Although most marketers and business owners have a general understanding of what search engine optimization is, they struggle to understand SEO nuances. The fact is, Google changes their algorithms hundreds of times per year, and each change has a different impact on both the user experience and the way businesses are ranked. A “ranking factor” refers to the type of criteria applied by search engines when they evaluate web pages.
Some of the most important ranking factors include quality backlinks and website content. According to Exults Marketing, ranking factors can be confusing when you don’t understand how they impact your site—directly and indirectly. There are plenty of SEO myths, and the truth is, there are many non-ranking SEO factors that can impact your optimization. Understanding the fine line is crucial. With that in mind, here are a few non-ranking SEO factors and the indirect impact they have on the ranking value of your site:
There is a misconception that bounce rates affect your search engine optimization. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of people that visit just one page of your site and leave, without engaging with any other pages. Contrary to popular belief, bounce rate doesn’t measure how long a user stays on your site (there is a specific “time spent on page” metric for this), but this is an important metric used by marketers to determine whether users are finding what they’re looking for when they visit a site.
However, over the years, Google has stated that it’s not a ranking factor in its algorithm, and would be a weak ranking signal because it can be so easily manipulated. Despite this, high bounce rates can very well be a byproduct of other low-ranking symptoms on your page. For instance, high bounce could be a clear signal that you have a slow load page, poor mobile optimization, or bad quality design. You can use the bounce rate to glean insight into the experience you’re offering visitors.
Many business owners are told they need to publish content at a consistent rate to appeal to Google’s algorithm. However, John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, said in a tweet, “A site isn’t a machine that pumps out content at a fixed rate,” and confirmed that content frequency isn’t a ranking factor.
But here’s where it gets tricky: it is an indirect ranking factor because, the more SEO-rich content you produce, the higher you will rank. Suggesting a content schedule and consistent publishing is basically another way of saying, “This is how you get SEO real estate.” SEO needs content to thrive, so while the number of blog posts you have, for example, doesn’t rank you higher, the keywords, meta tags, and other optimized factors you incorporate, does.
Whether you have 10 visitors to your site, or 100, Google says it doesn’t matter—in a 2019 tweet, the company that website traffic simply isn’t a ranking factor. However, this is largely controversial because so many other independent industry studies have found otherwise. These data-driven studies, which come from reputable sources like SEMRush, have found a direct correlation between high direct traffic and rankings. Therefore, many marketers and SEOs do take Google’s message with a grain of salt.
That being said, it’s very important for you to understand the true meaning of your traffic, because your traffic may be a direct, consequential effect of the optimization efforts you put into your site, verus the other way around. Therefore, you can use your website traffic stats to glean insight into your SEO strategy; improving traffic is a key indicator that what you’re doing is working, while low traffic could mean you need to reevaluate your strategy.
Outbound links refer to links on your website that point to other websites. Outbound links don’t necessarily affect your SEO, but they do have an impact. First and foremost, internal links are useful because they keep the user engaging with your website. External also contributes to the value you offer your website visitors, and aid the SEO for other websites. By linking to your resources, partners, or simply to products and brands you believe in, you’re helping them grow their audience. And lastly, while the link itself doesn’t matter, the content used to create the link does, as it provides Google with insight into what your page is about and clues about content relevancy.