In part two of our Google ranking tips series we discussed how the content on your website can effect your search engine rankings. In this post, we’ll review how to leverage social media, mobile accessibility and page speed to help your business get more than it’s fair share of the Search Engine Ranking Page (SERP).
7. Social Media Links
There’s been a debate raging over how effective Social Media is at driving Google Rankings. Many still believe it to be a waste of time, while those without huge promotional budgets swear by it as an effective means of improving rankings. While it is not highest on the list of Google ranking factors, by any means, experiments like this one by Branded3 are proving that it is useful. Most experts place this one between 5 and 7% in its Google ranking value.
So how valuable is social media in Google ranking?
There can be no doubt that sites with more social media mentions will rank higher, all other factors being equal. This Search Metrics study bears it out as well. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest do seem to raise visibility in search engines. Whether this is a cause, or the rise in search engine ranking is driving social media, is hard to gauge in some cases, but the two work hand in hand.
How to improve your social mentions
In addition to engaging your audience on social media, there are some things you can do to improve your sharability. First, write sharable content. While it needs to be meaty and relevant, it can’t be boring or out-of-date. Next, add social share buttons to your website. Last but not least, overcome your fears and dive in. To drive sharing, you have to start and respond to it.
Here are some tools you can use
- Social media dashboards like Buffer, Hootsuite and Massplanner can help you gauge your success and automate sharing to make your life easier. Social media is fast and constantly changing, you need to be in the flow regularly to get seen.
- Tools like Klout, Peer Index and Kred can help you take an objective look at your social impact and offer tips to improve.
- Follow a few social media blogs, like Kim Garst and Social Media Examiner offer great insights you can put to work, and will keep you up to date on the latest trends and tools.
8. Mobile Accessibility
With nearly a third of internet usage happening on mobile devices, and more than 10% of your Google rankings score depending on your site being mobile friendly, you can’t afford to ignore this one. As the market for mobile devices grows globally, more and more potential customers are finding you on their phones and tablets.
How it factors in
As recently as just a few years ago, most web pages were not visible on mobile devices in their original format. This meant your site might be viewed in a text only version, or not at all. Google has recently begun demoting the search results for pages that are not mobile friendly, regardless of relevance and the rest. You might not disappear from search results altogether, but your competitors can outrank you based on this one factor, if they create mobile friendly website experiences.
Here’s what you need to do
First, determine if your site is already compliant. Go to Google’s Mobile Friendly Test and check to find out. Many content management systems, such as WordPress, automatically create a mobile version of your site to make it more appealing. This may still need tweaking, but the test will give you a good idea of where to start. Once you know what your site looks like on mobile, it’s simply a matter of tweaking to get the look and feel you want your guests to experience.
Tools you can use
Here again, Google is a good place to start. Take a look at the top Google Ranking sites in your industry on mobile and see what they are putting out. Study features, rather than specific design elements.
- Your smartphone is the best tool for this. Take a look at your site versus your competitors and adjust accordingly.
- Check with your website host. Most packages have a mobile site attached. In many cases, changes can be made to the mobile site without changing what is seen in the traditional browser version.
- Use a service like our “Websites that Work” to build a mobile friendly site that also optimizes the larger screen experience. We’d be happy to chat with you about it.
9.Website Page Speed
While we are left to wonder what some of Google’s 200+ factors are, site speed has been stated as a primary Google ranking factor. Most experts place it at between 5-10%. Creating an efficient website has always been a balancing act between designing an aesthetically pleasing page, while maintaining the speeds required for good Google ranking and user experience.
How site speed affects you
Besides Google ranking factors, site speed affects search engine results by volume as well. Slow loading sites prevent spiders from scrolling as many pages, making your content less likely to be ranked beyond the most recent pages. Google’s stated target for page loading is now two seconds, and tests have shown that anything over three loses viewers to other sites. All other factors being constant, a faster site will receive a higher Google ranking every time.
How to improve page speed
There are a variety of factors, but most are on page and under your control. Bulkier elements like images, hosted downloads and videos need to be optimized to ensure faster loading. There are tools to help determine what, if any issues your site has, then you can work in conjunction with your site builder, or on your own to make needed adjustments.
Here’s a free tool you can use to improve page speed.
Google has developed some great website improvement tools and one of them is Page Speed, an open source project that tests site speed and analyzes your site to suggest improvements you can make. In addition to pointing out the problems, Google also provides links to resources to help you determine what needs to be done to solve them.