If you run any type of business, chances are you have some sort of internet presence, or at least you should. Problem is, enhancing your presence can become a little tricky given that Google utilizes over 200 ranking signals in their search algorithm. We're all aware of the importance of link building, meta titles and all other basic on-site factors. But, what about those lesser talked about SEO nuggets that often fly under everyone's radar, yet are still critically important? Let's explore, and find out exactly what those factors are in order to give your business a clear advantage over your competitors, or potentially avoid organic disaster.
Bounce Rate And Time On Site Matters
While we're all in pursuit of increased traffic and rankings, it becomes easy to lose sight of what matters most, especially for businesses. Engagement. Getting people to your site is only half the battle, the other and more significant effort is getting your traffic to perform your desired actions. At the end of the day, if you're generating millions of hits and no sales, then that traffic becomes meaningless and likely won't last as Google does factor bounce rates/time on site into their algorithm.
This equates to the following, if your organic traffic frequently returns to Google search results immediately after clicking through to your site, this behavior will have a negative impact on your rankings.
This important yet often over-looked factor is more precisely put by Marc Purtell of Search Engine Journal, "The bounce rate is arguably the most important engagement metric as measured by Google's algorithm. Technology reporter Steven Levy was granted access to Google's headquarters for his book In the Plex. According to the book, Google's engineers identified bounce rates of search results as a signal of quality or lack thereof."
The above is another strong indication that search optimization today is largely a practice in effective digital marketing and communications. The two should no longer be viewed as separate practices as you'll need to implement traditional marketing techniques, for instance setting up an effective sales funnel, creating strong calls to action and high level copywriting if you want to reduce bounce rates and improve your rankings.
Don't Try To Game The System
While not yet perfect, Google's algorithm continues to evolve and they remain committed to providing less visibility for those who try to manipulate their rankings in any way. The two biggest examples in their effort to do so remains Penguin and Panda. Both of which are well publicized and extensively covered, so at this point we know exactly what should be done to avoid either penalty.
However, did you also know that Google goes as far as presenting what are essentially temporarily inaccurate rankings, known as a "rank transition phase", in order to catch rank manipulators red-handed?
Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea details it as follows: "The rank transition function provides confusing indications of the impact on rank in response to rank-modifying spamming activities. The systems and methods may also observe spammers' reactions to rank changes caused by the rank transition function to identify documents that are actively being manipulated."
In short, what this aims to do is confuse the person trying to manipulate their rankings in order to provoke a response. When your website is in this rank transition phase and you react by removing anything that could be perceived as manipulation, that then confirms to the algorithm that you're merely trying to manipulate your rankings and will thus lead to more permanent algorithmic penalties.
This in particular highlights just how complex Google's algorithm truly is. What works today may not work tomorrow and what you perceive to be working, may only be a temporary illusion. Bottom line, don't put your business at risk by trying to manipulate the algorithm. Doing so can result in months of recovery work which can have a significant negative impact on any internet based business.
Protect Your Shoppers
Implementing SSL is currently seen as a very minor ranking factor, but that doesn't mean it won't become more important in the future. Google has a history of gently urging webmasters to go in a certain direction before completely dropping the hammer. So, will SSL be the next big change? Possibly, keeping in mind that SSL is required to run a Shopping Campaign via Google Merchant Center which shows how strongly they feel about the issue.
If you collect private data from your viewers or process any transactions directly through your website, you'll be best served by future proofing and implementing SSL today. You'll also increase your conversions in the process.
So, protect your shoppers by implementing SSL and protect your organic rankings by adhering to all of the tips outlined above.
* Title image adapted from nebarnix