In our final post in the technical SEO audit series, we’ll discuss how to increase your website’s authority. You should care about this metric because the higher it is, the better your site ranks. Remember, you can check yours at http://www.opensiteexplorer.org
The top authority signals a technical SEO audit checks for include:
- Links. These are the number one off-site authority signal, and they will stay that way for some time. And out of all search ranking factors, links are most likely the strongest.
Over the years, Google has significantly changed how links impact your search rankings. 5-7 years ago, you could have links from any random website pointing to yours, and you would get some benefit.
But then some SEOs learned how to spam links, helping low-quality websites rank highly. This practice actually still happens.
Today, Google wants links that are not “built,” but instead require some sort of editorial review process by the other site owner. Good links come from other sites with high levels of authority. Those sites should be topically related to yours. And the text on the link should match your keywords precisely in less than 5% of all instances.
For example, a not-so-good link would come from an internet forum or article directory. A great link to your plumbing website comes from a blog post at a respected DIY website.
If you have a wide-scale effort of links with the exact same anchor text pointing to your website from a number of other websites, Google suspects you of trying to manipulate the search rankings. To you, this means you’re at high risk for a penalty.
It also matters who you link to. Google figures reputable websites link to other reputable websites. And, all valuable sites on the web would do this to some extent. So, it is a good practice to occasionally link out to other authorities in your niche.
- Content. Every page of content, and blog post, should include keywords relevant to your service offering. Google prefers websites that offer fresh content. You should publish at least one blog post per month. More is better, but only post when you have valuable information to offer.
Google will crawl and index your website more often, and rank it higher, if you regularly create content. Eventually, Google wants “thick” websites with 25, 50, 75, 100 pages or even more at the top of its rankings.
The figuring is that websites who publish content regularly like that are likely to be more established players in their field and more valuable to their target audiences. And Google’s probably right on that.
- Social shares. There’s actually some debate on this one. Matt Cutts recently released a video saying social shares are not a ranking factor. On the other hand, Moz conducted a thorough study in late summer of last year that found a high correlation between website rankings and the number of Google +1s they had. Correlation does not mean causation, but it’s enough strong evidence to make you wonder what’s really going on.
Regardless, the more followers and social shares you have, the better. Even if social shares aren’t a ranking factor, you at least have a good platform for promoting your content and getting more people linking to it.
So those are the main authority signals, and you want to get as many links, produce as much quality content, and get as many social shares as possible. A technical SEO audit checks to make sure you are doing this in a natural, Google-safe way. Just keep in mind that your overarching goal should be to contribute value to the web, and not to manipulate your search rankings.
You can do deceptive things like purchasing 1000s of Facebook followers, but that does you no good because they don’t care about your company and won’t share your content or purchase from you.
Hope this clears up the muddy waters of technical SEO audits for you!