We do everything we can here at Web Talent to increase our clients’ rankings. We’ve done a lot of research over the years and have learned from the best of what helps a site move closer and closer to the top of search result pages. Every two years, SEOmoz publishes a study that they call “Ranking Factors.” From SEOmoz’s studies, we know that a page’s authority has a correlation with high rankings. Another factor that has a positive correlation is an “exact-match dot com” domain. For example, if your domain is Hats.com, you have a pretty high probability of ranking for the keyword “hats”. What we know about positive ranking factors has been developed into a science for SEO marketers like ourselves. However, what is talked about less are the negative factors that can bring your page down. Certainly, there are the obvious ones: a page that isn’t optimized, a site that has no pages linking to it… But we are going to dig a little deeper and look at what could be negatively affecting your site and how to help avoid these in the future.


Domain Name Length

A short and simple domain, like Hats.com, tends to rank better in search results than something like Buy-Cheap-Womens-Hats.com. Some reasons Hats.com will rank higher is because it is probably a much older domain name. It has probably been around for 10 years or so, and by this time it has a lot of pages linking to it. Buy-Cheap-Womens-Hats.com looks a little spammy, and dashes actually are another negative factor. The more hyphens a domain name has, the more negative correlation exists in ranking results. This does not mean that you can’t have a long domain name or use dashes within the domain; it just means that there has been an observed trend of these types of websites having to work harder to get decent rankings.


Response Time

There is still a lot of research being done to try and figure out how much a quick or slow response time effects a ranking, but what we do know is that the correlation is very small. We know that faster websites with faster response times leave a user with a better experience on a site, and that slow response time has users on the site for a shorter amount of time. If you have a slow site, consider meeting with us to discuss ways in which we can help improve this.


Percent of Followed Linking Pages

This may come a sort of a surprise. If you have all of your backlinks pointing to your domain as followed links, we see these as sites that rank lower. On the face of it, that doesn’t make sense. You would think if all your links were followed, you would have really high rankings. But look at your collection of backlinks as one that must be diverse to make the link-building look as natural as possible. Sites that rank well tend to have a lot of sites linking to them, and not all of those links are do-follow. Powerful sites such as Wikipedia use only no-follow links to the subject they are referring to in their articles. In general, the more diverse link profile you have the more natural your site’s authority appears to the search engine. A spammy, smaller, or newer site would go looking for do-follow links because these rapidly boost a site’s SEO. But what we’re learning is that those no-follows are important too—don’t ignore them just because they aren’t a direct back link!