.
Just give it time.