Three Things That Don’t Actually Impact Search Rankings

Have you ever bought something that turned out to be a complete dud?

Whether it was a lemon car, cheap furniture that breaks, or an electronic that just did not function properly, we have all been in the position of inadvertently throwing money away.

What about in the business world? Bad investments happen every day.

We wrote this post to help you recognize when doing nothing at all or diverting your assets (i.e. cash, attention, time) towards more lucrative tactics may be best for your long-term success in search engine optimization.

SEOs: read on to learn about new industry research that may surprise you.
Business owners: read this post to gain some online marketing savvy that will help you know when it is time to call in the big guns – or call it quits with your current marketing company.

Mobile-Friendly Designs Do Not Provide Unconditional Benefit

To be clear, let’s get one thing straight:

good user experience = more time on site, conversions, etc. = higher rankings

The one question you must ask: Is mobile where our business happens?

Some of our clients are manufacturers. Their typical visitor is on a desktop/laptop computer. To summarize Google’s John Mueller, as reported on SEO Roundtable: Switching a site from non-responsive HTML to responsive or dynamic HTML serving will not automatically mean better desktop or laptop computer search rankings.

Sites with a better mobile user experience will certainly rank higher in mobile results, but what technology is your audience using? For our manufacturers, if a redesign is not in their budget, we focus on factors that provide better bang for their buck.

If you do not have a significant customer segment coming from smaller screens, it should not be a priority.

If you do, keep in mind that the type of mobile-friendly option you choose (responsive HTML, dynamic HTML, or a separate mobile site) does not come with inherent or automatic rank-boosting benefits.

SSL Certificates Are Not Influencing Search Rank

Have you seen the latest Searchmetrics 2014 Ranking Factor Report? We recommend perusing the factors that were proven to correlate positively with the highest-ranking sites. Just keep in mind that causation and correlation are two very different things.

Did you notice what was not listed? Google recently announced that more secure sites (those with “HTTPS” in the URL) would get a rankings boost, and everyone went bonkers. SEOs overlooked the detail that this would affect only 1% of queries.

Sure enough, either it has not been implemented, or it is not significant enough to show up in the top contributing factors for search rank. If you do not run a site in which security is particularly important, do not bother switching over just yet.

According to this Webmaster Central Blog, keep it on your radar.

Keyword Stuffing

This section is directed towards less experienced internet marketers, but it’s necessary to address.

Many of our clients come to us with metadata, copy, and titles that have been subjected to overzealous inclusion of any and all relevant search terms. Any given sample from a single page may show terms that are unrelated to one another. The umbrella of over-optimization covers ambitious, yet ambiguous tactics producing copy with a really high concentration of a single, exact keyword phrase.

Google’s smarter by the day; these outdated tactics no longer get beneficial attention from search spiders crawling the web. Nowadays, more pragmatic use of search-specific terms, synonyms, and helpful information is a much better investment than taking the time to make just-for-Google copy sound natural.

Revisit Your Optimization Strategy

The release of correlated ranking signals from Searchmetrics and the recent hum around SSL are factors playing into many savvy internet marketers’ strategies in the coming months. Another recent topic is the impact of social metrics on rankings.

Do you include social as a valuable tool in building your domain equity? Or, do you side with Google’s assurances that any social metrics are a signal of good content, rather than the cause of a boost in rankings?

We recently covered a whitepaper that Google released about profit-driven marketing. All in all, bottom-line impact should be the key determining factor of which tactics deserve your time and money.

About the Author

John Sammon

John Sammon is the CEO and founder of Sixth City Marketing and has been doing online marketing for over 15 years. During this time, he has been mentioned in many notable publications such as Forbes.

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