Lots of people claim to "know a bit about SEO," but the more of these people you talk to, the more you'll come to understand that most of what they know is a little dated.
The strange thing about SEO is just how fast it moves. Even if you did have a good grasp on things a couple years ago, if you haven't kept up, you're basically a dinosaur. People mention things like "meta keywords" and "keyword density" that are now basically irrelevant. "Link building" is now "link earning."
Head spinning yet? If so, it's easy to understand why.
Given the changing factors, there are some things that might be impacting your site's rankings that you didn't even know were part of Google's algorithm. Here are a few things you should look at to make sure your site is up to snuff with some of the lesser-known factors of Google's algorithm:
- Page speed. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Google has crawlers scouring the web for information, and if they hit your site and it takes forever to load, you're wasting their time. Further, they want to offer users the best results, and who likes waiting for slow pages to load?
- Bounce rate. If people are bouncing right back off your website, Google can assume they don't like what they find. "But I don't even use Google Analytics, how can they have that information?" you might ask. Well, Google will tell you they aren't looking at your analytics (whether you want to believe that or not), but regardless, they know what links people click, and they can also figure out if you come right back out to Google and click a different result. So, either way, they can figure it out. If visitors are bouncing off your site, it's time to make some changes.
- Security. Google has been making some noise the past few months about pushing sites to https for added security. While this is likely a very minor factor only for certain industries at this point, Google rarely puts this type of information out there unless it intends to make it an important factor down the road. Start planning for this, particularly if your site handles important personal information or does transactions.
- Domain history. You might have found the perfect name for your business and got the perfect domain for your website…or did you? If a domain has been passed around like a hot potato, it can be a sign to Google to not trust your domain, or not count what would otherwise be valuable links still pointing to the domain. Before you buy, always check the domain history. It's like Carfax for your domain.
There are hundreds of factors to Google's rankings. Many are speculation, since Google won't roll everything out, but many are known factors spoken from the mouths of Google personnel. For the most exhaustive list anywhere on the web, check out this list from Backlinko.