It’s important to be realistic when it comes to SEO.
Google’s algorithm considers 200+ different factors to rank a website.
So it’d be silly—if not foolish—to devote all of your attention to each factor when trying to rank your pages.
Going in guns blazing to tick every single one off the list will only burn you out.
And in fact, especially for a younger domain, optimizing for most of these factors won’t make any impact on your rankings until you have a strong foundation first.
Instead, you can give your site a massive SEO boost by optimizing for just three ranking factors.
Why Just 3?
Unless you’re a business that doesn’t care about making money, focusing on SEO is very lucrative. Giving your site an SEO boost can increase your business visibility, visitors to your page, leads and customers.
But most business owners fail to grasp one key point:
Focusing on each ranking factor initially probably won’t help you rank.
All you really need to optimize for when starting out is the three most important ranking factors:
Backlinks, content length and dwell time.
Focusing on these will have the biggest and most immediate impact on your SEO.
Now, that’s not to say you should completely overlook labeling h1 tags or alt tags, or optimizing your URLs, or adding breadcrumbs and categories—all of these other ranking factors are still necessary to be on top of once you’re ranking on the first page and hope to stay there.
But they aren’t of much use otherwise.
Content, backlinks and dwell time is what will provide you with that surge in rankings from the depths of page 10 to page 1.
Unfortunately, even optimizing for these three factors alone can be time-consuming. Here’s how to maximize your returns when devoting your time and energy to them.
SEO Boost: The 3 Things to Optimize for Faster, Higher Rankings
These type of links are important because they help search engines determine the value of a page. After all, nobody is going to link to a site if they don’t think it’ll provide some value to their readers.
There’s no way of knowing for sure.
What we do know is that backlinks from sites with higher domain authorities count for more. So it’s important to be smarter about your link building strategies and look for ways to build quality backlinks quickly.
My favorite way to acquire backlinks in no time is with broken link building.
Everybody has experienced broken links on the web. It’s when a link on a page doesn’t redirect users to the intended location.
Broken links translate into bad user experience, which is why Google slaps a penalty on such pages. Google doesn’t want to rank sites that don’t solve people’s problem or that leave them frustrated.
How to find broken links pointing to your site
If you’ve already acquired some backlinks from other sites, the first thing to do is to make sure they actually work.
It’s not uncommon for webmasters to accidentally paste in a wrong URL or make a typo. Unfortunately, this will void what would otherwise be a perfectly functioning backlink.
You can find broken links pointing to your site using Monitor Backlinks.
Simply open up your backlink profile from the Backlinks tab—you’ll see a list of all the links pointing to your pages. Click on the red button that reads “links Google ignores” at the top.
You can then use the “Status” filter on the right to single out links that don’t count because of a 404 error.
Like this one, for example:
The next step would be to reach out to the webmaster of the domain and kindly let them know about the broken link.
Get your free 30-day trial of Monitor Backlinks here to make broken link building a quick and painless process!
How to find broken links on your competitor’s site
Why stop at your site?
If you have competitors (which you most certainly will), take advantage of their inaction and “steal” broken links which at some point were pointing to their website.
An easy way to find broken links on your competitor’s website is by using the HTTP Status Header Checker. Just plug in your competitor’s URL and the tool will return a status code of all the links on that page.
Be on the lookout for error-related status codes (example 404).
For example, here’s a quick check of the Monitor Backlinks blog page:
If you want a more visual approach, an alternative is to use the Check My Links extension tool on Chrome.
This tool works in the background while you’re browsing a website. It’ll color every link on the page either green (working) or red (not working), making it easy to spot broken links at a glance.
Then, make a list of all broken links present on their site. Run the URLs through the Free Backlink Checker to find the websites that are linking to those broken pages.
The goal is to be the perfect replacement for the broken link.
Identify if you have content similar to what earned your competitor the backlink. If you’re unsure what content was originally on the broken page, use Wayback Machine to go back in time and see what was on the site.
From here, all you have to do is reach out to the webmaster, inform them about the broken link, and suggest a link on your site as a suitable replacement.
2. Content Length
There’s a direct correlation between content length and search engine rankings.
Longer content provides an SEO boost because it increases the time spent on page.
Because people will take more time to digest your content, Google will believe your site to be valuable. In turn, this leads to a higher ranking on the search engine results page.
But more importantly, quality content will help you earn backlinks and social shares without having to engage in outreach.
There’s a catch, though—creating exceptional content isn’t easy.
You can churn out a 3,000-word blog post but if it doesn’t engage readers or provide them with any value, it won’t rank.
Google isn’t only looking at the word count. It also takes into account points like bounce rates, click-through rates and dwell time (more on this in a bit).
So how do you create quality engaging content quickly?
You can outsource every aspect of content from creating blog posts, e-books, whitepapers, to infographics and more.
3. Dwell Time
Dwell time refers to the length of time a user spends on your site after they click-through from the search engine results page.
The longer someone stays on your page or site, the more Google likes you.
Be careful not to confuse dwell time with time on page or bounce rate.
These metrics, while related to dwell time, don’t measure the same thing.
For example, time on page is a measurement of how long visitors stay on one page before moving to another page on your site, a third-party website, or back to the search engine results page.
With that in mind, here’s how you can improve your dwell time:
- Create great content
The only way to get people to stick around is to create engaging content in any format. You already know how to do this from the previous step.
- Utilize internal linking to keep visitors on your website
A trick to keep visitors on your site longer is to make good use of internal linking.
Make it a habit to link out to related content on your site that you think visitors will find helpful. This will increase your dwell time by leaps and bounds.
- Follow good web design principles
Keep your web pages simple.
People are averse to “information overload.” If your pages have too much going on, most people will choose to leave instead of trying to figure out what’s going on.
Good web design principles help minimize people leaving your site in frustration.
For example, good designers always make good use of white space to direct eyes of users to one key section of the page where they present the call to action.
You can read more about web design principles to increase dwell time in this post.
- Fix page load times
This one should be of little surprise.
Web users are impatient. An increase of page load time from one second to three seconds can increase bounce rate by 32%.
You can check your page load times right from your Monitor Backlinks dashboard.
If your score is on the low side, consider compressing images, cleaning your code, and using content delivery networks to improve your load speeds.
SEO can be a tricky game to play.
But if you know where to focus your attention and follow the steps people have used to beat the game, you’ll be well on your way to ranking your site and growing your business.