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SEO ranking signals: A few you’ve heard of, and a few you haven’t

SEO ranking signals: A few you’ve heard of, and a few you haven’t
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short) is a key player in your digital marketing strategy. It takes a lot of time and work to rank well within organic search for terms your customers will be searching for, however once your website ranks well, you won’t need to advertise as much – clicks are free and you’ll likely be much more trusted.

We’ve put together a list of important ranking signals. Some of them are the most weighted ones that you’ll likely have heard about, and some you’ll probably not have heard about before, but still play a huge and important role in the performance of your website across Google, Bing and other major search engines.

Page speed

One of the most talked about ranking signals at the moment is the size (in MB) of your page/website, and how fast it loads. Google have released statistics around most users leaving a website that doesn’t load in a matter of a couple of seconds, and those on a mobile connection are even more impatient! Run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights to get an idea of how you can improve your website. Ideally, you’re aiming for a score of 85+ on both mobile and desktop devices.

Image optimisation

Part of reducing the size of your webpage will be reducing the size of images, whilst not reducing the quality. This can be done through serving different sizes of images depending on the device or screen size. It’s important not to serve a huge retina-ready 3MB image to a mobile device on a 3G connection for example.


Since over half of browsing is now done on mobile and tablet devices, it’s an absolute must that your website responds well to all screen sizes. Google favours websites that pass their Mobile-Friendly Test.

Encrypted by SSL

Those websites that have the green padlock with the https:// connection are now favoured in search results. Not only does an SSL certificate protect the data sent to the server from the user and the reverse, they also now give you a boost in ranking!

Use of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

As you may expect, if you have Google Analytics installed, and Webmaster Tools set-up and the two linked together, your domain gains more authority and hence ranks higher.

Domain registration length

Registered your domain over 5+ years ago? Even if you haven’t used it until now, you’ll have an advantage over those that have just registered theirs. For this reason, it can actually help to buy a pre-registered or premium domain!

WhoIs record

Hiding your data on the WhoIs record gives Google a heads up that there “may be something to hide”. Keep the data on here exactly the same as your registered company data, with the same postal address and email address.

Recency of content updates

Certain pages now have a date next to them in search results, as Google will favour those websites that have been recently updated with new content. This is especially the case with case studies and news articles. It’s important to roll content changes out slowly and regularly, rather than all at once every six months.

Outbound link count

Too many links to other website can “leak” your PageRank – the score out of 100 which determines a lot of your ranking authority. Keep your outbound links to a minimum, and make sure they’re relevant to your visitors.

W3C validation

Sloppy coding and HTML errors can be a sign of a poor quality website. Google will run your website through the W3C validation tool to see if you’ve got any errors.

Bullets and numbered lists

Google prefers content split out into bullets and numbered lists. Long paragraphs mean it’s not easily read by users, whereas these lists help break up blocks of text. On a mobile device specifically these will be much preferred.

Uptime and server location

Maintenance messages, downtimes and slow response speeds from remote locations can harm your rankings. Google wants your website to respond quickly at any time, whether it’s a user accessing the website or one of their spiders. Location of your server can also influence where your site ranks geographically – host it in the same country and region for the best results.

Terms and conditions pages

If you’re a trustworthy company, Google believes you’ll have terms and conditions, privacy policy and cookie policy pages. Links to these within the website will help your ranking ability.


Navigation is key, so creating a user-friendly website with a logical structure and architecture will help your rankings. Creating mega/dropdown navigation and including breadcrumb links can show Google that your structure is easily navigable.

Do you need a hand with your search engine optimisation, or a bit of advice into what you could be doing? Give us a call on 0800 084 3086, or email


If you enjoyed reading this article, why not take a look at some of the others we’ve written? If you’re interested with the latest digital news, trends, advice and much more, then head over to our journal!

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