3 Hidden Factors That Might Be Affecting Your SEO

May 16, 2017

If you’ve decided to read this article, you probably already have some idea of how important search engine optimization (SEO) is for your website and your business.

Despite a huge growth in social media, a ton of people still use search to find solutions to their problems. In fact, the powerhouse that is Google continues to get over 100 billion searches every month. That’s a lot of searching.

This drives home the point that although other avenues of driving traffic are becoming increasingly important, continuing to perform SEO tactics on your website is still a huge part of a successful business, online and off.

In this article, we’ll review some of the lesser-known or “hidden” SEO factors that are equally important in ranking well in search.

1. Site Speed Optimization

When optimizing a website for search, on-page or on-site SEO is usually where marketers start. We have to ensure your website has the correct keywords in all of the correct places such as titles, meta descriptions, page content, etc.

However, more inexperienced marketers often miss or ignore a “hidden” SEO factor that defines user experience and search rankings… site load speed.

Google has taken into account a site’s load speed as a ranking factor since 2010. Besides this, a slow loading site frustrates users leading them unlikely to return.

It’s also not only desktop users that experience this either. With nearly 60% of searches being done on mobile (and those figures continue to rise) a slow loading mobile site will also hurt your rankings.

Here are some of the biggest things that affect your site load speed:

  • Slow hosting environment
  • Too many redirects
  • Image files are too large
  • “Messy” HTML, CSS or JavaScript
  • Not leveraging site caching
  • And more… 


2. ‘Dwell Time’ Optimization

Never heard of dwell time? You’re not alone.

Dwell time is a metric that calculates user engagement, session duration, and SERP CTRs. It is a data point that is not publicly available (or thoroughly understood), but is nonetheless a factor that affects a site’s search engine results – which is why it has made our list of “hidden” SEO factors.

Dwell time, as Moz’s Dr. Peter J. Meyers explains it, “is an amalgam of bounce rate and time-on-site metrics”. It is a combination of two components with one related component. 

  • Session duration
  • Bounce Rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR) on search engine results pages (SERPs)

It’s calculated by measuring the time elapsed between when a user first click-through to your site and when they return to the SERP page.

It makes sense that this factor would affect rankings. If someone clicks a search result, then immediately hits the back button, likely did so because the search result wasn’t worth their time.

A quick click-back time indicates poor quality or poor relevancy – results that Google avidly tries to avoid showing in its SERPs.

Here are some ways to help with ‘dwell time’:

A. Add “bucket brigades” – This is a copywriting tactic that uses words / phrases in specific ways to keep people on their page.

One example would be adding a colon after a short sentence.

via SEMrush

B. Use bold images An easy way to grab a visitor’s attention is with an eye-catching image. It takes less time to interpret and can help visitors stay on your page longer.

A strong image at the top of your content is particularly good for driving more engagement.

C. Use the inverted pyramid – The inverted pyramid style of writing is when you place the important info higher on the page; answering people’s questions right off the bat.

At the same time, you draw them further in with the promise of additional information down below.

3. Content Upkeep

Much like leaving bread out for too long can cause it to go stale, your content can also become less desirable if left untouched for too long.

Ever since a major 2011 update, Google has preferred “fresh” content and will begin to rank your old posts lower. When you post new content online, it gets indexed and assigned an “inception date”. As time passes, its freshness score decreases and newer content with the same keywords begin to replace it.

Some easy ways to combat this is by updating your older content with new information, updating images, or changing the structure of your post.

This works best with content that is well-performing already, but has the ability to move further up in search results. So while your article on page 10 might not see a huge shift, an article on page 2 can see some upward movement.

You can read more about this is our article:
Historical Blog Optimization: Reviving Your Blog


Search engine rankings still remain critical to a business’ success online. Good rankings produce quality organic traffic, which helps to drive conversions and leads.

That’s why it’s crucial to spend time on the lesser-known or “hidden” SEO factors just as much as the well-known SEO tactics such as titles, metas, and link building.

Not sure how your website stacks up in search?

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