WordPress SEO in 5 Minutes – What are Ranking Signals?
If you have a website or if you’re planning to create a new website, you must have come across “ranking signals” multiple times by now. Developers and designers would tell you that you have to be aware of the ranking signals and optimise your site for these signals for your website to show up at higher positions on the SERPs. Obviously, the term is related to the results pages and how they rank web pages, but what exactly does it mean? Here’s a small article on Ranking Signals from our SEO team in Perth.
What are Ranking Signals?
As the name suggests, Ranking Signals or Ranking Factors are a set of characteristics or criteria of a website that search engines use to rank a website in search results. The complete set of ranking signals forms the search engine algorithm.
What are Google’s Ranking Signals?
Content is King. Even if you have all other signals in order, low content quality will cost you in the search results. Ensure your content is optimized for keywords as well as search intent. Use original content on each page and canonical URLs for similar content. Use keywords in page titles and meta descriptions. But do remember not to stuff keyword on the page- Google knows when you are trying to do that, and will penalize you.
Backlinks or inbound links (when other sites link back to your site) are one of the most important ranking signals. You must constantly monitor that inbound links are from quality sites. This sends a message to Google that you are a trusted and authorized source. Similarly link out to trusted sites. Create a strong internal linking structure, will help in ranking for each page.
Mobiles are increasingly the device of choice for internet search. Google has already made it clear that mobile-friendliness would be an important ranking signal. Your site should load fast and have easy navigation on mobiles.
Speed is a crucial SEO factor. Anything over 3 secs in loading time will lead to a high bounce rate. Optimize images and videos for size and format issues. Content Delivery Networks help with faster load times. Ensure your hosting provider is giving you good accessibility and speed.
Core Web Vitals – The new ranking factors
In May 2020, Google announced that it would be integrating the new Core Web Vitals to the existing page experience signals. The good news is that the change won’t happen till 2021. And Google will make an announcement 6 months before it rolls out the new ranking signals.
Core Web Vitals
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Loading times
- First Input Delay (FIP) – How long it takes for a site to respond to actions (like dropdowns, clicking on links or checkboxes etc.)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Total of unexpected layout shifts that happen after you arrive on the page.
Existing Page Experience Factors
- Mobile Friendliness
- Safe Browsing
- Intrusive Interstitials
Expanding on these new factors is beyond the scope of this article. We promise more on this later.
Canonical URL – The most representative URL from a set of duplicate pages on your site.
Content Delivery Network – A system of geographically distributed servers that delivers web content based on the location of the user.
Internal Linking Structure – The links between relevant pages of your website.