3 Essential Ranking Signals for SEO Success

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CEO Approved Content

Providing website maintenance services often has us answering questions regarding proper SEO techniques and providing tips on SEO success. With recent changes to popular search engine algorithms, one common inquiry revolves around website ranking and ranking signals that help websites receive more quality traffic that nets them more conversions.  

While there are many ranking signals worth considering, here at Visual Rankings, we recommend starting with these three essential ranking signals for SEO success. 

1. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)


The first ranking signal our website maintenance services suggest looking into is a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.

SSL certificates have been in use for well over two decades now, and it plays an essential role in cybersecurity. SSL is used to encrypt data and secure any transmission between servers and clients.

For example, a transaction between your website and your client’s browser. This is especially vital for any business that conducts monetary transactions. 

An SSL certificate is easily identified by looking at the web address. Instead of a simple “HTTP” at the beginning, a website with SSL will read, “HTTPS.”

Benefits of SSL

Not only does the presence of an SSL make consumers feel more secured when visiting websites, it plays a significant role in protecting a website’s reputation and helps build brand authority. Other benefits of having an SSL certificate include:

    • • Fosters a trusting relationship between your customers and your brand
    • • Guarantees safety for your subdomains
    • • Helps to Satisfy PCI/DSS requirements
    • • Affirms your brand’s identity
    • • Protects not only your data but your visitor’s data as well
    • • Future-proofs your business
    • • Ranking factor on search engines

How SSL Helps Website Ranking

An SSL certificate helps website ranking in several ways. Google started using SSL certificates as a ranking factor back in 2014; however, it has since begun pushing the importance of SSL. Thanks to recent updates, Google Chrome has already started displaying a website’s URL as Not Secure if they lack an SSL certificate. 

When it comes down to generating website traffic, this update can result in a severe decline not only in traffic but ranking as well. Why? Because visitors are more aware of the threat of cybercriminals and the havoc they can wreak. If a website is prominently displayed as unsecured, the chances of someone wanting to interact with it are slim to none. 

2. Website Security

With well over 200 ranking factors that Google considers when determining a website’s ranking, it can be hard to decide which elements to put first. Our website maintenance services highly prioritize website security for several different reasons. 

We already mentioned that having an SSL certificate plays a vital role in website security and in building trust between you and your consumers. However, several other measures should be considered when thinking about website security as a ranking factor.

Why Website Security Matters

With 68% of business leaders feeling as if their cybersecurity risks are increasing, it’s more important than ever before to secure our websites correctly. The total number of security breaches has increased by 11% since 2018 and 67% since 2014, according to Accenture

This doesn’t only affect consumers. The blame falls on us as business owners when cybercriminals hack our systems and get our client’s information. Not only does that affect our credibility, but it can result in millions of dollars in losses. Think about it – the average cost of a data breach as of 2019 is $3.92 million. 

So, not only are our clients vulnerable but so are we. Taking the time to secure our websites properly can help minimize the chances of a cyberattack. 

Ways to Secure Your Website

Website security comes in several different layers, so we suggest that you implement various security measures alongside having your SSL certificate. Some of these measures include:

    • • Perform backups of your website regularly
    • • Make sure you are utilizing password protection and strong passwords 
    • • Limit login privileges
    • • Update plugins
    • • Utilize a vulnerability scanner
    • • Protect your Wi-Fi connection
    • • Utilize Virus and malware protection for your website 
    • • Support HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS)

Google prioritizes the protection of those online and in an effort to do this, they do emphasize website security as a ranking factor. This is especially true due to the increased cybercriminal activity over the last two years. So, take the time to properly secure your website for the sake of not only your business but your clients as well. 

3. Site Speed


Site speed has been a ranking signal for nearly a decade, first coming into play in 2010 when Google announced it for desktop searches. Site speed, according to Google, reflects just how quickly a website responds to web requests. The faster your site speed, the happier your consumers. 

Consumers Don’t Like to Wait

We live in a generation when people expect things instantaneously. The longer we must wait for something, the less appealing it becomes. This same concept applies to site speed. The more time a consumer has to spend waiting for a web page to load, the less likely they are to remain on that page. 

For instance, pages that have a 2-second load time see an average bounce rate of 9% as compared to those who have a 5-second load time, who see an average bounce rate of 38%.

When it comes to mobile site speed, 46% of consumers say that waiting for a page to load is what they most dislike about browsing the web on their devices. 

In the United States alone, internet search queries from mobile devices are expected to skyrocket to nearly 141.0 billion this year as opposed to 62.3 billion from desktop devices. So, while Google has used site speed via desktops as a ranking factor for almost a decade, they’ve implemented an update to include mobile site speed as well. 

In July 2018, Google released the “Speed Update” as a way to include site speed ranking signals for mobile websites. Since then, mobile-first indexing has been released by Google. 

Mobile-first indexing means that Google will be predominantly using the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking. This update was enabled by default for all new websites on July 1, 2019. 

Ways to Increase Your Site Speed

One way that Google has helped website owners out with their site speed is by developing the PageSpeed Insights tool. Users simply must paste their website URL into the box and hit “analyze.” From there, you’ll receive information based on the Chrome User Experience Report.

Receiving a low score shows that you need to work on ways to increase your site speed, and there are several different ways that you can do so, including:

    • • Reducing redirects
    • • Optimizing images
    • • Improving server response time
    • • Leveraging browser caching
    • • Removing render-blocking JavaScript
    • • Minimize HTTP requests
    • • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
    • • Minify all files, including HTML JavaScript and CSS files
    • • Run a compression audit/Enable compression
    • • Maintain a clean database 
    • • Fix all broken links
    • • Replace PHP with a static HTML whenever possible
    • • Reduce the total number of plugins used on your website and more

While all of this may seem a bit overwhelming, remember this: Site speed and user experience go hand in hand. Would you use a website that took too long to load? Or had too many elements trying to work at the same time? The answer is probably no, so keep that in mind during your site setup. 

Get Help with Our Website Maintenance Services

When it comes to getting your business’s site noticed and having it rank on search engines such as Google, there is a lot of information that you must take in. That’s why having a professional in your corner makes all the difference. 

Here at Visual Rankings, we not only focus our attention on helping you with SEO best practices, but we also offer services in SEO & Website Design. Our web designers can build your brand a website that allows search engines to not only find your site but navigate it with ease and understand your site’s content. 

From link building to SEO optimization and content marketing, our team at Visual Rankings has one goal: getting you the results you desire. 

So, why wait? Get your free SEO audit today and see what our team can do for you.


Joshua Cabe Johnson

Joshua Cabe Johnson

Joshua Cabe Johnson has been an SEO since 2008. He has personally helped over 1000 clients with online visibility and brand strategy for SEO growth.

Visual rankings has been helping small business owners online since 2002.

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