Are These Six Little-Known Factors Affecting Your Search Engine Ranking?

by Sherice Jacob

Last updated on February 21st, 2018

Remember the “good old days” when the fastest way to get ranked at the top of the search heap was to have more of your keywords stuffed into your text and meta tags than your competitors did? Thankfully, times have changed. Today, higher rankings are made possible by authoritative back links, credible branding and actionable content. But what you may not realize is that today’s search engines can analyze much more than you might expect.

In fact, Google has been awarded thousands of patents in order to make its ad networks, cloud products and its flagship search engine more intuitive and efficient. Combine this with other search technologies like Bing billing itself as a “decision engine” and you’ll see that search engines are getting smarter all the time. And while none of them are revealing exactly what analytics data they’re using to judge who ranks where, here are some of the little-known factors they use to analyze your pages and potentially affect your ranking.

On-Page Behavior

What do people do once they land on your page? Do they share it on Twitter or Facebook? Can they easily print the page out or bookmark it for future reading? How many people came to your site by way of a link in their email or RSS feed? You already know that search engines are factoring in Twitter hashtags and Facebook likes, while previous tactics like exact-match domains are starting to become less and less of a ranking indicator. In fact, sharing something on Facebook gets more SEO momentum than simply liking it.

Language and Keyword Density

Keeping your keyword density at or below a certain percentage seems to be a commandment written in stone for some marketers. But it’s more about the correlation between how search engines see language used on your page, and how that relates to other pages on your site. Diversify your content, interlink your posts where possible, and give the search engine the whole spread of a topic: the big picture rather than small, intermittent “bites”. This in turn makes your page more relevant, and gives it a higher quality score.

Brand and Association

Are you building a noticeable brand, or are you associated with one? Trends have shown that Google tends to prefer sites that have the ability to quickly connect searchers to what they want (as is the point of a search engine in the first place). Shoes? Zappos. Recipes? Food Network. These types of “entities” can be tied together with related search engine products, such as reviews, places, and videos. Over time, this could easily mean that the so-called “level playing field” that the Internet has been famous for – is disappearing.

Pages and Time on Site

You can often gauge how well a site is doing by how many pages each visitor browses, and how long they spend on the site. In fact, you can use click-tracking tools like CrazyEgg’s ScrollMap to see how far down an article people are reading before they click elsewhere. A low number of pages per visit or time on site could mean that either people aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your site, or your content isn’t hitting the mark. Ask yourself – “What do I want them to do at the end of the page?” Keep reading related articles? Share with friends on social networks? Search for coupons or deals in their local area?

Server Location

This doesn’t affect your ranking as much as it once did, since Google and other search engines no longer focus solely on an IP address to determine where your target market is coming from. But it still may play a role in other indicators, such as how quickly your site loads (which DOES affect ranking). You can help point Google in the right direction by using Webmaster Tools and geographical indicators such as a listing with your address and phone number in Google Places. Obviously, this information is relevant only if you have a non-country TLD, like .com, .net or .org rather than .co.uk or com.au.

Bounce Rate

This is a big factor that many people don’t fully understand. A high bounce rate can indicate several things. Mainly, that people coming to your page aren’t finding the solution they expected. Proper use of headlines, titles, and even including the searched keyword on the landing pages can all help lower bounce rates. The same applies if your site is loading too slowly. Get rid of superfluous Javascript and graphics and replace as much as you can with streamlined CSS instead. It could make a huge difference on your load time.

It’s said that Google uses over 200 different algorithms to judge how a site should be ranked. What other social behaviors or technical factors do you believe have an impact on your site? Share them below in the comments:

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Sherice Jacob

Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with custom design, copywriting and website reviews.  Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up by visiting iElectrify.com.

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  1. faiza says:
    July 4, 2017 at 10:00 am

    I definitely agree that bounce rate is a major player in search engine ranking which is basically associated with the on-page behavior. Sherice, what would you suggest the best optimal way to reduce the bounce rate?

  2. Mario says:
    February 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Nice srnaihg thanks Paul!..I like the fact on 30% of people who are watching TV are also on line at the same time. Absolutely right! We should take advantage on this..

  3. Sherice Jacob says:
    January 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

    No one really knows for sure (except the higher-ups at Google) how many algorithms Google uses to rank a site. I’ve heard 200, but it could be 2,000…

    • Kevin gallagher says:
      January 22, 2012 at 4:08 am

      great article but I thought it was over 200 factors in The one Google algorithm

      • Sherice Jacob says:
        January 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        It could be! No way to really know (unless you’re a developer at Google) but the important thing to remember is that whatever “quick tricks” are available today can quickly be stomped on by one little change in an algorithm.

  4. kevin says:
    January 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

    200 different algorithms?

  5. @kWIQly says:
    November 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm
  6. andrew broadbent says:
    November 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Panda Panda Panda

    • Sol says:
      February 3, 2012 at 10:39 am

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