Site level signals have always been, and always will be (in our opinion) an important factor when it comes to ranking a website in the search engines, but there are many different signals, some of which have less weight than others, and some of which – rather surprisingly, have no effect whatsoever at present!
So let’s take a look at some of the possible ranking signals used which can be effected at site-level, rather than externally through link building or social citations, things we can all do for free, or next to nothing, with a little bit of technical knowledge.
Have a SiteMap
Ensuring you have a correctly structured xml sitemap for your website is not only perhaps one of the most important things you can do, it also costs nothing, zilch, nada – Everybody loves something for free, so it’s surprising how many people miss out on this vital step when building and optimising their website. Not only does a correctly structured, up-to-date sitemap allow Google and other search engines to index your website more easily, it can also speed up the process – you can upload your sitemap to Google Search Console and ask Google to crawl and index as soon as possible, rather than when they get round to doing it without a request.
For almost 2 years now, Google has been using https as a ranking factor, so if you’ve not yet got an SSL certificate for your website, we’d suggest taking the plunge – it’s cheap and easy, and also gives not only trust from the search engines, but also trust from your users – the green padlock in your browser’s address bar means your website is secure and sends data over an encrypted connection, keeping your customers information safe and secure.
Rather surprisingly, it has been recently announced that whilst https provides a small (less than most other ranking signals) boost in ranking, Google are not checking for validity of SSL certificates, or whether they are correctly implemented, all that is being checked at present is whether or not the URL starts with https, if it does, and the page is indexed, then a small boost is given.
Perhaps one of the most important factors today is mobile friendliness, moreso today going forward than ever before – why? Well, if you’ve read our previous post on Google splitting search indexes then you’ll have a good idea, however, in short – Google are going to be running 2 separate search indexes, essentially 2 separate sets of results, one for mobile devices and one for desktop/pc type systems – why does it matter so much? Well, as stated in our post, the MOBILE index is going to be the primary index – that’s right, because over 50% of Google searches are made from a mobile device, that is their new priority – if your website is not mobile friendly, it is unlikely to rank well, or potentially not even appear at all in the mobile index! That is of course yet to be seen, but it would certainly make sense.
Site Uptime (or lack thereof!)
Ensuring your website is online all of the time (or at least the vast majority of the time) is very important when it comes to being well placed in the SERPS – if Google comes a-crawling and your website is unreachable, or is showing an error message, or cannot be found, then generally a crawl will sort of “re-schedule”, but if this happens too many times, your website will be seen as unreliable, and drop ranking or even worse, be seen as abandoned, or no longer online, and be dropped from the serps all together.
Whilst these are all simple and common sense steps that should be taken on any and all websites you own, we’re simply amazed at how many websites we see which are not only served over http rather than https, but quite frankly, insecure – coupled with not being responsive or mobile friendly in any way shape or form (sites that look like they were built on Geocities, we’re looking at you!) and are up more than down.
Make sure you’re not one of those who are behind the times, because big changes are coming soon!