The path to higher Google rankings and SEO success is wide open and yours for the taking. All you have to do is fulfill as many as possible of the approximately 200 ranking factors that Google’s search algorithm uses to determine where your listing appears in organic search engine results. (Yes, you should consider other search engines, but Google’s share of the search engine market is now 92.71%).
But What Are Google’s Ranking Factors?
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t reveal the ranking factors, or ranking signals, it uses for the 5.6 billion daily searches it processes.
That leaves companies like NVISION to actually test search results to find out what works and what doesn’t. But it’s a never-ending pursuit because Google constantly changes and tweaks their ranking criteria.
Still, certain signals are generally known, including the following:
- Domain Factors – Including the age of the domain and whether keywords appear in the domain address.
- Web Page Factors – Including keywords in title tags, keyword density in the page content and the page loading speed.
- Website Factors – Including how often the site is updated, its architecture and whether it’s mobile-optimized.
- Backlink Factors – Links to your site are a sign that others find your content to be valuable. But some links are better than others, including the age of the domain linking to your content and where the link appears in the referring content.
If trying to fulfill all the factors listed above seems daunting, that’s only 10 of them. You still have 190 to go!
But here’s the real bummer. The one that many SEO “experts” don’t want you to consider.
Even if you admirably meet every one of Google’s ranking criteria, you still might not get the highest possible results from SEO.
Why Meeting All of Google’s Ranking Signals May Not Be Enough
What value do you get from devoting budget to SEO? Ultimately, it’s the same value you get for any investment you make in your company: more sales.
But a funny thing happened on the way to search engine optimization.
The focus shifted almost exclusively to getting higher page ranks. Once your content gets listed on the first page of search engine results, your SEO “expert’s” job is done, right?
But what if that result, regardless of its lofty perch high atop the rankings, doesn’t motivate people to click on it as often as possible?
If it doesn’t, you may have optimized your search engine results, but not your return on the investment you make in SEO.
The Elements of a Search Engine Result
To understand how a factor that isn’t a ranking signal is key to better SEO performance, let’s take a quick look at the anatomy of a search result. Here’s one that appeared on page one of a search for “fight speeding tickets in Ontario”.
There are three main elements of an average search result listing:
- The Title Meta Tag – As mentioned above, the title tag (in blue) is a ranking signal for Google and should include the keyword, as close to the start of the tag as possible.
- The Page URL – (Appears above the title tag) Another ranking signal that should also include the keyword.
- The Description Meta Tag – (Appears below the title tag) We don’t want to tip our hand about the whole point of this post, but the description tag is not a ranking factor.
Why the Description Tag is Critical to Maximizing Your SEO Results
In the results that included the one shown above, there were six other organic results that used a form of “fight speeding tickets Ontario” in the page URL, and/or the title tag.
If the searcher saw only the ranking factors – the title tag; the URL – the results would all look very similar. Using only the ranking signals, it might be difficult for searchers to determine which result is best for them.
But the description tag gives searchers a way to learn a bit about what they get in return for their click. It is the only element in a search result that they (and you) can use to set one result apart from the rest.
And that’s your opportunity to make your listing stand out.
The Opportunity: Instead of just using an ‘excerpt’ of your content for your description tag, or the same description tag for different pages (oh no, duplicate content!), write a description tag that searchers can’t resist.
Wait, There’s Even More Benefits for Your SEO. When you write description tags that trigger more clicks, it improves your click-through rate, which is … wait for it … a known Google ranking factor!
So a well-written description tag can mean better click-through rates; extra traffic; more qualified leads; increased conversions; higher rankings and, ultimately, a better bottom line.
We told you it was critical!
If you want to whip your description tags into shape and get a higher ROI from your SEO budget, contact NVISION’s digital marketing team.