Peeling back Google’s ranking algorithm just a little, I wanted to talk about some of the less discussed ranking signals. Putting aside some of the standard or best practice requirements such as internal linking, keyword focus, taxonomy, links etc. we can see that Google is continuing to build and develop its algorithm, always leaning strongly towards the end user and presenting the best site for the query.
However the way in which Google determines the “best” site for the query, is evolving at quite a pace, looking at: user experience, mobile friendly sites, engagement signals, trust, deception and security.
We’ve spoken recently on how Google are now taking HTTPS as a ranking signal, however the industry is currently buzzing on the news that Google are taking into account the mobile friendliness of sites.
With this new update, what can you do to see whether you are being impacted with this latest change and what will Google likely be looking for?
If you do not have a mobile responsive site it would be worth checking your analytical data to see whether you are being affected. Google will be cautious if they see you are redirecting mobile users to pages which they believe may not answer their specific queries i.e. redirecting all mobile queries to the homepage, a good example of this is when a user types in “holiday homes in Brighton” and sees in the SERPS the Brighton page, once clicked through the user is redirected back to the homepage having to navigate again to the Brighton page. With this in mind you may think you are safe, however I have also seen a negative trend where sites are redirecting to a sub-niche but not specific enough for Google to feel assured that the query is being dealt with in the best way i.e. an organic vegetable store redirecting “organic bananas in Kent” to the bananas page.
Things to check:
- Mobile traffic change week on week,
- All Traffic > Organic (date range) – Secondary dimension “Landing page” or “host name” to highlight specific mobile traffic performance changes
- Google Webmaster tools > Mobile queries filter
Off the back of the recent buzz in the industry, I thought it would be a good idea to touch on the less discussed / potential ranking signals to help us anticipate the future changes.
In my opinion and through personal experience it’s vital to keep on top of your technical SEO and website issues. The role of SEO has developed over the last few years to encompass user experience, conversion optimisation and web development. I believe Google will continue to make tweaks to their algorithm and will in turn will push the SEO role into a truly holistic one.
What does the future hold?
We already know that Google are focusing on the following signals so I would estimate more sensitivity in these areas and would recommend that we all grab a magnifying glass and a Sherlock Holmes approach to our sites:
- User Experience
- Responsive design
- Mobile friendly sites
- 404 errors
- Smart phone faulty redirects
- Site security – hacked signals
- User experience and engagement – surge in traffic to test.
What I anticipate in the future:
- Accessibility issues – page load speeds, tabbing selectors, catering for special needs and circumstances.