Direct website visits, time on site, pages per session and bounce rate come in as highly essential ranking factors over keywords. The second group of crucial ranking factors are your backlinks, referrals, SSL certificates (site security) and page content length.
SEMRush’s findings reflect Googles statement that site creators need to focus on writing for users and not search engines. Also, your content has to be engaging with the user.
The most surprising result is that direct web visits have a strong influence on your page’s organic ranking, that it has ranked as the most essential of all the ranking factors in their report.
Keywords and their placement are still a significant ranking factor and should not be overlooked. Content length is a higher factor, and you can rank for a high-volume keyword that does not appear on your site.
So how do we Improve on these ranking factors?
1. Direct Website Visits
The easiest way to achieve more direct visits is through offline campaigns. The old forms of advertising are still reliable when it comes to branding and getting your domain URL out there:
- Branding on company vehicles
- Pens (any office equipment you can get your company printed onto)
- Business cards
- Newspaper/magazine ads
- If you have not already, I recommend you download and read the SEMRush Ranking Factors Repor
- Radio advertisement
- TV advertisement
- Sport sponsorship
The key here is to make sure your domain is easy to remember and type. While some people will still google your company, they will be doing a branded search so there is a high chance your site will be in the top spot on the SERP.
2. User Interaction and engagement
So these are things like time on site, Pages Per Session & Bounce Rate. While these are three different ranking factors, they all relate to one another and rely on each other. This is where good site design and engaging content can help.
From the Report, an Ideal visitor is someone who visits your site for 4 minutes or more and views at least four pages. If you can obtain this with about 50% of all visitors your site is in a position to rank better in the SERP. So a lot of testing and content improvements are essential for these ranking factors.
3. Backlinks & Referrals
This is where off page SEO comes into play. There are plenty of tools out there to help with link building and backlinks, Bright local, Majestic and SEMRush are just a few. It is essential to research the other domain that your link will appear on to make sure that its domain with high authority.
When it comes to link building, resist paying for links. Paying for links is risky, and any benefit is short lived. Paid link domains also run the risk of being penalised by search engines; this penalty can even hurt your site’s authority, harming its ranking ability.
4. Content length
While content is essential for visitor duration and lower bounce rate and can include it in the user interaction section above, the focus here is the length, not quality.
Pages that generally rank in the top three positions on SERP have 1,500 to 2,000 words. While this is not a hard rule and can vary wildly based on topic and search engine requires a minimum of 200 words. To play it safe aim for about 500 words as a minimum.
The report is thorough and goes into much detail on the ranking factors they were testing for and the importance those ranking factors have with each other. There are about 200 or more ranking factors that come into play, SEMRush has identified the more actionable ranking factors that SEO agencies and web developers can work on to improve their sites. The most significant take away from the report is that Branding is important and direct traffic to your website will increase its authority and in turn give it a better ability to rank higher.
So if you are not screaming your company name from your rooftop to every passer-by, it might be time to start, or at the very least talk to a marketing agency.