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John Stevens

Top 5 Simple, Often Ignored Factors that Can Tremendously Impact Your SEO

John Stevens
Top 5 Simple, Often Ignored Factors that Can Tremendously Impact Your SEO

When most businesses think about SEO, the obsession is usually about external factors and how these factors can influence search engine rankings. For example, some of the common things most businesses worry about are link building and social signals.

While these factors are important, businesses give them more prominence than is necessary. I know this because I recently lost half of the traffic to one of my sites, and it was simple changes like the ones below – that had nothing to do with link building that all – that fixed things.

Here are five often-ignored factors that can impact your SEO tremendously; either positively if you effectively implementing them, or negatively if you completely ignoring them.

1. Your Web Hosting Company

A few years back, I migrated my website to a premium web host top bloggers have been vouching for. My reasoning was, "If so many people were saying this web host is this awesome, it must indeed be awesome."

Eventually, I made the move and I was paying around $100 monthly for hosting; it was “premium hosting” after all. Something I failed to realize, however, was that around the time I moved by site to this web host, search traffic to my blog started to reduce.

On the surface, everything was working fine; due to the restrictions the web host placed on plugin installations and other aspects of my blog, as well as their solid infrastructure, my site was indeed faster than it has ever been, but traffic more than cut in half. 

I didn’t connect the loss of traffic with my web host until I decided to change host, and boom, traffic is up. Almost as soon as I made a switch, I realized a sudden jump in search engine traffic; I had lost around 30% of my search traffic after switching to said host, and traffic went back up right after I changed hosts; now, I was with said host for close to two years, so you can imagine how much traffic I had lost in that period. I did some research, and it was clear the loss in traffic had been due to my host all along.

Take Action:

Pay special attention to your traffic when you move hosts; if you notice a sudden decrease in search traffic after changing hosts, investigate the reason behind this. If you can't trace it to something else, it most likely has to do with your host.

2. Your Website Template

A few years back, I ordered an SEO review for my site; this review included a lot of suggestions which I told my developer to implement into my design.

Search traffic to my blog kept improving once I had the new design installed, and after a few years I got tired of it and decided to change it; I had another custom design built without implementing the original SEO suggestions into the design.

I saw a sharp drop in search traffic shortly after installing the new theme. I later decided to switch back to my old theme because it had a feature I needed at the time; to my surprise, search traffic gradually started to increase at this period. 

I did nothing different; there was no link building or attempt at improving my SEO, and there was no major search engine update to my knowledge, so this appeared to be a surprise. In less than a month, my search traffic doubled and it has been increasing ever since. This was due to my site theme.

While we often see website templates as something to install for usability and site performance, the theme we use can also have a serious effect on our SEO.

Take Action

Some basic things I have noticed to help SEO in any website template are:

●  Use of breadcrumbs

●  Clean code and a fast loading template

●  Easy navigation and a proper link structure

Thankfully, a lot of website templates today, especially if you use WordPress, are SEO-friendly so you don't need to spend thousands of dollars purchasing a custom template. Just ensure the template you purchase is built with SEO in mind.

3. Your Site Speed

Research has shown that a one second delay in your site speed can cost you 7 percent in conversions. If that doesn't sound shocking enough, that's over $1.6 billion in lost sales annually for e-commerce giant Amazon for a single one second delay in their site loading.

In 2010, in an attempt to focus more on user experience through the rankings displayed in Google search results, Google announced that it will be using site speed as a ranking factor. In 2013, Google further announced that it will be using site speed as a ranking factor for mobile sites as well and that mobile sites that are not fast enough will most likely be demoted in the SERPs.

Site speed is one very important factor that businesses ignore when it comes to SEO but, as we can see from the studies earlier referenced, improved site speed will not only help you rank better but it will also make you more money.

Take Action

In my case, changing to a better theme made my site faster; I also made limited the number of plugins I use (generally avoiding resource-intensive plugins – as revealed by the P3 WordPress plugin). Finally, I used a CDN (CloudFlare is a good free option!) to ensure my site is fast irrespective of user location. 

4. Your Site's Mobile Friendliness

Recent research has shown that mobile traffic to retail websites in the UK has overtaken desktop traffic for the first time.

Understandably, seeing the surge in increase in the usage of mobile devices to access the web, search engines are starting to give it more attention. In fact, Google has taken it so seriously that itrecently announced that sites that are not mobile-friendly would most likely be demoted in the search engines for results that are displayed to mobile users.

By not making your site mobile friendly, you can potentially lose half of your search traffic, so make sure you start paying more attention to optimizing your site for mobile users.

Take Action

For my site, I wanted a consistent user experience so I didn’t create a mobile site that looks different from my main site; I simply made my site responsive and that made it mobile-friendly; that way, users see the same site that adapts to any device they use.

5. Quality Content

Research has shown that businesses that blog have 97% more inbound links, 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links. As a result, businesses that blog generate 126% more traffic. In fact, Google recently made it known that content is the most important ranking factor.

One of the best things you can do to improve your SEO is to invest in having quality content created for your website on a consistent basis; this becomes more effective if this content is published on a blog associated with your domain name. Following research that shows that long, comprehensive content is better, I started to create better content, and this had a slow but steady impact on my search traffic.

Conclusion

While most attention is focused on external factors such as link building and social signals when it comes to SEO, it is important to realize that those factors are not the most important factors; in fact, often, they are the least important factors. Hopefully, you can double your search traffic by implementing the above factors.

John Stevens is very passionate about helping small businesses grow. He regularly contributes to Entrepreneur, Adweek and About.com. When he is not taking charge of affairs at Hosting Facts, he is probably having fun tending his beards.

Comments

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SEO Firepower
SEO Firepower
I second that #1 ..... My previous web host was loading my page after like ... 6seconds. NOT good...

-Devin
Founder, SEO Firepower
http://seofirepower.com
VeecoTech
VeecoTech
Hi John,

Thanks for the wonderful post. By looking at the point to add the breadcrumb, could you elaborate more? I have seen some posts mention to add the breadcrumb only to your blog or e-commerce but not too your entire site.
Tony Messer
Hi John,

Great post. These are exactly the points I often find myself making to people.

When it comes to shared hosting you've absolutely hit the nail on the head. Cheap hosting is a false economy. I often ask people what's more important for their business - their mobile phone or their website? The answer is usually their website but then they spend a fraction on hosting costs than for their mobile phone bill each month.

One of the issues shared hosting will always have is IP reputation. Despite all the warnings people's sites will get hacked for simple things like not updating their CMS (WordPress, Joomla) to the latest version. That's a sitting duck to a hacker's software. Malware gets uploaded, spam/phishing mails get sent out & the IP gets blacklisted. The host then has to get the IP whitelisted but that's closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Things like SpamExperts & MailChannels can help by getting ahead of the issue but these are extra costs that many hosts won't bear.

Another issue is things like noisy neighbors. Again tools like CloudLinux will prevent/reduce this but that's another cost per server.

If you really want speed & security then a VPS should be the minimum, ideally an SSD VPS. SSD is a quantum leap in terms of performance although RAM is always the first call & with a VPS you get RAM purely for you with no sharing. The only issue to be aware with SSD is that some hosts will palm you off with laptop/desktop SSDs. These are not to be confused with Datacenter SSDs though.

If you can't afford SSDs then as a minimum be sure to ask for 10K or 15K SAS drives. These are Enterprise grade components & shouldn't be confused with 7.2K SATA drives which are solid workhorses but shouldn't be used on the front line.

Again, great post John. Thanks :-)
Steve
Good stuff John - can I ask who your site is hosted with now please?
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