It’s that time of year. You strangely get the urge to go through the closet and donate clothes, clean out the glove box on the car and maybe even get rid of those bookmarks in your browser that you thought you’d come back to but never did. That’s what happened to me when I found a bookmark to a Neil Patel 2014 article in Search Engine Journal entitled “The 8 Most Important SEO Data Points of Any Website.”
While you may think that any technology article written in 2014 might be classified as antique this one still stands strong. Visit the site for more details and tools but here is an overview of the key points. Watching these measures on your site and improving them will only help you in the struggle to remain visible in the ever crowding web.
Domain Authority is a Thing
It was created by Moz to help sites compare themselves numerically against each other in an effort to see which sites have more oomph. Moz’s actual definition says that it is their “calculated metric for how well a given domain is likely to rank in Google’s search results.” It is comprised using a number of variables, some proprietary and some public info. Usually you can find your Moz Domain Authority fairly easily using any one of a number of free tools.
It is also a thing because it works. Patel explains that “the Domain Authority metric has proved to be one of the most reliable numbers for determining the success of a website in the SERPs (search engine results page). A higher DA invariably translates into bigger traffic and better search ranking.”
There’s no single tactic to improving your Domain Authority but applying best practices and monitoring your DA can help you know where you are and improve.
Site Speed – Lighten the Load
As Google has increased emphasis of the user experience when someone visits your site (they want to send their visitors to a site that will make the visitor the happiest with the results) then how fast a page loads and gets the visitor to the information that they are looking for matters.
What’s the magic number? Opinions differ but let’s just say if your site takes longer than three seconds to load then you should be working on a strategy to improve it. There are a number of tools such as GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights that help you measure site speed. Some have more details on what you can do to improve and others just give an overall score.
Are They Talking about Me?
The value of backlinks has fluctuated over the past few years in the minds of many SEO aficionados. They’ve always been important but when some sites tried to “game the system” Google started looking carefully at what backlinks a site had and how they may have gotten them. Paying for links, that’s a no-no. Building a relationship and being a resource on a topic, that works.
These links from other sites to your site are still very important. Cultivating them is time consuming but can be valuable. Backlinks that are high-authority, reputable, niche sites can especially bring a lot of value.
Size Does Matter
The number of pages indexed by Google helps Google determine the breadth and depth of your expertise on the keywords that are on those indexed pages. The more pages you have, the more opportunity you have to rank for given keywords as well as strengthen your internal link profile with more interlinked pages.
Having more does not mean you’ll rank better. But having more with quality, unique content that is on-message and relevant to your reader will benefit you in the long run.
It Helps to Have Friends
Social media matters. When the search engines see that you have multiple profiles in social media and that you interact with multiple audiences then it helps build your credibility as an expert on your keyword topics. Add to your social media presence some high ranking reviews on Google and the social media sites and you’ve got validation from outside sources (internet users) that your site has value and interest among its peers.
Site Sessions Measure Volume
A session is basically a user interacting with your site within a given time frame. Don’t confuse this metric with users because it can be a unique user or a returning user. Watching this number can help you get an idea of the size of your audience, how much value that users are getting from your site and trending this number can show if you’re growing, stalled or losing ground. Google Analytics is the most favored tool for watching this measure.
Drill Down a Little Further
Now that you have an overall picture with sessions you should dig in and determine how much of your audience found you through an organic search. Your four main ways to get traffic are organic (via a search engine), direct (typed in the address), paid (clicked on an ad) or referral (clicked on a link from another site.) Organic is our goal because we don’t have to pay for an ad, we don’t have to get our address in front of a potential viewer through expensive marketing and we don’t have to build links in someone else’s site. Also, the more organic visits that you garner can be seen as an indicator of your success with the content and content marketing of your site.
Follow the Bouncing Ball
Bounce rate is one of the most confusing measures offered up but can still offer valuable information. It is defined as “the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.” We used to use a high number to say your site wasn’t engaging and didn’t entice the user to dig deeper looking at more content. We referred to the “stickiness” of a site and how long it could keep a visitor onboard. But now, it may just mean you’re doing a good job. If someone uses a search engine to find your phone number and hours and they are directed to a page that offers both of those bits of info and they call without going to another page then isn’t that a success? Look at bounce rate along with landing pages and goal completions to get a better picture of the time spent on your site and whether or not you’re succeeding.
Catching Up with Today
While these items are good data points even today, there are a few things that have risen in the SEO mix since 2014. First and foremost is the growth of mobile. Google is already ranking non-responsive sites lower in mobile SERPs. Responsiveness is mandatory.
Another is Google’s desire to have all sites secure. They see the addition and proper execution of an SSL certificate as a sign that your site is legitimate, willing to go the extra step for your customer and can be trusted more than one that is unsecure. We wrote about this in the past and all of the improving data points that you can muster won’t overcome if your site isn’t responsive and you’re not considering securing your site.
Shoot a Bow, Catch a Ball and Dance a Jig
Trying to do all these things at once is sometimes what it feels like when developing and executing a quality SEO plan. We can help you make sense from all of the data points, watch the trends from your site’s statistics and advise on the best steps to take to gain more visibility. Contact us today if you would like find our more.