SEO (search engine optimization) can at many times seem like alchemy: you never really know for sure what results will be produced with the inputs you made. And sometimes, the exact same actions can create different outcomes!
But like all things in nature, there are some foundational and fundamental rules that don’t change, even as all of us grapple with trying to figure out which of the over 200 ranking signals Google really puts weight on.
Over the course of our work advising and helping other businesses rank their websites on the first page of Google, we realised that there are a few key elements that most SEO professionals seldom talk about.
So in this article, we are going to share the 5 top SEO factors that nobody talks about, to help you improve your search optimization game.
1. Make sure your pages are indexed by Google
This sounds really obvious, but is the most important factor of all.
Googlebot will automatically crawl your website, as long as it is public, over time. So a lot of people assume that as long as the website and its pages are published, they will be searchable on the internet.
The truth of the matter is, not all pages are indexed by Googlebot. And if your pages are not indexed by Google, they will never be ranked for any keyword.
A simple “site:yoursite.com” command on the Google search bar will list out all the pages in your website that are currently in Google’s index database.
Alternatively, you can use the URL inspection function in Google Search Console to check individual webpage URLs to see if they have indeed been indexed.
Nothing is more important than making sure the pages that you want to rank for are properly indexed. You won’t want to spend all the time and effort to create beautiful content only to find that they don’t appear on Google search at all for the rest of the world to see.
2. Improve dwell time
The longer the amount of time people stay on your webpages, the stronger the signal sent to Google that your website is useful and should be ranked higher than others.
For example, if someone comes to your webpage, takes a look, and then exits, all in a matter of seconds, it is fair to assume that they didn’t like what they’ve found.
Google takes note of such user behaviour and if it becomes a pattern that most people who come to your website acts in a similar fashion, that is enough reason for Google not to rank you higher.
The best way to increase dwell time is to have content on your webpage that is highly relevant to the keywords or search terms that you are ranking for.
Adding rich content such as videos and infographics help to provide a better user experience and can persuade the users to stay longer on your website, thereby increasing dwell time.
3. Don’t cannibalize your content
You may think that having many pages on your website that targets a particular keyword helps with SEO.
Well, that may not necessarily be the case.
Having multiple pages with content that ends up overlapping one another can confuse Google as to which page on your website is more definitive for a particular keyword.
When this happens, it is observed that Google will swap among the pages to determine which one is more deserving of ranking higher on the search results.
This creates fluctuations in your ranking performance and can thwart many a good effort, wasting time and resources in the process.
All these fluctuations also mean that it takes a much longer time for a particular keyword that you’re targeting to rank.
4. Don’t overlook subheadings
When it comes to content SEO, most experts and authoritative sources on the internet repeatedly highlight the importance of headings, particularly that of the H1 heading tag.
Undoubtedly, the H1 heading tag is one of the most important elements on a webpage that can influence its search rankings.
However, just having the H1 heading tag alone won’t be useful if there isn’t a fully-formed content hierarchy structure on the page itself.
This is where subheadings like H2 and H3 come in.
By having a well-defined and logical content structure that includes H2 and H3 subheadings, it forces you to present your content in a more readable manner, which improves user experience and lets Googlebot better understand your content.
Stridec, a top SEO in Singapore, observes that this is a problem much more common that many realise, and is usually the first thing they look into improving when onboarding new clients to their SEO programme.
5. Include FAQ in your content
Google is getting big on search intent, particularly on how to answer the searcher’s questions in the fastest and more direct way possible.
Hence, you will notice the increasingly frequent appearance of rich snippets and list of questions on Google’s search result pages.
These snippets and questions are derived from content that Google indexes, which also means that it may come from content on your webpages.
Being featured in a snippet or answer to a question is a great way to “short circuit” the entire SEO process and jump to the first page of Google fast.
And one of the best ways to do that is to create a FAQ section on your most important pages, and provide quick, one-paragraph answers to common questions related to your content and target keywords.
SEO can be tough and frustrating, sometimes feeling like you’re navigating a dark room blind.
So it is all the more important that you get some key aspects of search engine optimization really right, and this includes having a clear understanding of specific factors such as the ones mentioned in this article.
Mastering these 5 factors can give a significant boost to your SEO efforts.