There are over 200 ranking factors that make up the organic search algorithm; and while Google doesn’t come right out and tell us what all of them are, experimenting with various elements of optimization is how we learn more about how sites best perform in search. Most of us are very aware of some of the biggest factors, including: keyword placement throughout your website, healthy backlink profiles, presence of a verified Google My Business listing, etc.; but what about some of the more obscure search engine ranking factors? How do we optimize for the unknown? To answer this question, we are going to break down four ranking factors in Google’s algorithm you probably aren’t aware of.
1. Meta Description Duplication
You may know that having a meta description is important, as it indirectly impacts search rankings through click-through-rate. And while having one doesn’t have a direct impact on search results, using duplicate meta descriptions across your site can actually negatively impact your SEO. Meta descriptions are intended for search users to tell them what a page is about, and to influence clicks; but if you are using the same meta description across multiple pages you may notice that those pages, or even your whole site, don’t rank as well. This is why it is important to not only have a meta description, but to make sure it is unique to the page it is describing. Search engines recognize duplication and will not reward this lazy tactic with higher ranking. It’s always better to put the time in to creating unique and descriptive meta descriptions to improve the experience for search users and engines alike.
2. Contact Page Completion
Obviously, as a dealer, you want to make yourself available to customers in a variety of ways. You may add chat boxes, or an option to text the dealership; you could even have multiple phone numbers in the header, so the car buyer can reach each department more quickly. Unfortunately, the area of the website that is often the most neglected is the very page designed to connect you with prospective customers. While it may seem tedious, having a complete and robust contact page is a factor measured in the algorithm. Google has stated that when the correct information is found on a contact page, it is extracted and Google “is more likely to surface that information to searchers looking for the business.” This information can include images with appropriate alt-text, schematically marked up NAP information, hours of operation, etc. As long as this information is consistent with other citations across the web, you are more likely to show up as a local option for automotive-related searches in your area.
3. Up-to-Date GMB Categories
According to Local SEO survey data, using the right Google My Business categories is one of the top ranking factors for local packs. Now that we know utilizing the right GMB categories is crucial, it is important to know how to get the most out of them. You probably didn’t realize that Google My Business categories change all the time. For example, “Dodge Ram Dealer” doesn’t work as well as it used to – now, “Dodge Dealer” or “Ram Dealer” is preferred. So, the first key is making sure you’re using the right verbiage as your primary category. It needs to accurately reflect what you sell or how you serve. The next thing you need to look out for is the age of the category you’re using. Newer categories can actually boost your rankings in some cases, so if you’re still using something like, “Lincoln Mercury Dealer,” applying changes, such as separating these two makes into two different categories, can actually help your brand rank better.
4. Viability of Outbound Site Links
When it comes to outbound links on a site, there is a lot to unpack. Not only is having too many outbound links against best practice, but nofollowing too many outbound links can seem fishy, too. Rather than dizzying ourselves by discussing how to best approach link quantity and followership, let’s focus first on one thing: their viability. Having too many broken links, or links that lead to nowhere can actually impact how the search algorithm evaluates a page on your site, as it may think the page has been neglected or abandoned. You should regularly monitor the outbound links on your site to make sure that the pages they are linking too are still live, not redirecting, or not otherwise broken.
While trying to account for all of these different ranking factors may make your head spin, there is hope that by trying earnestly to do good with your site, not mislead people, and by following the key points mentioned in Google’s Quality Guidelines, you can avoid penalty and improve how pages rank across your site.
If you’re still trying to understand which factors are crucial to the search algorithm, check out Greg Gifford’s Local SEO book, which you can download for FREE right now.