The Top 3 PROVEN SEO Factors Going into 2019 (and 5 More You Probably Didn't Know)
The following information has been provided by AVOXI.
Page speed is the most unique factor on this list because it actually affects your SEO in two ways. Google doesn’t just use page speed as a ranking factor, it uses it as a filter when people are searching for your keywords. Our tests confirmed that a faster page speed doesn’t just help boost your rankings, it actually makes your page appear more often!
Let’s explain this further. How often your page appears for a certain keyword is known as your “organic impression share.” Just because you rank on the first page for keyword “xyz” does not mean Google is actually showing your page everytime someone searches “xyz.” It just means you appear on the first page whenever Google decides to show you. One way that Google decides whether or not to show your website in the results is your page speed. If the person searching on Google has a slow internet connection, Google tries to only show the fastest pages possible in its result. So, the faster your page speed, the less likely Google is to filter you out of the search results.
Remember, many countries do not yet have the same level of internet speed that those of us in Europe and North America have become accustomed to. In addition, more and more searches are happening over mobile devices, where connectivity can vary quite a bit.
When looking at your page connection, the metrics you should pay the most attention to are total page load time and time to first byte (TTFB).
Keywords still matter. A lot.
But Google doesn’t want us to think that. In the first half of 2018, the company repeatedly claimed that keywords in your webpage content were no longer worth worrying about because their algorithms were already moving past that. Naturally, it didn’t take long for SEO professionals to begin writing posts repeating this information.
However, don’t remove keyword research from your content strategy yet. Whenever Google makes a massive claim like this, you should always test what they are saying. We implemented dozens of single-variable experiments testing keyword usage and placement on rankings. Then we tested our results on live websites to see if our conclusions held up. Here’s what we know about keywords going into 2019:
The frequency with which a keyword appears on your page does directly affect your rankings. In other words, using a keyword 50% - 100% more often than other first page results showed a positive ranking effect in every test we ran. In addition, it is actually difficult to over-do it. Using a keyword 500% more often didn’t seem to help more than just aiming for 100%, but it didn’t hurt either.
Keyword placement, or where your keywords appear, is even more important than how often they appear. You want your keyword to appear in specific places like your page title, HTML tags, first few paragraphs, and more.
However, the most important thing to understand is this: Keywords and page speed are just two of the many factors that can be used to get Google to notice you. But, that doesn’t mean you get to keep any boost you see in your rankings from improving on these factors. That’s where the third, and most important, factor comes in.
User clicks / User Experience
Remember, Google wants every searcher that uses their platform to have the best experience possible. In general, that means they want their users to find what they are looking for as efficiently as possible. And their ability to measure this is only improving.
How does this apply to your e-commerce store? It means conversion rate optimization is your most important SEO metric when it comes to KEEPING your rankings. The more often Google thinks that searchers found what they were looking for on your page, the faster they will move you up the rankings and the more search terms they will try showing your page for.
How does Google decide what a good user experience is when it comes to e-commerce stores? Here’s what we know from testing:
- Worst-case Scenario: The searcher clicks on your link, doesn’t like your page, backs out, and continues their search on other pages. This type of behavior tanked our test rankings the fastest.
- Middle ground: The searcher clicks on your link, looks at your page, looks at a few other pages on your website, exits and goes back to the search.
- Best Result: The searcher comes to your page, shows interest, and ends their search. For an e-commerce store, this usually means the searcher completes a payment.
What should you take from this? You can do everything right and try all the SEO tactics you want, but you have to provide value to your visitors if you want to keep your rankings. If your pricing is uncompetitive, your website design is clunky, your payment method is difficult to use, etc., nothing else you do will convince Google you deserve to remain at the top of their rankings.
5 Other Recent Discoveries
We’ve known meta keywords don’t help boost your rankings for a while. However, recent testing shows meta keywords actually demote you in the rankings! If you still have meta keywords attached to any of your pages, get rid of them.
SEO professionals often debate about whether or not including keywords in your meta description actually has any ranking benefit. We don’t have to worry about debating, because we test these types of factors regularly. In our most recent tests, including keywords in the meta description does, in fact, provide a ranking boost.
SEO professionals love talking about the rise of video marketing and Youtube. You can find hundreds of articles and videos talking about how you can boost your rankings about making Youtube videos about your topic and embedding them into your content. Maybe someday, but for now, our testing shows video embeds do not provide an SEO boost. In fact, many of our tests showed video embeds having a negative effect on our rankings. This is probably because a video embed may slow down your page speed, which is absolutely a ranking factor.