SEO is a nuanced practice that is always changing. It can be frustrating, but it is possible to lay a solid foundation for high search engine rankings that stand up to shifts in ranking algorithms as well as manual scrutiny. The following factors likely play a role today that is only going to grow in the future.
The idea that signals such as the number of social shares across different networks is not new. There have been whispers on various SEO and marketing forums and blogs indicating that the number of tweets and Facebook likes results in higher rankings for the last two-plus years.
The same goes for Google +1’s and tweets. These are all correlated with higher rankings in nearly every niche online. The argument heats up when people debate whether it is the social sharing activity itself, or if higher social sharing numbers is a reflection of inbound links, time onsite etc.
A common thread that is gaining popularity with each new iteration of the Panda and Penguin algorithms is that higher numbers of social shares may serve as a trust factor and enhance the effect of, or possibly validate, inbound links.
It may make little sense, but there appears to be a growing sentiment that the number of times that a result is clicked in the search engine results may affect its ranking position over the medium and long term.
Proper metadescriptions, attractive and intriguing brand names and proper title tags all play a role in this. For instance, if a page were trying to rank for “blue socks”, it could just use a title reading “Blue Socks”, include it once or twice in the metadescription and move along.
To get the most clicks from any given ranking position, it would likely benefit from a more engaging and click-worthy title tag and description. This benefits Google as well since they need people to click on their organic results- as well as their advertisements- in order to keep their position as the leader in search.
Of course, just clicking on a result matters very little unless people like what they see once they land on that page. This brings us to “the long click”.
Long clicks are a term for the amount of time spent on a site before exiting. In an ideal world, a visitor would browse multiple pages, then enter an email address or make a purchase.
No matter what they do, as long as they do not go back to the search page to find another result or change their search query, a long time spent on site is an indicator of satisfaction on the part of a visitor.
Optimizing for long clicks includes descriptive headings, images, video, decorative text and all of the other ideas for creating a more visually stimulating page. Other ideas may include changing the position of a sidebar or even the search box in order to draw more attention and give a visitor a greater opportunity to spend time onsite.
These are all design issues, but since they influence what is likely a strong indicator of quality to Google and other search engines, an SEO must be aware of them and play a role in their implementation.
SEO is often boiled down to the basics. In some markets, getting the fundamentals correct is enough to rank well, but that is becoming quite rare. More people are focusing on search and taking their efforts to a more nuanced level.
To rank well today and in the future, more webmasters and SEOs will need to look harder at why certain ranking factors